June 27, 2017 at 9:04 AM

A camper van provides the freedom for exploring the countryside on your own terms, allowing you to travel where you like and when you like. Unlike a caravan, it does not end up spending 50 weeks of the year sitting around on your driveway taking up space – the camper can be used as a second car anytime that you need to, and some people even use theirs as a daily driver.

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Having said all that, there are some considerations that you need to bear in mind before you hit the open road. Here's our top ten.

1. Choose your design

Campers come in different shapes and sizes. Some are extremely compact and feature an elevating roof or side awning, while others have a “Luton” top, meaning that you can walk around in the back and make use of an extra bunk above the cab. Weigh up the options and decide which makes the most sense for your purposes.

2. Consider an awning

For a bit of extra space when you have set up camp, an awning might be just the thing, particularly if there are more than two of you on the trip. Practice putting it up at home first unless you want to provide the cabaret entertainment for the rest of the camp site.

3. It's not a car

If you have only ever driven a car before, then the increased size and different handling characteristics of a camper will take some getting used to, so spend some time getting to know it on short journeys before you set off for the other side of the country. 

4. Plan ahead

Freedom and flexibility are great, but you don't want to end up staring at a “full” sign at the camp site gate with no clue where to spend the night.  A little bit of advance planning makes sense to ensure that the trip remains fun and stress-free.

5. Know your dimensions 

If you are exploring tourist spots and town centres, then you are certain to come across height and width restrictions from time to time. Be aware of the dimensions of your camper, as nothing is more embarrassing than causing gridlock at the entrance to a car park. If you have a memory like a sieve, then have the numbers on a piece of paper stuck somewhere in your field of vision. 

6. Check that everything is full

Your camper probably comes with gas and water tanks fitted. Most camp sites have facilities for topping up, but it's not guaranteed, so start out with everything full and ready for action. 

7. Check that everything is empty

While you are checking levels, take a look at your waste tank or tanks too. Again, most camp sites have facilities for emptying them, but you really don't want that to be the first job on your relaxing holiday.

8. Travel light

It might look like a van, but with all the furniture, there's less storage space in a camper than you think. Take only what you need and ensure that it is safely stowed before you set off. 

9. Be kind to the elderly 

Classic campers are many people's idea of heaven, as the words combine two of the most popular types of leisure vehicle. Whether you go for the iconic VW or the very British Bedford, just remember that these are old, fragile and need tender, loving treatment, just like Grandma.

10. Take a picture 

Some campers are like Meccano sets, and it is only too easy to pull everything apart to set up the beds and be left scratching your head when you try to fit it all back together. Taking a quick photo before you dive in provides a useful guide.  

 



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