How to Choose Between a Motorhome and a Caravan

If you’re thinking about purchasing your first leisure vehicle, you’ve probably discovered that there’s more to the motorhoming and caravanning world than you might have thought. Particularly when it comes to all the many makes and models there are available and the hundreds of features to choose between. You might be stuck on the question as to whether a motorhome or a caravan is better suited to you. If this is the case, here are five simple questions to ask yourself which should help make your decision much easier.

1. Do you have a car suitable to tow a caravan?

While a motorhome is a self-contained vehicle with its own engine, a caravan requires another vehicle to tow it. If you’re thinking about getting a caravan, one of the first questions to ask yourself is whether your car is a suitable tow vehicle. 

You should be able to find the maximum weight your car can tow in your car’s manual. Be aware that this will often exceed the recommended weight that is recommended by the Caravan and Motorhome Club, so if this is the first time you’ll be towing a trailer, bear this in mind. 

You’ll also need to get your head around kerb weight and Maximum Technically Permitted Laden Mass to match your car up to a suitable caravan. You’ll need to work out your car’s power to weight ratio to see if your car is powerful enough to tow a caravan. It’s best to do these calculations before you start doing too much research and setting your heart on a model not suitable for your car.

If you’re going to need to buy a tow vehicle as well as a caravan, you’ll need to factor this into your budget. You can skip this part completely if you go for a motorhome. 

2. What is your budget?

In general, caravans are cheaper than motorhomes. You’ll get more living space for your money at any rate. If you’re constrained by budget, a caravan would make your money go further. If you’ve already got a suitable tow vehicle that is.

Think about what your budget is and then look at some examples of motorhomes and caravans that fit within that range. Are the motorhomes available at that price point meeting your needs? 

Don’t forget that you can often get great deals on used motorhomes. Just like cars, motorhomes depreciate in value fastest in the first few years after they’re built. After this period, they maintain their value much better. This means that you can sometimes find a great deal on a motorhome that is only a few years old but much cheaper than the current models. 

3. What sorts of trips will you be going on in your leisure vehicle?

Try and visualise the types of holidays you’re going to want to use your leisure vehicle for. Will you be going for long weekends or will you be going for weeks or even months at a time. Will you be staying put at one campsite or will you be moving from place to place on a regular basis?

While you can take a caravan or a motorhome on any of the types of holidays mentioned above, there are advantages and disadvantages to each. Caravans generally offer more living space, so you might be more comfortable in a caravan for a longer period of time. If you’re likely to be staying in a single location, it’s easy to un-hitch the car and use it for day trips. This can become more of a faff if you’re moving from place to place. Motorhomes are easier to move around and can be more convenient for going from pitch to pitch. 

4. How many people will you need to accommodate in your motorhome or caravan?

Caravans and motorhomes can both vary hugely in size and can accommodate different numbers of people. Remember, you don’t just need to think about how many people will be sleeping in your caravan or motorhome, but how many people will be in the motorhome or tow car while you’re on the road. 

Both motorhomes and caravans have highly sophisticated features these days and offer clever sleeping solutions. Some motorhomes solve the issue of space by including beds that come down from the ceiling in the evening at the switch of a button. Living areas can quickly be transformed into spacious double beds or you can go for the more luxurious fixed beds if these are better suited to your needs. Even with all of these clever solutions, you might find yourself a little cosy if you’re planning on taking a big family on holiday for a couple of weeks in a motorhome. A caravan might afford a more relaxing experience for everyone. 

5. How confident a driver are you?

If you’re used to driving a car, getting behind the wheel of a motorhome or hitching up to a caravan might be a bit of a daunting prospect. Each handles quite differently and it can take a while to get used to. Driving a motorhome is similar to driving a car, however, you’ll have a higher driving position and you’ll need to get used to manoeuvring a larger vehicle. Driving a caravan is slightly different as you add a whole new element to the handling of your car. This can feel slightly strange at first, especially if you frequently drive your tow vehicle without a trailer attached to the rear.

Motorhomes are generally easier to manoeuvre in and out of pitches. A standard size motorhome also tends to be easier to drive on smaller, country roads and might be more suitable if you’re planning to go a bit further off the beaten track.

If you’re feeling especially nervous about driving either a motorhome or a caravan, there are driving courses available for both types of leisure vehicle. It could be well worth booking yourself in if you think it will boost your confidence behind the wheel and make your first trip that little bit less stressful. 

Unfortunately, there is no simple answer to the question of ‘is it better to have a motorhome or a caravan?’. Ultimately the answer is personal to you and your needs. There are pros and cons to both types of vehicles and you’ll need to think through these carefully before making your final decision. While the above is by no means a comprehensive guide to the differences between motorhomes and caravans, we think these are the key questions you need to be asking yourself before you make that decision. After you’ve had a think about the above, it should become much clearer whether a motorhome or a caravan is your ideal leisure vehicle.

Still can’t decide? Come and visit our team at Chipping Sodbury Caravans and Motorhomes and we’ll be more than happy to take you through the advantages of each type of vehicle while showing you around a few.  

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