Tot Baby and Dog with Tin Box - Caravan vs Camper Van
Camping, glamping, caravanning, Holidays

Considering our options… caravan vs camper van

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while. Back in the summer, after two fantastic weeks of caravan holidays in Devon, we bid goodbye to our tourer, Tin Box. Just writing it down makes me feel sad. This is the first time in six years that we haven’t owned a caravan. In fact Mr Tin Box and I bought a caravan together long before we got a mortgage! This has got us in a quandary, specifically: caravan vs camper van.

Read on to find out why.

Tin Box family and caravan - caravanning with a baby

So why did we sell our caravan?

The reality is that Mr Tin Box’s job has been taking him away from home much more in the past year and will continue to do so for the next 12 months.

I also don’t have the right driving license to tow a large caravan and I’d get stressed setting it up on my own.

Tin Box at Crealy - Caravan vs Camper Van

This all hit home during the final week of our two week summer caravan holiday. This was the only time we’d used Tin Box this year, which is a real waste of a good van and all the money it took to insure it, store it and keep it road worthy.

We could either continue down that road of storing the van and not using it or sell it and put the money to other use.

East Devon campsite - Manor Farm Caravan & Camping Site, Seaton Devon - Baby in awning

So, in the final days of our summer trip we decided it was time for Tin Box to go.

Thanks for the memories Tin Box

We have so many happy memories from our short breaks and caravan holidays. We’ve owned two caravans over the years: Tin Box 1, a Bailey Senator Arizona, and Tin Box 2, a VanMaster Applause.

Tin Box 1 took Tot out for her first caravan holiday when she was six weeks old. And Baby was just 13 days old when we bundled her up for her first weekend in Tin Box 2.

In the past six tears we’ve towed from Hampshire to Ayrshire and Devon to Norfolk. We’ve stayed at five star holiday parks, at a family festival, and in fields where the only facilities were a tap and waste point.

Each time hitching up has felt exciting and pitching up has marked the start of a few days or weeks of adventure. Even when the wind has howled and the rain has thundered down on our temporary roof top we’ve enjoyed the truly wonderful experience of being toasty warm in our home away from home.

But unlike our bricks and mortar home, the caravan has always been somewhere where life was simpler.

DIY jobs are few, there’s always new adventures to be had close by and the evenings are often whiled away with a glass (or five of) something refreshing.

My only regret is that we didn’t get to do our European road trip that I’ve been lusting after. But that’s not to say it won’t happen in the future – just maybe not in the next few years.

Caravan vs camper van?

So, what’s next? This is very much a break for us rather than a total shift away from enjoying touring holidays.

Mr Tin Box and I have both said we will return to caravanning in the future because we love it. But is there something we can do in the meantime to scratch our touring itch?

Maybe a camper van?

If you’re wondering what actually classifies as a camper van then think of a converted van with a pop top bedroom. It’s not a motorhome or and RV which are generally larger and taller vehicles.

I’m sure there’s a more technical explanation but you get the idea.

When it come to camper vans, I quite fancy something like these:


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The risk is that we may enjoy a camper van so much that the idea of getting another caravan goes out the window!

This got me thinking: what are the advantages and disadvantages of a caravan vs camper van? 

Why we love touring holidays

Right off the bat both caravan and camper van holidays come with lots of  advantages:

  • The freedom of to stay in a variety of unique and special places
  • Being able to take a piece of home with you with plenty of familiar comforts
  • Open spaces and family friendly campsites where we can let the kids be kids
  • Low cost nightly accommodation fees (once you’ve made that all important capital investment).

The reasons why we love caravan holidays are plenty!

Tin Box girls paddling in puddle at Scotts Haven - A caravan holiday in England - our family road trip itinerary

But what sets caravans and camper vans apart?

Here’s my thoughts on the pros and cons of caravans and camper vans but I’d love to hear your thoughts too:

Caravan pros

  • Lots of living space 
  • Plenty of places to store your things
  • Modern heating for all seasons
  • Your own bathroom.

Caravan cons

  • To tow most modern caravans you need a *B1+E* drivers license if you passed your driving test after 1 January 1997
  • Caravan storage can be expensive if you can’t keep your caravan on your driveway
  • You need caravan insurance and to cover the costs of servicing
  • If you decide to catch a ferry to Europe the caravan will cost extra.

If you’re new to caravanning and are wondering what equipment you might need check out my caravan equipment checklist.

Camper van pros

  • Anyone who has passed their basic driving license can drive one
  • It counts as a single vehicle on ferry crossings
  • You can customise your camper van with the layout and equipment you need
  • You can use it as a everyday family vehicle
  • It could tow a caravan too.

Camper van cons

  • Unless you get a toilet tent and portable loo, you can only stay on campsites with toilet blocks. And then there’s those unceremonious dashes across the field at night!
  • You have to pack up every time you want to drive out for a day or rely on local bus services
  • There’s less space for your holiday clobber.

Where do you stand in the caravan vs camper van debate? Which way should we go next?

If you’d like to read more of our posts about caravan life and camping tips take a look at these:

Essentials for caravanning with a baby

Essentials for caravanning with a toddler

Caravan packing list

Camping games for families

Tips for surviving road trips with young children

Self catering holiday packing list

Must-haves for travelling with babies and toddlers

Pin this post if you’re also in a caravan vs camper van quandary!

The thoughts of experienced caravanners on the caravan vs camper van debate and why we are looking at all the options after selling our Tin Box #caravan #caravanlife #campervan #familytravel #familytravelblog #holidays #UKholidays #travel