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Our pro and cons, so far


KontikiKid
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Well, we have had quite a trips away with the caravan, and after quite a lot of hiccups and issues, we are making progress. This is our take on the pros and cons of the age old debate of the motorhome v the caravan. 

 

The caravan.....

 

We like: 

The front window - ie not a steering wheel and gear lever to look at!

The floor plan works well for us - rear bathroom, good shower, fixed French bed, centre galley, forward bench seats and chest of drawers with flip top. We like the flip top and to help with payload issues, we have removed the other table. 

The financial aspect - having sold the motorhome, we are where we are, and we have settled with the VW Transporter as the tow vehicle. Both the VW and the caravan are older than newer, but even if we were to go like for like with nearly new, we would be a lot better off lump sum wise with the VW and caravan. 

Fuel economy - the Transporter is a baby with the 84 bhp 2.0 engine, although she has been mapped within an inch of her life! She returns around 40 mpg with the caravan on the back, compared to a ownership average of 28 mpg for the tag axle motorhome. The Transporter is fitted with a pop top and bed, so a plan is for a long overseas tour, with maybe 30 nights on one site, leave the caravan there and beggar off into the Dolomites etc with the VW

Interior storage - more than most motorhomes and we have empty cupboards and the under bed space to fill (we cannot fill them due to weight issues)

Cosy-ness - it is somehow more cosy than a motorhome. 

 

We don't like: 

Water issues - we get through 4 x barrels in a three night weekend - we seem to be constantly at the tap. We could lessen this by using site facilities, but we don't and never will. 

Payload - a generous payload on the Coachman but we are right on the limit  - checked at the weighbridge, so some clutter has to go in the VW - deck chair, heavy items like bottles of gin etc.

Speed (resulting in extended journey time) - not an issue on short trips as we are doing at present for weekend breaks although today for example, we were down to 52 mph and caught up with "Middle Lane Melvins" and lorries. The motorhome of course could tonk on in the right hand lane. Could become more problematic on international stuff. Time is of the essence when doing 1500 miles with limited time off work! 

Coupling up and uncoupling - time taken etc compared to motorhome - roll up, handbrake on, done. We either seem to end up sweating and roasted to death, or wet through to the bone!

"Stress levels" in inverted commas - more mindful of weather conditions, wind, cross wind, passing a lorry etc, risk of a blow out etc. 

Heat in the sun - seems to get much hotter than a motorhome - no idea why. We do the usual tricks - windows open, blinds shut etc on the sunny side. 

Insurance cost - how can it cost more to insure a £8000 caravan than a £100k motorhome! 

Restricted routes - for example the mountain passes in Italy which we like! Some are clearly marked "no caravans". (We could of course, site nearby, the clear off with just the VW - see above)

 

The VW is used now exclusively for towing and nothing else. It is good at what it does. Whilst it can legally pull the weight of a Hobby, it cannot do so due to length of the Hobby, so we are still researching options for the Hobby going forward. 

 

The motorhome.....

 

We like....

Payload - 1000kg and more

Extras - such as satellite dish on the roof without any weight issues

Ability to take something with us - such as speedboat or jet ski. We do not have a Showman's licence so cannot put a trailer on the back of the caravan! 

Flexibility - particularly overseas with free camper stops, pub stop overs, stop over on vinyards etc, water on board 

Better all year round capability - water on board, waste on board, no issues driving in wind etc, no cancelled trips to due Strom what ever it might be called!

More strength in the body -  not talking about when driving, but even parked up - just feels more solid. 

 

We don't like

Comparable space - the caravan wins hands down but a with a twin axle, even better! 

The overall cost, pound for pound, square foot for square foot

 

So it is quite interesting so far, and quite a few plus points for the caravan. 

 

Interestingly, we have used the VW only once whilst on site - that was to go out for milk! We can't fit three x  four pint cartons in the fridge, and even if we could, payload wouldn't allow. We may of course use the VW more for getting out and about if we do longer stays in the UK, which at present is looking more likely due to complications with Covid and the pet passport. 

 

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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Interesting reading, it’s good to see balanced reviews on both sides.

