The Right Camper / Motorhome for Families
In order for a camper or motorhome holiday to guarantee a really good time for families, it is important before booking to think about which vehicle is suitable for the trip to Australia or New Zealand and meets the needs of the entire family. We cannot give a general recommendation, because which vehicle really is the best depends on the budget, the number of children and their age. However, there are some important considerations for camper / motorhome holidays for families that we want to share with you and that should help you with the selection of the vehicle. At last, nothing is standing in the way of a wonderful trip to Australia or New Zealand with children!
Motorhome Vacation with Two Adults and One Child
Families with only one child can avoid renting a large and expensive motorhome. Some rental companies offer Hitop Campers in which a child can be accommodated in a kind of makeshift seat between the two parents' front seats. This is a great solution, especially for young children. Because small children often need help, be it when eating, drinking, buckling up or when the dear toy has fallen out of hand. In addition, they often do not like being alone in the back of the vehicle, where they cannot even talk to their parents properly. In the Hitop they are always close to their parents and can take a look out through the windshield as well.
A disadvantage of this solution is security. The child sits in the front with the parents, directly above the engine. You won't find a crumple zone here. In addition, there is only one lap belt on the center seat. Nevertheless, the advantages outweigh for most families. Therefore, this variant is booked very frequently and yet we have not received any complaints. However, this is certainly due to our sensible information in advance of booking.
For families with a child who have a rather small budget, are out and about in the summer and don't have too big demands, a Hitop Camper with a middle seat is an inexpensive and easy-to-use solution. But beware: Many providers exclude the use of the center seat for children who need a seat aid in their terms and conditions! Unfortunately, simply accommodating the child in the front passenger seat and placing the adult front passenger in the middle is not an alternative solution here, since the airbag on the front passenger seat cannot be switched off in all vehicles from 2005 (Toyota Hiace model, see VW T5). If you act against the rental company's instructions, you will be committing a breach of contract, which will void any insurance cover. The DLX Hitop Camper (Deluxe option) is the alternative of those rental companies who exclude the classic Hitop Camper with middle seat for families. The DLX is a Hitop Camper as well, but with a long wheelbase. This creates a little more space in the vehicle in all dimensions. The DLX has two seats in the rear of the vehicle, at the very back. Children are given a good shaking here, it might lead to nausea and deprives the children from getting access to their parents while driving. The DLX also has no front-to-back passage, so you have to stop and get out if you want to reach the kids. Australian and New Zealand law requires children to sit in the back of the vehicle if there are seats. This means that even families with only one child in the DLX have to put their child back in spite of the central seat in the front.
Families with an older child sometimes find the DLX more attractive than the classic Hitop because of the slightly larger vehicle. In our opinion though, it is much less suitable for families with a small kid than the slightly smaller version. In addition, the DLX is usually significantly more expensive.
Three rental companies on the market (as of July 2018) have the LDV 2 + 1 Berth (LDV stands for Light Duty Vehicle and includes shower and toilet) on offer. This camper also has its advantages. Anyone who has children knows that a shower and a toilet mean a small but significant plus in luxury. For children needing diapers this is not so important, for toddlers, however, who have just gotten rid of the diaper, a toilet on board is worth its weight in gold! In addition, the LDV has auxiliary heating in the living room. Laundry dries reliably here and there are fewer problems with mold in the vehicle. If you are out and about in winter, the advantages of heating are obvious. You escape the condensation that forms quickly and have a dry, warm home on wheels.
The LDV also has the third seat in the front between the driver and front passenger and is therefore very popular with families with one child. It is larger than a Hitop Camper and offers 90 cm more vehicle length, more storage space and more space for living, as well as the mentioned wet room for shower and toilet. Nevertheless, it is not as big as a classic motorhome and is clear, compact and easy to drive, even for inexperienced drivers. The LDV Campers are usually younger, which suits families very well, because the likelihood of experiencing lost vacation time in a garage decreases enormously. Especially during the Christmas and Easter holidays, damage to the vehicle can mean waiting for a few days, as a large number of garages will then be closed. With the LDV, families are more likely to spend their vacation exactly where they want instead of having to stay in a hotel or some small town due to unplanned waiting for their camper to be repaired. This makes the LDV our insider`s tip for small families. Unfortunately, it is quickly booked up, as only a few companies offer it, and its price is also noticeably higher than the one of the Hitop Camper, which means that it might exceed the budget of some families. A not to be ignored advantage in the financial planning is that the LDV is a diesel vehicle and therefore cheaper to maintain than the Hitop Campers, which are all petrol engines. In addition, you are a bit more independent with auxiliary heating, shower and toilet included and you may save on camping site costs that are more likely to arise with a Hitop camper.
