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Vintage Campers or Caravans - Pros and Cons
Go back a few years and it was VW camper van this and VW camper van that....however vintage caravans such as the Sprite and Monza are now making their way in to the hearts of vintage lovers. So what are the pros and cons of owning each type of van? I am not an expert, but these are my thoughts based on my experiences.
We used to own a VW California camper and we were forever away in it on campsites up and down the country. We loved the flexibility and the speed at which you could set up camp and get the kettle on (or get into bed). It was super fast, simply park up, put the handbrake on, get in the back and turn the stove on or roll the bed out! No faffing with stabilising legs, un hooking, awnings, groundsheets or other paraphernalia. One year we hired a 1960s VW camper and even with this, it was simple to get the table in position and everything out for lunch in no time.
We parked our van on the drive as we also used it as our main car. So storing it wasn't a problem which was a huge plus. On the downside when petrol went up, costs were high, and being as it was our main car this caused us a bit of a worry day to day which was why we eventually sold it.
The other consideration was taking it down small lanes. On one trip to Salcombe we didn't dare take it down the small winding roads for fear of meeting another vehicle. Talking to other camper van owners on the camp site they felt the same. Mind you this was with the chunky T5 California, it would not so much of a problem with a T1 or T2 VW.
When camping you need to mark your spot, otherwise when you leave for a day trip you may find it taken on your return. This is really annoying, especially if you had a nice view on your plot! You may need to use chocks to get your van level at bedtime.
Living out of a camper van is fun, but it takes getting used to. There is not much room, and you can't stand up in them unless you have a pop up roof. There are no wardrobes in a vintage VW camper, (and a teeny one in the T5 California), so you need to get organised. There was 2 of us and we soon sorted out a system of storing coats and shoes in big plastic boxes in the boot. Then when one person was cooking (usually me!) the other stayed put so as not to get in the way. This wouldn't be so much of a problem in a caravan where there is more room. VW vans don't have indoor toilets - something to get used to if you wake in the night!
When it comes to kitting out a camper van, then going lightweight is probably best as you'll be driving around with your kit on board all of the time. Vintage melamines and plastics such as Gaydon Melmex & Tupperware is light, durable and doesn't rattle like china might. So they are great choices for a camper. yay retro! has Tupperware, vintage melamine & plastic wares for sale in our shop here.
Lots of camper van owners like to invest in vintage cushions and tablecloths choosing a colour which matches the paint work of their van. Again yay retro! can help, click here and use the search box to find just what you are looking for in our online vintage shop.
Going on to caravans, my experience of these goes back to the 60s and 70s when my parents had a Sprite. We would go away on hols at least 4 times a year, and there were 4 of us in the small van. Mum and Dad slept on the double bed where the table was situated in the day time, and my brother and I slept at the back of the van, one on the bench seat and one in a hammock arrangement above (this was put away in the day time). This worked perfectly well until our teens.
Thinking about the pros of a caravan, you can use your car all year round and only hitch the van on when you go away. Then on holiday you again unhitch and revert back to just using the car. This almost certainly means a saving on every day fuel costs in comparison to a camper van. Having just the car to consider for daily jaunts mean you have not go the worry of going down small lanes and such.
Having unhitched and made camp, you can make the most of the view you have, knowing you've got it for the duration. However setting up can take time, especially if you opt for awnings as so many people appear to do, so make sure the spot you set up in is definitely the one for you as moving is a pain! (I know you can get awnings for campers, but not as many people seem to use them.)
Once inside your van, the space is zoned, and (with the extra height) you can stand up to cook, whilst people are sat at the table doing other things. This is safer it seems to me, and much easier on the cook. There are wardrobes and cubby holes in a caravan meaning all your bits and bobs are stored indoors for easy access, and you don't have to get out to get your wet weather shoes and raincoat! If you are really lucky you'll even have a loo, (although we didn't in our Sprite).
On the downside, unless you have a large driveway you'll probably have to pay to store your van somewhere, often farms and storage companies offer this as a service. If you are fortunate enough to have a large garden or drive however, I can see a huge perk of having a caravan is that it can double up a sun room for impromptu summer parties! I know I would use it this way as it would be fantastic fun!
With a caravan you could decide to buy some durable Pyrex and chunky vintage butter dishes, along with vintage bedding. yay retro! have an abundance of these for sale in our shop here. Again Gaydon Melmex from the 1960s & 70s is fab as it is durable, stylish and is actually the picnic ware of choice for vintage devotees.