Does size (width) matter? (1 Viewer)

Nov 12, 2021
34
12
Funster No
85,413
MH
Don't own one yet
We are going on a 6 month European trip this year (EU passports before anyone says we can't) and are planning to buy in France and sell again after our trip.
For 2 of us and our dog, toying between a panel van conversion or 6m motorhome with pavilion bed.
For anyone who has had both, is the extra 25cm width very noticeable?
Will have reversing cameras but hard to know what the roads will be like and maybe worth sacrificing some comfort/space for practicality.
We'll stay mostly in campsites and farms but keen to explore areas too. TIA
 
Jan 11, 2018
841
852
Malvern Link, Malvern, UK
Funster No
51,943
MH
Chausson Welcome 85
Exp
Since 2018
I have a standard 2.3m wide motorhome, I also drive a Ducato minibus.
Yes that difference does make a difference but you learn to drive accordingly.
ie. that car that you can squeeze through in a PVC, with a car oncoming becomes , wait until it's clear, then go.
You also have to be careful of course down narrow lanes and parking will be more difficult etc.
However, having said that , many many motorhomes are driven many thousands of miles without an issue.
The plus side is that the extra width makes a big difference inside the vehicle and noting you are planning a 6 month trip you may consider a PVC too cramped for such a long trip.
Others opinions will differ.
Both styles of vehicle will do the job.
 
Jul 29, 2012
2,951
5,167
Lost in La Mancha, Spain
Funster No
22,171
MH
VW T6 Campervan
Exp
Not long enough, but a little common sense helps..........
After 5 years we went from a motorhome to a VW camper van January 2021. It took some getting used to as no built-in toilet, bathroom (if you are staying on camp sites this is not a problem) and fixed bed and in the first month thought we had made a big mistake. Three months into owning it, things go easier and found fix bed was not needed as could sleep in pop up roof or folding bed. We do not miss the fitted bathroom as you can wash happy enough in the van and as for toilet we have a portable one which works just fine. So thats the bad bits out of the way.
Now the good bits..... Driving it is just like a car, so getting in and around small villages is easy and parking so simple. Cooking is the same as motorhome and heating is the same (not needed so much in Spain). We tend to not use campsites so much as just find a nice spot and park up. To date completed trips around Spain, France and Germany clocking up around 9K (km) or 96 days away last year.
The wife also loves driving it as she never wanted to drive the motorhome.
Do we now miss the motorhome.................. not really
 
Last edited:
OP
L
Nov 12, 2021
34
12
Funster No
85,413
MH
Don't own one yet
After 5 years we went from a motorhome to a VW camper van January 2021. It took some getting used to as no built-in toilet, bathroom (if you are staying on camp sites this is not a problem) and fixed bed and in the first month thought we had made a big mistake. Three months into owning it, things go easier and found fix bed was not needed as could sleep in pop up roof or folding bed. We do not miss the fitted bathroom as you can wash happy enough in the van and as for toilet we have a portable one which works just fine. So thats the bad bits out of the way.
Now the good bits..... Driving it is just like a car, so getting in and around small villages is easy and parking so simple. Cooking is the same as motorhome and heating is the same (not needed so much in Spain). We tend to not use campsites so much as just find a nice spot and park up. To date completed trips around Spain, France and Germany clocking up around 9K (km) or 96 days away last year.
The wife also loves driving it as she never wanted to drive the motorhome.
Do we now miss the motorhome.................. not really
Wow, that is a big change. Sounds like it has suited you really well. So practical for narrow roads. My concern is the length of our trip and dealing with less space. Def think a fixed bed is a must for us

