We all know that motorhome holidays can be wonderful – and touring with children can be a lot of fun. But when buying your 'van, there are lots of motorhomes and campervans from which to choose and aimlessly wandering from one to another can get frustrating and waste time. First things first: draw up a list of ‘must-haves’ and bonus ‘would-likes’. That way, you can eliminate a good number of motorhomes that simply don’t fit the bill.
If you’re a family of four, for example, with a baby on the way, you can cut out all those four-berth motorhomes instantly and begin to search for five- or six-berths, making sure there are enough seatbelts and travelling seats for all. Here are our 10 top tips to help you buy that perfect family 'van:
- As well making sure that the number of seatbelts matches the number of people travelling in the motorhome, check that any baby car seats and booster seats will fit correctly.
- How much storage do you need? A motorhome with a rear garage is very useful for bikes (especially children’s bikes with stabilisers), pushchairs and dirty boots.
- Consider sleeping arrangements and bed sizes. Some bunk beds are really designed for younger kids, so make sure you check the sizes of all the bunks for teenagers. For yourselves, as the parents (or grandparents), make sure the floorplan means that you can you stay up later while still allowing children to sleep undisturbed. A motorhome with a lounge at one end and a little dinette at the other end is worth considering. If there’s a baby in the family, make sure you'll have room for a carrycot or travel cot. Alternatively, if there's a huge double bed you can probably fit two adults and a small child on it, like a sleeping platform. Sleeping bags can make this easier.
- Check the cupboard catches. Flimsy fittings break easily with children around, which can prove stressful and involve you in unwanted DIY jobs on holiday!
- Also check that electrical sockets and switches are located high up and out of the way of tiny, probing fingers.
- A hard floor in a motorhome is much easier to clean quickly than carpets. And as for upholstery, expensive interiors and sticky fingers just don’t mix.
- Consider the amount of privacy and personal space in the motorhome as you look round it. Young children like building ‘dens’, while teenagers also want somewhere to call their own.
- Think about cooking facilities, preparation space for family mealtimes and whether there's enough space for you all to sit round the table to eat together. Motorhomes with a dinette as well as the main lounge really do make life easier for a family.
- Make sure you have a separate cubicle for the shower and another for the loo and washbasin. This arrangement helps at bedtimes and in the mornings.
- Think about an integral internal step and the ’van’s height off the ground, especially if you have small children. Motorhomes with external retracting steps can be dangerous for unsteady toddlers. What's more, they'll probably enjoy playing with the step-retracting button a little too much!
And remember, no matter what type of 'van you're looking to buy, if you're trawling the motorhomes for sale pages searching for your next home from home, Practical Motorhome is here to help. Finding a good motorhome dealership is also vital, whether you're buying a new or used motorhome or campervan – so read the results of Practical Motorhome's annual Owner Satisfaction Survey. In this unique survey our readers report how they are getting on with their own motorhomes. Readers rate both the manufacturers who made the motorcaravans they own and also the dealers who sold them. 7000 readers rated their motorhomes last year!