Covid has really put travelling in a campervan on the map for the masses. Everybody wants to break free and taking a house on the road seems like an excellent corona-proof travel solution. People who used to go for a lovely holiday location are now eager to try out a vacation on the move. Brilliant.
We think it’s absolutely the best way to explore. For the last two and a half years, guest editors Kim and Sebas (read their article about the best Dutch winter glampings here), have lived and breathed this lifestyle. Needless to say, they know a great deal about the little things that make this type of adventure more comfortable. In this article they share their knowledge so you know what to think off before you rent a campervan. Here are some of the most overlooked tips when renting a campervan.
Some beautiful paths can’t be discovered without getting lost.
Our number one tip
As cute as the van might look, if you enter it and you can’t stand up straight or fit in the bed, it’s a no-go. It’s cool if you just have to lower your head, but if you need to bend your back and continuously lean forward while moving around it’s gonna drive you crazy. On a subconscious level, it will make being inside a negative thing when it should be your safe little haven for the time being. The same goes for the bed. One can deal with a half-decent mattress, but we’re convinced the size of the bed should be up to you. It’s often built in the van’s width, so in general 6 feet long. But if you’re taller, you might want to check a different option.
Also, check if it’s a permanent bed and therefor a hang out place during the day. If so, be smart and check if there is a bedspread, especially when travelling with kids. Being out and about all day makes one dirty (or it should at least) and you don’t want that dirt to end up in your bed. Kids on the bed playing boardgames, Kim making pop corn, Sebastiaan fixing the drinks and taking turns with newfound friends in who gets to choose the next song to play. Lots of cosiness in a tiny space.
Your front porch
Preferably, you rent a camperhome that comes with an awning or front tent. Especially if you expect to encounter some bad weather or need protection from the sun. It allows you to be outside, a total game changer when travelling with kids. Otherwise, you end up with tons of pent up energy and kids bouncing off the walls. Ask the owner how to deal with lots of rain. The way you set up the awning/tent will probably guide the water to the sides, but make sure you understand how it is done right. You don’t want the canvas ripping under the weight of a growing water puddle. Our set up used to be pretty basic. As a safety, we would simply place an extra pole in the centre of the awning. Hey, whatever works, works, right?
If your motorhome has a lovely awning, then it is time to switch your attention to the inventory. While a roof is nice, if there’s no place to sit, it kind of defeats the purpose. It’s important to check if there are some chairs included (how many?) and a fold-out table in the van’s storage space. Does it come with an outdoor camping rug? It’s probably not a bad idea to bring one, so kids can sit on the ground and play. How about a fire pit, barbecue-gear or outdoor lighting? All these items enlarge your living space and will support that ‘off grid’ outdoor lifestyle you’re looking for. In that sense, it’s good to make house and create a nice atmosphere.
Travelling in a campervan is about spending quality time together
Check the inventory
Make sure to check if the kitchen inventory meets your needs. Is there enough cutlery, how big is the fridge, what’s the cooking situation like? Gas, electricity or both? Tip: Never leave home without firewood. Be prepared, because not every campsite sells wood. And to camp without a fire is like skiing without snow, it just not an option. ALWAYS Bring skewers for marshmallows or a knife to sharpen a branch and make old fashioned “bread on a stick’, Your kids will love you for it. And a mental note for the ” grown-ups” Ice cubes! Something that is easily forgotten, but quite important for cocktail-lovers. If the fridge has no freezer, you won’t have any. And a gin tonic doesn’t taste the same without.
Keeping your camper van clean
Another pointer is to think about the cleaning possibilities. As silly as it might sound, a broom has always made us happy. Fact is, that you live in a tiny house and people are running in and out. It’ll only take a minute to sweep the floor and it will positively add to the ‘home, sweet temporary home’-feeling. Plus, if you have messy eaters, it will keep away the flies. During the rainy season, you might even want to use a mop. Mud gets everywhere. And to be clear, we’re not talking squeaky clean, but just make it easy for yourself to keep the mess in check. Emphasis on easy. 1, 2 and done. You’re on holiday.
As we are dealing with Corona rules, the bathroom became more important. In 2019, when travelling the South Americas our campervan, Jaap, didn’t have a toilet let alone a shower. We didn’t miss it at all. Our second and current campervan, Red Jaap, has both and allowed us to travel during covid. We love him for it. A clean (and hygienic) bathroom is important. Hence the reason for those well known toilet chemicals. All good, but for those with a sensitive smell, check with the owner if different solutions are also available, like vinegar-water or other natural solutions. And be aware that you need to empty the septic tank . If you’re not staying at a campsite, check where you can legally get rid of it.
It’s 2021. Even if we try to be off grid, we still tend to have plenty of devices that need recharging. Ask about the possibilities of the specific motorhome you’re interested in. Does it have come with solar panels or does it need to be hooked up to a campground electrical system. If you’re hooked up, check if the fridge, the electric- or heating/cooling system makes some sort of sound, if it’s loud. Especially the older campervan models can be a bit noisier. A light sleeper might struggle to get some shut-eye. If needed, unplug from the campgrounds electrical system altogether (which could also shut down your fridge), or just use earplugs.
Where can you rent a campervan?
Here are some cool suggestions to get you going.
- ioverlander.com (a great app for on your phone)
- Park4night.com (one more unmissable app)
To conclude, we’re always happy if people get experience a house on wheels-experience. Because we’re hooked or should we say: addicted to the freedom that comes with it. It means everything to us. Hopefully, it will put a smile on your face too. So if you’re thinking about renting a campervan, remember that you can go anywhere you want, in your own time. And as long as there is gas in the tank, food and drinks in the fridge, nothing is stopping you. Enjoy!!
*Traveling is in this families blood. Last year they came back from South America and decided to stick to a nomadic lifestyle and then corona happened. So in the meantime they’re exploring the Netherlands. Always on the look out for heartwarming places…Follow them on Instagram!