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OP
L
Nov 12, 2021
34
12
Funster No
85,413
MH
Don't own one yet
I have a standard 2.3m wide motorhome, I also drive a Ducato minibus.
Yes that difference does make a difference but you learn to drive accordingly.
ie. that car that you can squeeze through in a PVC, with a car oncoming becomes , wait until it's clear, then go.
You also have to be careful of course down narrow lanes and parking will be more difficult etc.
However, having said that , many many motorhomes are driven many thousands of miles without an issue.
The plus side is that the extra width makes a big difference inside the vehicle and noting you are planning a 6 month trip you may consider a PVC too cramped for such a long trip.
Others opinions will differ.
Both styles of vehicle will do the job.
Good advice thanks. Yes, hard to compromise on size. The extra width makes for some very appealing layouts
 
Jan 19, 2014
7,338
18,556
Derbyshire
Funster No
29,757
MH
Elddis Accordo 105
Exp
since 2014
Thanks, will keep looking!
Just remembered Adria compact.

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Riverbankannie

LIFE MEMBER
Mar 11, 2016
7,502
35,333
Bristol
Funster No
41,967
MH
IH 630 RL PVC
Exp
12
In your situation, I would go for a larger MH. In general the roads in Europe are better, emptier and wider than the UK. Of course the pretty medieval hilltop villages would be a no no, but you wouldn’t want to go in there in a PVC either.
 

mikebeaches

LIFE MEMBER
Feb 22, 2010
4,278
5,397
Bristol
Funster No
10,377
MH
Rapido V68 Van Conversion
Exp
Since 2009
We had a 6-metre coachbuilt, 2.3m wide, for five years. Travelled extensively in Europe and the UK.

We then changed to a 6.4-metre van conversion (Rapido), 2.05m wide, six years ago, again with extensive trips at home and abroad.

For us, the reduced width has made a big difference - much more relaxing to drive, especially down country lanes and visiting small villages. Parking is generally easier too.

But another real advantage for us is the ability to throw open the big sliding side door and let the outside in. And when really hot, the rear barn doors can be opened to let the breeze through.

The van conversion is much more planted and sure footed at speed on the motorway.

Because our current van conversion is a bit longer but narrower than the previous coachbuilt, it has roughly the same internal living space.

Good luck, whatever you decide to go for. (y)
 
Last edited:
Jan 11, 2018
841
852
Malvern Link, Malvern, UK
Funster No
51,943
MH
Chausson Welcome 85
Exp
Since 2018
Good advice thanks. Yes, hard to compromise on size. The extra width makes for some very appealing layouts
Consider that a fixed bed will be very welcome in my opinion for a 6m trip. PVC's with a fixed bed do exist but are relatively rare. You could get tired of making the bed up. Many fixed bed motorhomes allow one to go to bed whilst another stays up. With PVC's probably possible but again relatively rare.
But none of this precludes a PVC doing the job , it will be arguably less comfortable but easier to drive and park.

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Sep 17, 2017
2,033
3,526
Birmingham, UK
Funster No
50,575
MH
A-Class
Exp
2017
We did 6 months around Europe in a 5.4m Ducato van. I had no issues with the width except on some roads in the Sierra Nevada mountains that had grass growing up the middle where a bit less width would have made it a bit less hairy with a rockface on one side and a drop on the other. Being a small van, we managed to squeeze into spots overnight that we wouldn't have got away with in a motorhome. We would quite happily drive into city centres and find somewhere to park on-street. I could even squeeze it into a standard parking space without taking the piss too much. I pretty much treated it like a car. My brother has a VW T5 LWB and there's little difference in where he can drive and I could, except he could sometimes squeeze under height barriers. But my Ducato had a bathroom and a permanent bed with good headroom, it was far more liveable. It was a great van and we were really sad to see it go, but the biggest complaint was there was pretty cramped inside. If one person was doing the cooking, the other either had to sit in the cab or chill on the bed. And do a swappy dance if we wanted to go to the loo.

Last summer we moved to a 6m a-class. It feels 3 times bigger inside. We can both walk around at once. There's masses of table to sit at. On the vast majority of roads, it's fine. The issue comes in urban areas where a car parked on the side of the road means you have to stop and wait for oncoming traffic to pass. And in the back roads in North Norfolk and Cornwall, the extra width is more stressful. And I can't park in a supermarket car park amongst the cars anymore... its my only motorvehicle, so it also does the DIY and tip runs.

