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2020 and 2021 saw an astonishing rise in new campervan owners. Data from the National Caravan Council shows an impressive 71% increase in new motorhome and campervan registrations from July 2019 to July 2020.
One of these lovely 'first-timers' is Laura, who has recently converted a sprinter van into her fabulous home away from home. We asked Laura to give us some insight into her first year as a campervan owner - sharing her tips and tricks, and some advice for those of you who may be looking to invest in your first camper:
We bought a sprinter van that we decided to convert into a campervan during the autumn of 2020. We were really lucky to find a fairly new van before all the prices went crazy. We wanted to do it this way, so we could decide the layout inside that would work best for us. We are really into biking so we wanted to make sure we had a large storage area that could hold 2 to 4 bikes. If you are going to invest in a campervan, I definitely think it is worth looking at converting one yourself so that it truly works for you.
We have a main bed area, shower room, kitchen and also a seating area that will convert into a double bed should we have any visitors.
It turns out that investing in one has been a life saver as we have used it pretty much every weekend in 2021! Even in the colder months of March and April, we’ve explored the whole of the UK. One of the best things about having a campervan over a caravan is that you can pull and use it without necessarily having to have facilities. One of our favourite trips was exploring Scotland and being able to pitch up at the side of the road. We had the most spectacular views in a morning where we just opened the backdoors and laid in bed. It is a memory that will stay with me for a long time.
Having said that, there can be a downside to owning a campervan. If you are pitched at a site, it is so much harder to drive off for the day to explore. It hasn’t impacted or bothered us too much as we tend to use our bikes and we love walking, hiking and adventures, which is mainly what we go for. However, we have a lot of friends that have spent time in Cornwall this summer and they have left their caravan or tent and used their cars to go exploring. This is something we would have to think about if we spent a longer period of time in a more remote location.
A key piece of kit that has been a lifesaver is our awning - we actually have two! This might sound greedy but we have one that is attached to the van that can easily be pulled out and just provides shelter above and at the sides. However, we also have Berghaus Air Shelter. This goes up in seconds…well in about 5 minutes and is so easy and quick to use. We bought a waterproof cover for the bottom and a carpet as well. We tend to put all of our things in it when we’re sleeping e.g. table and chairs, BBQ, and heater. If we do ever decide to use our campervan and drive somewhere it also means people know we’re still on our pitch.
We’ve recently invested in two Duvalay sleeping bags for our extra bed, but also a Duvalay mattress topper for our bed. It really is true what they say - mattresses in leisure vehicles aren’t always the comfiest but since we got our mattress topper we’ve had a much nicer nights sleep!
There isn’t a great deal we’d change for next year! We’ve had a group of friends who have had caravans for years, so we were able to properly pick their brains before investing which meant that we were able to get most things right from the start. If you can, I recommend doing the same with anyone you know who has a caravan or motorhome.