Hiring a Motorhome: Everything You Need to Know!

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Independent advice from motorhomers and not motorhome hire companies!

Hiring a motorhome is a great way to try out the lifestyle before you buy or for a cost-effective holiday in the comfort and safety of a home from home.  Find out everything you need to know to enjoy the perfect motorhome rental.

Motorhome life and holidays provide a ticket to freedom like nothing else. Chase the sun, change your mind and move on or follow the road less travelled, all with your own roof over your head and all your home comforts to hand.  

If the idea of flying and sharing the breakfast buffet with hundreds of other people no longer appeals, then take a UK staycation or a motorhome holiday in Europe. Within a day, you could be in the south of France.

Two days will get you to Italy or Spain, or pretty much anywhere else in western Europe. You’ll have your own facilities and can make your own itinerary, you can even camp for free!

We’ll take you through the process of hiring a motorhome or campervan in our step-by-step guide to ensure you have the best motorhome hire experience possible.

Who knows, you might even be tempted to buy a motorhome at the end of your holiday!

hiring a motorhome

Choosing the Right Motorhome to Hire

Most motorhome hire UK companies offer both campervans and motorhomes. What’s the difference between the two?

Campervan Features

A campervan is essentially a panel van that has been converted to accommodate living space and images of these funky camper vans have inspired millions of #vanlife posts online.

These vintage campervans may be cool and romantic but are often not practical, so hiring a modern model is probably best.

VW or Ford Transit base campervan rentals can sleep 4 adults and are perfect for a short break and for small families. It will be cosy, but if you’re planning on spending a lot of time outside, this is a good option and the most cost-effective choice for hiring a campervan in the United Kingdom.

Driving a campervan is just like driving a large car and will be more fuel-efficient than a motorhome.

Motorhome Features

Choose a five or seven-berth motorhome for a family, or if you’re taking a longer break. A motorhome is not as stylish as a campervan, but way more practical.

You’ll find the beds more comfortable and have a wide range of features, such as a shower, loo and oven.  

All this does mean a larger vehicle to drive, so you’ll need to be confident behind the wheel or pick motorway and A-road routes to start with. If you passed your driving test before 1997 and are aged under 70 then the C1 category on your licence will allow you to drive any motorhome up to 7500kg, otherwise you will be limited to vans under 3500kg.  

RELATED POST: Campervan or Motorhome? Which Is Right For You?

motorhomes and campervans parked on grass by a turquoise lake

How to Hire a Motorhome

It is possible to fly to Europe and hire a campervan at your destination, but if you prefer not to fly, are planning a United Kingdom trip or just want the ease of packing up from home, then use a UK hire company.

Unfortunately, not all motorhome rental companies are made equal and you should do your homework thoroughly before making a choice.

Many motorhome hire organisations will tell you they have the largest fleet, the newest motorhomes and the best customer service.

Check for independent reviews on Trustpilot or search for ‘motorhome hire uk reviews’. Join a motorhome Facebook group like ours, where you can ask for feedback and information about hire companies.

Once you’ve made a choice, check their contracts and small print thoroughly and don’t commit until you are 100% happy.

different motorhomes lined up against a mountain backdrop

The Costs of Hiring a Motorhome

Expect motorhome hire prices to be between £750 and £1500 for a week’s rental in summer, depending on the model and size of the vehicle. UK campervan rental costs will be towards the lower end of that scale unless you choose a sought-after vintage model.

Remember to budget for fuel and campsite costs, as well as ferry or tunnel costs if you’re heading to the continent. Don’t compromise on quality and if you see an offer that’s too good to be true, it probably is!

There are ways of keeping motorhome hire costs down if you follow our tips:

  • If you can, hire out of season, the rental costs can be less than half. Sites and attractions will be way cheaper and quieter in spring and autumn but you’ll still have great weather in lots of Europe.
  • Rent a private motorhome from an owner through a broker like Goboony, who operate as an Airbnb for motorhomes and campervans!
  • Don’t pay for kitchen and bedding packs, pick up your rented motorhome and pack it at home. Check out ‘motorhome hire near me’ or ‘camper rental near me’ for options close to home.
  • There’s no need for luxury motorhome hire or to rent the largest motorhome, you’ll have everything you need for a great holiday in a basic motorhome with the right number of berths.
  • Check out our guide to wild camping as a great way to save money and have a budget holiday!
  • Look for special offers and ask to be added to the motorhome and camper rental mailing lists so you’ll find out about these as they happen.
  • Search the internet for manufacturers needing motorhomes brought to the UK. You fly to where it’s manufactured or has been left after a one-way hire, and drive it back, taking a holiday along the way! Just search for ‘motorhome relocation’ on the internet.

RELATED POST: What Is the True Cost of Touring Europe in a Motorhome?

motorhome beginners tips

The Complete Guide for Motorhome Beginners

If you want all our beginner resources (and a few extras just for you) in one place, take a look at our ebook. With over 100 pages of tips, advice and practical information, this book brings all our learning into one easy-to-read, downloadable volume which you can take with you wherever you go.

