If you’re not sure if van life is for you, hiring a campervan first is the best thing you can do.
Hiring a campervan gives you the freedom to see if the space works for you, what style of van would most suit your personality and, let’s face it, if camping is really your thing.
There are so many different styles of van on the market, that before buying a campervan, it’s worth trying out a couple to see how you feel. With the last few weeks of summer left, here are some of the options and companies which still have availability for 2021:
The quirky self-build
I love the idea of hiring a van which someone has lovingly built themselves. Not only do you get to stay in something that is truly unique, but there’s usually always a cool story behind it. Plus, they often look really pretty – so get your camera ready for those Instagram shots!
If you’re considering doing your own self-build campervan I would also say that hiring one first is a must. Because, as nice as the idea seems, it’s a lot of work, especially if you don’t already have the skills. That’s not to say that it can’t be done, but it’s worth having a long think about whether it’s a challenge you’re prepared to take on.
It’s also worth checking exactly what each van is offering before you hire one, as they will all be different. So they may not all have the amenities you’d expect, like heating or a fridge.
Pros of hiring a self-build van: You get to stay in a unique van with tons of personality.
Cons of hiring a self-build van: May have some odd design quirks. May be cold/draughty or lack amenities like a fridge.
The vintage van
When you hear the words “VW campervan” I’m sure the same picture springs to mind for many of us. The cute distinctive-shaped van, with either a split or bay window and the large VW logo on the front. This is exactly the kind of van I thought we’d go for, before I remembered we have two little adventurers to accommodate too!
But if I was looking to rent one for a short trip, this is probably the style I would go for as they offer all of the nostalgia and charm I love.
There are so many beautiful retro VWs for rent, so you really will be spoilt for choice if you go for this option. Things to remember are that they’ll be a little slower than the car you’re used to driving and some people do find them heavy to steer.
Pros of hiring a vintage campervan: They offer the nostalgia and charm of the original VWs.
Cons of hiring a vintage campervan: Slower than newer models, can be tricky to drive.
The campervan conversion
Many van conversions are done by professional companies these days and therefore offer the same comfort levels as factory-built ones. As owners get more of a say in the design, we found them to be more personalised than factory-built ones. One of the quirks we discovered when looking was that converted vans usually had brighter, more colourful interiors.
Conversions are generally easy to drive and reliable. Just double-check that they come with everything you’d want on a trip. One of the vans we looked at didn’t have heating, which you really don’t want to discover in the middle of a chilly night!
Pros of hiring a campervan conversion: Easy to drive, reliable, some personalisation.
Cons of hiring a campervan conversion: May lack some amenities.
The reliable factory-build
What you see is what you get when it comes to hiring a factory-built campervan. The reliability and clever use of space were the main reasons why we ended up buying our VW California T5.1. They’re easy to drive and you can get a decent speed on motorways. They also have good heating and air-conditioning systems, as well as a fridge and stove.
However, if you’re hiring a campervan for a special trip away, they might lack the aesthetic quality you’d be hoping for.
Pros of hiring a factory-built campervan: Reliable, clever use of space, good amenities.
Cons of hiring a factory-built campervan: Not as fun to look at as some of the older models.
If you’re considering taking the next step, check out my post about things to think about when buying a campervan. You can also read more about why we decided to buy a campervan, as well as what it’s like taking a baby in a campervan.