RV holidays can feel like something other people do.
You see the huge RV motor homes rushing past on the road and never think it’s an option.
You’ve heard about the huge investment needed. And can you even have a proper adventure with one of those big, cumbersome vehicles?
Well, the answer is yes. There are loads of great options when it comes to hiring an RV.
Converting your own van into an RV is also an option, with tips on how to do it right here in this article.
But what is so good about going on an RV holiday in the first place?
3 Benefits of RV Camping
1. You Save on Accommodation and Flights
If a family of four were to hire an RV for a week they can expect to pay £500-£600 in the Easter Holidays.
The same family will pay on average £200 each for flights during the same period. That’s £800 just on flights.
Then take into account the cost of a hotel room for that family.
Even at a modest price of £400 for the week, you are already looking at a total price of £1,200.
If you decide to rent an RV that’s your travel and accommodation sorted.
So you are looking at a £600 saving right off the bat for a family or group of four during peak holidays.
The cost of fuel will put a dent in that saving, but the money saved on eating in the RV instead of in restaurants every night will again put you comfortably in the black.
2. You Can Pack Everything You Need for an Active Holiday
Taking your own bicycles, climbing gear or even kayaks becomes a reality when you travel RV style.
Everything you need for a brilliant, active holiday is right there, so you immediately save money on the hire fees you would normally have to pay.
The benefit of using your own equipment goes without saying while being able to take it anywhere and just set up is what true freedom feels like.
Just park up by the river and drop the kayaks in.
At the same time, the rest of the family can go out on a bike ride or hike up into the hills.
3. You Have Way More Freedom Than a Regular Holiday
This is probably the number one reason why people choose an RV holiday over a traditional trip.
You have the freedom of the open road. There are no strict check-in or check-out times to keep to.
You’re not restricted by public transport or the need to stay in the city.
You can go anywhere, anytime. Last year I stumbled across a street festival in Switzerland.
We decided to stay in the area and check it out.
No problem, we found somewhere to park for the night and then enjoyed what the local festivities had to offer.
Be Well Ahead of the Game with These Tips for Hiring an RV
1. Be Aware of Extra Costs
Renting an RV almost always involves extra costs apart from the initial rental fee.
It’s surprising how much these costs can differ from company to company, so find out on the phone before you go and pick the RV up.
You may even find added costs for bed covers and utensils.
Never a good thing once you’ve spent your budget on the trip and come back to realize you have to find extra cash.
2. Plan Well Or Face Disaster
Planning your destinations and route will help you to avoid unneeded headaches along the way.
It’s easy to just set the satellite navigation and hit the road, but that’s not a great idea if you’re not an experienced driver.
The last thing you want is to be heading down a narrow road in your rental RV, with the rest of the holiday party nervously watching on.
Stick to the big, open roads while you get a feel for the vehicle’s size.
It’s usually pretty easy to set your satellite navigation to stay on large roads.
3. Choose Your Companions Wisely
Whoever comes on the RV holiday will be living closely together for the whole time.
You will move in and around each other a lot, as well as having to make group decisions daily.
This is why it’s vital to invite people you know to get along with each other.
The group dynamic is really important and can be the difference between a good and a bad holiday.
Have Every Emergency Covered with This RV Checklist
If you’re hiring an RV then you will have much of the required checklist included in your agreement.
It’s certainly worth double checking though at the time of hire.
If it’s your first RV trip with your own vehicle then the list below includes items you absolutely cannot forget to take.
- Hose Pipe
- Head Torch
- Emergency Kit – Tow rope etc.
- Tank Chemicals for Toilet
- Spare Oil
Expert RV Holiday Tips About Food, Parking and, Uh, Toilets
- Foods – Non-perishable
Try not to waste food by purchasing lots of perishable goods.
Buying all of the fruit and vegetables you think you will need on the trip at the beginning will mean, unfortunately, that half of it will be no good to eat by the time you want it.
Instead, buy your perishables in small quantities and stock up on rice, pasta, and tinned food at the start.
Oh, and don’t forget to grab your favorite sauces and plenty of tea and coffee.
- Make the Most of Water Sources
In the UK, every Morrisons supermarket has a free to use water tap.
This has always been a huge help for me on the road.
Filling up the clean water on an RV means you’ve always got some running water to wash the dishes.
If you’re lucky enough to have a shower on board then obviously you’ll need even more!
Finding free water taps isn’t always easy.
However, a lot of garages or car washes won’t mind if you fill up just a quarter of your tank.
That’s enough to keep you going.
- Empty the Toilet Early, Not Late
Ah yes, one of the great joys of RV camping. Ok, maybe not, but emptying the RV toilet is all part of the experience.
One of the most common and understandable mistakes is to leave this task until the last moment when it absolutely has to be done.
Unfortunately, this can really stink the place out and makes the whole process messier and even less enjoyable.
- Find parking before dark
Staying away from traditional campervan sites is a great way to experience an RV holiday.