 

I get the Aquaroll refilling gripe, we’re a family of three and never use site facilities and get through one and a half 40 litre Aquarolls a day. That’s 3 x showers, washing a few dishes & filling the kettle. I’ve just got used to it over the years!

2018 Volvo V90 and 2018 Swift Sprite Quattro EB

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Interesting comparison, agree with much of what you have found as we gave up a motorhome to get a caravan. We did think that the faff of setting up was going to be a major downside but being retired we aren’t in a hurry. Though with a mover and a drill for the steadies by the time I’ve got the van levelled, hooked up and wheel lock the wife has filled both aqua rolls and we are ready to make the tea! About fifteen minutes. 
Putting up an awning is a whole different matter, but as it is an air awning it doesn’t take long and it makes so much difference so worth it.

Love to know how you get 40mph towing, never go much above 55mph and get excited if I reach 24mpg ! 
I think we much prefer the caravan, more freedom on where we camp as not looking for bus stops or attractions we can reach on bikes. In fact we have already had more camping trips in the van this year than we did over two years in the Hobby! 
Financially, quids in, already had a suitable tow car, bought the m/home for £43k and sold 5 years later for £42k (one positive of COVID!) , that won’t ever be repeated but meant we could go brand new. Settled on a dealers last Alicanto Sintra with £2k off, so even with a motormover and other extras plenty left over.

Oh, forgot, no more MOT or engine servicing on top of habitation, single axle so only two tyres instead of four!

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Russ.

Great comparison. You certainly have listed all the pros and cons.

Personally we will stay with our caravan!

Cannot se the point of towing a vehicle by a Motorhome. Might just as well tow a caravan. We are always on site for a week with our caravan, and the Discovery Sport is a great daily vehicle and carries Lizzies mobility scooter with no problem.

Horses for courses comes to mind!

Enjoy your travels!

P

2019 Bailey Platinum (640) Phoenix from Chipping Sodbury caravans, towed by our  2017 my Discovery Sport!

 

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Great review.

 

I think I will stick with the caravans.

our concerns on getting a motor home was would we like packing everything up so as to go sightseeing or shopping.

both many have been a problem due to motorhome length.

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I like the comparisons, but to be fair, if you get organised before you set off it doesn't take too long to set up in a caravan, not counting an awning, which we don't always take with us.  The water and waste still have to be done in a M/H , in fact we are seeing more folk using a bucket for the waste and taking a few bottles of water from the tap.   Electric bikes seem to be the norm these days for sight seeing , leaving the M/H back at camp.  I found the caravan to be much more suited to staying on the camp sites and using the car for going out and about, but I think that if you were moving sites every couple of days, actually touring then the M/H is a more suitable vehicle.

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13 hours ago, KontikiKid said:

Insurance cost - how can it cost more to insure a £8000 caravan than a £100k motorhome! 

 

This really is a mystery, isn't it? Especially when MH insurance is covering you for 3rd party stuff when out on the open road.  Caravan insurance is essentially just theft and damage (there can't be many 3rd party claims).

Edited by Scarab
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About ten years ago we change from an A Class Hymer back to the two berth Bailey caravan we still use.  We were with Saga and they wanted to more than double the annual premium.  So I cancelled the motorhome policy and went with CCC for about two thirds of the motorhome premium.  I'm still with them.

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  • Gordon pinned this topic

An interesting comparison Russ. Thanks for taking the time to post your thoughts.

Having used everything from tents and campervans, to motorhomes and most sizes of caravans, I completely agree with most of your findings. One thing I would say is that fitting an onboard water tank to our caravans has proved most useful, and even if the payload does not allow towing with it full (thankfully ours always did) the additional volume of water available on site is a great benefit. Our motorhomes have all had significant size of tanks for fresh, grey and black water, so allowing a couple of weeks use without a need to visit a service point, and that is one thing that we will miss if returning to a caravan. 

