At this time, I am writing about the topic of buying and choosing a motorhome or a camper van, because it feels like so many others are currently also thinking about these things. Probably you and the others are thinking if they dare to make such an expensive purchase and what if they don’t like it anyway. If you dream of a relaxed extempore trips around the year and like to see different landscapes, then a motorhome or a camper van is just the right choice for you!! ???? Please check out the feelings of an own camper van on Instagram’s side. ?
A camper van makes the travelling easier at least for a little traveler. ? And I have heard that it helps also travelling with pets. I hope that this blog post will also encourage you to realize your own motorhome/camper van dream and also help you choose a car. ?
Here you can read more about how our dream of an own camper van started and became true, even though I am currently a housewife. I am not sure why a housewife sounds so strange but I am home with our son. ??? The needs related to choosing our camper van come pretty much from the kite boarding hobby and the needs of our toddler. Our dream is to get around the year to the places where the wind blows so that our son can also be with us in those adventures. ???♀️?? Short extempore weekend trips are also in our hopes.
At first, we were thinking if we would have bought a normal van and then modified it to suit camping and overnight staying. However, it was very soon noticed that even a little driven vans (below 100000 kms driven) are expensive. And maybe even our own skills woudn’t have been enough to build a camper van for winter use (e.g. -30…-20 degrees).
And when travelling with a little child, a toilet, a shower, and a kitchen, as well as the refrigerator, are more than desirable, because they make easier and speed up the everyday routines on the road. And thus there is time for kite surfing also. ? The construction of the van would also have required a suitable interior for autumn and winter time here in Finland and also good enough tools. ?
The reason why we ended up buying a brand new camper van:
Many probably thinks if you should rent a motorhome or a camper van or buy an own one. I mean now a camper van manufactured in a factory. So there are a kitchen, a bed, a shower/a toilet in a camper van in a similar way as in a motorhome.
1. A rental or an own motorhome/camper van
- The rental price feels expensive (starting from 120 € per day from Caravan store here in Finland) if you would like to travel in every month. For the weekend, the price is already at least 240 €, which could be used to shorten the loan of your own car comfortably. Not to mention a rental car for a summer holiday is about 1000€ per week (4 weeks 4000€). Admittedly, if you travel occasionally a few times a year, then renting is a good and carefree option. ?
- The weekend rental is tedious and the departure of the trip is slow when you first have to pick up the car from the rental place to your home if all the needed stuff (e.g. kite surfing equipment and baby/toddler stuff, bedding, kitchen utensils, own clothes) for the trip do not fit to your own small car. Corresponding work with returning and also the cleaning of the rental car.
- When renting, taking the extra day before and after the trip makes it easier but feels very expensive. In that case, the price for the weekend trip will be already 480€, and with that sum you can pay the loan of your own car well. Thus, those additional days make it possible to pack a car for example on Thursday and you can be at home on Sunday evening. In this case you can return, empty and clean the car on Monday.
- The wind forecasts are not reliable far into the future at least in Finland and you want to check the forecasts in that morning again when you want to go to kite surfing. If you have an own camper, you can go and check if it will be windy because you have to pay only the fuel. If you rent a car, it costs and there is also a risk that you don’t find any free rental camper extempore close enough to your home.
- Your own camper van is easy and hassle-free as it can always be pre-packed in the yard or in a parking place near to your home. You just move the food from the home fridge to the camper fridge and take some clothes with you. ?
- Your own motorhome/camper van also allows for easy visiting to your friends and family and even visits further away from home. Because you can stay night in the camper and go on the road day before.
- Another advantage of your own motorhome/camper van is that the child always has a familiar place to sleep on the trip. So you don’t have to use so much time for getting the toddler sleeping. ? It may work also with a pet. However we don’t have personal experience of travelling with a pet. But we can tell you that our son sleeps very well in our camper van. ?
- Now when we have 3 persons included to our family, staying at hotels is also more expensive. Overnight staying in the bush parks are free if you already have a camper. ?
After the listed thing above, it is not probably hard to guess which option was the best one for us. ?? Yes, we decided to buy an own camper!! And after that we should think about which option: motorhome, camper van or a trailer best suited for our family. I also included a trailer in this comparison, even though it wasn’t really an option for us. One reason for the inconvenience of a trailer may be seen in the photo below and other reasons I explain to you soon. ?
2. A trailer, a motorhome or a camper van:
- The trailer is quite tricky at least on some kite surfing beaches which are often at the end of small roads. And the parking lot may be cramped and small.
- In winter use, trailer also feels not so good alternative if you go to the fells e.g. in the north for snow kiting and drive up to the fell in the morning and come back to the village in the evening. And with a child you need the warm place where to stay between outdoor activities. The photo above shows the situation of a winter kite boarding spot in northern Norway.
