Motorhome Rental: what you need to know before hiring an RV

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LAST UPDATED: 30.11.2021

If you haven’t got a van of your own and are planning a UK staycation this winter, motorhome rental could be your best option. And during the ‘low season’ you’re bound to find some great deals.

Not only will you have an awesome road trip, but hiring a motorhome gives you the chance to ‘try before you buy’ so you can dip your toes into van life before spending thousands on a vehicle of your own.

On this page we’ll tell you all you need to know about motorhome rental, whether you’re a solo traveller, a couple or family group.

N.B. If you want to find out about low season special offers hit the red button below then read the rest of this article before you hit the road…

motorhome rental advice - what you need to know before you hire a motorhome or campervan
Original Image: Spaceships Rentals

Motorhome rental – for your touring holiday

Consider the traditional family holiday…

Tethered to a B&B or hotel room for a week or two, lounging around the pool for hours, taking an occasional day trip somewhere – but always having to return to the same room at night.

We know people who do this year after year – and they stay at the very same place!

It comes down to choice, of course. Some folks like familiarity, others like change and new experiences. And that’s what motorhome rental offers…

With an RV, instead of those same four walls staring back at you when you wake up each morning, you can open your eyes to brand new scenery every single day.

The thing is that we enquired about motorhome rental in 2019 when our old 1992 VW Cree broke down less than two weeks before our planned wedding and road-trip honeymoon in Scotland!

VW motorhome being winched onto breakdown truck - less than two weeks before our wedding road trip!
Our old VW Cree getting rescued by Green Flag (Hammond’s Recovery)

Fortunately our old girl got fixed just in time. Phew! (But at a cost of £1500 – ouch!)

Whilst in the Scottish Highlands, something kept catching our attention – numerous motorhomes with the word ‘Spaceships‘ on the side.

But rather than this article being an advert for Spaceships (because we really do detest ads – that’s why there aren’t any on this site) we looked long and hard into several different motorhome hire companies. And we discovered many important things to be aware of before renting an RV…

What you want from a motorhome rental company

During our research we discovered there were loads of motorhome rental companies out there. But what you most want and need from RV rental can be narrowed down to these main points…

The best motorhome rental companies should provide you with…

  • An excellent, ultra modern vehicle (unless you want something older and quirky)
  • Unlimited mileage (something some rental companies don’t do)
  • Breakdown cover
  • A range of insurance options (we say get the best you can afford)
  • Basic kitchen equipment for the van
  • And an instruction manual and video tutorials before you travel so that you feel confident about driving and using all the on-board equipment (you don’t want to waste half your holiday trying to figure out how to work the appliances)

This is what attracted us to Spaceships more than any other; they do everything to ensure you can just get on with enjoying your road trip vacation. That’s how it should be.

Spaceships Rentals motorhome hire
Picture source: Spaceships Rentals

See, even though we were ecstatic to have gotten our van fixed, we were a little envious watching these ‘Spaceships’ whizz past us as we struggled up some of the bigger hills in Scotland!

But it’s not just about choosing the right hire company…

Choosing the right van for your travel needs

Before you go diving in and hiring a van for what could be the most amazing adventure of your life, there are a few important things to consider…

With the effects of the pandemic likely to be hanging around well into 2022, many campsites in the UK and Ireland will continue to allow only self-contained vehicles on site.

That’s no problem for a modern RV as you are completely self-contained, meaning that you don’t have to use campsite loos, showers or any other site facilities (apart from emptying the on-board loo and waste water tank).

This makes it much safer for you and your family but there are a whole heap of other things to consider…

Some of the questions to ask yourself before you hire a motorhome…

There are a lot of questions here but they all need contemplating. So take your time and make some notes!

Q 1: Is it just you and the dog or are you travelling in a large group? Knowing how many people are travelling will help you determine the size of van you need. We would suggest you don’t need a 7-berther if it’s just the two of you!

