So, you’ve decided to buy a motorhome…great decision! You have joined a growing family of people who love the freedom of life on the road. The ability to get away spontaneously and change your mind half way there to go somewhere else is priceless. But you probably already know that! Being a newbie motorhomer is daunting, that’s why we’re sharing our top tips for motorhome beginners; everything from how to choose a motorhome, how to plan a route, and everything in between is here!
Top Tips for Motorhome Beginners
Tips for motorhome beginners is a huge subject and we’ve so much information to share, you might want to pin this post and save for later. Alternatively, pin the posts in each link if it’s information you are particularly interested in. Or, head back to the general Motorhome Advice page.
Buying a Motorhome
This is often the most perplexing question of all. There are hundreds of different models of motorhome available and thousands on the market at any given time. If you are buying new, or nearly new, head to the shows organised by Out & About Live, where you will be able to check out new models and the design and build quality of the various brands. Look for information about particular models on Facebook, where there are a number of motorhome groups, including ours where you will find tips for motorhome beginners.
Our top tip for motorhome beginners – if you’re buying second hand, make sure you get a habitation and damp check done independently, this will assure you that everything in the habitation area of the motorhome works and that you won’t have to pay what can be huge sums of money to have damp repaired. It’s important you have this done independently, as checks can be falsified. A damp and habitation check will cost somewhere in the region of £150 depending on where you are in the country; it will be the best money you spend in your search for the perfect motorhome.
If you’re buying second-hand from a dealer, be aware that not all motorhome dealers are created equal! Some have dreadful reputations; again Facebook is a great source of information so check our your dealer on some of the forums. Make sure you get a warranty included in the deal if at all possible. This will give you some comeback if anything goes wrong.
If you are buying privately, make sure you are happy that the seller is genuine. Get an RAC check done on the vehicle to make sure it’s finance free and hasn’t been written off. If possible, get someone with some motorhome knowledge to go with you to view; you may want to check all the systems, such as heating, solar charge, hot water etc etc do actually work (although a ham check will also assess this). You should also arrange for the engine part of the motorhome to be inspected or checked over by a mechanic if there is no or only limited service history. Our top tip for motorhome beginners – never, ever pay for a motorhome or place a deposit until you have viewed and are 100% happy. It sounds obvious, but people get caught out all the time.
Also think about where you will store your motorhome when you’re not using it. Will it fit on your drive? You may also want to consider secure storage, which is an added cost, but means your motorhome is extremely unlikely to be stolen. Wherever you store it when not in use, you should consider security options including alarms, trackers, immobilisers and physical security. This is a good article from the Camping & Caravanning Club about motorhome security.
When you collect your new motorhome, make sure you get an handover from the dealer or private seller. Understand how the systems work, what switch does what, where the spare and locking wheel nut are and where to locate the fuses.
Our top tip for motorhome beginners – this is probably the second most expensive purchase you will make after buying a house, so be patient and take your time to get it right.
Check out the links below to find out more about different types of motorhomes and the equipment and options available. It is worth considering sat nav’s and TV’s at this stage, as they can be expensive to retro-fit or replace.
What Kit Do You Need?
Motorhome purchased and sitting happily on your drive (or in secure storage!), now what? Well, you need to kit it out; some of that will be what you already use at home but you will need some specialist kit too. Make sure also to take your motorhome manual with you so that you have something to refer to if you have a problem when away.
Clever storage will give you more bang for your buck, if you can be organised about where things are this will also help. We bought all of our storage boxes from Ikea, from hard plastic stacking boxes for the garage and under the bed, to soft felt boxes for the overhead bins; they are innovative, cheap and don’t weigh much…bonus! Be careful though, if you stuff every storage space full to the gills, you may well find you’re overweight!
You will have already read about weights in the ‘How to Choose a Motorhome’ post (in case you didn’t click here), so will understand the importance of careful packing! Here is our essential kit list and some ideas to make life a little easier!
Our top tip for motorhome beginners – once packed, head off to the weighbridge with a half tank full of water and fuel, your gas bottles full and make sure you’re within your vans weight allowance. If not, head home and re-think your packing strategy!
Life on The Road
Our top tip for motorhome beginners – have a bit of a ‘shake out’ before heading off on a trip. Whether this means a weekend on a site somewhere or a few nights on your drive in the motorhome, you will be thankful you did!
Motorhomes are complex bits of kit, especially if you have newer technology. It can take a bit of time and trial and error to understand how everything works together. What do you need battery power for (and which battery!)? How do you keep the fridge cold? When do you need EHU? If you’re wondering why your solar is not charging at 11pm, then you’ve got some work to do!
Take time to work through the motorhome manual. If you don’t have one look online, or contact the manufacturer. Failing that, see who else has your make and model on Facebook and make contact. That quirky little red switch under the fridge might suddenly make sense!
This great You Tube video from Thetford shows you how to empty your loo; your’s may look different but they all fundamentally work in the same way. There’s also information below about managing your water and waste, how to stop smells and condensation in your motorhome and how to stay safe, particularly important if you’re heading to a foreign country.
Spend the time now and you will head off on your trip knowing your van, and with everything you need to kick back, relax and have an amazing time.
Your motorhome is bought and kitted out, you’ve spent a weekend working out how to boil the kettle and empty the loo; you’re ready for the off!
Where are you going? Well that depends really on how long you have, how many miles you want to drive and what you want to spend. You could be planning a six month tour of the warmer parts of Europe, a two week roadtrip in Scotland or a weekend in Brighton…that is totally the beauty of motorhoming!
We’ve got loads of information about motorhomes destinations and how to tour Europe in a motorhome to inspire you. We’ve also got a lot of information on route planning and wild camping, our personal favourite way to stay anywhere in our motorhome. Check out these resources and get planning!
That’s it folks, that’s all we’ve got for you! Enjoy being a motorhomer; for us it is by far the best way to travel and see the incredible world we live in; we hope you feel the same way too!
We’re really happy to answer any questions if you need more information of something is not clear. Drop us a line…