Monthly Archives: July 2011

Types of Motorhome

Types of Motorhome

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There are three main types of motorhome:

Van Conversions

These motorhomes are built inside the shell of a standard panel van, such as a Ford Transit. They are the most compact and affordable type of motorhome to own or hire, and are narrower and often shorter than the other types.

This means that there are very few restrictions on where you can go – even the narrowest roads are accessible, although car park height restrictions will still pose a problem.

The downside to hightop panel van conversions is that there is less space inside – especially less width, making living and sleeping accommodation more cramped than in larger motorhomes.

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Coachbuilt, or C-Class

A coachbuilt motorhome is essentially like having a caravan built onto a van chassis, with a standard van cab in front of it. These are possibly the most popular choice in the UK and provide a good balance of practicality and living space – with the extra width allowing for full length beds across the body, for example.

Coachbuilt motorhomes like this are generally fairly well fitted out, with enough space and facilities for a family holiday, or for a couple to travel for extended periods in comfort.

A-Class, or Integrated

At the top of the motorhome market are A-Class motorhomes, sometimes referred to as integrated motorhomes. With this type of motorhome, the standard van cab is done away with, and instead both driving and living areas are contained in a purpose-built body.

This design generally provides the highest levels of space and comfort, and despite the size of these motorhomes they are often only 3-berth. Historically they have not been that common in the UK, but are becoming more popular.

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American RV Motorhome

Although European A-class motorhomes provide high standards of comfort and luxury, there is an even more spacious and luxurious choice – the American RV. RVs (Recreational Vehicles) offer the ultimate in travelling luxury – whether it’s for the ultimate holiday road trip, corporate hospitality or as a permanent home!

RVs are similar in size to medium-sized buses and coaches, and are much larger and heavier than most European motorhomes. Additional driving license entitlements are often required for using in the UK.

Motorhome / Campervan Hire Jargon Made Simple

Motorhome / Campervan Hire Jargon Made Simple

Here’s a comprehensive guide to motorhome and Campervan jargon to help you make sense of the motorhome hire world.

Awning A roll-up awning attached to the edge of the roof on the nearside of a motorhome. Ideal for creating a shaded dining or play area whilst on a camp site. 

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Berths How many people beds the motorhome has. Often stated as the number of adults’ and childrens’ berths, as not all berths are big enough for adults.
Bike Carrier A rack mounted on the rear of a motorhome to allow you to carry one or more bikes with you.
Black Waste Black waste is toilet waste. In most motorhomes it is stored in a removable tank below the cassette / Toilet. It should be disposed of in designated drains or can safely be put down standard domestic-type toilets.
Caravan Entrance The name given to the side door of the motorhome which opens directly into the living space (i.e. like a caravan).
Cassette Toilet Most common type of motorhome or campervan toilet. All waste is contained in a sealed container that simply slides out of the toilet unit and can be emptied without mess into a designated disposal point (sometimes referred to as an “Elsan point”. Cassettes can also be emptied into ordinary flush toilets without causing any problems. Thetford is one of the most popular make of cassette toilet.
Coachbuilt The term used to describe motorhomes that have been purpose-built on a van chassis, like a caravan, or coach. These are wider and more spacious than van conversions – motorhomes built inside a standard panel van by adding windows, fittings, etc. 

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Corner Steadies Legs which can be lowered from the two rear corners of a motorhome to stop suspension movement when parked up – so that when you walk around, the vehicle does not wobble. Also useful if it is very windy.
Electric hookup The name given to connecting a motorhome to the purpose-built electrical sockets on campsites. A special cable will be provided with your motorhome for this purpose.
Fresh Water Tank The tank in which fresh water for washing and cooking is stored. See also waste water tank also.
Fidge (3-way) Motorhome fridges are normally “3 way” – this means they will run on mains electricity (when on a campsite with which has electric hook up, gas (when parked without hookup) or from the vehicle’s 12Vbattery (when on the move and gas cannot be used).
Grey Waste/ Grey Water Grey waste is dirty water – from the kitchen sink, bathroom basin and shower (not toilet waste). This all drains into a grey waste tank in most motorhomes – campsites usually have a designated drain for disposing of grey waste. In mainland Europe, many motorway services have waste disposal points.
Leisure battery A motorhome’s second battery, used to power 12V lights and other electrical devices in the living area, without draining the vehicle’s main battery.
(Maximum) Gross Weight The maximum weight a motorhome can be loaded to – combining the vehicle’s weight and the weight of the payload
Over cab bed A bed, usually double, located over the cab of coach built motorhomes. 

