All things camping & campervan

There might be a slight crossover with the car thread but here goes.

I’ve been getting into a few new things lately, XC mtb, trail running etc. IM might drop into my life in the future but I’ve never been the ‘tri tragic’ type as that doesn’t interest me. I am however, a ‘multi-sport tragic’ and healthy dose of surfing in there as well.

Given all these interests and a daughter that is getting more into her own events, I’m trying to combine family adventures with races/events. That means camping, now I chuffin hate camping and only used to do it if the surf break was so remote there was no other option.

Looking at camping websites now and tents have moved on a lot (Air Beam for example). Also trailers such as Air Opus look good (but very spendy!). My preference is for a campervan but would have to be sub £20k and that comes with issues of insurance, storage, rust etc. ( we are hiring one a couple of times later in year).

There are three of us, and Little One is, 5 so she could sleep in a pop top. She tells me she’d like to camp but I reckon the reality of sleeping on the ground and noise might not suit her, or me being 54yr old and knackered!

We are only looking at three night ‘splash n dash’ trips, not week long plus holidays. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts/ experiences on how you integrate racing/ adventures with camping and kids. (bike security etc) and costs.

we’re motorhome owners - have had one since 2004 or so (now on our 4th model). OK it’s a step up in size and facilities to a campervan but if you want to enjoy the freedom of travel to - and often overnight at - events it’s a great option. we don’t have kids, just the 2 of us, and it suits our lifestyle as we use it for triathlon in summer, skiing in winter, and at other times we can get away. we’ve traveled to a few European IM events in it, and always combined the trip with a break with a few days away either side of the event. and you aren’t limited to what you can take - if you can get it in, take it! the motorhome/campervan life isn’t for all, so hiring to start is the best way to see how you adapt.

£20K is a very tight budget but there are vehicles out there - don’t splash out to start but see how it goes

Cheers FB. A proper motorhome is not what we are after, our driveway and budget would not stretch to that. The reason I want to keep the cost down is because I’d like to spend on other things also, I wouldn’t want to be a slave to it. The higher the investment, the more I’d think I have to use it for every single holiday. They are great though, hired many times in Oz and NZ.

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I think if you get hooked on the campervan/motorhome way of life, then it’s worth investing that little more for quality of life and ease of use with extra facilities, but you need to be prepared to spend a fair amount or happy to do a lot of DIY! we did 3 different campervan hires in Oz/NZ last year, 2 of which wereToyota Hiace conversions - boy were we hankering after our nice, comfy, warm (we were there in Sep/Oct which is cold in Victoria) motorhome after a couple of days!

Cheers mate. I saw a massive thread on STW where a guy converted a van, he was obviously very skilled. The other reason I want to rent is to find out which layouts work best for us, as there are so many options. The budget is the budget, I’m 54 with a 5yr old, houses and a pension and Australian uni education for her to pay for in the future.

I could be sold on a campervan, a trailer camper or even a tent (probably in that order) but need to work out the realities first.

We recently(Nov 18) bought a VW T5 campervan and haven’t looked back. Much easier than camping and have used at a couple of Tri’s this year. There are 5 of us (kids 12,10,7) and we fit. At night, 2 in pop top, 1 in camp bed across front and two downstairs. We have the added luxury of solar charging on the leisure battery for the fridge and electrics. Cost us £14.5k, we had a budget of £17. Its a sound van, passed MOT with no advisories. There are plenty out there for your budget, just need to shop round and make lists… VW T5 forum is a great site for general advice

Good stuff Sid, glad you like it. What do you do for showering, use camp sites presumably? Do you have a tail life/bike rack?

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We use campsites for showers etc. Or baby wipes/wash in the sink :slight_smile:
We have a Thule 3 Bike Towbar rack

In a similar position but only one child who is older now so probably won’t be coming with us much longer.
Bought a 25 year old rust free T4. Looked at quite a few and all had issues before coming across this one locally which was in exceptionally good condition. 2L petrol so no LEZ issues either.
RnR bed downstairs, pop top with air mattress upstairs. Use a 3 bike tow bar rack, rack can be locked to tow ball (not the most robust lock in the world though) and bikes locked to rack.
We only intend to use for a few days at a time rather than full holidays but so far so good and really happy.
Ps. If we hadn’t found ours when we did we would probably have gone with a new conversion on a T5 from a place in Tewkesbury (The Campervan Factory) that buy in and convert vans. We saw them at the Malvern show and they were really nice, started at just over £20k which seemed less than a lot of similar converters.

Cheers JaRok, when you say £20k at The Campervan Factory, that’s on top of the cost of the donor vehicle I take it?

