Motorhome, campervan, or touring caravan - which is right for you?

If you enjoy camping you have two main options - the touring caravan or the motorhome/camper. Knowing whether to buy a tourer or motorhome is essential to maximising your enjoyment of your travels. So, here we'll discuss the differences between them, the pros and cons of motorhomes & touring caravan ownership, as well as motorhome vs caravan costs. This will help you to make an informed decision about what's right for you.

So, let's start with the basics.

What's the difference?

Before you know which is right for you, you have to first know what makes the vehicles different.

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Touring caravan

A touring caravan is a separate living quarters towed behind a regular vehicle. That's the main difference when it comes to motorhome vs caravan. A touring caravan is an individual trailer that has to be towed, where a motorhome is a self-contained vehicle that can be driven.


A motorhome or campervan is a single-vehicle which can be driven, it doesn't have to be towed. The difference between motorhome vs campervan is that motorhomes tend to be larger, built into truck/bus/large van style bodies. Campervans tend to be smaller, simpler, and more conventional van-sized.

You may be choosing between a small motorhome or campervan which might be similarly sized - the difference in this case will likely be down to equipment level and facilities. A motorhome is designed for you to be able to live in it comfortably, where a camper is more designed for short stays.

Which is better?

The answer is neither - campers/motorhomes or caravans aren't better than the other. It all comes down to you, what you're looking for, where you're going, and what sort of budget you have. They both do have their advantages and their disadvantages, however.

Caravan advantages and disadvantages

The advantage of a caravan is its flexibility. As it's a trailer, that means you set it up where you want to stay and then use your normal vehicle for shopping and sight-seeing. Negotiating tight country lanes, busy towns, and car parks is much easier this way.

Another advantage of caravans is that they can often be better insulated. As a self-contained trailer, they can be wholly enclosed. A motorhome always has to be converted on an existing chassis, which can mean it sacrifices a little bit of insulation.

The main downside of the caravan is that it takes more skill to manoeuvre, particularly when reversing. You need to be aware of the pivot point where the trailer meets your vehicle at the tow-hitch, and it takes some practice before manoeuvring becomes smooth.

Trailers can also become difficult to handle in adverse weather conditions. If it's raining or windy, it can be much easier to lose control of a trailer than if you're driving one singular vehicle. This means advanced driving skills are required for safe travel.

Motorhome/camper advantages and disadvantages

There are similarly upsides and downsides to motorhomes and campers too. A motorhome or camper has the benefit of being a single vehicle. This makes it more rigid, and easier to manoeuvre in difficult weather or if you have to negotiate some difficult terrain.

The motorhome/camper also has the benefit of being a usable vehicle, which some consider makes it a more valuable investment. You can still use your camper for your daily driving needs if you have to, which means you can use it all year, not just when you go on holiday.

One of the motorhome downsides to be aware of is that you will have to drive it everywhere. So if you go on holiday and want to do some sightseeing, you'll have to take your whole motorhome with you. This can be tough when you need to find parking and negotiate tight roads.

You will also have to factor in running costs on a motorhome. It has to be road legal, taxed, and insured. It will also use more fuel to go on holiday with a motorhome because you'll have to drive it everywhere rather than detaching the caravan when you arrive.

What does berth mean?

If you're browsing caravans or motorhomes for sale you will notice the term "berth" being used frequently - what does it actually mean? Put simply, it means the number of people the caravan or motorhome can sleep comfortably.

You can get single berth, two berth, even up to eight plus berth caravans and motorhomes. Most will achieve this by having one or two main beds, then canopies, over-cab sleeping areas, or being able to convert seating areas into beds. You can get both caravans and motorhomes available with different berths, depending on your needs.

Which is the best value?

Motorhome vs caravan cost isn't an easy prospect, because there are so many options available, so it's hard to say which is "best value" - it all depends on your budget, your requirements, and ultimately what you prefer.

Buying new or used is a key decision. Buying new has the benefit of a warranty and the peace of mind that comes from knowing you're the first owner. Knowing other people have "lived in" a camper or motorhome can put people off. But buying new is always going to be considerably more expensive than buying used.

Buying used will save you money, but you need to ensure the motorhome or caravan is in good condition. Buy only from reputable and trusted sellers, and never buy something that you don't know the history of. Caravans need maintenance just like motorhomes do to keep them in good condition, so buy wisely.

Also factor in fuel, engine maintenance, servicing, road tax, and insurance into your motorhome/camper budget.

Making your choice

Deciding whether to use a caravan or motorhome for Europe holidays or domestic journeys can be hard. Ask yourself:

What's my budget?

What's my preference?

How will I use it?

How many should it sleep?

What am I capable of driving?

Who can I trust to buy from?

Answer these questions to point yourself in the right direction. For any more help or advice, contact Salop Leisure.