How To:

What is a Campervan?


Find lots more details in the NEW Self Build Campervan Conversions book

A view of the inside of a campervan

1. Introduction to Campervans

The campervan is a wonderful thing - a van that you can camp in and if you don't want your own campervan after looking through this site, then we've failed in our task... but we doubt that will happen - the campervan culture is here to stay, so welcome to the party!

A campervan on the most basic level is a van-like vehicle that you can, as a minimum, sleep in.  For decades, people have used normal panel vans, perhaps that they already owned for work, that they have simply put a mattress in the back of and successfully gone on holiday in - all other campervans are essentially just more refined versions of this primitive concept. The classic VW Campervan is exactly this - a refined version of a normal van with a mattress thrown in the back.  Even one of the huge Winnebago motorhomes that you get in America are essentially the same, though they have become almost unrecognisable from the most basic campervans!

Somewhere to sleep!

2. Campervan essentials

As we've said, the only essential really for a campervan is somewhere to sleep... but the vast majority of campervans include a range of additional features which make them more liveable in.  Campervans work best when they start to provide you with almost everything that you would have at home – cooking facilities, running water and a sink, cupboards and storage, a bed, seating and lounge area, heating, insulation, etc.  Like yachts though, campervans have to cram as many living essentials into as small a space as possible and the success of a good campervan design rests almost solely on how well this concept is implemented.

A selection of vans

3. Types of Campervans...

The term campervan can refer to a huge variety of vehicles.  The campervan itself tends to be based on the classic Volkswagen concept where the van is reasonably small but contains everything you need to live in it for an almost indefinite amount of time.

As campervans get bigger they start to be called motorhomes or motorcaravans, but they all essentially are variations on the same theme - the campervan is a vehicle that you can go camping in.  There is obviously a major distinction between a campervan or motorhome and the caravan - the caravan is a separate living unit that is towed by another vehicle, whereas campervans and motorhomes are self-contained vehicles.