Camper / Motorhome Vacation with Two Adults and Two to Three Children
Families traveling with two or three children always need seats in the rear of the vehicle. For these families, the Hitop Camper and the LDV are eliminated because they offer too little seating possibilities. Only the "Condo" model from Jucy is approved as a classic Hitop Camper for five people. The rear seats are still placed in front of the rear axle, so that the Condo is not a bad choice when considering the seating options only. However, there is so little storage space planned for the expansion that it really offers just little space for families with two or three children. The next bigger option for such family constellations is the DLX described above. The space for four to five people is still not exactly abundant, but if you travel with little luggage and are well organized you can save a lot of money with this option compared to a classic motorhome. Nevertheless, due to the narrow shape of the vehicle, you will most likely not cook as often and tend go stay at a campsite during wet or cold weather rather than inside a spacious motorhome.
At this point we would like to bring up a personal statement. Here in Germany we have a so-called Ford Nugget High Roof Camper. This corresponds to the size of a DLX Hitop Camper. As a family with 3 children, we like to travel with this camper a lot. We have no problem with the space available. However, our daily travel planning is very much based on the current weather condition. Most of the time we are active outdoors. In bad weather conditions we look for a good campsite, which offers a lot of space and leisure facilities to avoid cabin fever. If you as a family are fancying the cheaper vehicle option but are still unsure about the space available you can talk to us about advantages and disadvantages and maybe a lead or two will help you with your final choice.
If you prefer a little more luxury, want to go to campsites less often and would like to rent a newer, more reliable vehicle, you are better advised with a classic motorhome. There is a huge offer with big price differences. The age of the vehicle is often the deciding factor here, because of course there are also large but very old vehicles. Sometimes, however, the reason for the large price differences is not referable to the age of the vehicle, but rather through reading the terms and conditions of the rental company in detail and after taking a good look at the exact insurance conditions. We know our way around here and are happy to help you reveal any hidden costs.
New vehicles are always more beautiful and reliable, but can also mean a little more stress, especially with small children, since every scratch stands out. Everyone deliberates themselves about how new or old a vehicle should be.
Motorhome Vacation with 4 or 5 Children
Even extended families don't have do without a camper / motorhome holiday in New Zealand or Australia. Many rental companies have 6 Berth Motorhomes on offer, two of the providers even have those vehicles with seven sleeping and seating options. However, not all seats are suitable for buckling up child seats here. Before renting, you should find out exactly whether the seat belts fit the number of child seats required. Apart from that, the same rule applies to 6 or 7 Berth Motorhomes as to the 4-5 Berth options. By the way, motorhomes with six or seven beds are not automatically larger than those with four or five beds. It is often the same basic vehicle model, only with a different room layout. A close look at the dimensions of the respective vehicle reveals more than just the number of integrated beds.
General Considerations for Camper / Motorhome Vacation with Children
The room layout of motorhomes offered by different rental companies varies strongly. We have numerous pictures of all vehicles on our website so that you can get a good insight and hence, decide which furnishing variant and room layout suits you personally. The pictures we provide correspond to the picture material that we get from the rental companies. Some of them point out that there are different configurations of the vehicles. Thus, the pictures can differ slightly from the vehicle you get on-site. The THL Group with the vehicle fleets Maui, Britz and Mighty must be highlighted at this point. Through the purchase of the companies Kea, United and Alpha, the THL Group still has several different vehicle options on offer and a guarantee for a particular model is not given. Decisive criteria for the assignment to a vehicle category is the age, the number of seating and sleeping options, as well as the guaranteed basic equipment of the camper / motorhome. However, the arrangement of the seating and sleeping options is never guaranteed.
You can also find the included equipment for the individual campers / motorhomes on the respective vehicle page on our website. High chair, available child seats and important details, such as a safety net for alcove beds are also listed there. Since these details are solved very differently by different companies and the equipment even varies between individual vehicles of one company, an overview article like this simply cannot go into as much detail. In this case, it is best to ask our customer advisors about the equipment that is important to you individually.
You want to book a motorhome or a camper for your family vacation in New Zealand or Australia, but still have questions about the choice of the vehicle? Then give us a call or make a free inquiry without obligation specifying your phone number. We will then contact and advise you!