Campervanning is growing in popularity by the day. Once considered the domain for financially robust retirees or cash strapped young families, the campervan lifestyle has widened its appeal to incorporate all ages, all budgets and all fitness levels.
There are a multitude of reasons why campervans make so many people, so very happy! Experiencing the outdoors, beaches, mountains, forests, fishing, walking, cycling, kayaking and paddle boarding – all the while enjoying the comfort and familiarity of your own kitchen and bedroom on wheels!
No accommodation required, no hotel to arrange, no restaurants to book. Just you, the dog , the kids and the road unwinding before you. There’s a special kind of happy in that.
As green technologies improve, fuel efficiency, low emissions and affordability, the growing trend is for campervans to replace car ownership. No longer left in the driveway for special trips, instead used daily for the school run, taking the dog to the park and nipping out for shopping. Then, at the weekend, hitting the open road to get off the beaten track, looking for adventure and freedom, exploring all of the best spots.
Campervans have been seen as a quirky niche-hobby, however, a combination of Brexit and the Coronavirus has radically changed this.
What exactly is a campervan?
A campervan is a regular van that has then been camperised (yes, this is an actual word!). A campervan conversion is a kitted-out van so that you can travel to your favourite remote spots and campsites and have facilities to eat and sleep. Some campervanners like fitted toilets and long wheel base vans also have water storage and showers.
Thinking of getting a campervan?
There are three main routes to go down when considering your campervan conversion:
- A professional campervan company?
- Do your own campervan conversion?
- A combination of professional fitters and your own handy work?
Finding a professional campervan company like ourselves will help you find the right van model and professionally kit-out your campervan conversion to suit your particular lifestyle needs taking into consideration how you accommodate kids, dogs, sports and all your hobbies.
A key thing to consider is – will you use it every day? Do you need to consider ULEZ – ultra low emission zone compliance? Have a think about fuel efficiency for everyday use. Is a hybrid or tribrid Eco-Campervan conversion your best choice both in terms of emissions and fuel efficiency?
Alternatively – is the campervan just for special trips? Where will you store it? How remote do you want to get? Will you need a robust 4×4? If you are a cyclist, walker, paddle-boarder, what kit and storage options will you need to accommodate your hobbies and lets build this into your design with accessories?
How long do you want to go off the beaten track for and will you have enough battery-life to sustain that?
Doing your own campervan conversion is a great idea. However, be realistic. You need to be pretty handy in terms of your carpentry, wiring, plumbing and frabrication skills to kit out your own van and also, please be very careful when handling batteries and sorting out your power supplies and installation of gas or 240v hook up. Many appliances require certificated professionals for fitting and gas certification is an absolute must for safety.
We have seen some cracking campervan conversions in our time, but there are a lot of financial pitfalls, frustrations and legislation that you need to comply with that goes way beyond just an MOT.
However, there are some great guides on You Tube and Facebook Groups that are supportive and informative with great tips on where to source parts and gadgets from. If you are looking for inspiration on ideas, go to Pinterest. Be prepared, as days will pass as you fall in love with bunting and fairy lights.
The key to a successful campervan conversion is to make sure that you campervan is weather and water-tight with safe heating facilities for chilly, wet days and nights and that your van is designed in such a way as to maximise comfort and space and is easy to maintain.
Combining professional fitters and your own handy work
Let’s say you are on a budget and happy to source the model of van that you really fancy and you are quite handy with a jigsaw cutter and have spent a fortnight on Pinterest. You now have a final layout that appeals to you. Cut your templates, watch all the necessary YouTube videos and then for the installation bits that are too tricky for you and you can’t get a clear steer on the Facebook groups and forums. This is the time to go to a professional conversion company and ask for help.
Most companies will help you out. Formerly as Campers Scotland Ltd, we did a lot of this type of business but we expanded with our Eco Campers line and really wanted to develop the eco-friendly, innovative technology part of designing vans from scratch.
At Campervan Co we are expanding our highly-respected Campers Care services to fit roofs, heaters, windows, insulation, lining, towbars, gas certification and a host of other camper conversion tasks, including servicing and MOTs work that will give peace of mind and guaranteed work in the campervan of your dreams (or just the odd trip). With over a fifteen years of experience, we offer the best service and advice in the UK.
Here are our top five guides to DIY campervan conversions
Our top five best vans for campervan conversions
Our favourite vans are clearly the ones that we love to camperise for a whole host of reasons. They are solid, efficient, great internal space. We love:
The Toyota Alphard
The Nissan Elgrands
The Mitsubuishi Delica
The VW T6
And the Ford Transit Custom
Other highly popular vans are:
Fiat Ducato and Talento
Mercedes Sprinter and Marco Polo
Campervan conversions costs vary widely! Second hand vehicles or a brand-new vehicle and the multitude of appliances and accessories greatly affect what you will pay. You could get hold of an old Mazda Bongo from £5k to spending up to £80k for the larger, luxury end of the market. But be beware, the older you go (and the cheaper) the more repair work you will have to pay for and the less time you will spend on the open road – cheaper campers to buy are not the cheapest to own! The general rule of thumb is that you will have to spend at least £15k on a used campervan that will run well and be safe – though we recommend getting any newly purchased second-hand campervan thoroughly tested before use – in the wrong hands, a badly maintained or built campervan can be deadly.
What to look out for!
Campervan conversions can be very expensive. You must build-in serving and maintenance costs to make sure that you are road-safe. Don’t be put off! A good campervan conversion is a real labour of love. The romance of the open road and all the great trips you will take, will make it well worth it.
Our most respected competitors that we rate to a good job on helping you with your campervan conversions are: Caledonian Campers, Hillside Leisure, WildAx Motorhomes, Jerba Campers and East Neuk Campervans.