This way you really get a sense that you’ve hit the open road. Each morning you wake up and the view out of the window is different.
That’s a pretty amazing thing.
What’s less amazing is the stress of having to find a spot to sleep once it gets dark.
Seeing exactly what’s around you becomes impossible and you might end up pitched up in a really busy area without knowing it.
I’ve definitely been woken up at 6am before and realised the traffic going past my window is only going to get worse.
Don’t Start Converting your own Van Until You Know These Essential First Steps
In 2017, I decided to convert my Vauxhall Vivaro van into an RV.
I wasn’t looking to have a fancy vehicle with a shower and central heating, but I did want a comfortable place to stay for when I just felt like getting back into the great outdoors.
Luckily, I didn’t need the van for work anymore so could look at changing what I was using it for.
There are three major things I think you should do when converting your van into an RV.
1. Be Realistic And Practical About What You Need
There are tonnes of amazing examples of van conversions on the internet, although a lot of them look pretty unrealistic to me.
Too many of them are to show online.
What I needed was a practical space where I was comfortable at night but also had some space in the daytime.
I didn’t need it to look perfect or anything like that.
The first step was to measure the interior and work out how big I wanted the bed to be.
Then it was a case of deciding where exactly I was going to store all of my stuff.
It turned out the best option was to build a large bed with plenty of storage space underneath.
There’s an argument to say my bed is actually too big, but I love it because it’s just so comfortable after a long day hiking or swimming.
The storage underneath is plentiful. I just have to order everything because the access isn’t great at the back.
So I put anything I know I won’t need much right at the back.
All of the daily items are tucked in at the front in labeled boxes or hung up on the walls.
I built the bed and storage space myself so the only cost was the wood.
2. If It’s Your First Time Just Go For It
Don’t spend an age planning your RV conversion.
Yes, get the right measurements and look online for inspiration.
You need a solid idea but expect it to change and develop as you go.
One mistake I made was trying to make it perfect. I toiled over which wood to use and if I would be best using nails or screws.
When it actually came to the build I quickly realized the weight of the wood itself meant I didn’t even need to fasten my build into the van.
It holds itself in place and I can remove everything if I ever need to. A benefit I hadn’t planned for at all.
3. Don’t Forget About Insulation – Use Carpet
Before you can fit carpet to the interior of your van you need something to fasten it too.
I cut wooden panels of cheap MDF wood and bolted them onto the metal shell of my van.
This gave me some building blocks to attach the insulation carpet.
Then I simply cut the carpet to size and either glued or stapled it to the wooden panels.
I don’t want to scare you with this part because it’s really not too difficult.
You just need to fix one wooden panel on each side and preferably one on the ceiling of the van.
The carpet stops the condensation dripping onto you at night and keeps the van’s temperature cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.
5 Hacks to Take Your RV to the Next Level
It is really that simple converting a van into an RV. A comfortable bed and lots of storage are your basic necessities.
Once you’ve got them covered you can start looking at ways to take your RV travel to the next level.
1. Make your Walls Storage with Adhesive Hooks and Fabric Pockets
Those little white hooks with the sticky backs are surprisingly strong and perfect for your RV storage options.
I have placed two together in most cases and then hung fabric pockets from them to store away all of the little things I need.
2. Save Time, Storage and Washing up with a Coffee Percolator
If you need coffee in the morning then forget about having a French press on the road. Replace it with a percolator.
This way you won’t have to mess around with a kettle, you will have much less washing up, and your coffee routine will take half the time.
3. Buy Medicine Boxes for Storing Small Items
RV trips are all about storage really. It’s sad but true.
Buy those plastic medicine boxes with the days of the week marked on them.
Those compartments usually open individually and are perfect for storing screws, buttons and other fiddly things that are so easy to lose on the road.
4. Use Battery Powered LED lights
LED lights were a game changer with my RV.
Before this, I was relying on the interior lights in my van which are powered by the battery.
The problem with them is you spend every minute in the light worrying if you’re going to drain the battery.
With the LED lights I just stuck them onto the ceiling of the van so I could click them on easily and not have to worry.
They are also much better than a torch because, once they’re stuck on, you know where to find them!
5. Start Collecting Silica Packets to Absorb Moisture in Your Storage
When you’re traveling in the summer it’s crazy how quickly your food can turn bad.
We’ve touched on it a bit already in this article.
To combat this you can put those little Silica packets in your food boxes.
The only food that is still packed, of course.
Those Silica packets are used by just about every industry to remove moisture in the air around products that are shipped around the country.
And they can do the same for you.
Over To You
RV holidays give you the freedom that no other trip can even come close to.
You have the world at your steering wheel and everything you need to pack up in the back.
It’s also a great way to introduce a friend to the outdoor and adventure lifestyle.
They can sleep comfortably in the warm, maybe even with a shower, but will still get to wake up surrounded by nature.
And you never know, after an RV holiday, they might love it enough to join you camping in the winter!