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We've done it -bought one!


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After sixteen years motor-homing, we have sold it and got a caravan. It's a Coachman Pastiche 560-4 and although getting on a bit - we think it is 2011 -  it's in good order. If caravanning is for us, we really want a Hobby 720 but being over seven metres body length, it must be towed with something weighing over 3500 kg. That is fine as we have a 7500 kg DAF lorry (yes, it has orange lights on too!) but I can just imagine the looks we would get on sites rocking up with that....  That said is that any different to rocking up with the big blue coach that we used to go camping in, although some folks thought there was someone famous in there due to it being a former "band bus". 

 

The Coachman is a test for us, to see if we like caravanning, and so far, it's all very negative as follows. 

 

  • Payload - 235kg. We weighed all our kitchen equipment - pots, pans, oven set, slow cooker etc etc and that would have taken up half of the pay load, with clothes the rest! So no deck chairs, kettle, food, nothing in the fridge etc. Adjusting to travelling light, when we are used to carrying everything from a washing machine to Denby oven ware is not good!
  • Insurance cost - why it should cost £327 to insure a £7500 caravan, more than to insure a £100,000 motorhome is indeed a mystery, more so factoring in our professional driving licences etc. 
  • Travel costs overseas - we have worked this out and factoring in double shipping costs, tolls on motorways as we wouldn't dare take the caravan on some of the roads the motorhome goes on, will eat heavily into our long holiday budget. No more free stop overs on the wonderful German stellplatz, Italian sostas and so on. Not to mention no more Livigno or Samnaun - a duty free paradise with diesel at well under a pound per litre!
  • Water - an argument in a box. We are used to 165 litres of water on board - enough for a three day weekend easily. 
  • Waste water..... another job that needs doing all too often
  • Legs - what a faff
  • Messing about coupling up in the rain etc,
  • Miniature gas bottles although after fighting with it, I got a 10kg Safefill in the front locker. 
  • Generally feels flimsy - all woodwork is a lot thinner etc

 

This isn't going to end well, but at least we have tried with a cheapy. Of course the payload woes would go away with the Hobby as the German dealer we are in talks with can up plate to 2500kg, so we would have the same payload as the motorhome. We will give it three months or so, so around ten more arguments (sorry, I mean trips away) and decide from there. 

 

What we do like is the space - almost as much interior space for 7% the price of the motorhome. We have more interior storage but of course can't fill it as we will overload! 

 

The layout is forward lounge, centre galley, fixed French bed and bathroom across the back. We like the latter too - room in there for a linen bin, full size bath mat etc. It's very similar to the Hobby 720, so if we can overcome all the downsides at present, the 720 would work for us. A long way to go we feel. 

 

We will be towing with a VW Transporter so no issues there as it will pull anything. We will just have to load and unload that! 

 

Moan over! 

 

Russ

 

 

Online blog and travels, although sometimes there is a lack of travel due to work!

 

It's an uncharted sea, it's an unopened door but you've got to reach out and you've got to explore.

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Sorry to hear of your problems. The list looks very negative and the choice between caravans and motorhomes is erypersonal.

The payload allowance you quote is very good compared with most and you do learn to travel a bit lighter with a caravan.

Insurance costs are based on the companies claims experience, and the problem is caravan claims tend to be expensive.

Not sure about the costs to go abroad. The two clubs can get some good deals including  free caravans on some sailings so you can save there if you plan carefully. I thought the tolls were the same or similar for larger motorhomes but not sure what you had. There are roads you can take  motorhome on but not a caravan but with the caravan you can leave it on site when touring so costs at that time are lower. 

I accept you cannot get the water on board you get with a motorhome but there again you should not be travelling with a tank full of water. The water routine is easy enough though and is no major problem for us.

Frankly waste water is no problem either, and if you take a serviced pitch you can have fresh and waste water services, although I admit they cost a bit more.