Things to Ask Before Hiring a Motorhome

  • What are the deposit arrangements?
  • Are there mileage limits, and what happens if you exceed those limits?
  • Are there any additional costs for insurance and extra drivers?
  • What are the arrangements for breakdown cover? We would expect this to be provided as standard.
  • Is there a minimum age limit for the driver?
  • What is included? Some companies charge extra for road trip essentials, and things like kitchen and bedding packs, outdoor tables and chairs, bike racks and awnings.
  • What are the cleaning arrangements on return? Do tanks and toilet cassettes need to be emptied (you should do this, it is your waste after all).
  • Is a gas bottle included and does it need to be returned full?
  • If you are taking a dog with you, is your motorhome hire company and motorhome pet-friendly?
  • Will there be a full handover so you understand how the motorhome is set up and how it all works?
  • Can you ring the customer service team if something goes wrong? Reputable companies will have good support and contact arrangements in place.
motorhome driving along a road surrounded by wild flowers with mountains and a lake in the distance

Motorhome Packing List

If you hire your motorhome from a reputable company, it should come fully equipped with the basics for cooking and day-to-day living including a power cable, hose, bucket and cleaning kit, and you should be provided with an inventory on collection.

You can also ask for the inventory beforehand so you know what you might want to bring from home. Either pack from home after collection if the depot is close by, or pack into soft luggage bags which are much easier to store.

RELATED POST: Motorhome Glossary – A-Z of Terms & What They Mean

motorhome camping with awning extended with bikes and camping gear around the pitch

Top Motorhome Essentials for a Hired Van

  • All your clothes, toiletries and so on. Pack light though, a motorhome is not like a hotel with endless amounts of space and you probably don’t need six pairs of shoes!
  • Lightweight sleeping bags like these are a good bedding option, especially for non-standard-sized bunk beds and French beds (where the corner is cut off).
  • Microfibre quick-drying towels like these are better than heavy fluffy ones which take up loads of space.
  • The vehicle will have an RTA first aid kit to meet with EU legislation but you’ll want to take a day-to-day first aid kit for scratches, bites and so on. 
  • Loo roll, the thinner the better! This is a good option.
  • Specialist toilet chemicals like these.
  • Anti-bacterial wipes for cleaning around the toilet cassette and the end of your hose if you drop it, or if you have to use a site-supplied hose.
  • Kitchen roll, dishcloths, tea towels and basic cleaning chemicals.
  • A car phone charger to keep devices charged on the move and save your leisure battery power.
  • A washing line and pegs. These ratchet lines are great for securing to trees.
  • A selection of indoor activities in case it rains, like card games and jigsaws.
  • You’ll also want bikes (the hire company should be able to provide a rack), maybe an inflatable kayak, and all the other stuff that makes motorhome life (and going on holiday in general) so much fun.

RELATED POST: 101+ Motorhome Essentials You Need + FREE Packing Checklist

motorhome travelling on a road with hills

Trip Planning

You’ve picked up the motorhome and packed all your stuff. Now what? You may be tempted to try and squeeze in lot of miles, especially if you’re going abroad, but remember that motorhome life is as much about the journey as the destination.  

Why not plan a route that allows for stops as you travel, so you can explore some of the countries you’re travelling through? 

There are lots of useful tips and information in our guide to planning a motorhome trip, including a helpful list of resources to help you find sites and free camping spots. 

Unless the motorhome hire company can provide a sat nav that can be configured to the motorhome’s size and weight, download a navigation app that can take this into account when mapping your route.

If you’re motorhome travelling in summer, you’ll need to book sites in advance. Outside of these times, you’ll be able to arrive on spec and get a pitch. 

ACSI is a great resource for finding sites in Europe and out of peak season, and the ACSI CampingCard gives you a discounted rate on all their sites.

Most sites offer different levels of pitch facilities. Most pitches will have EHU (electric hook-up) and some may have fresh water and grey waste disposal on the pitch, but these all cost extra in pitch fees.

Some sites have fields with no electric, if your hire vehicle has a solar panel you may be happy to camp without EHU.

Check out the best free motorhome apps and download what you need before leaving home.

Motorhome Touring Guides

Driving a Motorhome

Driving a campervan is just like driving a large car. Driving a motorhome feels very different and can take a bit of getting used to!

Take it easy for the first few days and stick to motorways or main A roads in open countryside. Take time to get used to the feel, size and weight of the vehicle before venturing too far afield.

Probably the biggest differences are the swing of the back end when taking corners, the effect wind can have on a high-sided vehicle and reversing. 

