Before I start, I’ll just say that I don’t mean EVERY caravanner.
You might have had a caravan for some time and you’ve been looking at motorhomers on YouTube. They’re parking up where they like and seem to be having a great time. They seem to have infinite flexibility. It’s true Motorhome holidays and trips are different from those we have in a caravan.
We Have Tried It
We have dabbled with the motorhome lifestyle, a few years back we did buy a motorhome, a very nice Autotrail and I have to admit I had high hopes, I also have to admit I was wrong. Now the good thing is after owning one for a year the depreciation was less than if I’d hired one for 2 weeks, so I wasn’t ruined financially. However, it did teach me a lesson. “The grass isn’t always greener on the other side”. Which reminds me of my first trip to France when I was about 18. I took my Mum with me, she had never been abroad, come to think of it neither had I. Mum didn’t even have a passport, so we went to the Post Office in Dover and got a “day pass” which was issued there and then. Now that seems so unlikely that I’m doubting myself, but they were different times. This would have been early 1980’s. Mind you it’s not as unlikely as paying £1 to get the ferry to Calais and back with an offer in a tabloid newspaper!
I digress, my point there was about the grass isn’t greener…As the coach pulled off the Ferry in Calais, for my first taste of France I distinctly remember thinking everything was the same as England (apart from their accent, money and the fact that they unnervingly drove on the other side of the road!) The grass was the same colour!
Back to Motohomes..
Now I’m not having a dig at Motorhomers, I’m not saying they are inferior to caravans (although they are in some ways – more on that later)
Who’s More Likely To Change?
I think those at most danger of swapping to a motorhome and then coming back to caravan are those who vlog. Strange, as you’d have thought they were more informed of the differences in the two modes of holidaying. I don’t mean those that “live” in their motorhomes. That’s an entirely different subject under the vague umbrella that is “Van Life” where you vlog your daily life, add the odd bikini clad vlog thumbnail or maybe title the vlog “Disaster in the Pyrenees” and get 5 times the amount of views you normally get. Woah caravanvlogger, where did that go?
Anyway, also those of us who are getting on a bit, the temptation would be that owning a Motorhome is somehow easier?
What The Problem Then?
So why should caravanners be warey of changing to a Motorhome? Well, it’s something that does need a lot of thought and a lot of drawbacks aren’t completely obvious. Having said that, of course some do change and love, love, love it.
First and foremost is, obviously enough, the lack of a car. I know if sounds obvious, but when you get to your destination, you know, a lovely area in Southern France with picturesque villages and tiny coves, how the heck are you going to get your 7.5m motorhome there? In short, you’re not. I had the rather naive approach that if a bus, or delivery van can get there, so can I and in some cases I was right. However, when you get there, where are you going to park? Both delivery vans and buses only stop momentarily to either drop off a parcel, or collect and drop off passengers. They don’t need to park up, have lunch, go shopping, see the sites and generally just hand around enjoying themselves.
With a caravan, you tow it to wherever you are holidaying, leave it there, out of the way, where it should be and pootle off in your car exploring until your heart’s content.
In our example, we stayed on a site near to Brixham in the Motorhome. I thought I’d get the Motorhome down there, I’d seen no end of buses, lorries etc. But back to my earlier point, I could get the Motorhome down there, I could drive through, just about mind you, whilst pissing off every other road user. I’d say “Oooo this is nice, shame we CAN’T STOP! Damn you Motorhome!” I’d then get out find the nearest branch and give the MoHo a damn good thrashing for being so big! It wouldn’t be any easier in a campervan either, having said that if you could get into the car park, you’d be fine. Even in the car you can’t get that close.
Maybe you’ve take your caravan to Cornwall. You know what a nightmare towing down some of those roads is – aren’t you always thankful when you’ve sited your caravan and you can just drive around? Of course your are, you’re not a lunatic. But with a Motorhome – it’s always with you – unless….
The Alternative to a Car
So, surely motorhomers have a solution to this problem? Well, of course they do and it’s a very good one, with a rather large but – no pun intended, sort of. The solution is to visit places under your own steam. Like a bike, or public transport, or even walking. Sounds idyllic, doesn’t it? A gentle stroll on a beautiful summer’s day to get some essentials at the local shop? Or even jump on your eBike and do the same. Lovely. Yes, lovely if the shop is a 5 minute walk away and the weather is nice and you’re in the South of France! But you’re not, you’re in North Yorkshire in January and it’s blowing a hooley and all you want is some sodding milk for your slightly out of date coco pops. So, you end up swearing to the God of Motorhomes and wish you hadn’t sold your caravan. You then find the nearest branch and thrash the Motorhome to within an inch of its life!
You could, I guess hire a car should you be so inclined or, of course, tow a car behind you. When I was younger and didn’t have a car I relied of public transport. After 40 years of working, I’m not going back. I don’t mind the odd scenic bus trip, but queueing up at a bus stop whilst having a £70k vehicle sitting doing nothing…
Oh That Infernal Noise!
You must have watched at least one YouTube vlog where a Motorhome is driving down a slightly bumpy road. You’re sitting there thinking what a wonderful life they have, suddenly your ears are drawn to a strange noise. What is that strange noise? Well, it’s the contents of the Motorhome bashing around, sounding like you’ve left some coins in your favourite jeans and the washing machine has just gone into a spin cycle!
