So I was pleased to try something new last month, and strike another item off my bucket list! We tried renting a VW Campervan and headed out to explore Andalucía.
The original classic VW Camper van has been in production since 1949, known as the type 1 (original Beetle styled), and it’s ironic that as I write this article the production of this particular model is just coming to an end! Yes, they are still building the iconic original old VW campers out in Brazil, and you can buy one for about 14,800 UK pounds, but you will have to be quick as they are not being made for much longer!
So going touring in a VW Campervan is nothing new – it’s been the iconic choice of the surf brigade, and hippy travellers, since about, well probably 1949! Especially popular with the NZ and Oz crew who tend to go on holiday ‘for a few years walkabout’ in their youth!
What makes it such fun to travel in a VW Camper?
With the camper you cruise along at your own speed, stopping to explore as you find anything interesting. What’s the rush, there no need to panic, you have your room for the night with you at all times. And when you get to a destination which turns out to be a real gem, maybe a bigger gem than you had anticipated, or you wake up
With a campervan its no hassle stopping and pitching up, or upping sticks and moving on.
This was a pleasant surprise for me on our trip. We usually camp and hence have the car available to move around and discover the area, once the tent has been pitched. Prior to this trip, I had concerns that once we were set up on the campsite it would be quite a hassle to nip out in the camper and do a trip to a local beach or wherever. I was proved nicely wrong, it took minutes to get up and go and explore, simply unplug the power, drop the roof if we had been using the top beds and we were off! No problem.
What’s inside a VW Camper
Obviously don’t let your imagination run away with you – a game of hide and seek in the camper would not be ‘Osama Bin Laden long’, and you won’t be taking a long run up and jumping onto the bed (actually I take that back - with the downstairs bed being near to the sliding side door this is actually possible!). Bear in mind all of this fits inside the shell of a camper van, you do not have table and chairs and the double bed downstairs at the same time, clever use of space and an easy conversion sees chairs becoming beds, etc.
Getting about and travelling with a camper
Obviously a great advantage of the camper is its relative small size, for a moving apartment. It was easy to manoeuvre through the town and villages, which can be pretty narrow and hairy here in Andalucía, and relatively cheap to run in terms of fuel. It did not feel a great deal bigger than a 4x4. And, although not applicable to our trip, it’s also easy to get onto ferries for those crossing the water.
One of the keys reasons so many travellers choose a Campervan for their epic journeys, over the local Hilton 5* Hotel each night, as well as the romance of the journey is cost. I guess it depends very much on where you are travelling and the amount of luxury you require, but obviously touring with a Campervan is low cost, about the same cost in many places as going camping.
Renting a Campervan
Hiring a campervan makes a huge amount of sense, even for those with their own campers back at home. Hiring a van allows you to discover distant lands with low costs and total freedom. Here in Spain I could easily see how folks from the UK and the north of Europe with their own campers would find it cheaper and more practical to rent a van for a few weeks and discover Andalucia, than take the 5 or 6 days driving here and back, with the associated fuel and ferry costs to get here!
Renting a camper is also a great way to ‘try before you buy’ for those considering such a purchase.
Campervan verses RV
I guess this is a simple comparison with just a few things to bear in mind. The Recreation Vehicle (RV those huge hotels on wheels that sports celebs and the likes use) will be higher cost for purchase or rental, fuel and parking. In return it offers you greater luxury and space inside, with the downside of being less manoeuvrable than a campervan, and harder work to pop into the small village, park, etc. It’s not for nothing that the big one’s tend to have a car hooked to the back!
Campervan verses camping
Where can I hire a campervan?
The good news if campervan hire is getting extremely popular, and there are numerous great places all around the world to go 'walkabout' and make your own adventure.
Try campervan rentals in the UK, renting a camper in Spain, campervan hire in NZ. Looking somewhere different try this global camper hire range!
A bit of a mention!
Flamenco Campers (Tel - 0034 951.701.291) in Malaga. The owner Gonzalo is a great and friendly guy, with a passion for Andalucía.
For anyone considering touring Andalucía, or Spain (things to do in Spain) in a Camper I’d highly recommend it! With a great all year round climate, stunning national parks, forest, mountains and amazing natural and historical man made gems like Sierra Nevada, Granada, the Alpujarras, Conil, Tarifa, Cordoba, Jerez, El Chorro, El Torcal, Juzcar the Smurf Village, etc there is just way too much to see (and thats just the region of Andalucia) – a great problem to have!
* Travellers – When I am describing Travellers in this article I am referring to tourist type travellers, people who travel from place to place, not the UK type travellers who allegedly move into a field near your village and allegedly don’t travel, until around £5m has been spent on legal fees and an army of police move them on.