Camping Car

camping car

Yes, it does say Camping Car it isn’t a mistake and no, I don’t mean campervan, caravan or tent. So are you curious?

Actually, this is a plea for help, but first let me explain.

Regrettably, with tears in our eyes and to the sound of hearts breaking we had to sell our beloved retro campervan. She was a beauty and featured in many of our key camping expeditions with our kids.

I actually cried when I handed the keys over to the new owner. Yup, I blubbed like a baby!

So why did we sell her?

The reasons are too complicated to explain, so let me just say we’ve been tackling the issue for the past couple of years and finally had to deal with it. Unfortunately our camper van no longer fitted in with our daily life and overall we weren’t using it enough to warrant the money we were spending on it. As with all vintage campers they can become expensive.

Come on! I know that I’m not the only one who’s had to sell their camper van because it costs too much and sits on the drive for a large chunk of the year. So it got me thinking about what the options might be.

One of the keys to the success of the VW camper is that it’s not much bigger than a car and it’s definitely much smaller than an RV, resulting in owners being able to use it in their daily life as well as leisure time with equal success. Then I started to wonder if there were vehicles out there that could be classified as a camping car that we weren’t aware of.

We would classify a camping car as a car sized vehicle, which can be used happily throughout the working week with no extra expense in terms of fuel or inconvenience to daily activities, but can be adapted into a recreational vehicle at the weekends. Is there such a vehicle?

Aussie campers have some great kits available, such as off-road trailer tents and roof tents to add to existing vehicles already owned. In the UK we also like to use trailer tents and caravans, but what else is out there? What vehicle could a family invest in? Simply put, what choices were there for those who may want a camping car?

camping car

What do you think I came up with?

Well it starts with a ‘y’ and ends with a ‘u’..

Yep, you’ve got it..  YOU!

I want to know what you would consider to be the perfect camping car, or equivalent. What vehicle and  associated kit would you buy if you were on a typically tight family budget?

Would you buy…

  • A particular car with an attachable tent or awning?
  • An off-road vehicle with a tent on the roof?
  • A trailer tent attached to a particular vehicle?
  • A 4 by 4 with a removable living space?
  • Etc, etc….

Give your ideas in the comments box (below) or get in touch, and inspire us and others to get back on the camping road as soon as possible. We will share your suggestions in a future article for others who may have a similar dilemma.

Thank you and looking forward to hearing your ideas!


Inspired Camping

Picture Credits: Allan McDonald EQUIPnTRIP


Tags: ,

19 Responses to “Camping Car”

  1. Nicky
    10 June 2013 at 10:43 am #

    How about a Mazda Bongo?? I drive mine constantly – it’s the only vehicle I have. It’s about the same size as an estate car, can get in any car parking space EXCEPT multi stories but this just takes a bit of searching for alternatives (I live in Brighton and it’s not campervan friendly!) but when travelling around the rest of the UK unless I camp in a city I’ve never had a prob parking. It’s got automatic gears and air con and very easy to rive and park. Check one out…not so pretty I have to say as a VW but never spent a penny on an MOT yet!

    • 10 June 2013 at 11:45 am #

      It’s good you are having such luck with your Bongo in its MOTs. Thanks for the suggestion. Sarah

  2. simon jacklin
    10 June 2013 at 11:17 am #

    I have a skoda octavia scout 4×4 estate. Without tow bar as we take an outwell montana 6 with us in the boot, together with cooking area, dining table chairs, carpet, king size airbed and the kitchen sink in the guise of a washing up bowl. Still room in the back for three peeps and the roof bars for the bikes too. Thats my perfect camping car as its a great everyday car and a load lugger when required, with fwd and extra power sockets in the boot.

    • 10 June 2013 at 11:46 am #

      Not heard of that one. I will take a look at it right now. Thanks for the tip. Sarah

  3. Mark Beresford
    10 June 2013 at 3:52 pm #

    Then there’s these guys who make the Boot jump , where the whole camping gear is in a box which just sits in the boot of you Citroen (or similar) mini MPV

  4. Bart
    11 June 2013 at 5:11 am #

    Hi Sarah,

    Sorry to hear you had to sell the retro campervan. I have a VW Californa myself. It’s a 1997 T4 and in good shape. I use it as a family car, a mobile office and even tows our 1600kg caravan. But I know the feeling you had: we don’t use it often enough as a campervan and I have considered selling it.

    The alternative however is a car that I would have to pay more road tax for. Do you have monthly or quarterly road tax in the UK? Here in Holland you only pay 25% of the normal rate for a proper campervan, so using a VW style campervan is actually smart looking from a tax perspective.

    Now if you were to get something more like a normal family car and still would want to use it as a campervan, you may want to check these kits mentioned in a previous comment. Here in Holland there’s a small business (run by a guy who works at VW Campers part time!) that sells various options:
    Not cheap, but smart too!

    And there are many tent trailers out there. We once considered buying a which has a quick and easy system to set it up. But such tent trailer does not give you the flexibility of a campervan.

    Having used tents, caravans and a campervan I noticed that each has its charm and is a totally different way of camping from the other. It all depends on what kind of camper you are (do you stayu longer at one place for example?) and would you go for space rather than flexibility?