I Fancy A Glass Of Wine
Many a time I’ve sat on site, in my awning and thought, “I really fancy a glass of wine” you might be thinking the same about beer, or gin, or diet coke even Irn Bru. What do I do? I just jump in the car, ask the sat nav where the nearest shop is, 10 minutes later I’m in my caravan, or awning supping a glass of said wine, wishing I’d bought that bottle that was £2 more expensive!
Now, take that scenario in a Motorhome. What do you do? Walk, cycle, or just have another cup of black tea because you’d also forgotten to buy milk. You end up packing all the motorhome up, unplugging the electric, remembering to leave a chair on the pitch in case someone steals the pitch whilst you’re away and of course it’s raining so you get soaking wet getting the chair out of the garage. Then you drive to the supermarket, only to find you can’t get in the bloody parking because there’s a height limiting bar. Again your curse the God of Motorhoming, find the nearest branch…You then drive back to site, forget you put the chair on the pitch to make sure no one stole it, you then run over the chair buy mistake. Of course by now the chair is soaking wet and now, damaged beyond repair. You still put it back into the garage where you get even wetter, then get back into your Motorhome and have the black tea, convincing yourself it’s what you wanted all the time anyway. You haven’t even got the energy to find a branch!
Oh, My Wallet Hurts
Of course, with your caravan you only needed to worry about insurance and servicing didn’t you. Well, with a MoHo you need a habitation service AND and mechanical service, you’d better have deep pockets. Oh, sorry I forgot about road tax AND some cities are now introducing something like the London Congestion charge and you might have to pay every time you visit!
MoHo Size Isn’t The Same As A Caravan
A motorhome will have a lot less usable space than the equivalent length caravan. Remember you have an engine and front seats to allow for. Of course you could turn your driver and passenger seats around. For my experience a caravan offers more comfort, I can’t speak for the top of the range motorhomes!
Aires Abroad Are Just Like Car Parks
A lot of the park overs you see are basically car parks. I mean just tarmac spaces on the edge of a town / village. Ideal if you’re just on your way somewhere, but who’d want a 2 week holiday which consisted of parking in a car park, walking to get your shopping and then moving on to the next car par, after of course sleeping in said car park. You might as well stay on your drive!
Who Wants to Sleep In A Pub Car Park?
Whilst i’m on the subject of car parks, what about these Brit Stops? I know they help the local community by you visiting a pub and getting a meal and some drinks. But you then have to, once again kip in the car park. I know your Motorhome might be a Gin palace, but in the morning you’re looking out onto a car park with randomly placed piles of puke, empty beer bottles and dog sh!te.
There Must Be Some Reasons To Buy One?
As we age, we slow down, we like things to be easier. We maybe down size the house, get a smaller garden, make it more manageable. We might think that putting an awning up is getting a bit too much and filling the aquaroll is feeling more and more like an endurance event at the olympics.
You might think Motorhoming is easier with on board tanks, but you still have to empty the toilet cassette. Life would be easier with a motorhome; no awning to put up. You don’t have to put an awning up with a caravan.
Making short trips would be easier. Assuming you can get anything booked! You could do lots of shorter trips, less hassle; what about not having a car and not being able to get provisions easier, there’s a lot more organisation involved.
You might think it’ll be easier packing things away. In a work it’s just easier to “Go”
Things you should consider before trading your caravan in for a motorhome
- You have to pack up just every time you run out of tea bags
- MoHo lack the comfort of a Caravan
- Moho’s can be noisey and uncomfortable driving longer distances. I’d rather be at in my Mercedes with leather seats, aircon and air suspension than a convertible DHL courier van
- There’s a lack of usable space for the size compared to a caravan
- Accessing smaller villages and sites is a nightmare without using your own power, or getting on a bus, hiring a car or jumping in an Uber.
- More organisation is needed food etc
- Lack of a car when on site
- Always feel like you’re on the move.
As you don’t have a car you can have more gin as you’ll need to get a taxi or walk to your local pub
Finally – It’s All A Laugh!
I really wouldn’t recommend selling your house, buying a motorhome and sailing off into the sunset unless you really know what you’re getting into. I know van life youtube channels sell the dream of the perfect life. But really, who wants to live in a tin box 7 meters by 2 meters, that’s like a prison cell, albeit a luxurious one. What happens if you get ill, want something delivered? How do you do your washing, shower regularly, afford the gas. Motorhome are built to be used a few times a year for 10 years. After 2 years on constat use the bloody thing will be falling apart and it will certainly not feel like a holiday!
Of course it looks great when people go off around Europe, get stuck in countries due to lock downs, their motorhome breakdown and they get lost, robbed and have accidents. Oh what fun – and the views will roll in for a while.
Most of this is just one big joke. What do I know? I’ll answer that myself, I know nothing, in fact I might know as much as you, I might know a lot less than you! By all means buy a MoHo, spend your kids inheritance, they don’t deserve it anyway 🙂 Make memories, have fun, come home and bore people with your stories. You could even start a YouTube channel, get a caravan, write it off, get another one, change to a Motorhome, move house, buy a car, sell the motorhome, buy another caravan and pick up a few thousand subscribers on the way. it’s the way of the world and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Now I’ve got that lot of my chest, it actually sounds like a good idea. I’m off to Purple Bricks, selling the house, car and caravan and buying myself a nice big A Class motorhome, with a motorbike in the garage, towing a Smart car, for those little shopping trips for wine and teabags!