Winter holiday comparisons: motorhomes versus caravans

Club Care Insurance

Whether you decide to choose a caravan or a motorhome, Club Care's insurance policies will give you peace of mind.  Find out more about caravan insurance or motorhome insurance.CCI Caravan IconCCI Motorhome Icon

Whatever your preferences when it comes to touring, there’s really no reason why you should be confined to the sunny seasons. Manufacturers of both motorhomes and caravans have long realised this and it’s currently easier than ever to find ‘winter-friendly’ models of both kinds of vehicle.

So if a winter trip is on the cards, which type of model is likely to suit you best? Honestly, with the right fittings and a properly insured unit, either vehicle can do a perfectly adequate job; however, the trick is always in the detail. Depending on your circumstances, it’s likely you’ll benefit from the strengths of one unit over the other. To help you, we’ve put together a guide highlighting the key things you’ll want to consider when weighing up your choice.

The right vehicle and the right cover

Motorhomes and caravans have one very important thing in common; they each demand extra care when driving in winter. If you feel you will benefit from an extra confidence boost behind the wheel, our caravan manoeuvring course or motorhome course could be just what you need. As an added bonus, successful course completion can earn you a discount on your Club Care insurance, too.

If your winter trip is going to involve a single camping destination, a caravan might be the best fit. You can set up camp and use the car for shorter trips, whether nipping out for extra supplies or exploring those gorgeous winter landscapes. Working like this can provide you some much needed flexibility.

Alternatively, if it’s more of a multi-stop tour you are aiming for, a motorhome might be preferred. With everything there and ready to use, you can simply step into the back to enjoy all your home comforts, so it’s ideal for lunch breaks when on the move. Compared to having a caravan behind you, a motorhome can be less challenging to manoeuvre with on slippery road surfaces, too.

Heating and insulation

Keeping warm is an obvious priority, so heating capacity and insulation are some of your most important considerations when choosing a unit. After all, there’s little point in having a state-of-the-art heating system if that heat is going to instantly dissipate through the unit walls. Choose your specific model wisely and either a caravan or motorhome can offer you the right combination.

Increasingly, innovations like hard foam insulation, even heat distribution, and low energy consumption factor into both motorhome and caravan designs; however, it’s important you know how effective these features are. Fortunately, there’s an independent standard ratings system to help you.

For caravans, the standard is BS EN 1645-1, Thermal Insulation and Heating. The Grade 3 rating is the one to look for if winter holidaying is your goal: if a caravan has this, it means the interior temperature can be maintained at 20°C when it’s as cold as -15°C outside. It also guarantees the water system will work in temperatures as low as -15°C outside.

For motorhomes, the standard is slightly less stringent, arguably explained by the large windscreen and presence of extra doors in the integrated cab area. The motorhome standard is BS EN 1646-1. If a vehicle has Grade 3 status, it shows it is able to reach an interior temperature of 20°C when it is -5°C outside and that the fresh water supply can operate in temperatures as low as -15°C.

So when it comes to heating, don’t assume that one category of tourer is better than the other. Take each model on its own merits by checking the official rating. However, if you’re likely to be camping in extremely cold temperatures, caravans are generally better equipped to handle these more hostile conditions.

Features and layout

After a rambling expedition or a day on the slopes, few things can beat coming back to a pre-heated tourer. A combination of telematic sensors and mobile connectivity can help you with this. Often available either as standard or as an optional extra on both motorhomes and caravans, this lets you turn on your heating via text message before you get back. It gets rid of that first chill of re-entry, meaning a cosy home-from-home environment is already waiting when you return.

In terms of providing somewhere to store and sort out your wet clothes, both types of unit have a lot to recommend them. Extras such as heated towel rails can come in handy; however, don’t underestimate the usefulness of an awning that acts as an annex to your vehicle. Awning cover comes as part of Club Care’s touring caravan and motorhome standard insurance, meaning you get the added benefit of not needing to worry about loss or damage.

Another important consideration is where the water tank is situated. This is a vital concern: if it’s located externally, it will almost certainly freeze up in sub-zero conditions. So ideally, it’s worth looking for a unit that has its fresh tank and its plumbing contained within the heated interior. In smaller motorhomes, space restraints mean that an external tank is unavoidable. But, fear not: a combination of lagged pipework, a thermal jacket for the tank and a thermostatically-controlled immersion heater within the tank can also prevent freezing. With the adequate preparations, you can keep your vehicle road ready and comfortable for the duration of your trip.

Quiet roads and stunning surroundings all help to make winter breaks one of the best things about touring. To find out more about all-year expeditions, winter safety, and choosing the right camping option, head on over to our help and advice section.