If the site does not have a flat pitch then the legs are a boon and I have seen the faff many motorhomes have trying to level the outfit on ramps.

I agree that coupling can be a problem in bad weather but against that you can leave the caravan on site without packing everything away which you cannot do with a motorhome. I also would be unhappy at leaving lots of valuables on public carparks when touring.

The gas bottle size your need depends on your usage but we find even the smaller ones last over a year.

Some makes are a bit flimsy but that applies to both caravans and motorhomes. That is down to the makers and not a general rule.

The main problem with the Hobby is the theft risk. Look at any travellers site and you will see they are the preferred make, although not exclusively so.  Some insurers will not accept them and the twin axles can be banned from some sites, particularly in Europe. 

 I think most of this is down to perception and you do seem to have started with a bias but given a few more trips you will hopefully feel better about the caravan.

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If you think 235kg is a meagre payload try looking at new 4 berth caravans, the average payload is around 155kg and that’s before you add anything. Some, But not all, can be uprated, usually by 50-75kg, which is instantly gobbled up by the battery and motor mover :( 

 

We changed from a MH  to caravans a few years ago after much deliberation. For a few years I even towed a Smart car on a trailer behind the MH. 

There are certainly fors and againsts  for both, and there is no definitive right or wrong answer. We prefer caravans now. Yes they take a bit if faffing to set up, but once you have done it a few times it des get easier and quicker. We have an (air) awning, and that doubles our “living” space. We tend to stay in one place for a week at a time, so can “set up home” leave it set up, and use the car to get around.  

 

We do miss the ability to use Aires/Stelplaz etc but they can get very crowded, and a lot now charge almost as much as ACSI campsites.

The lack of payload is a pain, but you will soon realise that a lot of the “stuff” you carried in the MH you don’t actually need! 

 

Give it while, I am sure that you, like me, will adapt very quickly. 

 

If you book via CMC for sailings out of peak season, on  Brittany Ferries Poole to Cherbourg service, caravans go totally free (better than BF’s Club Voyage deal, which is rather annoying) The same deal is on offer for some of their other routes (except I think Portsmouth to St Malo)  

Experience is something you acquire after you have an urgent need for it.

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I think if you are towing with a van or if there's just two of you, the payload issues kind of go out of the window. heavy stuff in the car. Issues sorted.  

 

There are some roads I'd avoid with a caravan that I would use with a van based MH, but not many where a caravan wouldn't go but a large coach built would.

 

Levelling a caravan is easier than a MH, though I get that a lot of MH-ers just don't really bother levelling! The whole hitching process / set up can't take very much longer than putting everything away in the MH. Once you've had to pack and re-pack the MH three or four times, surely the caravan is actually ahead on time spent.

 

For me, it all comes down to what you do when you are on site. Do you base yourself for a few days and explore or do you move on every other day? The MH wins hands down for freedom to move on and for ad-hoc nights en-route.  

 

I'd love to have both! Ideal set up would be a small van camper that could tow a nice big caravan!

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3 minutes ago, Scarab said:

I'd love to have both! Ideal set up would be a small van camper that could tow a nice big caravan!

 

I've often cogitated on exactly this issue, but I've always come up against the fact that you always end up dragging around duplicate stuff. I mean if you have a standard caravan It's basics are sitting, beds, storage, bathroom, kitchen. If you have a campervan you have sitting, beds, storage, maybe no bathroom, kitchen.  Two kitchens and possibly two bathrooms seems a bit OTT. But if you use the campervan on it's own then you need a kitchen at least. If you resolve to only use the two together then the campervan doesn't need kitchen or bathroom facilities and all you really need is a 'bus', not a camper.   

I've got nothing to do on this hot afternoon

but to settle down and write you a line.

