Buying a Camper Van?

(50 Posts)
KernowKids Mon 11-Aug-14 10:38:36

We would absolutely love a camper as we go away a lot/spend lots of time at the beach and I think it would be a brilliant thing for us as a family. We have quite a lot of equity in our house and I have been mulling over whether we 'take back' some of the money to finance a camper.

What camper would you buy if you had a completely free choice?

GalaxyInMyPants Mon 11-Aug-14 10:40:16

What budget?

GalaxyInMyPants Mon 11-Aug-14 10:40:37

And how many kids?

Depends where and how you are going to use it. Do you want to actually sleep in it or just do day trips? How much space do you have to park it?

Cereal0ffender Mon 11-Aug-14 10:42:50

They are really good fun and we did go away a lot with ours. Eventually it just became too expensive to run as well as a car. My advice would be to buy as young a van as you can afford. Think hard about things that you need in your van. We had a loo which was fantastic but not everyone cares about having a loo. Get a good bike rack is you can cycle when you pitch up.

KernowKids Mon 11-Aug-14 11:01:57

There are 4 of us - DH, me and 2 little ones. We def want to be able to sleep in it, or at least some of us with a tent alongside for the overspill! WE always stay on campsites so shower/loo not so important, but a hob for hot drinks and simple food would be amazing. Both dc still in bulky car seats to proper seat restraints important, and we have ruled out dc 3 so would need there to be more than 4 seats for actual travel.

We have a drive at home so parking not an issue, though I would feel uncomfortable about anything too huge. DH gets a company car at the mo, so we don't spend much on travel at present so running costs won't be doubled iyswim.

Budget is flexible I guess in that we would be borrowing it on the mortgage and therefore can get what we need, although have to be sensible too! I think campers hold their value quite well so we could sell if need be?

GalaxyInMyPants Mon 11-Aug-14 11:32:17

Have you thought about a caravan?

I used to have a vw t25. Just me, dd and a dog and I found it really cramped. It was a pita for having to pack stuff up before setting off for the day. It cost a fortune in fuel. Then having to tax, insure, service, mot it. Garage bills, etc.

We've got a caravan now and there's more space and its cheaper to run.

GalaxyInMyPants Mon 11-Aug-14 11:33:31

But if I was going to buy a camper and budget was flexible I'd get something like a Fiat Swift. They're about 40k.

Cereal0ffender Mon 11-Aug-14 11:36:14

Bongos are great fun for what you describe. The conversions can vary in quality so have a look at a few.

We had Peugeot boxer conversion which was perfect for us as there was enough room inside to make a rainy day bearable.

FrozenAteMyDaughter Mon 11-Aug-14 14:11:30

Look into the options carefully, OP. The older and cooler vans (eg. VW splitties and bays from the 70s/80s) particularly are money pits and burn fuel like water. Ours cost us a bomb in fuel and endless things going wrong, although we did love it while we had it.

Our friends have a Bongo and are considering getting rid of it, and fuel economy (or lack of it) is one of the reasons.

I am sure though that the modern VWs and other similar vans are much better for this, although others will no doubt have better knowledge.

Cereal0ffender Mon 11-Aug-14 14:17:54

Are any campers fuel efficient?

Takver Mon 11-Aug-14 14:24:54

I've got a Vauxhall vivaro and so far (had it since Feb) I'm very pleased with it. Its very easy to drive and fuel efficiency isn't bad (around 40 to the gallon). Mine's not properly converted, just a rock-and-roll bed + lining, but I think it would convert nicely as it's a similar size to a T5 but a bit boxier in shape. I've just bought a drive-away awning which will be getting it's first outing this weekend to give a bit more space.

My experience of VWs is that they are just so much more expensive for a given age / mileage than other vans, I couldn't justify it. Also reading up on T5s, they don't sound as good as the T4, and I didn't want another ancient knackered van (been there, done that).

I didn't want a Bongo or Hi-ace because of the fuel efficiency issue, as it stands my van gets better mileage than our other vehicle, so I never feel I shouldn't use it, IYKWIM.

