Learn about the good – and perhaps not so good – before you buy
For people who are just starting to think about buying a motor home, all the choices available can be a little overwhelming. Given the variety of types and styles, deciding on the right one can be challenging. If you don’t need something very big, this could help narrow down your options. A class B motor home – often called a camper van – is the smallest type of RV, and while it has many benefits, it may not be for everyone. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons.
If you’ve ever stood next to a big RV, the thought of driving it may have made you feel nervous. These big class A rigs have an average height of about 10 feet and can be up to 40 feet long. Those specs are enough to give most people pause when it comes to getting behind the wheel and – gulp! – actually having to go in reverse. A camper van, however, is much less intimidating. They aren’t usually a whole lot bigger than a minivan or large SUV, so pretty much any driver can handle one fairly easily. Plus, because they’re just a little larger than a regular vehicle, you won’t have to worry about things like dangerously low underpasses.
They’re easy to park
Because they’re not huge, camper vans can be parked pretty much anywhere. If you need to go to a store before or during your trip, you shouldn’t have much trouble pulling into any of the spaces in the parking lot. And if you have to find a spot on the street, even parallel parking probably won’t be a big deal.
The costs are lower
RVs can be very expensive, with fully equipped larger models costing $100,000 or more. Again, because they’re small, camper vans are much cheaper, with prices typically starting at about $40,000. But the buying price is just the beginning. Because of their size, camper vans don’t consume as much gas as larger rigs. On top of that, insurance premiums are generally less expensive.
Yes – while a camper van’s diminutive size can be an advantage, it can also be a disadvantage. If you’ll be using your RV for family vacations – or if you plan to live in it full-time – a camper van may not be a great choice, as it can get pretty cramped for more than a couple of people. But if your kids are grown and it will just be you and your significant other, taking a trip in a camper van (either temporarily or more permanently) could be a great way to enjoy your golden years.
They may not have everything you want
Because they’re small (sensing a theme here?), camper vans don’t have the amenities bigger RVs have. For example, while some do have a separate shower and toilet, you may have to make do with a setup in which they’re combined in a wet bath. As for the kitchen, you’ll probably just have a little oven and range and a small refrigerator, and there probably won’t be a ton of cabinet or counter space. On the bright side, this may encourage you to improve your campfire cooking skills or sample some of the local cuisine.
Comfort could be lacking
While you want to be as comfortable as possible in your RV, if the living quarters are tight for the duration of your trip, it’s not the end of the world. If, however, you intend to make this your full-time home, that’s another story. Even the biggest RVs have comfort restraints, and the limitations are particularly evident in a camper van. But if you don’t mind having to go outside to stretch your legs or just to get some more space, then this could be a good fit.
What’s the best way to figure out whether a camper van is a good choice? Rent one before you decide to buy. This gives you an excellent opportunity to get a feel for it and see if you’d be comfortable. If it’s too small, you can always opt for something bigger. For more tips and useful information about all things RV, consider becoming a member of the RV Advisor community.