Thinking of hiring a motorhome for the first time? Here are Ten Top Tips for your First Time in a Motorhome with Kids.
We’ve wanted to holiday in a motorhome with kids for some time. We chatted about a week in the Lake District, a road trip to Cornwall, a month in New Zealand (ever optimistic about holiday time) and in the end settled on a weekend in Staffordshire near Alton Towers.
The reasoning behind Alton the Star Campsite was that if the weather was terrible, then we could spend our days at Alton Towers and would only need to hibernate in the motorhome in the evening. As it turned out we were lucky, very very lucky with the weather. The first weekend of April brought with it wall to wall sunshine and so our time in the motorhome was a glorious success. Although if I’m honest I find most holidays a glorious success, if the weather plays ball.
Having never rented a motorhome before there were a few things that almost tripped us up and are important to check out before you book and when you have:
1. If you can, rent a bigger motorhome than you strictly need and one with a bed over the cab. More space is good. With kids a bed over the cab is a real treat, it also means that you don’t need to take that bed down every day to eat your meals. it can stay set up! My three aged 6, 5 and 5 shared that bed and loved it!
2. Work out with the hire company where everyone is going to sit when you drive it and where the 3 point seat belts will be for your car seats. Talk to them about practically where everyone is going to sit. Motorhomes don’t legally have to have seatbelts unless the seats are facing forwards but you will want your children to be in car seats. We had two in the back and one in the front seat next to the driver, and I sat with a lap belt facing backwards.
3.Read the Terms & Conditions for the Motorhome before you book. The excess for the insurance will be high. I was initially surprised at the excess of £1000 with Freedhome but it appears that this is low for the market. We chose to get excess insurance and reduce our risk. The one we bought was £53 for the year and this covers excess on all car hire for the year too.
4. Consider hiring your motorhome for longer than your trip, particularly that first time. We started our motorhome rental the night before we were due to set off and it was so much easier to collect the motorhome, bring it home and pack it up outside our house. That way we could check exactly what was in it, what would fit in, we only needed to carry things out of the house once and we didn’t need to try and pack it all in the car. It also amused our neighbours who asked whether we were actually going to go anywhere in said motorhome or simply park it on the road for 4 nights!
5. Think about where you are going to drive to and choose carefully. Motorhomes are big and not suitable for all roads! We had to drive down some roads that weren’t really motorhome friendly in Alton and I know roads that are a lot smaller than those. Also remember that you are going to have to drive your camper van when you go out for the day from wherever you are parked so check you can take your motorhome with you and park it in the car park. We could park it easily at Alton Towers but definitely worth checking.
6. Set aside time when you collect the Motorhome to listen to the handover instructions – it will take around an hour if they know what they are doing and are thorough. Ask where things might be kept, motorhomes (Like caravans) have amazingly clever (possibly secret) storage. For example we couldn’t find the dustpan and brush and only when cleaning it out did we find the toilet roll in the bathroom!
7. Ahead of the hire you will need lots of documents with your names on for insurance companies. This is worth thinking about a few weeks before you need to send it in (unlike me who did it the day before) as we don’t get a lot of these standard documents through the post anymore such as bank statements or utility bills and I had a last minute scrabble around for documents.
8. Think about what you are going to eat for your meals, create a dinner plan. You won’t have loads of room for storage but you’ll have enough for a few meals as long as you pack it all up well. Think about the fact that if you take your motorhome out for the day you need to know how it hooks up to the electric and keeps cool– We didn’t know how this worked. Take freezer packs and a cool box to move fridge items into to keep them cool whilst you are out for the day if your fridge doesn’t keep cool for long enough.
9. Relax bedtime and put the kids to bed when you are all tired. I wondered what we were going to do quietly in the evening when the kids were asleep but we all snuggled up, watched the tele and pretty much all went to sleep at the same time!
10. Most importantly. Have fun, relax and enjoy. You’ll have a great time. Next time we would like to hire for a week!