Rarely did we use an awning with the caravan, so setup time was kept to a minimum, and by carrying accessories in the car, the caravan was always ready for immediate use if a comfort break was needed en route. I agree over the space issue of many motorhomes, and even with swivel seats in the cab area, they can still feel space-restricted. We chose to go for an American RV, primarily because it offered more space than our previous twin axle caravans but being a large beast, local touring is largely impractical, hence our decision to trail a small car on a trailer. That car is both useful for day trips from the RV, but also as a general runabout / shopping trolley when at home. It also has the advantage that it can squeeze into the tiniest of spaces when parking near a beach is at a premium :)

 

Fourwinds Hurricane 31D Motorhome. Also MGTF135 1. 8i Roadster (fun) & Volvo V70 3.2Ltr LPG (everyday car)
Unless otherwise stated, my posts will be my personal thoughts and have the same standing as any other member of Caravan and Motorhome Talk.

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As I see it, a motorhome is the way to go if you intend to stay no more than a night or two at one location before moving on whereas the caravan is more suited to longer stays of maybe several weeks.

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At a site I stayed on recently in Cornwall I noticed several motorhomes that had hire cars appearing the day after they arrived. One, belonging to a Kontiki driver, had obviously had a scrape down a narrow lane somewhere because every evening they were out cleaning and polishing one of the rear wheel arches.

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Reference the VW Transporter - it seems to do 40 mpg when flying solo or towing. 

 

Reference to packing things away in the motorhome - we didn't! The toaster and kettle stayed where they were, the two TV's on their brackets etc. 

 

We will do a proper mpg calculation for the Transporter, fill to fill rather than the computer. It's such a capable old girl though and with such low mileage (188,000) she runs like a dream. Our other Transporters had 250,000 plus on them! 

 

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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Hi, we have motor homed and on and off caravanned over the last 40 years, 25 of these primarily with motor homes, usually with a small car on the back.

In 2017 we bought a VW pop top, 180bhp, semi auto box, a magic bit of kit, a Coachman VIP 565 bunged on the back. 
The outfit did not really feel good on the road at 60mph, new uprated rear shocks and a couple of inches lower, 18” alloys and lower profile tyres helped but still not comfortable to tow at a reasonable rate of knots, and only 28-29 mph. Sold the VW and replaced it with an Auto Trail V Line 635, that should tow the van ok ! Well we took off to the Netherlands in it and after a few days we said, “ might as well sell the caravan this does a good job “ we then sold the caravan and have used the 635 for over 3 years now. BUT our use has changed, we now spend 7 days or more in various sites so very shortly we will be taking delivery of another Coachman VIP 565, the new models are slightly lighter than our last 17 year one.

We have a 2016 BMW 520D Touring Auto which checking on reviews will yank it along quite nicely, and only £20 road tax. 
Sold the 635 for very good money last week and had a refund of £186 from the DVLA.

Life begins again at 76 young, wife is the only one who is not happy as she does not like a “ wobble box “ on tow, although she does like not having to pack every thing away every day we wanted to go out.

All our friends are taking bets on how long this last.

I have said maybe it’s the Travel Lodge way in the future at only £29 per night, makes camp sites sound expensive. How many nights away can we have for thirty grand ??

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On 27/07/2021 at 10:35, Lutz said:

As I see it, a motorhome is the way to go if you intend to stay no more than a night or two at one location before moving on whereas the caravan is more suited to longer stays of maybe several weeks.

That is exactly the way we were thinking as well but we used to to stay in one site a week or more at a time .

hence we never bothered with a motor home but whom knows things change.

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We hired RV's for touring hols in the US/Canada/Alaska because we would be moving on every couple of days but for holidays at home and in Europe we prefer the caravan as a base and exploring by car. We also love the space afforded by a twin axle caravan and awning that would cost a fortune for the MH equivalent and then you would have to tow a car as well because the MH would be too flipping big for excursions!

One thing I've found is that paying the extra for a fully serviced pitch with tap and drainage makes a big difference. We've just had two weeks away, one week on a serviced pitch, one not. Using a ballcock mains attachment in your Aquaroll gives you unlimited water usage and its surprising how not having to fetch and dispose of your water and being able to freely use your on board facilities adds to relaxation!  

