Benjamin DaviesSee other Advice articles filed in ‘Buying a motorhome’ written by Benjamin Davies
With the vast number of floorplans out there, choosing which motorhome is right for you can be a daunting decision. So follow our ten step guide for some handy pointers…
Among other decisions you must make are: what weight of vehicle you can legally drive, the amount of space you have in which to park the motorhome, and what size of ’van you feel most comfortable driving. Confirm these points before looking at any motorhomes because you will invariably want to buy the biggest model possible to gain the maximum amount of living space. Try to be realistic in your choice.
Consider a change of circumstance. If your eldest child has just got married, or you plan to have a child yourself, how could a floorplan cope with new occupants, or visitors for a day, or a week? Maybe you will retire soon and take longer trips, or perhaps visit friends in the UK? If you’re a couple, will there be enough room to keep out of each other’s hair?
Fixed beds are the most comfortable, but they have their limitations. Corner beds have cut-off corners, reducing one partner’s legroom.
Overcab and garage beds may have restricted headroom and one partner will have to climb over the other to leave the beds during the night. Mattress quality is worth checking, too.
Colour is a matter of taste, but how might the fabrics wear over time, and would they be likely to put off other buyers when you come to sell? Consider how different styles favour certain seasons: dark woods can be a bit oppressive in summer, and bright colour schemes can appear cold in winter. Try to assess how much daylight the windows and rooflight will provide on dull or rainy days.
If you plan to stay on sites all the time, the loo or shower space is not a major consideration. Many washrooms are narrow, so the simplest way to test whether there’s enough room for your needs is to physically act out showering and washing. If you plan to camp away from facilities, how easily can all occupants get to the bathroom in the morning?
Is there enough headroom for you to be able to stand up straight, or manoeuvre easily? Can two people pass each other when one is seated or working in the kitchen? Can you get to the loo when other occupants are asleep? If children will use the motorhome, are there separate areas where they can read, sleep and keep their things?
Many ’vans only have two belted seats; also, some travel seats are not permitted to be used on a 3.5-tonne chassis (to which some drivers are restricted). But more seats don’t mean a bigger motorhome: some campers can seat up to seven, while most coach-sized US RVs seat only two. Using some or all of your travel seats will take up part of your payload.
Consider storage space, equipment and worksurface area. Are you likely to use an oven or a separate freezer compartment enough to justify the space they take up? If you only plan to stay on sites with electricity, think about a microwave. If you’re unsure about how much space you will need, consider what you would cook in a week’s touring.
How many people can sit at the table and comfortably reach their plates? Check for table extensions and adjustment mechanisms. If there are swivel cab seats, can the height be adjusted so that shorter occupants can reach the table? Also, can both swivel seats be occupied without neighbours knocking knees? Finally, how easy is it to serve food to the table from the kitchen?
This becomes more crucial the longer you spend in the ’van. If you like reclining, is there somewhere to rest your head or position a cushion? Could one of the beds be used as a sofa? Could the swivel seats become recliners? If you plan to use your ’van for active family trips, you may prefer a dinette (better for mealtimes than for lounging).