With holidays abroad off the table for many this summer, staycations are in.
Luckily, with so many beautiful beaches, dramatic landscapes and bustling cities to choose from right here in the UK, you don’t necessarily need to head overseas to get your fill of holiday vibes.
Why not explore the country’s hidden gems with a road trip? With a campervan you can have all the adventure of wild camping, with some of the luxuries of a hotel stay thrown in for good measure. Win-win.
Not sure how to get started? Here are our top campervan tips to help you have a great first trip away.
1. Choose the Right Motorhome
Let’s start with the basics. If you want to have a successful first campervan trip, you need to pick the right motorhome for you.
The key to this is being honest with yourself about what you feel comfortable driving. Consider what you need for your trip and what you might be able to compromise on, from the amount of space to which amenities you have.
Another thing to take into consideration is your gas usage. Essentially, the larger the motorhome, the more fuel it’ll use, so plan accordingly if you’re hoping to take a remote trip.
2. Pack Accordingly
There’s a fine balance when it comes to packing for a campervan trip. You don’t want to pack too much and leave yourself with no space to breathe. That said, but you also don’t want to pack too little and end up buying everything you forgot.
Put it this way: skimping on the cooking equipment could be the difference between a happy first night in the campervan and a hungry, miserable evening looking for the nearest McDonalds.
And don’t forget clothing and shoes for all weather types.
3. Plan Your Route
So you’ve got your van and packed all your essentials. The next logical step is to plan your route, right?
This might seem tricky. However, the reality is as long as you know roughly how long and where you want to stay, you can’t go far wrong.
But unless you’re the kind of person that can just “wing it” and always have everything work out (please teach us your ways), you should have at least a rough route plan in place. This should include back-ups for if and when something goes wrong.
(Let’s hope not!)
Basically, have a ‘Plan A’ route, but make it flexible enough to account for possible detours, diversions and delays, as well as regular comfort breaks and snack top-ups.
4. Remember Your “Fill Ups”
One of the most important campervan tips is to always remember to keep your “fill ups,” well, filled up.
We’re not just talking about petrol here – you’ll also need to fill up your LPG gas and water tanks along the way. Even if you’re not using it as drinking water, you’re still likely using it for showering or washing up.
The best way to ensure you don’t run empty is to take note of petrol stations and stores that’ll allow you to refill your petrol, gas and water and add them to your route plan.
5. Plan Who to Contact if Something Goes Wrong
If one thing’s certain in life, it’s that things rarely go completely to plan and disaster can strike at any moment.
For example, your motorhome could break down out of the blue. Alternatively, you could lock yourselves out or miscalculate distances between gas stations and run out of petrol.
You might not be able to predict what will go wrong, but you can get prepared with the help of a trusty emergency contingency plan.
Before leaving, make note of who you could call in the case of an emergency. If you’re renting your campervan, make sure you always have the contact details of the rental agency to hand. If all else fails, they can help you with who to get in touch with.
6. Plan Where to Stay
It’s all nice and well knowing which areas you want to visit and which routes you’ll take. Having said that, you also need to actually plan where to stay at night.
If you’re planning a weekend trip, keep in mind that spaces will fill up quicker, so book in advance to avoid disappointment.
The same goes for if you’re hoping to stay on a site with power and water. This will enable you to use all of your motorhome’s amenities while parked up without worrying about running down the battery or running out of water.
Other in-demand sites include those next to water. Therefore, if you’re dreaming of waking up to the soothing sounds of rippling water, get your booking in early.
7. Prepare Yourself for a Smaller Space
Travelling by campervan is an amazing experience. However, it’s important to realise that things will likely be a lot tighter than you’re used to, especially if you’re travelling with other people.
First, make sure you’re travelling with someone you know you can share a small space with without falling out.
Second, instead of staying cooped up in the van 24/7, make the most of being outside whenever possible. Pack some outdoor furniture like fold out chairs, tables, tablecloth and a clothesline, while of course being careful not to overpack!
8. Prepare for Going Off the Grid
Prepare to go old school, as it’s almost certain that at some point you’ll lose all phone signals, GPS and internet.
If paper maps aren’t your thing, don’t worry, because maps.me and Google Maps have your back. Both of these apps have pre-downloadable maps of specific regions that can be used even without phone service or an internet connection.
Also, always be sure to pay attention to the road signs. They’re there to help you out, not catch you out. In other words, if a sign says you’re 100 miles from the next petrol station, don’t try and chance the journey on a quarter tank.
9. Make a ‘Before You Drive’ Checklist
Not only will a “before you drive” checklist help you remember everything before you set off, but it will also ensure you’ve done everything before you pack up and head to your next location.
Exactly what goes on your list will depend on your campervan. That said, the basic goal is to make sure everything is safe and secure for you to drive.
For instance, make sure of the following:
- All windows and doors are closed or locked
- Any bump outs are put back in
- Satellite dishes are closed and secured
- Your LPG gas is shut off (this may require manual valve closure)
Other things to check are:
- Your water is topped up
- Your used water has been emptied
- The awning is retracted
- The water pump is turned off
The water and power supplies should also be left unplugged.
10. Organise the Space
As campervan tips go, this one is pretty basic, but it will almost definitely help you to prevent distress further down the road.
The key to an organised space is to avoid overpacking. Make sure that everything has a logical space when you first set off and always put everything away in place when you finish with it.
Trust us, the five extra seconds spent tidying are far better than a week of claustrophobia!
11. Prepare for Middle-of-the-Night Potty Breaks
It might not be the most glamorous thing to think about, but this sure is one of the most practical campervan tips.
The surprising truth is that not every motorhome has a toilet. As a result, you may end up needing to get up and out into nature in the middle of the night.
There’s nothing worse than fumbling your way around in the pitch black, stepping on twigs and feeling insects running over your feet. That’s why it’s smart to keep a flashlight and easy slip-on shoes closeby.
Oh, and maybe lay off the water just before bedtime.
12. Realise That Things Will Get Dirty
It’s totally normal for campervans to get a little dirty, so don’t feel like you need to obsessively clean every speck of dust.
That said, there are some simple steps you can take to minimise the muck.
Add a miniature dustpan and brush to your essentials packing list to help clean up after yourself. Also, try to keep outdoor shoes in one spot, preferably taking them off as soon as you come inside.
Putting These Campervan Tips Into Practise
Campervan trips are a great way to see the world, and we think everyone should try it at least once.
Why not take these handy campervan tips and put them into practise with a UK staycation this summer? Before you know it you’ll be road-tripping around America.
Katie Davies is the Yorkshire-based freelance writer who founded Trendy Tourist. Since 2017, she has written for over 100 companies on a range of subjects, from fashion to marketing. When she’s not producing content, you can find her shopping, exploring a new place or sitting somewhere having a cup of builder’s tea.