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The dos and don'ts of campervanning

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A campervan can offer you freedom and flexibility on your summer holiday, says Rebecca Lees. Follow these tips to ensure a successful trip.

VW Camper

Booked your summer holidays yet? If it involves pootling along in a VW campervan, you’ll need to know some rules of the road.

DON'T cross your Ts

Confusing your types will mark you out as a rookie a mile off, so gen up on dub-speak.

Transporters made until 1967 have the iconic split-screen window, hence the name the "splitty", whereas vans produced between '68 and '79 have a wide, single windscreen known as a bay window.

Split-screens and bays have air-cooled engines and, slightly confusingly, are both type twos (T2s - the Beetle being Volkswagen’s type one).

In 1980 the T3, a wedge-shaped van with a water-cooled engine, arrived. Very confusingly, they are also known as T25s.

DO try before you buy

The news is not good if you aspire to own a camper. Prices for an even remotely reliable van start at around £10,000, and they’re getting harder to come by since Volkswagen stopped production in 2013.

Luckily, campervan hire is booming, with a quick online search revealing all the combis you can shake an old-school crook lock at.

Try an agency such as Camperbug.co.uk, which matches VW owners with hirers.

Couple at the beach

DON'T expect a cheap holiday

If it’s a budget break you’re after, book those easyJet flights to Benidorm now.

You can expect to pay around £350-£400 to hire a camper for a weekend and upwards of £600 for a week in high season.

That’s before you factor in the fuel costs - and going retro means fewer miles to the gallon.

DO expect the unexpected

With 40-year-old engines, things go wrong. As The Camper Van Cookbook author Martin Dorey cheerfully says: "At some point, you are going to end up at the side of the M5."

He should know – it even happened to him when filming his TV series One Man and his Campervan.

Campers are renowned for mechanical problems, leaky seals and a whole lot else, so be prepared and pack essentials including a basic tool kit, jack, wrench, spare fan belt, torch and waterproofs.

And don’t leave home without the phone number of your breakdown cover provider.

DON'T camp where you shouldn’t

The campervanners’ motto may be "home is where you park it" – but this could land you in a spot of bother.

In Scotland, it’s legal to wild camp in a tent or campervan, although you should be respectful of others and leave no trace of your stay.

Wild camping in Wales and England, however, is illegal.

Some landowners will turn a blind eye if you park up late, leave early and take your litter home, but use your common sense and find a campsite if unsure.

Campervan with feet out the window

DO try a show

You’re not a proper dubber unless you’ve tried a festival at least once, and VW shows are held all over the UK pretty much every weekend from February to October.

The larger shows are brilliant if your idea of bliss is rummaging through hundreds of boxes of bus bits, and they tend to have entertainment and even hot showers.

But big festivals can also be noisy and exhausting, particularly for young children.

Smaller affairs held in farm fields can be more family-friendly: pick up a specialist campervan magazine for listings.

DON’T leave your sense of humour at home

This is particularly important if the sliding door falls clean off its hinges in a field in the middle of the night (this actually happened to me).

As Dorey says: "Just enjoy yourself. Wave at other campervans, have a good time and keep smiling."

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