Choosing the perfect motorhome or campervan is an exciting time, but when you’re parting with a large amount of money it can also be a daunting one, so it’s important to carry out the proper checks, follow the steps and know what to be aware of before parting ways with your hard-earned cash.
In this blog we’ll uncover the essentials you need to know to ensure you choose the four-wheeled travel companion right for you and enter that new world of opportunity owning one offers.
Know your budget
Before you begin your search the first place to start is establishing your budget. You don’t want to fall in love with a model that is several thousand out of your grasp, so knowing how much you can afford to spend will really help to narrow down the search and prevent any disappointment further down the line.
As I’ve already said, buying a motorhome or campervan is a big investment so you’re going to want to ensure it is as comfortable, and capable, as possible and this may mean stretching the budget a little. Whether that’s for heated seats, bike racks, awnings or reversing cameras you won’t want to skimp out on the little things – you’re planning to spend a lot of time in this thing after all!
However, you also don’t want to get sucked into thinking you need all the bells and whistles. It’s ok to take baby steps and think about what features are going to improve your quality of life as you and your vehicle get used to each other. Just remember that having a budget doesn’t necessarily mean you’re limited; it just means you need to be savvy about getting the most for your money.
Oh and don’t forget to set a bit of budget aside for your insurance. You don’t want to have to take £400 out of your vehicle’s budget. If you are needing insurance, make sure to get an exclusive motorhome and campervan insurance quote direct with Lexham!
Have a game plan
You can do all the research in the world but if you don’t have any inclination into what you want you could end up going round in circles. So before you start your research, have a rough idea of what your new vehicle's purpose will be. You can then delve a little deeper as you begin researching and think what you’re going to be using it for?
- Where will you travel? Long trips, short trips? Cold, warm?
- What are the facilities like?
- How am I going to secure my new motorhome?
- Will I need added extras and how much will these cost? (As already discussed above.)
It may be a bit early on but having some inspiration as to where you want to travel might help with the decision making. We’ve got a variety of articles which rank some of the best destinations so whether you’re looking to visit Cornwall or take a trip across the channel and explore Europe – we’ve got you.
Do your research
Whether that be scrolling the internet, visiting motorhome dealerships, or attending trade show after trade show after trade show, with so much choice out there you’re bound to be overwhelmed. Thorough research will help you discover what type of vehicle is best for you and hunt it down.
Let’s start with the internet. Forums are a good place to start and connect with fellow owners. You can ask real motorhome owners questions or advice and get an answer from someone who may have already been in your position. You could also make a few fellow travel-loving friends along the way as these sites are more like communities rather than search engines. ‘Out & About Live’ and ‘MotorhomeFun’ both cover a wide range of topics and ‘Out & About’s' main website is also a great site to visit for industry news and information. You can also buy or subscribe to motorhome or campervan magazines here which leads nicely to my next point…
Handy research tools such as manufacturers' websites and motorhome or campervan magazines (such as MMM, What Motorhome, and Campervan magazine) house a lot of information all in one place and can be a great place to start if you’re looking to buy new.
Furthermore, attending trade shows can also help to narrow down your search and give you an idea of what layout, fitting, technology, size, shape, make, model, or brand you might like. Again, they will showcase mountains of information all under one roof, right in front of your eyes, and most with experts on hand to answer any questions or provide advice – they can really be invaluable if you are starting at square one.
If you are looking to attend a show (once they are all backup and running of course) I’ve jotted down a few tips on how to get the most out of your attendance:
- Make a shortlist of everything you want to see. Shows can be huge and you don’t want to get lost or end up in the wrong hall. They usually release the itinerary online in the build-up, use this to your advantage and plan accordingly.
- Allow plenty of time. There may be themed days or key speakers. Make sure you give yourself enough time to see everything you want to.
- Look again. Don’t feel rushed and always go back and ask the salespersons if you have more questions.
- Take a break and re-think, as I mentioned earlier there is so much information out there you might feel overwhelmed. Have a coffee or a bit of fresh air and then continue your quest.
- Double-check you have ticked everything off your list before you leave.
It’s important to find your perfect fit, so, if the search is taking a little longer don’t be discouraged. It’s better to be safe rather than sorry, especially if you’re planning on spending a lot of time in your new motorhome or campervan, you want your chosen one to be as Goldilocks said – just right, so take your time.
