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A Confused Newbie!

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    A Confused Newbie!

    Hi Everyone,

    I joined up a while back as you seem a friendly bunch and share a love of small motorhomes - difference is that I have never owned one and I'm finding it very hard to decide. Life has meant I've never posted but the thought of a 'meals on wheels' is never far away.

    As a person I swing between being very decisive to can't make up my mind depending on the subject. Maybe it's because it can be a fairly expensive outlay, maybe because its a subject I have no experience of or maybe I'm just dithering because I'm concerned (frightened!) of making a big financial mistake but I'm comforting myself with the 'take your time' adage that I've read so often.

    I'm a widower with 2 grown up girls and love the idea of just disappearing whenever I feel like it by myself or with 1 or both of the 'kids' to anywhere across the UK. I don't see myself needing every home comfort but with, 2 similarly inexperienced girls, it needs a few!

    So far I loved the Wheelhome Vikenze/Skamper but it was just too small but now they have launched the Skarpa it looks near perfect..apart from the price.

    Then there are the Romahome R20 Hi/Lo and R25 but the number of berths puts me off or a van conversion where I start thinking mpg.....

    Maybe it's the old compromise thing which has never been my strong suit

    Any thoughts gratefully received!

    #2
    Hi Kevwj - welcome to the Forum. Yes, it is an amazingly friendly place - we have just returned from the meet at Banbury. Had the best possible time in the worst possible weather.

    My advice would be to look at as many different vans as possible and then look some more! You will gain a great deal of knowledge and experience and hopefully will be able to recognise the perfect buy when it comes along! We hunted for three years, in the end we bought out of desperation and exhaustion! I don't think anyone finds an absolutely perfect van, there are always some compromises to make. We have had our van just over three years and are very pleased with it, but are already discussing our 'next' buy!

    Avon Motorcaravans at Bristol would be worth a visit, there is always a selection of secondhand vehicles available, and Ant the owner is very highly thought of on this forum.

    It is also good to visit a couple of the big shows - everything might be bigger and more expensive than you want, but you gain a lot by looking and chatting to people.

    Good luck, hope to meet up with you and your new van one day in the future........
    Mary

    Comment


      #3
      Originally posted by Vanderella View Post
      My advice would be to look at as many different vans as possible and then look some more!
      I agree. On the other hand, if you look at too many you will just get completely confused.

      You will never find the "perfect" van, so don't even try - what I found helpful was to make a big long list of "needs", and "would likes" and assigning them scores.

      For example:
      "needs to fit on the driveway at home" = 10
      "must have a toilet" = 10
      "would like 2x single beds instead of a double"
      "must have a microwave" = 3
      "must have blown heating" = 5
      "cab seats must rotate into living area" = 3
      "must have a luton for the kids to sleep in" = 6
      and so on.

      Score each van you look at against your wishlist. Eventually you'll find you have narrowed the field down to a shortlist of three or four to agonise over!

      Also, caravans/motor vans can be very cosy when the doors are shut so it's a good idea to run through a few scenarios:

      If it's piddling it down with rain and blowing a gale, is it possible to make the beds up without kicking the kids out for 10 minutes?
      Can everyone get undressed in private so you don't embarrass the kids (and vice versa) when going to bed?
      Will you feel confident to drive this unit on the M25 in the rush hour - what about through narrow roads in Cornwall?
      etc.

      And don't listen too closely to the salesmen - just remember, they're on commision and will want you to buy THEIR van and not their competitiors.
      Schrödinger's cat:
      Wanted Dead and Alive.

      Comment


        #4
        Hi Welcome to the forum.

        Yes, choosing the van is a difficult choice - so many and yet so few to choose between! Whether to go for one of the Japanese conversions that pccasionally seem to hit the market, or home- grown ones. The advice given by Vanderella and adyb is very good. List the points that are essential to you, and also what would be desirable.

        I wonder if you could go long to one of the SMHF meets? After all, it includes van / caravan owners and friends. Then you could chat to owners of a variety of styles of small (ish) vans.

        Romahome owners seem to be a very loyal bunch, always keen to discuss the virtues of their particular model, as well as to alert you to things you may need to consider very carefully.

        For me, I needed a van small enough to drive like car, economical with fuel, reliable, with good back-up service in the event of any problems that arose, that could be parked easily in town / carparks, that was comfortable for one or two people to sleep in, with a big enough bed (many vans only have 3/4 size beds), and had a loo option. Good insulation was important to me (some van owners have commented that THEIR vans can be rather cold, unless a heater is used.)

        The R20 Hilo met my needs,though it is a little cosy for two people if the weather stays bad for more than a few days! Also, privacy is minimal within the van. (Thinking loo and getting dressed / undressed, but there is a privacy curtain you can use.) Storage space is very limited, so one has to think very carefully re each item packed. The R20 Hi has a lot more storage. It sounds as if you might need a slightly bigger van? So maybe consider the slightly bigger Romahomes?