No, that’s the complete vans. When we looked that would get you a white, no aircon, barndoor van about 5 years old and under 100k miles. Aircon, different colours and tailgates all added to the price as they have to pay more for the donor vans.
They put some of their vans on Ebay under Baileyvehicleconversionsoffers, it’s still in my saved sellers from when I was looking.

Cheers mate, I’ll take a look :slight_smile:

I took a look at the Campervan Factory’s ebay sales - some good vehicles on there at reasonable prices. we have toyed with the idea of a campervan instead of standard car so we could use it for the odd single night away when we officiate at tris rather than use the larger motorhome which can sometimes be a problem to park close to race venues. the thought is still there in the background but if we did go this route, I think the motorhome would then become an expensive luxury sat not doing much for a lot of the time which would be a waste of our investment in it. a good premium bond win could tip the balance though!

That’s the dilema isn’t it FB. I had a good chat with Mrs FP last night and looking at the amount of vans available for hire in Hampshire, coupled with the fact that my car is on its last legs (I commute 60miles per day) I think we will be content to rent for a year or so. I’m really keen to so how Little One takes to it long term.

One other issue that we are checking today is, our recent house purchase has a clause in the contract about not allowing caravans, boats be parked on the driveway. I’m assuming a camper would be ok, although it would block our view out of the kitchen window. Storage in our area would run to about £40p/m.

Right now the plan is to hire for a 3 day weekend in July and a week or 10days at the end of Aug. The Aug trip would mean I can use it for Torq in your Sleep XC race (Guildford) and then head down to the coast for some surfing with the family. I will try and hire two different layouts to compare.

going down the rental route with different layouts is the best way to go - that way you can check out the pros and cons of van life, as it’s not for everyone. you’d be amazed the number of new motorhomes that come on the market shortly after being brought brand new by people with no m/h experience who then decide they don’t like them. we got our current one 2nd hand - 15 months old, 1250 miles on the clock - basically brand new without the VAT.

in our last gaff we had restrictive covenants like yours - no caravans or commercial vehicles etc. I could have argued the toss that a motorhome is not a caravan (it’s taxed as a car) but at 7m long it barely fitted the drive anyway, so we used local storage (a campsite with a big storage pound about 3 miles away). I think I paid about £450pa but that was over 4 years ago now so £40pm doesn’t seem unreasonable, but that’s without knowing what security they have. insurance premiums can vary according to what sort of storage compound is used - some insurers may refuse if the site is not listed or an unknown quantity (farmers yards kind of thing usually)

That’s a good plan. I had a T25 many years ago which was a twin slider. Sounds great in theory but really restricts useable space as there are no spare walls to put anything against. The one I have now is the classic VW side layout which I think is the best use of space and why it has become the standard but there are alternatives. We also looked at Bongos but to get a decent width bed you end up with really narrow cupboards that aren’t much use. Also think about the height carefully, mines a pop-top and still under 2m so will go in most carparks, not all pop-tops will. If you plan to use it as a car, that can make a big difference.

Ian, like you I used to race 'bikes, so I’ve had my share of crap old vans. I’d be a bit wary of ageing VWs, still quite expensive because of the surf dude tax and not the best reliability. I went through the options a couple of years ago and went for a lesser known import, E51 Nissan Elgrand. Your starting point is an 8-seater luxury MPV, with 3.5 V6 petrol, but it costs less than the builders van alternative. Here’s how. Base vehicle 5-10k, lpg conversion 1.5k (40mpg equivalent, but you have a smooth 240bhp instead of diseasel), rear camper conversion 3k or side conversion 6k (inc fridge), poptop with child bed 3k. Total spend for us was around 15k. Have done 25k miles now and we’ve ended up driving it more than the couple of cars we’ve had in the same period.

Sharp trade-off between mpv/van and the motorhome option. You can take and park the small one more or less anywhere, space is tight inside, and bike storage is tricky (aerodynamics cause the rear end to collect much dirt, so I’ve gone for a central interior front-fork mount (accomodates one road/tt bike or mtb)

that’s where having a motorhome with a rear garage scores - sports kit is safe and dry. :ok_hand:

This is great stuff guys, fantastic input thanks. I’ve hired motorhomes in Oz and NZ, mostly high top LWB Transits. We’ve always enjoyed it but only for short trips. We did one 10 day hire in NZ and I was over it after about day 8.
Still mulling the options over. I’m not against getting something like an Air opus, as that way I can get a bigger/newer car with a tow bar. I’ve sat in one at a dealers and it seemed nice. Of course, what you lose is the ability to park up anywhere and also make a quick getaway.

As long as Mrs FP and Little One enjoy it, I can work around most things. As has been mentioned, making a considered decision over time will avoid a very costly mistake.

I fell in love with some of the Outback style fold up campers in Oz with their metal plate protection and big chunky wheels usually towed by a big UTE. some of them were better equipped than motorhomes and caravans and numerous styles and layouts