If you’re after a second-hand vehicle, then I’d recommend only using sites that are official and trustworthy or visiting a dealer. Your friends might have found a cheap deal on a site like eBay but with so many scams and fake adverts out there, you might not be so lucky. Just be wary and cautious when searching.
If you are buying second hand, have these thoughts in the back of your mind when viewing the vehicle:
- What are the reasons for selling?
- How long have they owned the vehicle?
- What are the dimensions?
- Who is the motorhome insured with?
- What’s the standard insurance premium?
The great thing about buying second-hand is that there is a lot more information out there, so you’ll be able to undertake a bit of research into the vehicle itself – this is something I would definitely recommend doing. To cover all bases have a look into which parts tend to fail and has the owner replaced any of these recently? And don’t forget to see all previous service and MOT history! If this all comes back squeaky clean, use this to your advantage to negotiate the price.
I’d also recommend not dismissing a vehicle straightaway just because it’s lacking a certain feature you wanted. Can you modify it to help you get the beast of your dreams for a bargain?
Once you’ve found the right model for you, visit a dealer and organise a test drive. This is extremely important if you’ve never driven a vehicle of this size before. You want to know that you have the 3 c’s on your side – comfort, confidence, and capability.
Don’t feel rushed, you want to get a good feel for the vehicle as a whole so, again, take your time and get to know the steering, brakes, and engine. If you have friends with any mechanical knowledge, I’d bring them along for the ride as well, especially if you’re buying second-hand as they can help to highlight any warning signs or give you the reassurance needed.
After all, if you get it all the way home without trying before you buy, it can work out as a pretty costly mistake and one only you’ll be paying for.
Here are a few tips on what to do when test driving a motorhome:
- Don’t just sit in the driver’s seat, sit in all seats and try out all beds or seating areas for size, access, and comfort
- Move around the whole vehicle as if you were using it – especially the bathroom
- Try out all facilities – open all cupboards and pull out all drawers to determine if there is enough space. If you haven’t already, I’d recommend considering how much storage space you’ll need for your motorhome or campervan
- Get the owner/salesman to demonstrate how to use everything
Time to buy
Once you’ve found the model, taken it for a test drive, and fallen in love, it’s time to make the purchase.
When buying you may be persuaded to buy accessories, but our advice is to wait until you’ve started using your motorhome. Until then you won’t know what you will and won’t need and you won’t want to waste money on a flashy device that looks cool, but you won’t actually ever use.
Before driving your new vehicle home, make sure you’ve had a thorough walk-through and hand over with the seller. This is something you may have gone over when test driving but it’s always a good idea to have a quick refresh before setting off – particularly if you are a newbie!
In addition to this, you’ll want to double-check your vehicle’s warranty and the terms that come with this. Most will come with up to six month’s but it’s a good idea to double-check before leaving.
Let the good times roll
So now what you ask? Well, get packed because your adventure starts here!
Owning a motorhome creates a sense of freedom, you can go anywhere, extend your trip longer, turn around and go back to where you came from if you really want to – the world is yours!
If you’re not sure where to start because the opportunity of doing or going anywhere is a bit too much, then take baby steps and start by writing a list of everything you’ve dreamt of doing in your new home on wheels and start ticking these off. Traveling in a motorhome or campervan is so easy and so convenient and once you’ve got your wheels firmly on the ground, you’ll be asking yourself why you didn’t make this purchase sooner!
One last thing
Before I go, to make the decision-making process even easier for you I’ve put together a little checklist that sums this whole article up so you can refer back to it whenever you need to:
🗸 Know your budget – make sure you know the amount you are able to spend before you start looking.
🗸 Research – do your research because it’ll make things so much easier and simpler in the long run. Start with manufacturer’s pages and motorhome magazines if buying new and if buying second hand be wary of scams and fake adverts.
🗸 Take it slow – don’t rush into anything. It’s ok if the process takes a little longer than expected. It’s important to take your time and find the perfect fit.
🗸 Test drive – take your desired vehicle for a test drive. You need to get a feel for it as a whole and make sure it’s in good condition (especially if buying second-hand).
🗸 Time to buy – make sure you’ve had a handover and that you’re happy before driving home.
🗸 Adventure time – enjoy your new wheeled home and let the good times roll as you start your motorhome journey!
We want to know your thoughts. Have you recently bought a motorhome? Do you have any buying advice or tips and tricks you could share with us? Drop us a message on social media or comment below.