        Good luck in your searches. I hope ypu find a good one that suits your particular needs and budget.
        Carpe diem! :)

        Comment


          #5
          Hi Kevwj, this is a tricky one! All the advice is sound and it is impossible to choose a campervan without lots of compromises and you have the added complication of wanting to go occasionally with your two girls too.

          Personally I would find it very difficult to go off in a small van with grown up children if that was the only accommodation, particularly girls.

          If you intend to stay on all singing and dancing campsites and don't need your own loo in the middle of the night and had a tent or something for the girls then fine.In a small van is very difficult to retain privacy and sleeping arrangements would be difficult. You can get toilet tents for portaloos.

          Also some of the smaller vans do not have seat belted seats for more than two.

          Being a totally selfish retired person I would just buy for myself as any van will be a compromise anyway. If my grown up kids wanted to come I would stick them in the awning or a tent, which we have done in the past!

          What do your girls think? Might be worth trying out camping with them with a tent first to see just what the problems could be in a small van without loo door or separate rooms.

          This is just my personal view, only you know how your girls and you would cope. Also it rains a lot in Britain and you can end up spending reasonable amounts of time stuck inside. You would also need space for girl's clothes which tends to need a lot.

          Whatever you decide I wish you luck.

          Comment


            #6
            I tend to agree with Flo.

            Having spent the best part of the 10 years since my husband died chopping and changing from one unit to another (Large and small motorhomes, caravans, trailer tents, tents, folding campers) and always trying to please the kids (who wanted lots of room, a bed each, always EHU for the X Box and straighteners) I now know what I want for ME and they can go in a pup tent alongside if they want to come along as well. (Now 22 and 18)

            Personally I wouldn't go for the Skarpa because making up the bed involves the driver's seat and that was about the only thing I disliked about the two Autosleeper Friskys that I've had. Also, I don't know about the Skarpa's top bunk - but the Frisky's were only rated to 8 stone I think - which wouldn't have been any good for either of my two from about 15/16 onwards.

            My ideal mootorhome/campervan now will be as small as possible for parking ease and have a bed I can use without any faffing about. Gas or diesel heating in case I want to be sans EHU in winter (or any other time it's chilly!) Obviously a sink and hob/grill and plenty of storage. Anything else will be a bonus but not a requisite.

            Another Doblo conversion which I'm very interested in is this one:

            http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/2008-FIAT-...4#ht_793wt_882

            It doesn't have the heating - but I could add that. I really like this layout.

            Comment


              #7
              Thank you!

              Wow what a response!!:so happy:

              I must admit I hadn't had a chance to log on for a while but thought I'd have seen the fact someone had respond but didn't so I'm so glad I checked! Thank you all so much for taking the time to reply.

              I love the idea of building a scoring table (fits in with my love of planning) and will start working on that.
              One thing to add is that I'm a widower and brought the girls up myself which has made us very close so the normal embarrassments rarely apply although common courtesy is a must. One of my two have been with me on show visits and said she loved it. I was surprised and pleased that there was no desire for a large van as that was not what I wanted either.
              I shared some of the concerns mentioned with the Skarpa and checked with Steve (the owner) and felt quite re-assured re the roof and the beds (e.g upper beds capable of 18 stone each). I hadn't considered any issue with the lower beds (thanks Caz!) so I'll recheck that at the show in late June.

              As for what sites I intend to go to Flo, I'm not sure. I've been with a friend to a great site he uses in Devon with full facilities and I'm sure that would be the normal stay with the girls. For just me I'm pretty sure I'd use a mixture of CL and fully furnished sites depending on where I was going and what I was planning to do.

              The size issue is a big one for me and I want something that'll park around the back of the house in front of the garage and rear fence - that's just over 5m so that nicely fits at the top of my list. I also want the possibility of using as my only vehicle so 3 point rear belts are important too. As I still work and employment is currently 30 miles away economy is also important (I feel a list coming on adyb). I suppose, to be honest, bathroom facilities are the real unknown. The youngest and I have both done camping home and abroad but the eldest has her first experience in this June in Cornwall. Of course a fitted bathroom with shower would be great but do I need it and would we use it? The other thing is hiring the sort of motorhome I'm looking at (car-come-van or meals on wheels as the girls call it) is more difficult; so far no luck, all are too big where I know it would fully accommodate us but so many of the other issues like size and economy just aren't.

              Lots to think about but and Caz you are probably right so what have you ended up with and how happy with you choice are you? I also looked at the Danbury you mentioned too but the Skarpa ticked more boxes for me (that list is getting nearer.....).

              Thanks again everyone and I'll let you know how I get on!