- In addition, in our case, we did not have enough big car to tow a trailer, so the car should have been replaced also. And our yard is too small for a trailer storage.
- The motorhome was shut out of the options quite soon, because the third car wasn’t actually attracted to us. ? Our yard is relatively small and with a child there is no longer so much enthusiasm and time to wash cars and take care of three maintenance and annual inspections. And we have earlier experience of three cars.? And it is also quite expensive in Finland to keep 3 cars because of insurance costs and taxes.
- Due to its large size, a motorhome might not be as handy for everyday driving and driving to work compared to a camper van, so you might have needed 3 cars in this case.
- You cannot probably access with a motorhome to all kite surfing spots that may be at the end of a small and narrow road. Finding a parking space with a motorhome can also be challenging, as motorhomes can be parked in just about every other places because of their width. A camper van can fit in the parking lot.
A camper van (which has factory made sleeping solution, kitchen, toilet and shower):
- A camper van works as an another car, as many have that as even the only car of the family. We need 2 cars for going work with Pasi, but we could sell the another small car and buy a camper van instead.?
- In a camper van, it is also fascinating when the rear doors and the side door can be opened and in this way you can feel closer to the landscape and nature, for example when drinking coffee or waking up in the morning from the bed behind the van. ?? This opportunity is not available in the motorhome!!!! Check out how cool it is by looking at the photos shown below!!!! ?
So we chose a camper van for our family’s camping car, and after that we had to decide whether to buy: a brand new or a little-driven car. A little driven (less than 100,000 km) and a new car were options because then we could use the car as long as possible and the car would more likely be less at the repair shop and thus we could enjoy more to be on the road!!????
3. A brand new or a little-driven camper van:
- The price difference between a little driven and a new one turned out to be relatively small if you need financing for the car. In the autumn 2019, you could get an interest rate of 0.99% on a loan for a new car. The interest rate on a loan for the little-driven car would have been in the 4-6% range, depending on where you asked.
- Little-driven camper vans suitable for winter use were not really on sale in the autumn of 2019 in Caravan stores. We felt that buying from a private person was too big risk because of the expensive purchase price and because we don’t understand cars so much. We just like to drive and enjoy the trips. ? Financing was also easily agreed through the Caravan store.
- By ordering a new one from the factory, you were able to choose the model, the features and accessories you want. For example, there were no Isofix anchorages for a child car seat in almost any used camper vans.
- Due to the things listed above, we ended up with a new camper van, where you could choose everything by yourself. After that, we had to decide the brand, model and features of the camper van, as well as the accessories that would be needed for the van.
The requirements for the camper van:
Length of six meters:
- A handy second car for our whole family that could also be used for everyday use and for driving to work
- When leaving to Europe, boat trips are priced according to the length of the car, so they would be also a little bit cheaper
- In winter use, less heated space and thus less gas consumption
The only disadvantage of the 6-meter van is the smaller roof space for the solar panels, as the roof box also had to fit. For us, at least for now, those panels have been enough, but we don’t usually entertain in the same place for the weekend longer. About a weekend trip we can stay at the same place without driving and with our use the batteries (2*95Ah AGM batteries) have been enough. ? However, here in winter time when you don’t get the solar energy, we would recommend to have an aggregate.
Large trunk under the bed:
- You can fit both: kite surfing equipments and baby/toddler stuff (a stroller etc) to the van. ?
- The high space under the bed also allows 11kg gas cylinders (2pcs) fit in the car. In the bunk bed model, the lower bed is usually lower than normally and those cars have smaller gas cylinders. Due to winter use and heating, large gas cylinders were desired.
Definetely suitable for winter use (e.g. -25…-30 degrees):
- A model designed for the Nordic countries
- More efficient 6kW heater, where it is also possible to heat with electricity if the car is attached to a pole. In this case, less gas is consumed.
- Underfloor heating at the electric site. This is good for the same reason as that electric heating feature. The floor can otherwise feel cold in winter and underfloor heating brings more comfort, especially if a child or pet spends time at floor level. Personal experience: At least -10 degrees still works well without underfloor heating. We put the carpets for the van (Weinsberg Carabus 600 MQ, Scandic edition), which also helps in everyday use when the Truma heating is not on. We put Truma heating on only in trips when we stay also a night in the camper van.?
- Heated and insulated gray water tank. We have had water in tanks so far in about -10 degrees. Pretty awesome feeling to go to the warm shower of your van at the end of the snowboarding or snow kiting day. ? It is always recommended to ensure if you can keep the water in the car*s water system also in frosty conditions from the dealer or service, as the locations of the car’s water tanks and water pipes etc. vary, depending on the model and brand.
