In the camping world there has been an age-old debate… which is best, caravan or campervan? In this article we’ll share with you some of our insights on the pros and cons of both (as well as a few suggestions that might surprise you).
Why a caravan may be the ideal choice for you
If you want to become an independent traveller who wants to sleep "in the wild", but the tent is no longer an attractive option, you can choose from two options - a caravan or a campervan / motorhome.
Here’s why we’re falling in love with small caravans
- If your goal is to spend as much free time as possible in nature… bigger caravans and motorhomes are probably a no-go. Why? Because it's hard to get to the intimate, hard-to-reach places with them. If you can do without an internal toilet and shower on the road, you’ll often find the extra size and weight unnecessary.
- That’ll leave you with two options - a smaller built-in van, or a small, off-road caravan. If you already have a vehicle and don’t want to pay to rent another, a small caravan is likely the way to go!
- Now you can certainly try off-road driving with a classic caravan to see how it goes. However, on dirt roads they can often sway from side to side on their smaller wheels, so you could find yourself coming to a stop frequently. However, we at Campiri have been extremely impressed with the handling of a specific off-road mini-caravan with large wheels and a stable base, which will pass even over difficult terrain (here’s the link!). The outdoor kitchen might be a challenge when it rains, but aside from that it provides plenty of space for cooking, and ventilation is provided naturally.
- Due to their small dimensions, you don’t need to deal with any nasty height issues, as a mini-caravan itself does not exceed 2 metres in height. This makes it suitable for underpasses and garages. But more than that, it can actually save you money! On the French motorways, for example, the difference in tolls for vehicles 3m high (or more) can be big.
Comparing motorhomes and caravans
What's your priority? Do you want maximum comfort, or intend to have a holiday in one place? Do you intend to stick to high-quality roads? If the answer was yes, then a larger motorhome or caravan is the right choice for you. A shower, a toilet, a kitchen where you can cook in warmth, and a larger space for spending free time when it’s raining outside.
A caravan can provide you with the same comfort (for a lower price), and similar to a motorhome, a larger model means maximum comfort. It is slightly harder to drive a caravan than a motorhome though, so keep this in mind. On the other hand, the popularity of so-called mini-caravans is still growing, which can be more akin to a fixed bed and kitchen on wheels. So essentially a mini-caravan means this - your bedroom is on its own set of wheels, the kitchen is on the outside, and the living room is the nature around you, even if it’s raining. You don’t have a shower and toilet, so if you’re not a fan of going to the toilet in nature, you’ll want to have regular visits to a campsite.
There are many varieties of caravans and campervans, but most decisions will eventually boil down to the size.
There are a number of caravans on Campiri. Just choose the best one for you!
So do I want a caravan or a motorhome?
Despite its size, a motorhome is essentially just a big car, and you only need a little practice to drive it, taking into account the larger dimensions. Conversely, with a caravan, driving and handling can be a bigger challenge. Reversing with a caravan requires more training. In addition, if the weight of both vehicles (car or van + caravan) is greater than 3.5 tonnes, you also need to extend your driving licence and pass a practical driving test, which can be a pain.
The advantage of mini-caravans is that you can also disconnect and park them on level ground. However for heavier caravans you have to rely on your driving skills, or buy a parking aid for more accurate parking.
Due to the length of the caravan on the back of your vehicle, any turning will take up more of the space around you. As a rule, it’s pretty much always easier to park a motorhome. Don’t forget though, that if you spend a holiday in a campsite and want to make trips around the area, you don’t have to drive a large caravan daily. You can set it down and simply take to the road again in your towing vehicle.
When it comes to driving speed, motorhomes have no real differences compared to a classic car, while you have to consider different speed limits for caravans. For smaller caravans, the maximum speed is often limited to 100 km/h in Europe, which can be an issue if you’re planning very long trips on motorways. You also need to find out the rules for the maximum permitted speed of the vehicle with the caravan in the country you are travelling to if you’re driving across Europe, as it varies between countries.
How to handle the terrain
Larger caravans and motorhomes are ideal for campsites and pitches. However for wild camping, you’ll want a small and nimble vehicle that you can trust to safely go along a forest path. If you want to spend the night in a meadow and have breakfast overlooking the countryside, you’ll want to go for a smaller off-road caravan or van.
Caravan costs and maintenance
In general, more modest space and equipment requirements also mean lower acquisition costs, whether you’re buying a motorhome or a caravan. However, a big factor for many people is the significantly higher price of a motorhome compared to a similarly equipped caravan… and this also applies to renting too.
Whether you choose a mini-caravan or a large, luxury motorhome, remember this - get something that will meet your unique requirements. Get something that keeps YOU comfy and happy, whether that be for relaxation or adventure.
At Campiri you’ll find a wealth of different campervans, motorhomes and caravans, of all shapes and sizes. Whichever you pick, we’re certain you’ll love it.