Thursday, 12 April 2012

Choosing your campervan

Choosing the right campervan for a trip can be a minefield.  As complete novices we needed to put in some serious research time into what to look for when buying a campervan and how to avoid some of the common pitfalls of this type of vehicle.  The most important thing is finding the best van for you and your needs based on some of the following factors:

Do your research to get the best camper for your budget Budget

Obviously the money available to spend on the van will dictate what you can expect to be able to buy.  One great thing about campervans is that they don't depreciate in value as much as normal cars do.  There are vans on the market for every budget and of course the specs go up with the pricetag!  Depending on what you will be using the van for will dictate the facilities you need.  If you are intending to stop over on campsites with full facilities do you need a toilet or shower on board?  If you're wild camping like us then the answer is a definite yes!

Size vs comfort

With campervans it is often a compromise between choosing a van big enough for you to live in whilst ensuring its small enough to be usable.  Whilst a giant motorhome with all the mod cons can be an attractive prospect, if you're looking to do a trip like ours its a no go.  A smaller camper is easier to drive on narrow roads, cheaper to run and easier to find parking spaces for.


Security is a very important factor to consider.  For a trip like ours you need a van you can happily lock up and leave whilst you head off sight seeing.  With all your belongings inside, this can be a pretty daunting prospect!  Having an immobiliser is essential to stop the van being driven away and a safe box inside that is bolted to the chassis is another great way to keep your passports and other essentials safe.  When choosing a van, take a good look at the locks and check the van for weak points especially on the back doors, a common soft target.  Attaching an extra security measure such as a hasp and staple lock is advisable.  Other visible deterrents such as steering locks, clutch bars and even wheel locks can be helpful.

Try as you might, a determined thief will always be able to break in given the right time and equipment, the objective is to make your van look well protected and a harder target than the other vehicles around you.

Mechanic bills can get very expensive! Parts and Reliability

When your van is your home, reliability is a huge consideration.  You need to able to get from A to B without any problems and should the worst happen you need to able to get the van fixed easily.  Choosing a popular make with readily available parts will make your life easier and your repair bills lower!  Checking over the engine for wear and tear is a must so take along an experienced friend if possible!  If you're buying in the UK or any other rainy country then rust is your worst enemy.  Scour the van all over for any signs of rust, common spots can be around windows, door edges and wheel arches.  Small areas of surface rust can be easily treated with Kurust or other rust remedies but larger and deeper rust patches can cause serious problems and should be avoided.  Never be afraid to walk away from a van, the wrong one can ravage your pocket and turn your dream trip into a nightmare!

Our Talbot Express Sienna campervan

Why we chose the Talbot Express Sienna

For us budget was the number one concern!  The more money we spent on the van the less we would have for the trip so we took a long time to find our bargain.  When we saw it we knew it was the right option for us.  The van is a steel bodied panel van for security.  It has a double sized shower room and a great 3 ring hob with oven and grill catering well for our needs.  Its the size of a normal works van making it easy to park  and as a Talbot, parts are not difficult to find.  The only downside we've found so far is the lack of power steering, but this just wasn't an option on our budget!  For more info on the specs of our Talbot, see the our van page.

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