Traveling to Great Britain is often an expensive venture. After splurging on a plane ticket, hotel accommodations, trains, tours, restaurants, and a plethora of cask beers you might even feel broke. Where did all my money go?? If you’re looking for a budget-friendly adventure, try renting a UK campervan for the ultimate road trip, like I did! Below, I’ll share with you a tour of my rented van, budget-saving camping tips, and other advice from campervan travel around the UK.
Where to Rent a UK Campervan
There are a variety of places to rent a UK campervan or RV in Great Britain, but I wanted something that wasn’t just comfortable and stealthy, but also adorable! Quirky Campers offers dozens of owner-built van conversions at pickup locations all over the UK. Each of these campervans has personalized style, amenities, and pricing.
I chose the Honeybee campervan because I thought the layout was beautiful and spacious. I also didn’t need a shower or more than one bed, so I liked the compact design. The Honeybee also had a heater, which was important for my trip because I was traveling in December. The pickup spot was in Bristol, England, which was only a two-hour train ride from London (where I flew in), simplifying the process.
Watch this Video Tour of the Honeybee UK Campervan:
Budget-Saving Tips for UK Campervanning
Compared to the amount I would’ve spent on train travel, hotels, restaurants, etc., renting a campervan saved me a lot of money. Below are my budget saving tips Use these to stretch your dollar on the road.
- Travel During the Off-Season. During the summertime, when tourism is high, campervans and RVs are common in the UK. This makes it more difficult to wild camp, although not impossible. Like my campervan trip through Iceland, my 10-day UK road trip took place in winter, when the majority of local campgrounds are closed. Thus, I never paid a single pound for overnight parking! This was thanks mostly to the stealthiness of my campervan, but also because there weren’t any other options. *Note: Scotland is especially friendly to wild camping, while you might need to be more stealthy in England and Wales. Choose a van that isn’t an obvious camper.
- Pub Stopovers. One of my favorite places to wild camp was in pub parking lots. Free overnight parking, which a purchase of food/beer, what could be better? Use this website for research.
- Cook Your Meals. This is a no-brainer. Book a campervan with a kitchen or kitchenette and prepare your own meals to save money.
- Avoid the Ferry. While it is an option to load your campervan onto a ferry, this type of travel is rather pricey. Choose a route that doesn’t include ferry travel or, when possible, drive around. For example, the Isle of Skye now has the Skye Bridge, which alleviates the need for ferry travel to visit the spectacularly beautiful island. You can also park your UK campervan and walk-on a ferry if you’re determined to visit somewhere that requires this type of travel.
- Take It Slow. I covered three countries and over 1,600 miles in 10 days during my UK road trip. In doing so, I saw a lot of Great Britain, but I paid for it in gas. I still believe I would have spent more on train/bus tickets, but if I had to do it again, I would probably choose to travel slower.
Other Advice for UK Campervan Travel
- Showers. While some campervans have a shower, most of them do not. Many of the rest stops (called “Welcome Breaks”) offer hot showers. *Note: You have to pay for overnight parking in these lots after the first 2-3 hours.
- Ask for a chemical toilet/porta potty. Again, some of the campervan rentals will have a toilet, but many will not. I choose to pay an additional fee for a chemical toilet, and I am so happy I did! If you intend on stealth camping in a residential area, you will need a toilet option for late night wees.
- Learn the rules of the road. As an American, driving a campervan in Great Britain is a challenge (to say the least). Not only did we have to drive a manual (not as common in the USA) on the other side of the road, but shifting with the other hand takes Einstien-esque brain power. Now throw in a few thousand confusing roundabouts, snow, ice, and narrow roads with strange signage, and you are guaranteed to panic, and panic often. Before renting a campervan, make sure you are aware of the rules of the road and be prepared to white-knuckle-it a few times. Yet another reason to travel in off-season, when traffic is not as heavy.