The Cost of Hiring A Campervan
Camper rental costs, things to consider.
It's often the first question that people ask us - 'how much does it cost to rent a campervan?' so a blog on the subject seems like a helpful thing to do, and we do like being helpful.
So in simple terms the costs break down into the following three chunks
1) Vehicle hire
2) Vehicle running costs
3) Crossing, tolls and campsite fees
4) Other costs to consider: food, entrance fees to tourist attractions.
Here's our tips on all these things
1) Vehicle hire:
# Check you're not paying more in introducer fees - some camper van website act as an intermediary to introduce you to van owners, it's not wrong, but you may pay several hundred pounds more than if you were hiring from a company that owns its own vans – enough to pay for all your campsite fees!
We offer neither the cheapest camper rental costs, nor the most expensive, however, we do believe that we come out tops on offering pricing that is most inclusive. You can see our pricing here but you will find prices 15% lower and up to 25% higher.
# Watch out for hidden extras, in particular around mileage or insurance.
We include a generous 200 miles per hire day in our van hire which allows for three week trips to Spain without incurring extra mileage or a 10 night tour of the NC500 within the included mileage. Some hire companies only permit 20-30 miles per day and you'll be charged up to 40pence per mile for any additional miles upon your return.
Insurance may be a cost per day depending on the type of insurance policy that your hirer has in place. £10 per day, per driver soon adds up to a lot of extra money.
# Travel outside of peak season to bag a bargain! Travelling in mid or low season will save you literally hundreds of pounds and, even better still, the roads will be quieter and all your destinations will be quieter, easier to get parked at often cheaper too! In Devon and Cornwall car parks are free of charge in the low season!
In low season we offer even bigger discounts of hires of more than two weeks which are perfect for trips into Europe to enjoy some low cost ski-ing or some winter sun. And when we say discounts, we mean camper rental costs that are literally half of what they are in the busy, peak season.....still with our 200 miles per day included!
If you are interested in a long term hire in the low season then get in touch so that we can quote you properly and advise on availability. We do take the vans off the road for bodywork and upgrades in the winter months so better to get in touch and have a friendly chat.
2) Vehicle Running Costs
# The obvious running cost is fuel. A modern T6 will easily do Xmiles per gallon and can easily achieve speeds in excess of the speed limit, though speeding does reduce fuel efficiency. A vintage camper will likely do more like 20-23 miles per gallon and you'll find yourself being overtaken by lorries on the motorway. So we recommend you pick your vehicle and your route to suit the vehicle you've hired.
As a simple rule of thumb a full tank of fuel in one of our modern T5 or T6 VW campervan hires will get you 650 miles comfortably under your belt and there's about 70 litres in a tank (we'll let you work out the cost based on fuel prices at time of reading since they seem to vary a lot!)
# We don't recommend, however, that you keep going until the tank is dry. If you are headed somewhere remote it might take you 50 miles to find a fuel station and the fuel station might not re-open until 8am tomorrow morning - we've definitely had clients who are used to the 24x7 culture of the South of England caught out by this in the Highlands of Scotland!
# If you are going to use the diesel fired heater to keep you warm in the winter months then the tank needs to be half full to be certain that you don't get air in the pipes. The diesel fired heater uses very little fuel, and it does have a float to make sure you don't run out of fuel and it's this float that will mean the heater sucks up air well and stops working well before you've run out of fuel.
# That should be it for vehicle running costs. There should be enough adblue in the tank to keep you going throughout your journey and we'd not expect any of our engines to burn oil such that you'd need to top up. Insurance is included in your hire though this does not include travel and medical insurance - since Brexit UK citizens no longer quality for free medical treatment in Europe so do make sure that you've got this covered.
3) Crossings, tolls and campsite fees
# Crossings in particular can add significant cost to your trip, however, we also feel they bring significantly more adventure and beauty. Do book in advance to avoid disappointment or, worse still, getting stuck on an island because all the homeward crossings are fully booked!
For the Scottish Islands check out the Caledonian MacBryde Island Hopper tickets - they offer fantastic value for money!
For access to mainland Europe and Ireland try one of the ferry comparison sites or the Eurotunnel. We like the flexibility that Eurotunnel offer - if you get there early they let you board the first available train on the basis that others will arrive late having been stuck on the M25 somewhere.
For trips like this plan and book in advance to access the best value tickets and expect to pay from £100 to £500 for a return crossing depending on time of year and how far in advance you are booking.
# In the UK tolls are much less common than across Europe and are, therefore, easy to avoid if you wish to. If travelling in Europe expect to pay several hundred Euros in tolls for trips across France and Spain. We find this European toll planner an excellent tool for budgeting for tolls in Europe. Most of them you can now pay using a credit or debit card and we recommend keeping one handy to swipe across machines as you pass; but it's still worth stashing €25-30 in small notes and change in the van in case you need it and in case the queues at the automated machines are longer.
# Now, some folks are aghast at the additional cost of tolls in Europe. BUT, we'd encourage you to temper that with the often vastly reduced cost of campsites in most of Europe. 'Aires' in France can often be a few Euros per night by comparison to UK pitches that start at £10 and go up to £40 per night.
# In the UK there are cheaper means of finding an overnight pitch using apps like 'park4night' and 'campercontact.' These apps do identify free locations, often on pub car parks or farm shop car parks but not all the sites they list are free and be prepared to wake up to a ticket if you use a car park that states 'no overnight parking.'
4) The rest of your budget
As with any other holiday we'd recommend that you budget an amount per day that you are comfortable with. Some days you might blow it all on a speed boat excursion and then just have bread and cheese in the van for dinner but you can factor that all into the ebb and flows of your holiday budget.
If there are things that you definitely want to see and do along your route then it's worth pre-planning those into your budget before you set off as well as booking them in advance. Some attractions really do book up months and months in advance so don't be shy of booking them if they are 'must-do' features of your trip.
Finally, here's a list of money saving tips for you to help with those items:
# If you are a history or castles buff then joining the National Trust or English Heritage can save you a lot of money in parking fees and site entrance fees. The membership also lasts a year so you can continue to use it after you return from holiday. Also, if you join the National Trust then you can access National Trust for Scotland sites free of charge too.....and vice versa.
# If you are spending time in a particular area then see if there is a local tourist discount card available. It's now very common for a town or village to encourage people to shop local by offering a discount card that can be used in local shops.
# Be aware of currency conversion fees on credit and debit cards. Find a currency card that offers an online app so that you can keep re-loading it as you need to but which will mean you don't incur currency conversion fees on each transaction.
# Book ahead for discounted access to tourist attractions and try to avoid weekends if possible.
# Refuel at supermarkets where possible, and definitely away from motorways - the fuel will be much cheaper.
# When you pass a supermarket - stock up. If when you come out of the supermarket you chop up veg ready for cooking and store in food bags/boxes you'll find you can get a lot more in your on board fridge and you can also recycle most of the rubbish in the recycle bins at the supermarket car parks. Double win, your shops last longer; are cheaper and you are carrying less waste.
# Fill your water containers before you leave campsites, especially if you intend to wild camp for a couple of nights.
We're always looking for other tips for helping people to adventure as cost effectively as possible so if there's any top tips you'd like to add then comment below.
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