If you’re just starting out in van life you’ll know that every journey in your motorhome or campervan feels like an adventure, even if it’s just a Sunday afternoon drive somewhere local.
We still get the same feeling four years after first hitting the road in our VW Cree. But the real joy of van life and motorhome living comes with the longer road trips to places you won’t have been to before.
On this page and the pages leading off of it, we’re going to talk specifically about the types of journeys that live long in the memory, whether you’re travelling by campervan or car, motorhome or bike.
To help you get the most from your own road trips…
- We’ll look at the all important steps in planning a road trip
- We’ll share with you some of our road trip hints, tips, and ideas
- We’ll also look at essential road trip equipment – the kind of things we never leave home without – that can make all the difference to your journeys
- And we’ll share the stories of the best road trips we’ve taken in the UK – with some spectacular scenic drives.
Let’s get ready to go…
3 steps to planning a road trip
Before you hit the road, there is some planning to do! We’ve narrowed this down to three main steps…
- If you’re travelling by campervan or motorhome you’ll want to prep your van for the journey – it’s far more involved than taking the car or motorbike
- Decide on a destination and a rough route you want to take to get there (allowing for some spontaneity of course!)
- Make sure you’ve got all the essential gear you’ll need for the trip
There’s far more to planning a road trip in a camper or RV than there is in taking a road trip in a car or on a motorbike. Unlike the simplicity of road trips on a bike as told in the classic book, ‘Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance‘, there’s some serious thinking to do…
Is your van ready for a road trip?
Our van is nearly 30 years old and we’ve yet to venture overseas. (However, she has taken us on an 1800 mile round-trip to Scotland without missing a beat!)
So, when it comes to planning a road trip you want to know if your van is up to the task ahead. There are some roads in the UK we certainly wouldn’t even attempt. We’re talking about those single lane mountain passes with a sheer drop at the side!
The thing is our van is pretty hopeless going up hills with more than a 20% incline. All older vans seem to lack power and we’ve already had to reverse once down a hill when we ran out of steam!
Of course, if you van is more modern or you’re doing the trip by car or motorbike you should have no such trouble but there are still things you’ll need to check before you hit the road…
When it comes to motorhomes, you need to ask yourself…
- When was the last time the van had a habitation check? (to make sure all the appliances work and are safe to use)
- When was the water system last purified?
- Do you know how to change the gas bottle if you need to?
We cover all these things and lots more in our free ebook so make sure you get your copy before you hit the road!
Road trip planning
Once you’ve got your vehicle fit for the journey you can really get focused on planning the road trip.
Some people tell us that they prefer to turn the key and see where the journey takes them. We’ve done this ourselves sometimes but have found that on longer trips it’s best to have at least some idea of where you’re heading and what you’d like to see.
Even though a road trip really is more about the journey, we’ve always had a destination in mind. In that way, you can plan your route.
So, get your maps out or use your satnav and choose the best, most enjoyable, route – which won’t necessarily be the fastest. Indeed, it shouldn’t be the fastest! Van life road trips should never be about speed.
A bit later, we’ll tell you about the best routes we’ve done in the UK
Road trip essentials
If you’re doing the road trip in a campervan or motorhome, part of the preparation is about ensuring your van has all the gear it needs. Think about things like an electric hook-up cable (if you’re planning on staying at campsites on the trip).
The thing is that there are several things we never leave home without…
As well as the EHU cable and extension lead we always carry…
- Levelling chocks
- A power inverter to charge our gadgets
- All the safety equipment we need such as fire extinguisher and blanket
- Florescent jackets (in case of a breakdown)
- And a good quality torch
Having all the safety equipment and essentials should be a given, really, and if you are hiring an RV your vehicle should be well equipped. But if you’re taking your own campervan – and you’re new to all of this – you don’t want to be leaving anything behind!
Road trip like a hero
Once you’ve planned your route, made your checks, and got the equipment you think you’ll need for the trip, it’s time to turn the key and get going…at last!
There really is nothing like setting out on a long journey. You might feel a whole different mixture of emotions: excitement, trepidation, concern, a sense of adventure.
Whatever, it’s certain that if you’re heading to some place you’ve never been before, you might get a sense of stepping way out of your comfort zone. We talk about this in our article The Hero’s Journey in a Motorhome.
Leaving the known world behind, the road trip will test you at times.
Our best road trips
We got our van back in 2017 and after getting confident driving her we soon headed off on our first road trip. Indeed, this is an important point and is something we talk about in our free ebook – get to know your van before going on a major trip.
Familiarise yourself with how it feels to drive, the sounds it makes – and its smells! Then you’ll know if something is wrong.
We jumped in at the deep end on our first road trip through the Peak District when we came up against a hill far steeper than the van was designed for!
But that experience didn’t put us off…
Since then we’ve been road-tripping all over England, Wales and Scotland, staying on campsites and wild camping and taking some spectacular drives along the way.
Please let us know of your favourite road trips! We’d love to hear your stories.
Where have you been? What’s your best road trip so far? Contact us here.