Life is not a rehearsal . . .:)

Porsche Cayenne S Diesel & Knaus StarClass 695. Previously Audi S4 Avant & Elddis Super Sirocco

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On 27/07/2021 at 10:35, Lutz said:

As I see it, a motorhome is the way to go if you intend to stay no more than a night or two at one location before moving on whereas the caravan is more suited to longer stays of maybe several weeks.

Is it not a bit chicken and egg?

 

With a Motorhome you are almost forced to relocate every day or two to see different places unless you pull a towcar.

 

With a caravan you can do day trips of 30 or 50 or 100 miles quite easily without the need to relocate.

 

So ones behaviour adjusts to the pros and cons of the two outfit options, as opposed to the other way around.

 

Regards setup, we have become very efficient in terms of how we pack up and unpack with the van. It's really quick and the small Leggera porch awning takes less than 15 minutes to put up and most of that time is popping in a dozen pegs...

 

 

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4 hours ago, BernieT said:

 

We have a 2016 BMW 520D Touring Auto which checking on reviews will yank it along quite nicely, and only £20 road tax. 
 

I have said maybe it’s the Travel Lodge way in the future at only £29 per night, makes camp sites sound expensive. How many nights away can we have for thirty grand ??


You won’t be disappointed, my previous car was a 2016 BMW520D saloon and it was an excellent tow car.

 

Forget the savings with a Travel Lodge, horrible places with very little attraction unless you just want a bed for the night!

2018 Volvo V90 and 2018 Swift Sprite Quattro EB

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22 minutes ago, Readingblue said:

Is it not a bit chicken and egg?

 

With a Motorhome you are almost forced to relocate every day or two to see different places unless you pull a towcar.

 

With a caravan you can do day trips of 30 or 50 or 100 miles quite easily without the need to relocate.

 

So ones behaviour adjusts to the pros and cons of the two outfit options, as opposed to the other way around.

 

Regards setup, we have become very efficient in terms of how we pack up and unpack with the van. It's really quick and the small Leggera porch awning takes less than 15 minutes to put up and most of that time is popping in a dozen pegs...

 

 

 

I see it rather the other way round. Whenever we intend to stay primarily at one location, such as for overwintering, and use that as a hub for day trips in a radius of no more than, say, 50 miles, we take our caravan. For extended touring across the whole continent we rent a motorhome.

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What is the water tank capacity of an average motor home?

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Our first was 150 litres, the second 100 litres, depends entirely on the m/home you are looking or if it has been upspecced.

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Ah right. So the example of someone getting through 120ltr a days means at best a motor home would provide just over 1 days worth of water.  I assume one the water tank of a motor home is empty, unless you are willing to move the motor home then you have to refill using a water hog. 

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Ours was 120 litres plus another 100 (don't ask). The big one was 750 litres! 

 

Using shower, washing up etc, easily enough for a few days. If sited for a few days, we got the 50m hosepipe out and filled it without moving the van. 

 

We use 40-50 litres per day based on our caravan and the barrel.  

 

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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Using a 120 litres means filling the aqua roll three times a day! A 100 litres would easily cover us for around three days off grid at which point we would normally have moved on. Last thing before travelling was to drop waste and fill water tank. Always but always arrived with full tank - no messing about when setting up. 
Can’t really remember staying anywhere more than three days, but I would of moved the van, didn’t carry an Aqua role! Did often see m/homers topping up with 10 litres at a time, clearly not quite into freshness as we where 😀.

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On the continent I've see many motorhomers filling their kettle or a saucepan several times in a day, and even doing washing up at a drinking water tap. So, spend 90K bucks on a rig but not shell out 5 bucks for a 10 litre water carrier. What's that all about ?

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That is one of the strange things with motorhomes, so many (not all) would spend huge sums on buying the thing and then boast of how much they were doing for free! Not paying for anything was turned into an art form. I believe it does cause problems on some of the Scottish islands and other remote areas were tourism £ are important but the great big motorhomes would role in and do their best not to spend a penny but suck in everything on offer.

Did m/home for 9 years and enjoyed the aires and stellplatz but spent our money in the villages that supported them. Don’t think we ever freeloaded, just didn’t feel comfortable or safe.

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