Takver Mon 11-Aug-14 14:25:58

I should say mine gets used a lot as a day van to go to the beach - it's just so nice being able to chuck everything in, not fighting surfboard onto the roof, somewhere to change and sit out the wind for a cuppa when you get out of your wetsuit etc etc.

Takver Mon 11-Aug-14 14:31:48

This looks nice, for example. Obviously doesn't help with 2 dc, but my 12 y/o dd has a foam mattress that goes across the front seats and makes a very cozy mini-bedroom for her.

fieldfare Mon 11-Aug-14 14:38:59

We've got a Fiat Ducato with a Dethleffs coach built body. She's 7m long, 6 berth and has a full bathroom and kitchen with a fixed rear double bed, a double above the cab and the dining table converts into a small double too. She's getting on a bit now (1989) but everything works! Well, it does now - it didn't when we bought her and that's why she was so relatively cheap.
We camp lots, go to loads of festivals and nip off to the beach for the day too. Fuel consumption is quite high but it's a beast of a van and the insurance is really low (£145 for the year!), it's the best decision we've made.

Cereal0ffender Mon 11-Aug-14 14:45:55

Ours had fly screens on the windows which are fabulous if you plan to ever camp in scotland

museumum Mon 11-Aug-14 14:51:21

We had a vauxhall vivaro converted. Fuel efficiency is good, especially on the motorway - it's got six gears. It's really easy to drive.
We got heating, rock and roll bed and pop top with upper bed, three way fridge, tinted windows, cooker and sink. We had the front bench seat swapped to a swivel seat and had one 3pt and one lap belt put in the back.

The only thing I'd have changed if we had more money would have been to start with a brand new van (ours was five years old). We need a new radio/iPhone Dock.

museumum Mon 11-Aug-14 14:52:30

Takver - what awning do you have and is it fixed to the van (that'll be our next purchase)

Shockingundercrackers Mon 11-Aug-14 14:52:49

We have a high top VW T25 and it's one of the best things we've ever bought. Just the right size for two grown ups and two children, and lots of fun for cups of tea by the seaside when the weather's bad and camping in the summer. Fuel economy seems reasonable (it's a diesel) and for a 25 year old vehicle it's not had that many issues (we've spent more on our "new" car) - we've had it for 3 years and it's actually increased in value.

If we had off road parking I'd be tempted to get something bigger though! I like the sound of your Fiat Field!

museumum Mon 11-Aug-14 14:53:16

Oh and we got pop top instead of high top and short wheel base for fitting into car parks and on ferries.

Shockingundercrackers Mon 11-Aug-14 14:54:23

Sorry, posted too soon, was going to say I'd love a toilet and some heating...

I have a Bongo and I love it. It's my only vehicle, so didn't want something huge. The fuel efficiency is a total shocker though - I try not to even think about it. I do very few miles - if you do lots I wouldn't recommend.

Cereal0ffender Mon 11-Aug-14 15:53:59

I really want a campervan again now, I really should stay away from these threads

Takver Mon 11-Aug-14 16:33:21

museumum, it's a standalone awning (driveaway), not fixed to the van. It's a Sunncamp Aspect - I bought it 2nd hand on ebay, definitely a cheap and cheerful option (IIRC it was £70 inc postage), but one of my friends has the same awning and it's worked well for her.

Most of our camping is 1 or 2 nights, so the awning is really just for occasional festival use & the like, probably not more than a couple of times a year, hence why I wanted something cheap! We've put it up & played with it a bit & it seems to fit nicely, though, and should give us that bit of extra space.

KernowKids Mon 11-Aug-14 19:46:27

So in general, do most people buy a normal van and then pay for conversion on top?

I'd want to go as new as possible. My parents had a really old vw and it was always breaking down. Dad was great at fixing it and sourcing old or alternative parts but DH and I are not that way inclined!

Friend of ours have a Bongo but have said that the fuel costs mean that it doesn't make for a cheap holiday at all.

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