Staycations have replaced foreign trips - would you go caravan or motorhome?
- Credit: PA
Paul Jolly, classic car specialist and valuer:
The great caravan grand prix is nearly upon us again, that familiar scene along the M5 with caravans and motorhomes heading our way.
This year more than ever, ‘staycations’ are being favoured by those who want a family holiday but who cannot plan a traditional overseas trip.
But have you ever thought about it for yourself, and if so, would you go caravan or motorhome?
Apart from cost, there are in fact pros and cons with each. I speak with experience of both.
Firstly, a caravan itself will cost much less to own but you need a suitable tow car. The speed limit is 50mph on single carriageway and a maximum 60mph on dual carriageways and motorways.
When you arrive at your holiday destination, normally a campsite somewhere, you simply set up with awnings, electric and waste and then use your car for shopping, sightseeing in time honoured fashion.
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A motorhome has everything on one set of wheels and is allowed to travel at 60mph on single carriageway and a maximum 70mph on dual carriageways and motorways.
You will travel further in one day plus have a more relaxed driving experience.
You do not have the worry of watching buses and other HGVs catching up and overtaking with all the associated wind buffeting as they pass.
HGVs take no prisoners and slow down for no one!
So provided your motorhome is powerful enough, you will always be able to maintain HGV speeds or more.
Furthermore, motorhomes may use lane three on UK motorways and caravans may not.
However, when you have attached your awning, electric and waste, you can't exactly go sightseeing or nip off to the town for daily provisions like the caravaners can.
But you can always hook bikes on the back - as indeed can caravaners - to use for getting about.
The ultimate motorhome owners even tow their own Smart car or classic sportscar to get round this issue but then they are subject to the same speed restrictions as caravans and it all gets a bit expensive.
If going for the motorhome option, I suggest always get one with the large 'garage' under the rear bed with access doors either side.
You do not need 6ft headroom when asleep but the lockable space will prove invaluable by the time you have loaded all the paraphernalia that goes with camping. Even bikes can be kept out of sight.
Furthermore, always go for the most powerful engine option as the loaded weight has real impact on performance and you will want to keep ahead of those HGVs especially when on a climb.
Low-profile motorhomes are much more common on the Continent than here and have the benefit of less wind resistance plus are not buffeted so much by other large vehicles.
Unless you absolutely need the extra beds above the cab, I would avoid these bulbous examples.
Caravaners ultimately have an easier time of it when at their destination, can park anywhere, unlike a motorhome which will not fit town centre or supermarket spaces but the getting there is probably more relaxing and faster in a motorhome.
Therefore, a European tour would suit the motorhome but a static holiday destination might work better for the caravan.
Remember that depreciation affects both motorhomes and caravans alike and storage, cleaning and maintenance issues have to be considered when not in use.
Hiring may prove the ultimate solution and there are plenty of caravan and motorhome hire centres nowadays.
Around £100 per day for a motorhome. That's £50 for your hire vehicle and £50 for the bed for the night!
Even two holidays a year of a fortnight each will cost less than the annual depreciation of a £36,000 van. And no capital outlay either.
Try a rental to see if you like the concept of a motorhome and if it's not for you, then nothing lost.