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37 minutes ago, Steamdrivenandy said:

 

I've often cogitated on exactly this issue, but I've always come up against the fact that you always end up dragging around duplicate stuff. I mean if you have a standard caravan It's basics are sitting, beds, storage, bathroom, kitchen. If you have a campervan you have sitting, beds, storage, maybe no bathroom, kitchen.  Two kitchens and possibly two bathrooms seems a bit OTT. But if you use the campervan on it's own then you need a kitchen at least. If you resolve to only use the two together then the campervan doesn't need kitchen or bathroom facilities and all you really need is a 'bus', not a camper.   

 

I want the  camper for days at the beach or as a base for long walks (cooking, lounging, maybe a loo).  We also tent camp so it can do the same thing on those trips too...

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Russ,

your observations are interesting but I have 2 questions please:-

what made you change in the first place after 16 years e.g. what were the MH negatives or was it just needing a change?

and

surely most of the perceived caravanning downsides could have been investigated before you purchased?  

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4 hours ago, CJ1149 said:

Russ,

your observations are interesting but I have 2 questions please:-

what made you change in the first place after 16 years e.g. what were the MH negatives or was it just needing a change?

and

surely most of the perceived caravanning downsides could have been investigated before you purchased?  

Hi

 

We want the space that a Hobby 720 offers, albeit with the drawbacks of needing a chunky tow vehicle. We accept that with an up plated Hobby, payload issues are gone. So the Coachman is a toe in the water rather than spending 27000 euro on a Hobby to find We don't like it. 

 

There are a few places such as Sicily where leaving a caravan parked up for two months and going out in the car daily appeals over lugging a 5000kg, 9 metre motorhome etc. 

 

The water thing is a nuisance.....even more fun in winter I guess! 

 

The motorhome negative is of course the cost. 100k vs £7500. Other than that and for exploring touring holidays..... that said, Sicily has free camper stops all over the island... 

 

 

Online blog and travels, although sometimes there is a lack of travel due to work!

 

It's an uncharted sea, it's an unopened door but you've got to reach out and you've got to explore.

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Thanks for explaining.

In a similar situation a few years ago a Hobby became the base - because of extra space and potential for long-term fully serviced pitches, and a cheap and cheerful runabout was bought for excursions.

Whatever you do - enjoy. 

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Congrats Russ but didn't you try caravanning before with a cheapie and experienced the same issues?

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As I follow Russ on Motorhome Voyager, same predicament in early 2018.

 

https://www.motorhomevoyager.co.uk/other/my-motorhomes/caravan-or-motorhome-voyager-goes-caravanning/

 

So what do you REALLY want Russell? Motorhomes, caravan, bus, panel van conversion, another Kontiki two years ago and now caravans again? Wish I had the choice (and the money to burn lol). The only thing you've not had is an American fifth wheeler :).

 

FWIW, ignore the Hobby and look at the Fifth Wheel Co., either their fifth wheelers or their Inos caravans.

Edited by Pebble
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Given this attitude, I’m not sure that your caravanning career will last too long.

Please try to be positive and I’m sure that you will realise that you’ve made the right decision.

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We had a Hobby 750 tag axle motor caravan and didn't like it. Our son took it over and loved it.  We then had a largish caravan for winters in Spain, but this phase ended, and we downsized to our present 2 berth caravan with upgraded payload. We had to de-clutter so dumped the awning in favour of a bagged roll out sun canopy which saved a massive amount of weight when the awning paraphernalia is taken into account, and is very quick to deploy or stow. For touring we use 2 x 18L water containers which weigh almost nothing and live in the front gas locker if not in use, and we find these ample for an overnight stop. One has a float valve and with a roll flat hose is perfect for water hook up if available, the other is used for grey water. We changed some of our clothing so that we have easily hand washable non-iron stuff and do not need much. We radically reduced our pots+pans, cutlery and crocks so that we simply have what we need for simple meals, and eat out a bit more. Our practised pitching and de-pitching procedure is probably as quick or even quicker than a lot of motor caravanners.

Edited by Ern
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