[tl:gallery index=0 size=103×155]Our Gentleman Jack Bancroft is an irredeemable motorcaravaning enthusiast. His family have been camping, caravanning and motorcaravanning since 1928. Jack and his wife Flora are now on their tenth motorhome, a 2003 Auto-Sleeper Pollensa on a Ford Transit base. They have toured extensively at home and abroad, including a period of full-timing. Here, Jack answers your motorcaravanning queries:
Q: We’re keen to embark on a motorhome tour soon. Do you have any advice about hiring a ’van? There are lots of hire firms and we don’t want to be put off by picking the wrong one.
Clare and Mike Wilson
A: This is a very wide subject to cover in the available space; that said, I’ll try and give you some pointers. There are generally four different types of hirers available to you:
1 Multi-outlet national firms.
2 Those who use a sub-contract brokerage scheme, whereby they are the clearing house for owners who wish to hire out their own ’van for money. The company itself does not own the vehicle and may not have inspected it.
3 Small family-run companies with perhaps two or three ’vans on their rental fleet.
4 Dealers and small manufacturers who run a ‘try before you buy’ scheme.
Professionally, I have no idea which is the best because I have not made any meaningful comparisons. Personally, though, I’d lean towards option three.
There are some points to bear in mind when hiring a ’van:
• Size of vehicle: if you’re going down lots of narrow lanes, you won’t want one that is too wide.
• Berths: this is the number of people it will sleep. However, you need to look at how this is arranged. For example, it might be a bit optimistic to expect Great Aunt Maude to sleep in a top bunk.
• Seats: make sure that there are sufficient forward-facing seats with three-point seatbelts to accommodate those who’ll travel with you in the ’van.
• Insurance: confirm that you’ll be getting proper hire and reward insurance and that you are not just being added as a named driver to a private policy. CDW (collision damage waiver) and optional reduced excess additions are usually worth taking out. Please be aware that you must declare any medical conditions and whether any drivers have points on their licence (because of this, it isn’t unusual for hirers to require sight of the paper part of the UK driving licence.
• Condition: all of you should look carefully for any damage to the ’van and for any shortages of equipment on collection. Any damage or missing equipment should be photographed and noted on the agreement to be signed by both parties.
Any reputable company will include breakdown cover and will have an emergency contact telephone number. Whichever company you choose, make sure you thoroughly research them on the web and see if there are any complaints or dissatisfied customers. No company can ever please all of the people all of the time, but ‘stinkers’ should be obvious.