- Webasto engine heater with remote control (this is awaiting an update from Fiat in order to avoid an unnecessary warning in future after using a Webasto heater)
- Thermo covers on the front and back and also on the side door.
- You should have as few windows as possible in your car if you are considering winter use. The windows of the back doors of the camper van can be easily covered with a thermo cover and then the feeling of cold traction on the bed disappears. ? And you can also put a cover on the front of the car and also on the slide door.
- Toilet window: You can rinse the kite surfing stuff (board, wetsuit etc) and why not also the beach sand from yourself or your child or pet at the outside of the car.
- At least in a Truma-heated car, there is also a blow nozzle in the toilet and the clothes dry there quite quickly. This is an important feature for us, as we enjoy snowboarding and kite boarding, so it is nice to get our wetsuits and outdoor clothing and shoes dry. In addition, our son’s outdoor clothing is still to be dried. ? Unfortunately, we have no experience with Alde system, so it is not possible to compare how the drying of clothes works in that kind of car.
Child safe travel (Isofix anchorages):
- The child safety seat can be conveniently and firmly attached by using Isofix connection. We have an experience with both: a seat belt and an Isofix connected child safety seat, and it has to be said that an isofix-mounted seat can be get a lot stiffer to the bench. This is important especially if the camper van is in everyday use and then isofixes are good to have! ?
- The car manufacturer has probably paid attention to safety seat issues and child safety when children have an Isofix attachment option in the car.
- Note. According to the safety instructions, the table between the rear and front seats must not be kept in its place while driving, as the table can be dangerous in a collision.
- I’ve noticed in various Facebook groups here in Finland that some parents are wondering if they dare to travel by a motorhome or a camper van with their child, if they don’t know in advance how their own safety seat may fit to the rental car. I think it’s a shame if a wonderful trip cannot be done because of it. Here in below photo you can see on child safety seat in Weinsberg Carabus 600 MQ -camper van. ?
Possible needed accessories:
- Provides sun protection and rain protection while the child sleeps in a stroller. On the other hand, in windy places it cannot be used.
- Offers extra living space for rainy days. Definitely handy at least with a child or a pet.
- When cooking in the rainy day, the side door can be kept open without worry and water will not enter inside.
The small disadvantage is that when the frost days comes, it can no longer be used. It is not recommended if the awning is put off as wet and then the next night the weather freezes.
- You can make more trips when you can stay in bush parks and save like that.
- You can spend several nights without worries in the same place and the batteries are charged with solar energy for a large part of the year also here in Finland.
A roof box to bring extra space:
- Beach sand does not come (so much?) with kites and boards inside the camper van.
- In winter time, the snow left on kites and snowboards does not melt inside the car and even in the box, the snow can stay in the form of snow until the next snow kiting day.
- Get extra space in the car for barbecue, chairs and a table, for example
- The box makes it easier when some of the goods are in a different place and there is no need to unload the whole trunk out when you take something. ?
Other remarks and tips for buying a motorhome:
Many people probably is wondering if they would get a discount on the list price of the camper van or what is the delivery time if they order a new one from the factory. And the annual tax on the camper van is also of the interest. I listed this information below because we have get some queries related these issues.?
- The discount on the price was not big compared to the purchase price, but some equipment was possible to negotiated to the same price.
- In a camper van ordered from the factory, the length of the delivery time can come as a surprise, so you cannot think too long before ordering. ? We ordered in mid-November 2019 and the delivery was originally supposed to be around mid-May 2020 at the latest. However, due to Corona virus, the delivery was sadly delayed and we got the camper van finally in September 2020.
- It’s worth looking at the fact how your car’s annual taxes are determined. Taxes unfortunately rose in 2020 in Finland and the annual tax on our camper van (year 2020 or 2021, I did not find out from the serial number which year model it is) is about 670 € per year, while in 2019 it was less than 400 € per year.
- It is recommended to rent a suitable camper van before buying, then you can find out if it is your own thing and what kind of car you need. (But there is a quite big risk that you will love to be on the road and then you have to get our own camper van???).
Which camper van we finally chose:
Our family’s camper van is shown in below photo and it fulfills the above listed requirements. It is a Weinsberg Carabus 600 MQ (Scandic edition)!! ???
If you liked this blog post and want to follow our upcoming adventures or hear, for example, tips for traveling with a child, then please come to follow us on Instagram and on Facebook. In these places we also update you on new blog posts etc. ?
In Finnish we have much more blog posts available and I try to translate them as soon as possible. ?
Have a nice reading moments and have a wonderful day! ?