Our guide looks at where to buy a campervan, what checks to make, which campervan essentials to fill it with and the extra costs to consider, like campervan insurance.
Overall, we’ll cover:
Answer these questions to narrow your search and find the right campervan.
You can use your campervan for:
Pick a campervan that suits your needs. If you’re using it for extended trips, you’ll want amenities like a sink, hob and some extra space to live in.
But if you’re going to use it for day or weekend trips, you might prioritise storage and be fine with a camping stove and washing-up bucket instead.
If you can’t decide what type of campervan you want, use size as a guide.
Remember: not everyone may want to sleep in the same space. You might want to buy a tent so some people can sleep separately.
Budget doesn’t just mean upfront costs, it also includes:
Decide whether you’re going to budget for a new or used campervan.
Investing in a new campervan will hold its value for longer, so if you’re forced to sell you won’t be left out of pocket.
You could also rent a camper to begin with. This can help you decide if van life is for you and could also give you more time to save for a campervan.
Most people buy a campervan either via a dealer, privately from classified ads, or from friends and families. Each has its pros and cons.
When you choose a dealer, check the company out before you buy.
Read customer reviews, and check if they’re accredited by motoring organisations, like the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) or British Independent Motor Traders Association (BIMTA).
Reliable dealers will let you test drive the vehicle too, which we recommend before buying.
Try to compare several similar vehicles to get an idea of the price range you can expect. Look at the van’s age, model and condition.
If you’re meeting a private seller, take someone with you, especially if you’re carrying a lot of cash. Examine all documents, including things like its service history and MOT certificate.
It can be tempting to buy from a friend or family member, but the same rules apply as buying from any other private seller.
Wherever you’re buying from, you need to do a few checks before you finalise the sale.
We recommend test driving. It gives you a good idea of what the vehicle’s like, and it allows you to spot any issues.
Try to get a feel for the steering and braking. Listen to the engine and any noise from the suspension – knocking and rattling aren’t good.
Check the headlights, wipers and dashboard warning lights. See if all the windows and locks work too. If there’s a stereo system, make sure it works and is included with the van.
Learn how to test drive a car effectively.
Ask to see a service record. Ideally, you’d like to see regular servicing.
An underserviced campervan might not necessarily be in bad condition, but you’d expect to pay less for it.
Read our guide on the importance of servicing.
If the van has a roof, raise it a couple of times, watching from both inside and outside.
One of the most important things to check is that the pop-up roof locks securely; you don’t want it popping open on the road.
Many campervans have basic safety equipment, like a fire extinguisher and fire blanket. Check these and the seatbelts too, looking for any fraying or other damage.
If your campervan has bad wiring it could lead to a fire. Have the electrical system checked by an electrician before you buy if you’re not confident doing it yourself – especially if the campervan has features like televisions, fridges, or electric cookers.
Look for any dents or scratches, as well as rust. Older campervans tend to suffer from rust, and you’ll usually find it under the bottom of doors, the headlights, wheel arches and carpets.
Rust isn’t necessarily a big problem but it’s good to be aware of. It’ll also help you get a fair price for the condition of the van.
Check the tyres as well and look for uneven wear which could be caused by incorrect alignment or suspension issues.
Get the campervan professionally looked over if you’re not confident making any of the checks yourself, or if you’d like a reliable opinion.
Choosing the vehicle is just the start. To help you make the most of your time on the road, here’s a list of essential campervan accessories:
If you got your driving licence before the 1st of January 1997, you can drive any vehicle up to 7,500kg or 8,250kg including a trailer.
If you got your licence after this date, or are over the age of 70, you have a limit of up to 3,500kg. This means you’d need to take an extra driving test to add the C1 category to your licence if your new van exceeds this weight.
Head to the government website to find out how to get the right licence to drive your new campervan.
Consider what insurance you need when buying a new campervan. Find out about our different types and levels of cover on our campervan insurance page, and head here to get a quote.
We identify a vehicle based on its registration number, which helps us determine if your camper is a car or a van.
You can’t drive it on your car insurance if we classify it as a van and not a car – however, you can insure cars and vans on one MultiCar policy.