              Comment


                #8
                Dont worry about onboard showers and toilets,you can stick a portapotti in an awning for nightime visits and there is noway any teenage girl will use onboard facilities if she can trot across the site to proper showers and loos.They trot around in jimjams to get there,so you are wasting money if you go for that option!Buy to suit yourself,get an awning big enough to sleep two,the Kyham is good,and always go to sites with showers and loos when your girls are with you,remember they wont want to come with you after 18.
                Economy,buy diesel engine,heating,make sure you have Electric Hook up,get an oil filled radiator that can run 24/7.Diesel heating is nice but not essential if you have EHU. Caravan club main sites are posh and the toilets and showers etc superb,your teens will be pleased. Camping and Caravan club can be a bit basic,it depends how much your teens love camping!
                Young men sow wild oats.Old men grow sage.

                Comment


                  #9
                  In a similar situation to yourself having brought up two children, a boy and a girl on my own now adult. We also go away camping every year. I erected a substanstial awning for my adult kids.

                  You will find your own solution but you will find if they want to come they will fit in no problem. Actually I think it is important as well for us to let go and build a more independant life ourselves as single parents this is more big number...... but it sounds like you are doing this.

                  To summarise do not worry too much about them... think of your own needs... they will still come and join you... mine do! In fact they have made it very clear that they expect a family holiday time this year.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    The answer is that I haven't got what I want yet. I was nearly there with my last Autosleeper Frisky - although I didn't like having to use the driver's seat to make up the bed, I could live with it. Sadly it was very elderly and bit the dust at MOT time last July.

                    At the moment I have a small caravan - I have to run two cars for work so one of them acts as the towcar as well - for cooler weather, but will probably use my tent over summer as it's more convenient.

                    As soon as I can afford it I will get another small motorhome/campervan. As I said, I quite like the Doblo - but only with the layout on the one I put a link to, the normal layout where the bed goes over all the cupboards isn't convenient enough for me. The Romahome Duo (or more likely a C15) is a possibility. Or I may go for a larger van conversion, I do like Transits! Volkswagons are nice but tend to be a bit on the pricey side.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Couldn't agree more

                      Originally posted by Tentpeg View Post
                      In a similar situation to yourself having brought up two children, a boy and a girl on my own now adult. We also go away camping every year. I erected a substanstial awning for my adult kids.

                      You will find your own solution but you will find if they want to come they will fit in no problem. Actually I think it is important as well for us to let go and build a more independant life ourselves as single parents this is more big number...... but it sounds like you are doing this.

                      To summarise do not worry too much about them... think of your own needs... they will still come and join you... mine do! In fact they have made it very clear that they expect a family holiday time this year.
                      You're right of course and maybe that's the way to go which might put me in Romahome R20 territory and then there would only be a discussion on who sleeps in the van which, as I wouldve bought it......

                      Re family holiday, like you, I get berated if I ever consider leaving them behind even when they are well boyfriend established and both adults. Still no complaints. So what did you decide on in your similar setup?

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Originally posted by Caz View Post
                        The answer is that I haven't got what I want yet. I was nearly there with my last Autosleeper Frisky - although I didn't like having to use the driver's seat to make up the bed, I could live with it. Sadly it was very elderly and bit the dust at MOT time last July.

                        At the moment I have a small caravan - I have to run two cars for work so one of them acts as the towcar as well - for cooler weather, but will probably use my tent over summer as it's more convenient.

                        As soon as I can afford it I will get another small motorhome/campervan. As I said, I quite like the Doblo - but only with the layout on the one I put a link to, the normal layout where the bed goes over all the cupboards isn't convenient enough for me. The Romahome Duo (or more likely a C15) is a possibility. Or I may go for a larger van conversion, I do like Transits! Volkswagons are nice but tend to be a bit on the pricey side.
                        Agree with you re VWs, always seem to be at a premium. I want something car like so could so not too worried about the bed making as it'll probably see as much use as a day van. But then again I can appreciate those are the sort of things that start of niggling and become a pain! Oh well, looks like a lot of searching still to do but I'll set myself a time limit.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Absolutely Kev you get to sleep in the van... Actually strange as it might seem I think they actually like to see you putting yourself first even thought there maybe minor moans. I think kids worry about you if you are a single parent.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Definitely forget the shower - unless you're on a full service pitch with plumbed-in water & waste (and they cost a LOT) you'll find the water runs out at the most incovenient time (probably when one of the girls has just put the shampoo on their hair), whilst your waste container will be overflowing. So twice as much work for you, whilst your girls will end up having to go to the shower block ANYWAY!

                            I second Ian's comments about Electric Hook Up - not only for the oil-filled radiator, but also the ipod / mobile-phone chargers, hair dryers/curlers/straighteners etc. they'll want to take.
                            And if you're cooking for three, being able to use a Microwave and/or Halogen Oven is a definite bonus.
                            Schrödinger's cat:
                            Wanted Dead and Alive.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Kev,you dont say where you live but I strongly advise you to get to a romahome dealer and look at several different ones,go jump about inside them as we all did,it will help you decide what you want.
                              Even if you do settle for a VW( poor insulation,poor economy,rust buckets)
                              Young men sow wild oats.Old men grow sage.

                              Comment

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