Is this year the first time you have ever considered hiring a motorhome or campervan for your next staycation? If you have been putting off the idea of whether living out of one will be comfortable enough or doable for you then rest assured, you’ll find all of your motorhome hire for newbies answers right here!
Having just been on our first ever campervan holiday ourselves, this is an honest and practical review of all the things you need to consider when planning your getaway in what is effectively a ‘mini mobile home’.
As a beginner, we had plenty of reservations. But we need not have worried as this turned out to be the best short trip we have ever had and would’ve been even better had we known the following little tips and tricks.
Here are a few things you’ll find incredibly handy if you’re thinking about hiring your first motorhome.
Why NOW is a Great Time to Hire a Motorhome
Staycations are becoming increasingly popular since we are less able to travel around the world freely. As a result, motorhome and campervan hire has gone through the roof over recent months.
The only reason we even considered hiring one was that our usual hotel in Cornwall was offering rooms at £750 per night when it is ordinarily around £200! We’re not having a dig, hotels are making up for months of lost revenue but they have indirectly created a huge new market of alternative holidayers.
An affordable luxury motorhome costs around £150 per night and comes with several benefits in terms of freedom to move around and explore places you may have never considered otherwise.
Being a home-from-home, you can tour around the country effortlessly without worrying about losing too many aspects of comfort – so long as you do your research and planning before taking off.
Plus – if you have a fur baby that you hate leaving for even one minute, this is the ultimate way of having a dog-friendly getaway for you all!
Why You May Not Have Considered Motorhoming Previously
We speak for ourselves when we say that our perceptions of campers were vastly different from what they are now. Mostly associated with happily retired couples who pitch up in ‘Butlins style’ campsites, there was little appeal before experiencing our first motorhome trip.
This is now a marketplace for modern families/couples and adventurous travelers who prefer a little more freedom and slow travel to soak up everything they can.
There are also more campsites popping up around the country that are closer to wild camping, providing basic but sufficient amenities for a different style of camper.
If you choose a motorhome with practical facilities, you don’t need to rely on the campsite. This means you can enjoy the privacy and space you get with ‘wild camping’ that more popular and busy campsites cannot offer.
Choosing The Right Motorhome
Now when we talk about motorhomes, we’re referring to the 3.5-tonne semi-luxury type with its own facilities, including a toilet and shower. Quirky VW Campers do have their own benefits but it doesn’t provide the kind of comfort we would be after for a stress-free getaway.
Choosing the right campervan is the single most important aspect of ensuring a relaxing time away. Having been through hundreds of reviews and enormous amounts of research, we chose a Swift Escape 694 which ticked all of the boxes for the most comfortable experience, including a fixed island bed.
Swift Escapes have several different models and offer the best value luxury for entry-level motorhomes.
If this is the first motorhome you’ll ever hire then you can’t go wrong with one of these!
A few technical things need taking care of before booking your first campervan holiday.
Firstly, if you passed your driving test after 1st January 1997 then you may have restrictions on the type of vehicles you can drive (unless you have taken additional tests). The maximum weight of your motorhome can be 3.5 tonnes. This is why Swift Escapes are great because all of their models are made to fit this category.
Choose a hire company that provides you with insurance cover. For your first rental you do not want to be making your own arrangements and potentially fluffing up the type of cover required should the unexpected happen!
Rental costs range from £120-£160 per night, with an additional £15 per day for Collision Damage Waiver. Ordinarily, we wouldn’t bother with the CDW for car rentals, but motorhomes are slightly trickier to drive so well worth considering! If you plan on traveling to Europe then there may be additional costs to consider.
Mileage and Fuel
Most motorhome rentals will come with unlimited mileage for the duration of your rental. You will need to return the motorhome with the same amount of fuel you started with. The Swift Escapes are fairly efficient in comparison to other campervans. A full tank of fuel costs around £85 and will cover approximately 350 miles.
Facilities Onboard Your Motorhome
When choosing your motorhome think about the types of things that will make your trip as comfortable as possible.
Lounge Space – Consider how much time you will be spending inside and whether the additional room would provide more comfort for you.
Beds – You can choose a motorhome with a fixed bed that you can set up and forget about or one with a pull-down bed which may affect your head height but will give you more space to move around during the day.
Storage – This includes areas accessed from the exterior where you can stow luggage and also the internal cupboards and wardrobes. If you are planning a longer trip then additional storage may be important for you.
Cab Seats – Choosing ones that rotate will provide you with comfortable lounge chairs.
Kitchen – Having a kettle, toaster, hob burner, microwave, and oven/grill is essential for ensuring comfort on the go. Additional items such as pots, pans, cutlery, and glasses will also cut down on the amount of packing required.
Bathroom – A clean and practical toilet and shower are a must! Whilst you can use the facilities provided within your campsite this becomes incredibly valuable in the middle of the night or when you are on the go.
Wifi – If you are traveling to particularly remote areas and need to stay connected then some motorhomes can provide 4G via a sim card.
TV – If you need a TV then choose one that can rotate both ways in the lounge to provide viewing from the front and rear areas.
Safety Pack – An absolute must! Should include a fire extinguisher, fire blanket, first aid kit, carbon monoxide detector, smoke alarm, and tracker as a minimum.
Camping Table and Chairs – Even if you think you do not need them, you’ll be surprised how much use you get out of them!
