Caravan or campervan? – The great mobile home debate

Any caravan or campervan enthusiast will tell you, there’s nothing quite like life on the open road. When you’ve got a mobile home in the shape of a caravan or campervan you can go anywhere at the drop of a hat, with your own home comforts in miniature and no need to worry about where you’ll lay your head. But the big question is: which is best?

The case for caravans

The obvious advantage of a caravan is convenience. Once you’ve arrived at your destination you can unhitch your mini home-on-wheels and it can remain in situ for the duration of your holiday: put your awning up, get the china out and generally make yourself at home.

While the campervan or motorhome enthusiast may claim that all this can be done with a van-based home too, just remember that with a campervan the mobile part cannot be detached from the home part. Each time you need to head out somewhere using the motor you’ll be folding those beds back in to seats, securing the breakables and cramming everything back into its hidey-holes. For the campervan or motorhome owner packing and unpacking is a constant daily challenge.

In addition, driving a van around during your holiday, rather than a car, incurs extra expense and can take extra time – many vans can only travel at limited speeds and parking a larger vehicle can be a pain in the rear-view mirror too! Caravanners, on the other hand, will be whizzing smugly by in their usual car with none of these concerns and, after a day out exploring, will most likely be found snoozing in their deckchairs while the campervan owner is reattaching their awning and rolling down the driving seat in to one half of a double bed.

If you’re weighing up the pros and cons of caravans and campervans before making a purchase, money is probably uppermost in your mind and, when it comes to price, caravans are the winner yet again. They are usually far cheaper and won’t cost you in additional road tax, assuming you have a car that is already taxed and capable of towing the model you choose!


The case for campervans

Okay so a brand-new caravan tends to be cheaper than a brand-new campervan or motorhome – but there’s a range of models out there and, of course, there are always second-hand options. And don’t forget to factor in that you may have to pay for storage for a caravan whereas your camper can stay kerbside.

Moving on to address the caravan’s other perceived main advantage: that you can leave it on site while you explore. Most campers and motorhomes are pretty nifty these days, with ingenious methods of tucking things away so that packing and unpacking is as pain-free as possible. Plus, taking your camper with you on days out also means that you have a mobile kitchen with you at all times for an impromptu cuppa at the side of the road or dinner in a picturesque spot.

There’s no denying that if the debate was simply down to the main journey – the one that takes you to your destination, the campervan or motorhome would win hands down. Driving an all-in-one vehicle is far preferable to towing a caravan. Towing can be treacherous not to mention treacherously slow meaning that longer-distance getaways are only worth it when you have time on your hands – and don’t mind enraging other drivers who will no doubt get stuck behind you. In a motorhome or campervan, however, you’re likely to be a little faster and you’ll probably be too busy enjoying the drive to notice if your speed is fuelling anyone’s road rage.

Which brings us to the style factor – cruise along in a tastefully-refurbished vintage VW van or a souped-up modern motorhome and all heads will turn. When it comes to a caravan, however, it will probably only be a select community of caravanners who appreciate your awning length or remote-controlled parking ability.

The aesthetic appeal combined with the nimble size of campervans give them one last advantage – they are more readily accepted on a greater number of campsites than caravans, often on quirkier sites with more basic facilities so they are great for the adventurous.


The verdict

After our extensive research in to the subject, we can conclusively say that campervans are best. Best, that is, if you are the type of person who relishes the journey as much as the destination, who enjoys short spontaneous trips, holidays with multiple stops at quirky campsites, and who relishes packing as a challenge rather than a chore. But because you can’t please all of the people all of the time it is only fair to acknowledge that caravans are also best. Best for people who don’t mind taking their time to get to the places they really want to visit, who enjoy having a comfortable home-from-home base from which to explore and who probably appreciate the comfort provided by the facilities of larger campsites.