We're going to try out the a-class for a couple of years. But we might well go back to a van in the future... although maybe 6m.
 
Jan 22, 2020
1,452
2,115
North Somerset
Funster No
68,245
MH
Sunlight Cliff 600
Exp
September 2020
Consider that a fixed bed will be very welcome in my opinion for a 6m trip. PVC's with a fixed bed do exist but are relatively rare. You could get tired of making the bed up. Many fixed bed motorhomes allow one to go to bed whilst another stays up. With PVC's probably possible but again relatively rare.
But none of this precludes a PVC doing the job , it will be arguably less comfortable but easier to drive and park.
Take a look at the Sunlight Cliff range…..all PVC’s with fixed beds and not rare in Europe. These are popular on the continent, so if buying over there then should be available to Op.

We’ve got the 600….. (y)
 
Sep 11, 2012
3,094
12,860
Gods country
Funster No
22,848
MH
Chausson
Exp
newbie hired 3
You will soon see that you can get everywhere the bin wagon or fire appliance will go. Having spent many years driving trucks, mostly red ones with blue lights on top. I tend to think if I could get the fire appliance down there then the motorhome will fit with loads of room to spare. If you’re having thoughts about difficulties in driving your motorhome you can have training through either of the big two clubs to boost your confidence.

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Nov 21, 2021
18
13
Co Durham
Funster No
85,538
MH
Autosleeper Amethyst
Exp
Newbie, former van camper and still wild camper
I converted a vauxhall vivaro van into a camp van a few years ago, we enjoyed it but the size frustrated us. Yes it was a swb and not long but the width was only 1.65m meaning you have to sleep length ways which takes up lots of room. My neighbor converted a XL mercedes sprinter and put a garage in back hence double bed and had same problem. This maybe offset by having a 'pop top' but having had a similar experience and now having a coach built I'd rather have coach built! Ours is an older Autosleeper which is narrower than some more modern vans. Approx 6.5 X 2.5 no bother driving it around town I just go steady.

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Jan 22, 2020
1,452
2,115
North Somerset
Funster No
68,245
MH
Sunlight Cliff 600
Exp
September 2020
Narrow PVC with nice barn rear doors vs roomier compact coachbuilts with better lounging. Probably my favourite Fun Topic and I’m still no closer to working out which will be right for me.

Fixed bed and able to park on the drive were two of our main considerations. However, my wife said she didn’t like vans that look like a van with a caravan mounted on the back of it………..all complaints to her please, no me. ;)
 
Jun 28, 2020
1,321
2,106
Funster No
72,388
MH
Van conversion
Exp
Caravaning since 2010
I converted a vauxhall vivaro van into a camp van a few years ago, we enjoyed it but the size frustrated us. Yes it was a swb and not long but the width was only 1.65m meaning you have to sleep length ways which takes up lots of room. My neighbor converted a XL mercedes sprinter and put a garage in back hence double bed and had same problem. This maybe offset by having a 'pop top' but having had a similar experience and now having a coach built I'd rather have coach built! Ours is an older Autosleeper which is narrower than some more modern vans. Approx 6.5 X 2.5 no bother driving it around town I just go steady.
Get a ducato or transit and if average height you can sleep transversely.
 

two

Aug 4, 2011
4,611
3,756
West Midlands
Funster No
17,624
MH
A-Class Fiat
I had a wide liner once. I found that the size of it made other traffic stand back and let you through. So, in that case, size can be an advantage. Go smaller and you need a lot of discipline with what you take and where you put it.

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Apr 26, 2015
1,070
1,222
Ottershaw
Funster No
36,067
MH
Hymer S820
Exp
First motorhome May 2021
If you're buying in France, do you need a french address from which to insure the van? I don't know myself but it occurred to me that it may be an issue.
 
OP
L
Nov 12, 2021
34
12
Funster No
85,413
MH
Don't own one yet
We had a 6-metre coachbuilt, 2.3m wide, for five years. Travelled extensively in Europe and the UK.

