What Is a Campervan and Is It Right for You?

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When it comes to RVs, getting the terminology correct can be confusing at first.

What is a campervan? How is it different than a motorhome? Heck, what does RV even stand for?

While the lines are blurred in many cases, there are a few distinct differences in the types, sizes, and classes of RVs.

Today, we will focus on campervans, which are becoming more and more popular by the day.

So, let’s learn what defines a campervan and how it compares to other recreational vehicles.

What Exactly Is a Campervan?

A campervan, also known as a camper van, caravanette, motor caravan, or simply a camper, is a self-powered vehicle that provides transportation and sleeping accommodations.

Compared to other recreational vehicles on the market, campervans are considered Class B vehicles, making them smaller than both Class A and Class C vehicles (no, you didn’t read that wrong, Class B’s are smaller than Class C’s). It can be confusing, so check out our article covering the difference between class A, B, and C motorhomes.

A campervan is typically a van that has been customized with sleeping and some living accommodations. You’ll often find them built on Mercedes Sprinter or Ford Transit bases. However, just about any van can be customized into a campervan, with old VW vans even being a popular choice.

Old campervan

Camping vans have increased in popularity over recent years as people start to ditch the conventional “American dream” of owning a home and instead opt to live the nomad lifestyle of living in a van. It’s become a social media phenomenon with its own hashtag, #vanlife.

What Features Can You Find in a Campervan?

Campervan features

The features you’ll find in a campervan will vary widely by vehicle. Since the size is of concern with campervans, you are definitely limited to what you can cram into them. With that said, you often find the following in your typical campervan:

Sleeping Quarters: Of course, it wouldn’t be a camper without a place to sleep. So, expect to find a bed, usually one that folds up.

Storage: Campervans are equipped with storage solutions, but again because of the size, storage space might be small. That’s why you’ll often see campervans with roof racks to help increase storage space while allowing maximum room on the inside for living accommodations.

Small Kitchen: While some campervans may not feature a kitchen at all, you can usually find a model that has a very small kitchen with the basic amenities, including a small dorm-style refrigerator and a dual gas burner to cook on.

Dining Area: If a campervan has a dining area, expect it to be a small table that folds out when in use.

Portable Toilet: Your typical camper van does not feature a wastewater tank, so you won’t find your typical full bathroom facilities in one. However, some models do feature a portable toilet, which holds wastewater within itself.

This, of course, is not an exhaustive list of features one can find within a campervan, but it covers the most popular options.

In fact, there are self-contained models available, with all the functions one would need without relying on outside resources or campsite facilities.

With the right budget, size of van, and imagination, you can include any features you want in a campervan (within reason).

Related: Best Class-B RV Manufacturers & Brands

What Is the Difference Between a Motorhome and a Campervan?

At this point, you should have a good idea of what a campervan is. But, how does one define a motorhome?

By definition, a motorhome is similar to a campervan, as it’s a self-powered recreational vehicle that offers living accommodations.

And while you could, in most cases, call a campervan a motorhome, it’s not always true to say a motorhome is a campervan.

A motorhome covers the entire gamut of self-powered mobile homes, from Class A to Class C, while a campervan typically refers to one certain class of motorhome, Class B.

So, that’s the technical difference between a motorhome and a campervan. With that said, when people are referring to motorhomes, they typically mean larger recreational vehicles, like a Class A or Class C.

Which Is Better, a Campervan or Caravan?

A caravan is different from a campervan, or any motorhome, in the fact that it is a mobile home that is towed behind a road vehicle. For example, think of a 5th wheeler, pop-up camper, or travel trailer.

Which is better, a campervan or caravan, simply comes down to personal preference. It helps to visualize your typical camping trip and weigh the pros and cons of each type of mobile home.

For example, with a caravan, you’ll have to hitch and unhitch at every campground. It takes longer to set up and pack up, and parking your caravan can be a pain. On the other hand, once at your destination, you can unhitch and drive around in your tow vehicle, which may be easier to get around in than your campervan. Plus, you have more features and amenities available to you in a caravan, including full kitchens, bathrooms, showers, and more.

So, again, it really comes down to personal preference and how you plan on using your RV on your trip.

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