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Payload The weight of everything in a motorhome that is not part of the motorhome – e.g. passengers, food, drink, luggage and other items. A maximum is specified for each motorhome.
Rooflight Like a skylight – a clear or tinted plastic hatch in the roof that allows light in and can be opened to provide ventilation.
Stabilisers Are just corner steadies, not usually fitted to modern motorhomes as the suspension is stiffer.
Thetford toilet The most common type of motorhome toilet. Very simple to operate, empty and prepare for use and completely self-contained. Can safely be emptied into a normal domestic type toilet, or into designated toilet points at campsites and service facilities.
Travelling seats Seats in the living area of a motorhome that can be used whilst the vehicle is in motion. These will have seat belts fitted.
Waste Water Tank A second built in tank in a motorhome into which waste water drains – from the sink, basin and shower.

Choosing Your Hire Motorhome

How to Choose Your Hire Motorhome

Choosing a hire motorhome to Tour Scotland is not as difficult as it might seem – the best Motorhome Hire Scotlandapproach is to decide what you need then find the motorhome that offers the best match. And consider the collection area in Scotland for a round tour.

  1. First of all, decide how many berths (beds) you need – this will help narrow down your choice straight away. Most  hire motorhome hire companies in Scotland cater for anything from 2-6 people.Remember, a double bed counts as two berths. If you need a particular combination of double beds and single beds, note it down.
  2. Motorhome Hire Scotland
  3. Next, decide how self-sufficient you would like to be. For complete self-sufficiency you will normally need:
    • Toilet
    • Shower
    • Kitchen
    • Leisure batteries
    • Gas heating (unless it is mid-summer) it can be cold some evenings even in the Summer in the north of Scotland (Remember that even if a smaller van has all these facilities, it will probably only have one gas cylinder, rather than two, and will have smaller water tanks and possibly a smaller fridge. All of this means you will have to “service” your Hire motorhome more often than with a larger model. However in Scotland most campsites will allow you to service your hire motorhome for a small fee of around £5.00
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  4. Although even relatively small campervan-type motorhomes that can be hired in Scotland may meet all the requirements for self-sufficiency, they will be more restricted when it comes to space and comfort. For example, they will often only have a single seating area which will also serve as the bed at night – meaning you have to make up the bed every evening and convert it back to seating in the morning. Another problem with the smaller, van-type motorhomes is that access to the kitchen and toilet facilities can be restricted or awkward when the bed is made up. This may or may not be an issue for you – but consider it before booking.
  5. Finally, consider how you will be using the motorhome. Are you planning on spending most of your time on a campsite and on major roads? Or are you intending to really get off the beaten track on small roads in Scotland particularly up the west you can park your hire motorhome almost anywhere overnight , stopping wherever takes your fancy?Be aware that some roads in rural areas of Scotland have width restrictions which mean that only a van-based motorhome will fit – coachbuilt motorhomes can be too wide for the smallest roads but your motorhome  hire company should make you aware of what roads are unsuitable for the area you will be travelling around..

For maximum flexibility, choose a motorhome with a gross weight under 3500kg (3.5 tonnes), as these are generally treated in the same way as a car.


Motorhomes vs. Caravans – Which Is Right For You?

Motorhomes vs. Caravans – Which Is Right For You?

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Motorhomes vs. Caravans

Buying a motorhome or a caravan is a big investment. Choosing which is best for your lifestyle isn’t always easy either – but there are a few things on which most people seem to agree.

I’ve tried to explain these in this article, based on my experience of owning both a motorhome and a caravan. Any thoughts or comments are more than welcome.

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When you are on holiday, do you:

  1. Like to go straight to your destination (a camp site) and then stay there for at least a week, possibly just taking short day trips out?
  2. Like to tour around, stopping where you like, moving on after a night or two and having the freedom to use all of Europe’s motorhome parking facilities?

If A, then a caravan might be the ticket – once you are on site, you will have the freedom to drive around in your car without having to pack up camp.

If B, then a motorhome might be better – but remember that you will be driving around in something much larger than a car and will have to pack up everything each time you drive off.

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When driving on holiday, do you:

  1. Have more than 3 passengers?
  2. Want to be able to use the bathroom and kitchen without any setting up, external accessories or winding down of legs?

If A, then remember that although there are motorhomes with 5 legal, safe, travel seats (including the driver), your choice will be limited by this requirement. Caravans are better as all your passengers are accommodated in the car – as normal.

If you voted B and want to be at home while you are on the move, however, a motorhome is superior. Everything is built in and ready to use – all you need to do is step into the back. It’s ideal for lunch breaks and rest stops in lay-bys and motorway services.


Neither are cheap hobbies, but caravanning can be done a lot more cheaply than motorhoming in my experience.

  1. Motorhome are very expensive to buy, although depreciation is slow.
  2. Caravans tend to depreciate more than motorhomes but are much cheaper to start with.
  3. Caravans don’t need insurance, MOT, road tax or as much mechanical servicing.
  4. Caravans don’t require you to own two vehicles – most family cars will tow a small-medium sized caravan. (You can have a motorhome as your only vehicle, but this restricts you to small vans only, in practice).

If cost is an issue, you can set yourself up with a caravan much more cheaply than with a motorhome, especially if you can park it on your own property.