We then changed to a 6.4-metre van conversion (Rapido), 2.05m wide, six years ago, again with extensive trips at home and abroad.

For us, the reduced width has made a big difference - much more relaxing to drive, especially down country lanes and visiting small villages. Parking is generally easier too.

But another real advantage for us is the ability to throw open the big sliding side door and let the outside in. And when really hot, the rear barn doors can be opened to let the breeze through.

The van conversion is much more planted and sure footed at speed on the motorway.

Because our current van conversion is a bit longer but narrower than the previous coachbuilt, it has roughly the same internal living space.

Good luck, whatever you decide to go for. (y)
Very convincing, thanks!

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OP
L
Nov 12, 2021
34
12
Funster No
85,413
MH
Don't own one yet
We did 6 months around Europe in a 5.4m Ducato van. I had no issues with the width except on some roads in the Sierra Nevada mountains that had grass growing up the middle where a bit less width would have made it a bit less hairy with a rockface on one side and a drop on the other. Being a small van, we managed to squeeze into spots overnight that we wouldn't have got away with in a motorhome. We would quite happily drive into city centres and find somewhere to park on-street. I could even squeeze it into a standard parking space without taking the piss too much. I pretty much treated it like a car. My brother has a VW T5 LWB and there's little difference in where he can drive and I could, except he could sometimes squeeze under height barriers. But my Ducato had a bathroom and a permanent bed with good headroom, it was far more liveable. It was a great van and we were really sad to see it go, but the biggest complaint was there was pretty cramped inside. If one person was doing the cooking, the other either had to sit in the cab or chill on the bed. And do a swappy dance if we wanted to go to the loo.

Last summer we moved to a 6m a-class. It feels 3 times bigger inside. We can both walk around at once. There's masses of table to sit at. On the vast majority of roads, it's fine. The issue comes in urban areas where a car parked on the side of the road means you have to stop and wait for oncoming traffic to pass. And in the back roads in North Norfolk and Cornwall, the extra width is more stressful. And I can't park in a supermarket car park amongst the cars anymore... its my only motorvehicle, so it also does the DIY and tip runs.

We're going to try out the a-class for a couple of years. But we might well go back to a van in the future... although maybe 6m.
Thanks - yes I would like to avoid stressful driving situations. I'm sure you're enjoying the spacious a-class when not on narrow roads
 

Minxy

LIFE MEMBER
Aug 22, 2007
27,060
46,085
E Yorks
Funster No
149
MH
Carthago Compactline
Exp
Since 1996, had Elddis/Swift/Rapido/Rimor/Chausson MHs. Autocruise/Globecar PVCs/Compactline i-138
Quite a few thread about this dilemma which may be worth perusing, along with things to think about with each option, eg:




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Sep 16, 2010
2,846
2,549
Bungay Suffolk
Funster No
13,734
MH
C Class
Exp
Since 2010
We are going on a 6 month European trip this year (EU passports before anyone says we can't) and are planning to buy in France and sell again after our trip.
For 2 of us and our dog, toying between a panel van conversion or 6m motorhome with pavilion bed.
For anyone who has had both, is the extra 25cm width very noticeable?
Will have reversing cameras but hard to know what the roads will be like and maybe worth sacrificing some comfort/space for practicality.
We'll stay mostly in campsites and farms but keen to explore areas too. TIA
Proper Motorhome every time !!
Space !!!
Mitch
 

Lenny HB

LIFE MEMBER
Oct 18, 2007
34,280
67,908
On the coast in West Sussex
Funster No
658
MH
Hymer B678 Dynamic Line
Exp
Since 2008 & many years tugging
Our first van was 2.35m wide last two have been 2.21m find the narrower van much easier in tight situations. I must be near the top of the league on Fun when it comes to getting stuck in tiny villages.
Next van temped with a Carthago Compact Line only 2.12m wide not much wider than a panel van but a lot more room inside & a big garage.

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