Nov 26, 2017
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I'm very new to this forum and I'm hoping to get some answers to a basic question.
My wife and I are a family of 2 in our 50s, kids have grown up but we have a dog.
We have never owned a caravan or motor home before and we don't know where to start - do we get a caravan or a motorhome.
For me as the driver the simplicity and instant availability of a motorhome in terms of getting from home to the campsite really appeal. But on the other hand when we get to the campsite we like to visit local and not so local attractions which the versatility of a tow-car and caravan maybe better.
I have only ever towed aircraft around an airfield (I'm ex RAF) so don't have experience of towing on the open road.
The cost is also important and whether to buy second hand or new is also a factor.
We are considering hiring a motorhome in the new year to help us decide what to do. Do you think this is a good idea?
Any advice would be appreciated :}
Cheers, John and Maggie..
Nov 12, 2013
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Hello John and Maggie and a warm welcome to our forum. Thanks for posting.

The motorhome or caravan question is a tricky one, because it is very much down to personal preference. There are those who adore one or the other and would never do anything else, then those who have tried both.

As you say, once pitched in a motorhome, it can feel like you're leaving an empty pitch when you go on days out. For this reason, the motorcaravanners often move around more and stay at many more sites over the course of a holiday, whereas with a touring caravan, it's easier to get set up, then leave the van on site and take the tow car on days out.

It might be worth hiring a motorhome for a short holiday and see how you take to it. Also, there are so many different layouts that it would also be a chance to see which works for you – fixed bed or not, double bed, twin single beds, front lounge, rear lounge, end washroom, corner washroom and so on.

Hope that helps for starters.
Nov 19, 2010
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Hi John and Maggie, welcome.
Lizzie has summed up the differences very neatly.
They are two very different things, suited to different kinds of holiday - BUT each can do the other one's job if needed. Most motorhomers SOMETIMES stay a week or more in one place, and I'm sure there are caravanners who occasionally do a tour where they keep moving on.

So the choice is really about which of those styles you expect to do most of.
This will also feed into the kind of sites (or stopovers) you'll look for. People sometimes ask me "Why would you spend your holiday in a car park?" My answer is that we don't! We "spend our holiday" doing things and visiting places during the day. So come the evening, all we want is somewhere safe and legal to sleep, after buying or cooking a meal! But if we do want to stay in one place for a while, we'll look for a pleasant site with whatever facilities we feel we need.
Whatever your choice, enjoy it!
Sep 27, 2017
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Hi John, Hi Maggie,
We were new to motor caravanning last year (& this forum until now) and went through the same dilemma as you, struggling with the same questions; Do we go to the great expense of buying a motorhome which is a whole lot more expensive than a caravan at the risk of feeling "stuck" at our destination, or do we go down the caravan route giving us the freedom when we get to our destination?
Well the fact that I am posting on here suggests that you may already know the path that we chose. We are a youngish family of 3 (early 40's, late 30's & energetic 5) who love the outdoor life. So why did we choose the motorhome? The simplicity of packing up and moving in 5 minutes. The ease of travelling between destinations. The occasional pub night stopover rather than getting a taxi. The longer between clutch changes on my tired old Mazda. And the fact that you can definitely cover the ground more quickly in a motorhome compared to towing a caravan, particularly on B roads.
Also if you want to travel on the continent, a motorhome gives greater freedom because they are so much better geared up for touring motorhomes than caravans with their aires de camping cars.
Personally I don't like towing, but that would not necessarily have put me off the caravan route entirely, but as a family we like to explore and that for use means being fluid, not setting on a site for 2 weeks. A motorhome is much more suited to this, especially with the odd impromptu wild camp. Of course it is each to their own, and we have joined friends on their caravan holidays, but just for a night or two. We have typically used our 'van year round. Minus 3 was the coldest, and although caravans and motorhomes use the same basic form or construction including insulation levels, I wouldn't have fancied setting up a caravan that night, whereas the motorhome was already toasty from the drive to site.
As far as freedom to explore once at your destination and the biggest hurdle we thought.....most campsite directories / websites give loads of information of local buses. A quick look on google maps will find the bus stops, and a simple click on the icon will bring up the bus times. Then there is always the push bike. A folding one helps if you camp on top of a hill and the pub's at the bottom - that way it will fit in a taxi boot.
Once we had decided on a motorhome, we went to a few shows (NEC) & dealers and built up a list of what we wanted over the course of several months - fixed beds and a garage in our case - eventually taking the plunge on an 8 year old 'van. One year and 4,500 miles later we have traded in old Morris for a new Bailey with rear lounge and no fixed beds or garage because what we thought would suit us with a 5 year old in transit actually did not. But at know time did it spoil our travels.
We thought about hiring. It did look a great way to test a few layouts until we realized that most hire vans use the same floorplan give or take, and it is also very expensive. That is why we opted for an older 'van at the point where they don't depreciate too much. One year of ownership cost me £3000 including depreciation, which might sound an expensive experiment, but we have a great family hobby and that three thousand pounds bought us endless memories travelling around Southern England and France.
One final wife would never tow a caravan, but she will drive the motorhome, a bonus if you break a toe on your travels.
Good luck with your path whichever you choose. Hope we see you to wave to soon!
Steve, Kelly and Archie


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