Before You Take Off
Before you take off in your new motorhome, spend some time getting used to all the features and have someone show you how everything works, including:
- Setting up the fridge
- Turning on the interior lights
- Connecting the gas bottles
- Filling the water tank
- Emptying the wastewater
- Emptying the toilet cassette
- Hooking up the electric
- Turning on the water heater
- Using the satellite navigation system
This will save you an incredible amount of time and stress going through online manuals to figure it out by yourself! Particularly the fridge, which requires special attention to switching from 12v when driving to either gas or electric when parked.
Driving a Motorhome for Newbies
Squeaky bum time!
If this is the first time you’ve ever sat in a vehicle as big as this you’ll no doubt have some apprehensions. Just the sheer fact that you have no rearview mirror can be terrifying but you’ll quickly get used to that.
Some things to look out for:
The back of the motorhome will swing out substantially in comparison to a car. Make sure you are clear on the opposite side of your turn to prevent wiping anything out!
Before you commit to entering any car park, just pause and have a look around to see whether it’ll be too tight to maneuver. You want to avoid reversing in your motorhome as much as you can. Before setting off again, have a good look around the motorhome to see where any obstruction may be as you won’t have full vision once in the driving seat (unless yours is fitted with cameras).
Don’t let them catch you out! Lifting your vision to look further afield than you normally would save you a ton on efficiency and gear changes. When you see a steep incline approaching, plan your speed so that you don’t lose momentum up the hill. When on a decline, choose a lower gear instead of relying on the breaks to slow you down, you don’t want to burn them out in a 3.5-tonne vehicle.
Plan Your Route
Your motorhome should come with a good sat-nav system that has the dimensions of the vehicle already punched in. This means that it will provide you with routes that avoid narrow bollards and low bridges, essential if you want to avoid the embarrassment of stopping short of a ‘no go’ zone!
Beware Narrow Country Lanes
This is pretty unavoidable when cruising around places like Cornwall, particularly in farming areas with tractors. When on a country lane, always check for driveways or laybys where you can pull in to allow other vehicles to pass if necessary.
Motorhome Packing List
Your motorhome should come with basic kitchen items and utensils. However, here is a handy packing list to cover every eventuality.
- Kitchen roll
- Kitchen towels
- Sponge/scouring pad/washing up liquid
- Your favorite mugs
- Small bin bags/liners
- Bath towel (these are the best!)
- Soap for bathroom
- Anti-bacterial wipes
- Toilet roll (the thinner the better)
- Flip Flops (for wet shower floor)
- Floor towel
- Washing line and pegs
- Condiments (ketchup/mustard)
- Packing cubes (absolute genius invention!)
- Coal/firelighters/wood (for fire pits at campsites)
Motorhome Hire – Pros and Cons
Motorhome hire is a big decision if you’ve never experienced it before. Being aware of the pros and cons will help prevent any unnecessary stress and/or fallouts along the way!
- It’s easy hiring a motorhome
- Packing is a breeze
- Freedom to go anywhere you like, whenever you like
- Perfect for a dog-friendly holiday
- Much cheaper than most mid to high-range hotels
- Immediate access to toilet and wash facilities
- Campsite communities are really friendly and helpful
- And it’s tons of fun!
- Wild camping is not available everywhere in England in Wales
- Most campsites have specific rules on same-sex groups (to prevent rowdy parties)
- There are limits on where you can go
- It’s difficult to just ‘nip’ to the shops in a 3.5-tonne vehicle
- Someone has the task of emptying the loo every other day!
- Space can be an issue
Booking Your Hire With A Reliable Company
Without a doubt, choosing the right hire company can make or break your entire experience. You want the handover process to be as smooth and helpful as possible with expert cleaning taking place in between rentals.
When we picked up our two-year-old Swift Escape 694, it felt like we were the first ones to ever use it. Although it was a dog-friendly motorhome hire company, we couldn’t find a single hair, even if we tried!
We chose Swiftgo Motorhome Hire based on their incredible reviews, excellent website, and helpful employees, and we cannot recommend them highly enough.
Swiftgo Motorhome Hire rates include:
- No extra charge for additional driver
- No additional cost for dogs
- Onsite secure parking for your car
- Easy, hassle-free handover
- Suitable Insurance
- Breakdown cover
- Unlimited mileage
- Satellite navigation system
- All kitchen utensils
- Safety Package
- Picnic table and 5 chairs
- 5-star customer service
Instead of charging for every little thing separately, they provide one quote which covers it all, and to top it off, they were cheaper than other motorhome hire companies offering the same models.
How are they able to do this? Well, Swiftgo Hire can offer low rates as they want newbie campers to fall in love with their range and consider purchasing one for themselves!
Don’t get us wrong, this is purely down to our own assessment of how they manage to keep their rates so low, but after this mini-getaway we know one thing for sure – we are already planning our next trip and have been looking at how much they cost to purchase outright!
Wrapping Up Motorhome Hire for Beginners
Hiring a motorhome for the first time can be a little nerve-wracking if you’ve never experienced anything like it before. However, it will change your outlook on how to ‘holiday’ as it provides so much more in terms of flexibility and adventure.
So long as you’re happy to do some planning and preparation beforehand, you’ll be sure to have an incredible time.
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