Ask whether the motorhome you’re hiring has a reversing camera, even rear parking sensors can help. If you’re still nervous about reversing and parking, get someone to hop out of the van and guide you.   

overcab motorhome driving along a road surrouned with yellow grass and mountains in the background

Motorhome Systems

You can find out all you need to know in our easy guides:

motorhome toilets

On-the-Go Convenience: An Easy Motorhome Toilets Guide

Welcome to our comprehensive guide to motorhome toilets, where we’ll navigate you through the ins and outs of these essential facilities in your home on wheels. Whether you’re a seasoned motorhomer or a newbie to the world of van life, understanding the various types of toilets, their features, and maintenance can significantly enhance your road trip. Join us as we flush out all the details and make your journey on the open road a breeze!
Read More On-the-Go Convenience: An Easy Motorhome Toilets Guide

An Easy Guide to Motorhome Gas & LPG

All modern motorhomes have an onboard leisure gas system fitted to fuel the water boiler, heating, fridge, gas hob and oven. There are several different ways that motorhome gas can be supplied and lots of confusing terminology, we’re here to take you through how motorhome gas systems work and which are the best options for your van.
Read More An Easy Guide to Motorhome Gas & LPG

Arriving on Site

Pitching up for the very first time can be daunting. Your motorhome rental company should have shown you how things work in the van, how to access your fresh and waste water tanks and how to empty the loo.

But in the flurry of collection and paperwork, along with excitement for your holiday, you’ve probably forgotten most of what they’ve shown you!  

Not to worry, motorhomers are a friendly and helpful lot, just approach one and ask for help – you’ll probably end up sharing a cuppa or beer as well!

Motorhome Wild Camping

You don’t need to stay at a campsite, although we would advise you to do so for your first night. Once you’re a bit more familiar with the motorhome, why not venture out, find a beautiful spot with amazing views and enjoy some peace and quiet?  

Be mindful that there are rules and laws in all countries regarding wild camping, our wild camping guides have lots of useful advice to help you wild camp safely and within the law, whether you motorhome travel in continental Europe, Scotland, Wales or England.

RELATED POST: Motorhome Wild Camping – Your Complete Guide

Siler a class motorhome parked on a grassy patch by a beach

Motorhome Cooking and Meals

Cooking in your motorhome is a great way of economising when you’re on holiday. There’s no need to get dressed up to go out, you can end the day with a glass of something chilled in your hand, whilst everyone mucks in to get dinner on the table (and do the washing up afterwards!). 

You do need to be organised with just two or three rings and maybe a small oven. Focus on making one-pot dishes or get a small portable gas (most sites won’t allow charcoal) BBQ like this one to cook outside – advisable for smelly foods or when frying. No one likes a motorhome that smells of cooked breakfast for days!

camper cook book

The Camper Cookbook

With a helpful list of equipment and pantry items, you’ll make the most of what’s available in season + get alternative ingredient ideas and detailed methods for delicious and simple meals on one or two rings in your van!

Going to Bed

If you’re travelling as a family, the chances are you’ll have to make up some beds every night. Motorhomes can have fixed double beds or island beds which can be permanently made up but take up a lot of space.

You may also have drop-down beds or beds which are made up where the lounge or dinette is during the day time. Trying to make up beds late in the evening when everyone has retreated indoors can test even the most patient parents!  

Try and organise things so that everyone de-camps to the shower block for teeth brushing so the beds can be made, and reverse the order in the morning. It is a bit military-like, but it will become part of the holiday routine after a few days…oddly, our kids used to be excited for this final outing of the day!

motorhome at night with fairy lights on and a family around a fire pit

Our Top Five Motorhome Hire Tips

  • Check out your motorhome rental company thoroughly until you are 100% happy with small print, costs and quality.
  • Don’t rush, enjoy the journey and slow travel to your destination – if you have a sat nav or app that can be configured to vehicle size, set it to avoid motorways, and you’ll see and experience so much more. 
  • Expect things to go wrong! It’s all part of the learning process and other motorhomers will be happy to help, or use Facebook groups for support.
  • Plan and book sites in advance if travelling in peak season or at Christmas and New Year and check out our tips for motorhoming in winter here.
  • Remember the corkscrew!

Are you looking for more motorhome tips & tricks? Check out these top posts…

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EU Travel Made Easy: The Schengen Advantage of Your Irish Passport for Your British Spouse

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Motorhome Wild Camping Scotland: 2024 Guide

Scotland is a hugely popular motorhome destination offering dramatic landscapes of huge skies, towering mountains and gorgeous coastlines. Add to that fantastic roads and routes, rich history and delicious local cuisine, and it’s no wonder it’s such a popular motorhome holiday destination. There are also plenty of great campsites and overnight stops, but if you prefer to wild camp in the untamed and remote landscape in your motorhome, we’ve got all the information you need to…
Read More Motorhome Wild Camping Scotland: 2024 Guide
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Campervanning New Zealand: Literally Everything You Need to Know!

New Zealand is an absolute dream for campervan enthusiasts. The breathtaking landscapes, diverse wildlife, and incredibly friendly locals make it the perfect destination for your next campervan adventure. We’ll will provide you with all the tips, tricks and insider knowledge to make your vanlife experience in New Zealand truly unforgettable. So, buckle up and get ready for an adventure of a lifetime!
Read More Campervanning New Zealand: Literally Everything You Need to Know!

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