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Car or camper van? Choose the right vehicle

For some, camping-vanning is a target on the bucket list. Others are attracted by the practical advantages – ranging from saving money on accommodation and meals to the flexibility to adapt your own journey.

There is sufficient quality time with your fellow travelers and the freedom to follow your will.

But does it all sound a bit too pink?

The disadvantages of a camper van include driving itself, living in a tight space (which can lead to occasional intermediate jumps) and the stress to park somewhere and to stay within the limits of local laws.

Then there are those unromantic visits to the landfill.

Fortunately, planning and preparation can avoid the negatives and help you shape your dream adventure. Keep in mind that the RV option may not be as cheap as you think.

These are our best tips to make your road trip a smooth ride.

Word appy

Free apps focused on the camper are indispensable. They contain, among other things, useful information about campsites, holiday parks, petrol stations and landfill sites, toilets, maps, attractions and more.

If you are traveling in New Zealand, check out the free Campermate app. Within Australia, WikiCamps (available for IOS, Android and Windows for $ 7.99) is useful.

Those who travel without bathroom facilities will find the Flush app (available for Android and IOS) valuable. It displays 190,000 public toilets worldwide.

Specify the GPS

Considering the amount of driving you are going to do, make sure that your vehicle has a well-placed, built-in GPS.

Some destinations are much more suitable for a motorhome holiday than others. Photo: Getty

Choose your destination wisely

Some countries (such as New Zealand, Australia, Canada, the US and much of Western Europe) seem to have been made for camping fire.

Those who do not have good roads, safe, inexpensive places to camp or an interesting landscape along the way may also be unable to drive and park themselves.

Get the right vehicle for your needs

Consider your driving skills, comfort level, space requirements, sleeping comfort configurations, the season you are traveling in, where you intend to stay and to go, and which attachments and extras you need.

If you get the idea to explore hard-to-reach locations, choose a 4WD van. If you plan to park, you need a camper with kitchen and bathroom facilities, and if you are traveling in the winter, diesel or gas heating.

Those who stay in motor parks or holiday parks can get away with less complex set-ups.

Know the law

Each country has different road rules and regulations about where you can and can not camp.

By being aware of that, you can save a fine, or the stress of trying to work out the rules while you are away. To make matters more complicated, such laws often vary between districts or states.

In New Zealand, for example, so-called “leisure campers” – travelers who park at the side of the road or near beaches without proper camping facilities – have become quite a controversial issue.

Plan your campsites

Have an idea ahead of time where you plan to stay. Driving late in unknown terrain in the evenings while looking for a suitable stop with a hungry belly and joking children in the back is not fun.

If you want to keep it flexible, look at possible possible stops.

Take a meal plan

Websites and books about campervan-friendly dishes are plentiful.

Healthy snacks that do not have to be cooked, such as nuts and fruit, are a godsend. For larger meals, wraps, sandwiches, muesli, omelets and soups in tins are delicious and nutritious and can be prepared with minimal preparation and washing.

car camper best
The key is all in the planning – from travel to meals to where you stop.


Toilet waste and gray water must be emptied at least every two days – easily the most unpleasant task of motor-homing.

Think of a democratic process to share the burden. Know where the dump stations are and measure them in your schedule.

Do your daydreams to prevent you from splashing in the dark, or something worse.

Get the blue things

Unless you have anosmia (the inability to smell), use the blue, fragrance sanitizer recommended by the rental company.

Use the room wisely

Give time to planning and decorating your space. It can be time-consuming to rearrange assets, for example, if you decide to exchange beds.

Determine specific areas for categories: foods, fragile items, valuables, clothing, charging stations, etc., to prevent you from wasting precious time searching for things.

Having a place to dry wet clothes and towels and to put on shoes is particularly valuable.

Get out of the van

Regular hiking or cycling tours can improve your experience. Swimming, snorkeling, horse riding and sports are other ways to get outside.

Take a torch with you

A torch is essential for nocturnal visits to camping facilities or the toilet.

Water and drain hose connections, electrical outlet and gas network are located on the outside of campers – another reason why you walk around in the dark.

Travel with the right people

Living with others for longer periods in a room that is smaller than many kitchens can bring out the worst in everyone. Now is not the time to judge a travel companion. The wrong combination can ruin your trip.

car camper best
Ultimately, the choice between a car or camper comes down to much more than just costs. Photo: Getty

Do your sums

A frequently heard opinion is that camping with a van is less expensive than renting a car and staying in hotels. But how true is this?

Recently campervan, camper and camper place, Hit The Road studied the booking data to try to answer this question.

It compared the costs of a 2730 kilometer long coastal ride from Sydney to Cairns for two weeks with two people in a van or car.

Using the middle of the range options and based on the 2018 prices, renting a two-person camper for the journey found $ 835 less than the same trip in a small car and staying in hotels.

The trip to the camp included $ 1642 in total rental costs, $ 535 in fuel and $ 315 in order to stay on powered sites every second night. The car hire / hotel option was based on 14 nights for $ 120. Fuel costs were calculated at $ 252, car rental $ 1367 and accommodation $ 1680.

Food must also be taken into account. If you miss kitchen facilities, eating out will drive up costs.

Important points to note: it is generally more expensive to rent a camper than a sedan, and gasoline also costs more. Where you save, accommodation and possible food costs.

Since the comfort levels are different for everyone, however, you should investigate what will be cheaper for you.

For example, if you drive by car, choosing cheap accommodation such as hostels and cooking your own food can lower your costs for camper vans.

Another big factor is the type of vehicle you choose. A luxury, new motorhome like the Maui 2-berth Freedom may cost $ 150 a day, while a basic bus without kitchen or bathroom costs just $ 40 per day. Do not forget that you get what you pay for.

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