    Well, just some early morning thoughts. At least your post has got me writing about camping again. It has been a little quite on my own Dutch camping blog … :-)



    • 13 June 2013 at 10:40 am #

      Bart! Where have you been? So happy we’ve got you writing again and thanks so much for your tips. I will definitely include them in the follow up article I’m working on. Readers have given me some brilliant ideas… as have you. Smiles. Sarah

  5. Hazel - YellowFields Camping
    11 June 2013 at 6:41 am #

    I have to second the Bongo. We have a 2000 model, it is very reliable and easy to drive, We have converted it but it can be kept as car as all the seats will lie flat to make beds plus of course the automatic rising roof is factory fitted. I’ve banged on about the wonders of Bongos a fair amount over on my blog so have a look! I must admit the one downfall of the Bongo we have is that it does consume a lot of petrol, however, the diesel version is much more economical!

  6. 11 June 2013 at 6:44 am #

    I’d go for a Citroen Berlingo. Cheap to buy, and with a Boot Jump, good to sleep in. We use ours with pop up tents and the whole thing fits inside and sleeps for complete with hook up, cooler, stove etc. If you wanted to you could pair this with a roof tent – that’d be pretty awesome. More on the facebook link…

  7. Michelle
    11 June 2013 at 8:55 pm #

    I camp with my 2 small children in a Toyota Matrix. We can toss the booster seats and clothing bags outside for the night and fold down the back seats to lay flush with the hatchback area. If there is not a food locker nearby we usually won’t make a food hang- we will cheat and go buy food. We sometimes use an air mattress, sometimes just double up some blankets. It is super cozy in the winter, and sweltering after May. We discovered we could do this one night when a cabin we rented was not fit for human nor beast and we needed some shut eye. This is Florida, and windows down means mosquitos, so I made some magnetic screens to go around the outside of the back seat window frames. There are how-to videos on YouTube. However, if you are not a cheapskate like me, SkeeterBeater makes some you can order. Now, sadly my little girls are not so little anymore, and my 5 year old kung-fu fights in her sleep, so we need something bigger. I’ve been shopping car tents, and there are not too many that will fit my car. The best are of course, top dollar. We still want nighttime access to the car in case of Florida thunderstorms or curious critters. The main limitations I have found with car camping is that some campsites are not car accessible and you only have room for bedding and essentials.

  8. Sarah
    15 June 2013 at 2:50 pm #

    I personally use my Ford Explorer as a camper when going to weekend events. When you put the back seat down a futon mattress fits very nicely in the back and I have several sarongs that I use as curtains tucked into the trim and held in place with thin dowels. it is roomy enough for 2 adults and we put our bags in the front seat when we settle in for the night. I also use the explorer as my daily to work commuter as it is a good reliable and gas efficient vehicle.

    • 15 June 2013 at 5:44 pm #

      Sounds like a great idea. I’m going to look into that. Thanks. Sarah

  9. Mo in Modesto
    16 September 2013 at 9:00 pm #

    Years ago I built a teardrop for my husband and I to go camping. Unfortunately we had to sell it and life kept us busy. We are now retired and started tent camping and enjoying the outdoors again. However, we would like some comfort. Instead of building another teardrop I wanted something that served both as a car and a camper and be small enough to be economical and fit in our garage. After much research I decided to combine a teardrop trailer and compact cargo van in one. We purchased a Nissan nv 200 to replace my scion and i am converting the cargo area into a “teardrop”. I’ve built a mock up to try for a few trips before I finalize the design and build. In the meantime I drive it around town. It’s a car …’s a camper just right for the two of us. I think this is going to work for us…even for cross country road trips.

    • 18 September 2013 at 10:38 am #

      We would love to see some pictures of what you done… it sounds fascinating. Drop us a line via the contact button at the top of the page and we’ll get back to you to talk some more.

  10. Mo in Modesto
    4 October 2013 at 5:30 am #

    I’ve tried posting replies and photos a few times without succes….if this posts I will try again

  11. Maureen
    8 October 2013 at 7:53 pm #

    I hope this works…

    We completed the prototype and took it out on several outings. There are a few modifications I will make on the final build. It was definitely worth the effort to build the prototype and try it out. I hope to start the final build in the next week or so after some more prep work to the van. Hope the photos are helpful. The NV is brand new to the US market and we have gotten some positive feed back on our outings from others who want something similar.

    I’ll try and keep you posted on the final build. It will be made mainly using 1/2″maple ply

  12. Kykee
    23 January 2014 at 9:45 pm #

    I have a 2000 VW T4 which we take to the beach for occasional summer weekend breaks. There is enough room in the back for a double airbed which fitted perfectly even with the double rear passenger seats that I had installed myself. So far I have fitted VW scirroco wheels and the van is colour coded white, it also has a leisure battery with split charger. The T4 is a surprisingly reliable van and designed to make the most of the space in the back, when we take a tent we can fit in all of our camping equipment and gear in the back. I wouldn’t mind getting it converted into a camper van in the future for longer trips.

    • 24 January 2014 at 9:58 am #

      I love T4’s. In fact I love them so much I think they’ll become the new classic and will keep their price well. Especially those converted into campers. They are definitely much better than the newer T5’s which have had no end of expensive mechanical problems. Thanks for popping by. Sarah

Leave a Reply

Email Address First Name
Find us on Google+