Campervan Hire for Solo Travellers. Are you ready?
Yes, it’s possible. Yes, it’s liberating. Yes, it’s challenging. And yes it’s an experience of a lifetime. Just think, you can go where you want, when you want, stop for however long you want, and no compromise needed.
Think of it as another form of retreat, taking yourself away from everyday life, switching off, letting the mind embrace nature, the outdoors, the open road. And, at the end of the day when you’re replete with incredible views, beautiful landscapes, and new experiences, you’ve got your own cosy hub of a camper to retreat into.
Think of it as carrying your home in your backpack. Although this one’s on wheels, and it carries you, and it’s fun, cosy, and comfortable. Better still, you’ve got food to hand, wine in the fridge, water for washing, and a comfy bed.
Ready to try a campervan hire just for you? Here are ten tips for your first trip.
#1 What camper should I hire?
Why go big on your own when you can go small? And delightfully small. Fondly known as Kombis, Bays, or Westphalias, these beautiful classic VW campervans turn heads wherever they go. Easy to drive and easy to manoeuvre, once you’ve got used to sitting up high with the steering wheel below not in front, you’ll catch the VW bug.
Campervan hires are kitted out with cooker, fridge, fold-out beds, sink, water and gas supply, and lighting. And are fully serviced before pick-up. If you’re a mean adventurer and need more space for bikes, equipment and extras, a bigger VW T4 or T5 might suit. Check out http://www.camperconnect.com for ideas.
#2 How do I hire a campervan?
There are lots of campervan hire firms in the UK. Search ‘campervan hire’ in Google and see what pops up. Pick one that’s local to your area, it will be easier for picking-up and dropping-off. Choose a firm that’s been going for a few years and that understands it’s target audience. Listen to their advice. What does your gut instinct tell you?
Are you mechanically savvy? Or do you dread breaking down? Should you go for vintage or new? Your campervan will be fully serviced before you set off and yet all vehicles are temperamental occasionally.
Think carefully about the camper model you choose and whether it suits your needs.
#3 What questions should I ask when hiring?
Certainly the obvious ones like ‘how much is the hire?’, ‘do you offer short hires and longer hires?’, ‘I’m new to a campervan hire, what’s best for me?’, ‘how does everything work?’, ‘what should I do if I breakdown?’. And the not so obvious ones, ‘what’s the insurance premium?’, ‘is there an excess fee?’, ‘how much is the upfront security deposit?’ and ‘how much does it cost to fill up the tank?’.
Visit the firm if you can and meet the owners, and look round a few campers. Can you do a test drive? Can you practice parking? How does the electric hook up work?
Ask as many questions as you need to and see what response you get.
#4 Where do I want to travel solo?
Well, this could be your toughest question. Think of the possibilities, you’ve a whole world to explore. For a first solo campervan trip think about starting local, long distance driving can be tiring. Try a weekend break to see how you get on with the driving, the camper practicalities, and travelling solo. Venture in to a nearby county, base yourself at a chosen campsite for a few days and explore the area, or go to a weekend music or campervan festival. The choice is yours.
#5 When’s the best time to travel by camper?
Any time of the year. The UK (if you’re staying in the UK that is) is beautiful all year round and some campsites stay open all year. Then of course there’s the wintry weather to think about so, for ease of driving, more hours of daylight, less to take, and more options to explore, opt for spring, summer and early autumn. Check out the Camperhub Guides, Ideas and Inspire Me for more advice on when to travel. Here’s an article on taking a camper to the Lake District in the winter.
#6 What should I take on my solo campervan trip?
Definitely bedding, a blanket, towels, food, drink, clothing, a torch, matches, and phone charger. Not too much of anything of course, it’s good to travel light. Many campers are kitted out with outdoor equipment such as table and deck chairs, a deck chair is a must for watching killer sunsets. Does the camper have a music system? Are you a BBQ person? Do you envisage tackling some bike trails? (You’ll need a bike rack). You know your comforts so choose accordingly.
#7 Research a few campsites
There really are some excellent campsites in the UK now. With good on-site shower, washing and WC facilities, and sometimes with an onsite shop. Many are located in beautiful isolated spots with outstanding views, some with glamping options, some on farms, and many by the coast. What’s important to you in a campsite?
Research sites that appeal to you, http://www.coolcamping.com is an excellent starting point. Do they need to be dog-friendly? Do they take campervans? (not all do). Do you prefer small and secluded? Or do you prefer to be part of a crowd? Campsites are great places to get chatting with fellow campervanners.
#8 Slow down
It’s just you, your camper, and the big outdoors, so what’s the hurry? A camper’s speed is 60 mph. So slow down, enjoy the views, and really get to know your camper. You’re on your own so make the most of it and start to enjoy each and every moment. Start to relish that feeling of being in a home-from-home on wheels with adventure at your finger tips.
Absorb the beauty of your surroundings as you drive along, wave at other campervanners (they’ll all do it back) and stop as much as you want. Think outside the box. There’s no-one else to please but you. Park up in a pretty harbour and watch the world go by. Stop at a picnic spot and make a brew. Drive in to a new city and wander for a few hours.
#9 Get lost
Why not? It’s all part of the ‘on-the-road’ joy. Ok, for your first solo trip it’s good to do some planning, spend time getting used to the campervan, and to book dedicated campsites. But once the campervan bug hits you, you can get more adventurous.
See what’s down that little track. Where does the next B road takes you? What happens if you take a detour from your planned route? As long as you’ve got a phone charger, a sat nav, a map and courage, you can get lost to your heart’s content.
#10 Lose yourself
As well as getting lost (in the map sense) you’ll soon find that you start to lose yourself in the real sense. Your daily life, your routines, your house stuff, daily chatter and people pressures will fade away and you’ll start to absorb a whole array of outdoor sensations.
Think lying in your camper at night and watching the stars twinkle in the night sky. Think finding a secluded coastal campsite, pitching up facing an awesome view, and watching a magical sunset. Think exploring a new region and getting excited that it’s just you, your camper and endless exploring.
Got the campervan hire bug yet?
If you’ve hired a campervan just for yourself and want to add to these tips, we’d love to hear from you. Submit an article, however short or long.