Q 2: How many seat-belts do you need? And how many does the vehicle come with? (There are some motorhomes which are stated as 4 or even 5 berth but have only 2 seat-belts. Double check!)

Q 3: What interior lay-out would you prefer? There are so many different layouts that it pays to shop around and see what’s on offer. This leads nicely to the next question…

Q 4: Does the motorhome have a fixed bed or is this something you must make up every night? Many of the larger modern RVs have a fixed bed at the rear and also an over-cab sleeping area – ideal for the kids.

Q 5: Indeed, where will the kids sleep?

Questions about RV essentials…

Then there’s a whole load of questions about what your hire vehicle comes with…

Q 6: What basic kitchen equipment does the motorhome come with (if any)? You don’t want to have to lug all your cutlery from home!

Q 7: Does it come with bedding or is this something you must provide yourself? (In these uncertain times you might want to take your own).

Q 8: Is a satnav included and if so will you be shown how to use it properly?

Q 9: Does the motorhome come with levelling chocks and an electric hook-up cable? (See our road trip essentials page). Any rental van should come with many of the things we recommend.

Q 10: What about chemicals for the toilet? Are they provided? And will you be shown how to set this up properly?

Motorhome appliance operating instructions

Ask these questions if you’re not sure…

Q 11: How do you change the gas bottle if needed? Don’t make the same mistake we did! (Gas bottles have a reverse thread on them).

Q 12: How do you operate the awning?

Q 13: Will you be shown how to use all the on-board appliances and how to empty the waste tanks etc? You don’t want an over-flowing toilet!

Q 14: Will you have to return the van with a full tank of diesel and make sure other tanks (the loo and waste water tanks) are empty?

Q 15: What does the insurance cover exactly? Will you need extra insurance for personal belongings?

These are all vital questions to ask before you hire a motorhome. Everything needs to be taken into consideration. Plan things to a tee, like a military operation!

This could be the holiday of a lifetime, so you want to get it right from the very start.

Let’s look at some motorhomes and campervans!

Having considered all of the questions above, it’s time to look at the different models Spaceships have on offer…

There’s a massive 7-berth motorhome, a 5-berth motorhome or a 4-berth campervan.

Please bear in mind that if you’re on the road for a couple of weeks or more there’s nothing worse than not having enough space. Cabin fever can ruin the most thrilling of road trips!

We say get the biggest RV your budget (and driving skills) will allow!

Motorhome hire - 7 berth
Two of the vans available for hire at Spaceships Rentals. Above, a 7-berth motorhome, below, a 4-birth camper.
Photo source – Spaceships Rentals
Motorhome hire - campervan

Talking of driving skills, there’s just one more thing to consider in choosing your motorhome, especially if you’re coming from overseas…

The UK’s notorious single-lane roads!

The UK and Ireland has a mycelium-like network of small single-lane roads that can take some getting used to. This can be even more unnerving when there are no passing places or high hedges so you can’t see round a bend!

The thing is this…

If you’re coming from overseas, not only will you be driving on the ‘wrong’ side of the road, but, when you hire a motorhome, you’ll be driving something much bigger – and with the steering wheel on the right-hand side.

Not only that, but some routes in the UK, especially in the Scottish Highlands, might be considered too risky to attempt in a larger van, such as the journey into Applecross.

We thought about doing this but chickened out!

Have a look at this video to see what we mean…

Can you imagine having to reverse a large motorhome 100 yards or more – with a sheer drop one side – because there was nowhere to pass an on-coming vehicle?

One false move and you’re over the edge!

So, really think about the right size of vehicle for your needs, driving competence, and travel itinerary.

Motorhome tutorials

If you’re not a super confident driver, we suggest you choose one of the smaller campervans. Or just avoid routes that are not ‘motorhome friendly’!

But that’s the dilemma, isn’t it? We want those types of driving experiences! We want the thrill! And we all hunger for never-to-be-forgotten moments. It’s what adventure is all about.

