The age-old battle of the campsite. Which is better? A tent or a campervan? Die-hard camping fans will always claim that the tent is the ultimate outdoor experience. Lightweight, easy to put up and just as easy to take down, tents have been the best way of having a cheap holiday for generations.
Anyone who has ever tried to pitch a tent in a force eight gale and torrential rain will know just how soul destroying it can be. No matter how good a tent is, a leak will eventually ensure that your bedding, change of clothes and even your socks are as damp as the rest of you. Unless you’re going for a family-sized construction with separate rooms for the kids and a communal area in the middle, there’s not much privacy either and they can be very cramped. And if it suddenly turns cold outside, it’s going to turn cold inside too.
Yes, camping has the advantage of being a cheap way of spending a couple of weeks away from your normal environment, and quite often site camping plots are considerably cheaper than a campervan plot. So what advantages does a campervan have?
The first and most obvious advantage of a campervan is that there’s no need to spend an hour in the rain trying to find your tent pegs. With a campervan you just park up, pop the top (if you’re lucky enough to have a pop-top van) and get the kettle on. When you’re ready to move on all you have to do is take the top down, get in the driving seat and you’re off. Pitching and striking takes all of 30 seconds, even in a force eight gale.
Cooking on a camping stove may be some people’s idea of fun, but the campervan has the advantage there too. A decent sized stove can greatly increase the variety of meals you can cook, especially if you have kids along too. You’re not restricted to bacon and eggs or stew in a tin – and with plenty of storage space you can take your provisions with you instead of searching for a local shop late in the evening in the vain hope that they haven’t run out of bread.
And then there’s the leaks. In a campervan (unless the seal on the pop-top’s starting to crack!) you don’t get that infuriating and unexpected drip down the back of the neck at three in the morning. Your clothes and your bedding stay dry and you can even leave muddy boots outside under the van so you don’t trample dirt inside.
The not so obvious…
Sometimes trying to find a campsite late in the evening can be a tough job for even the most organised of camping enthusiasts. With a campervan a quiet lay-by can serve as a makeshift stop, as long as you don’t mind the occasional bit of traffic noise. Campervans give you a lot more freedom in where you choose to stop for the night, but do check any local by-laws and restrictions before you plot up (they can often be found on notice boards in larger lay-bys).
While camping invariably means blow up mattresses that suddenly develop a slow puncture in the middle of the night, with a campervan you have the luxury of a proper mattress and all the bedding you could want. Warm, cosy and comfortable, a campervan will easily sleep four and some will even sleep six (at a push).
If you’re talking practicalities, then the campervan wins every time. Stuffed full of everything you need to just get up and go on a whim, there’s a lot less organisation required to go campervaning. But for the real die-hards you can always put a tent in the van as well, just in case you fancy a night under canvas!