The Caravan and Motorhome Club previously said, at the end of 2020, that the 2021 lifting of restrictions would be like ‘a cork popping from a bottle’ for staycations. And that prediction couldn’t have been more accurate.
With more of us still choosing a staycation over international travel, there has been an increased demand for motorhomes and campervans, by an entirely new crowd (and their dogs). So, if you are looking to be part of the scene, here are some important things to know.
Is now a good time to buy a motorhome?
Much like the current boom in the used car market, pushing the values of some cars up, the motorhome industry is also affected. The reason for the price increase is the same, demand.
The demographic has changed, with more under-40’s keen to join the club, along with new pet owners as so many bought a dog during COVID.
Although some international travel restrictions have eased, many are still preferring to holiday ‘at home’ due to the ever-changing rules and regulations, let alone the lower risk of catching COVID in your own holiday home, parked in the great outdoors.
Conversely, international travel is now an option, and Tui has confirmed that summer 2022 bookings are already 20% higher than in 2019. This could mean that some sell their motorhomes or campervans as they take fewer UK breaks.
It’s a tough one to call, as our eagerness to escape may be hindered by the increasing cost of living, which could see motorhomes entering the market for resale, and prices lower as a result, or further demand as less people are willing to pay to travel abroad.
Either way, it is worth noting that, if you are considering buying a motorhome as an investment, they do not depreciate in value at same rate as cars.
What type of motorhome should I buy?
It all depends on your personal requirements. While the classic VW campervan may be a firm favourite with vintage enthusiasts, there are plenty of modern-day alternatives if you like your home comforts. These points are worth considering:
How often will you use your motorhome?
Paying £30,000 for a used motorhome, and only using it once a year wouldn’t be a sensible option, unless that once a year was several months spent touring Europe.
However, if you are planning to use it regularly, it could be a worthwhile investment. Choosing a mobile home made by a well-known manufacturer such as Auto-Sleeper or Swift typically means a lower depreciation rate. It may also be an option to share one, splitting the investment with family members or friends, but don’t forget that each party needs their own insurance.
How many are you likely to travel with?
If you’re travelling with your family and need extra bed space, or you don’t want to have to make the bed up each night, you might want to consider an over-cab bed motorhome, which has fixed a double bed over the cab.
Do you want an onboard toilet?
Or would you be happy to use campsite facilities? You won’t find a toilet or shower in a VW campervan!
If this is a must, again, the popular ‘Coachbuilt’ style of motorhome which incorporates everything you would expect to find at home, could be a better option.
Is an onboard kitchen important?
Some prefer to eat at local restaurants or cook outside, others prefer the comfort of the home kitchen. If you’re of the latter and, depending on the number of people you are travelling with, consider whether you need a 2 or 4 ring hob, a fridge freezer and cupboard space.
Using your motorhome year-round?
If so, you’ll need decent heating, and an insulated water system that can handle sub-zero temperatures. Similarly, if you’re planning to travel into Europe over the summer, air conditioning would be a sensible feature to look for (some earlier models may not have this).
Bells and whistles?
You might want to extend your living space by adding an awning, or take bikes or even a small car with you, requiring towing or racks, and in each case, you’ll need a motorhome that can accommodate these preferences.
An A-class or the even bigger American-style RV offer a more luxurious mobile home experience, with high-end fittings and fixtures. The downside is that the price tags are considerably higher and they’re much bulkier, making them more difficult to park and house.
Can I drive a motorhome on a car licence?
This is determined by the weight of the vehicle. The easiest way to work this out is to cross-reference your V5c log book with the entitlements on the back of your driving licence (note that the official weight of the vehicle is determined by your V5c, not how much you intend to put in it):
- To drive a motorhome under 3.5 tonnes (Category B and B1), you can use your standard driving licence.
- To drive a motorhome between 3.5 to 7.5 tonnes, you’ll need a Category C1 entitlement.
- For those over 7.5 tonnes you’ll need a Category C entitlement.
The majority of UK motorhomes will fall under the B/B1 category, which features on a standard driving licence. Those who passed their driving tests prior to 1997 are likely to have the Category C1 entitlement.
Do motorhomes need an MOT?
After the age of 3, motorhomes will need an annual MOT. Fortunately, the costs are comparable to that of regular cars. If you don’t have an MOT, you can be fined just like you would be for a regular car.
You will also need to obtain an annual service for your motorhome to check things like water, gas, electrical and heating systems, in addition to safety checks to onboard appliances.
Joining a club, like the Camping and Caravanning Club, gives you access to recommended testers and approved workshops.
What is motorhome insurance?
Much like choosing your style of motorhome, so too will you need to choose your style of motorhome insurance. Premiums and cover will depend on whether you intend to travel in the UK or across Europe, whether you use it regularly or just once or twice a year