Gav recalls driving across the Pyrenees along tiny, single-lane tracks, right on the edge of a thousand-foot drop – through a layer of cloud! Visibility was down to less than twenty feet but still he kept going because he had no alternative; the road wasn’t wide enough to turn around and there was a queue of traffic behind!

Thankfully, Spaceships Rentals provide you with online tutorial videos so that you can feel competent, no matter how challenging the terrain.

But even so, we would still encourage you to really consider your travel itinerary…

Where are you hoping to tour? What places would you like to see? What drives are you hoping to do?

RELATED CONTENT: Check out our best road trips for some stunning drives in the UK.

the spectacular Elan Valley in Wales
Road trip in the spectacular Elan Valley in Wales

Two Spaceship bases to suit your travel plans

The good news is that Spaceships Rentals have two bases in the UK – London and Edinburgh – so you can pick up and drop off your van to suit your travel itinerary.

Indeed, Spaceships pride themselves on being the only campervan and motorhome hire company in the UK offering 24/7 pick-ups and drop-offs 365 days a year!

And, along with tutorial videos, there’s a wealth of hints and tips on the Spaceships Blog to ensure your safety and to help you get the most from your adventures.

Motorhome rental – try before you buy

Apart from the obvious reason of needing a vehicle for your touring holiday, the other reason you might want to hire an RV, campervan or motorhome is to ‘try before you buy’.

Driving a much larger vehicle can take a little getting used to. It’s nothing like pootling down the country lanes or around town in your VW Polo!

Gav writes about motorhome driving tips in our free ebook ‘Getting Started on the Freedom Trail – what your motorhome, campervan or RV manual probably won’t tell you’.

The thing is that when you pick up your Spaceships van from the depot you want to feel competent enough to drive it right from the off. After all, you might be having to negotiate your way out of a busy town before your road trip properly begins.

So, let’s look at something really important if you’re hiring one of the bigger 20+ foot vans…

Key things to be aware of when driving a motorhome

We can narrow down the main driving tips to the five points below.

Be aware of these at all times…

  • Low bridges
  • Height barriers, such as at car parks
  • Overhanging tree branches
  • Narrow country lanes (with tall hedges that can easily scratch the sides and windows of the van and few – if any – passing places)
  • And if you’re hiring one of the bigger motorhomes, be mindful of the back-end swinging out if you’re manoeuvring amongst other vehicles, such as in a car park

In our old van, we have a card stuck on Gav’s sun-visor stating the height, length and width of the vehicle. Always handy to know.

Luckily, Spaceships offer a short (minimum 3 day) hire option, giving you time to test your driving skills on a mini holiday and get a feel of what it would be like to have your own motorhome.

You might get the motorhome bug like we have and want to buy one yourself!

Or, you might decide van life is not for you and that hiring a motorhome for a few days has actually saved you thousands of pounds you would have spent buying your own vehicle. It’s a win-win situation!

Special offers on motorhome and campervan rental

Now we’re in the ‘low season’ in the UK (October through to March) you’re more likely to find a good and cheaper rental deal. Not only that but the roads will be far less busy than in peak season, as will campsites.

With all mod-cons on board new motorhomes – including central heating and hot running water – you’ll remain warm and snug all through the colder months, which are sure to bring you some stunning scenery.

Check out Spaceships Rentals special offers…


Spaceships Rentals have periodic special deals where you can get 10% – 20% off the usual price of renting a motorhome or campervan

Hit the red button for the latest money-saving offers…

Get ready for an epic adventure!

We hope you’ve found this page helpful and that it has given you some valuable tips and advice about motorhome rental.

Whatever hire company you’re going for, remember to ask them all the questions we’ve highlighted here – and always ask about special offers!

But most importantly, have an epic road trip.

One thing’s for certain…

If you do decide to hire a motorhome in winter you’ll get to see some stunning UK scenery – and there’s every chance you’ll have the whole place all to yourself!

Image - The Old Man of Storr - The Isle of Skye
The Old Man of Storr on the Isle of Skye. Picture source:

Travelling over winter? Read our tips about using a motorhome in wintertime

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