With plenty of bank holidays in the horizon, a staycation is top of our list. Since the pandemic sparked a huge rise in staycations, many of us set off for the great outdoors in caravans and camper vans for the first time. Interest in campers rocketed as couples and families tried them out - not just for their summer holidays, but weekend getaways too. Some took the plunge and invested in a new or used camper van, while others dipped their toes in with a rental.
Most experienced owners recommend renting a vehicle for at least a weekend before buying one, but whether you're buying or renting, there are many options to choose from - these are our favourites to take on the road in 2022.
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The most reliable camper vans
Toyota Proace Matino 3
A conversion of the Toyota Proace van by Wellhouse Leisure, the well-equipped Matino 3, from £50,000, is a four-berth camper van suitable for staycations at any time of year.
It has a kitchen with fridge, sink and gas cooker, a rear seat that unfolds to become a double bed and a pop-up roof containing another double bed.
There's also a programmable heater to keep the interior warm and cosy all year round, plus a solar panel for charging the leisure battery if you're camping off-grid. There are 12v or 240v sockets and USB points, plus dark tinted rear windows for extra privacy.
Ford Transit Custom Nugget
Billed as "your home away from home", the Transit van-based Nugget (from £63,576) has two separate double beds- two on the roof bed and two on the easy-to-convert rear bench seat.
Other key features include reversable front seats and a fold-out dining table; a fully functioning kitchen with sink, fridge and gas stove, and a 12V power supply.
There's also onboard WiFi for up to 10 connected devices, so enough to keep the whole family entertained. Built by camper van conversion specialist, Westfalia, the Nugget also has a heater for those chilly evenings and an outdoor shower facility, while the long wheelbase version has a built-in toilet, wash basin and additional interior storage space.
Coolest camper vans
Classic VW camper
Built between 1950-67, the iconic VW Type 2 (T1), affectionately known as the ‘Splitscreen’ or ‘Splitty', is now highly collectible with restored examples on sale from £40,000.
Owning a vehicle of this age shouldn't be taken lightly, so if you want the classic experience without the ongoing maintenance, you might be better off renting from one of the many companies available. We'd recommend going for a later T2 like Bluebell (pictured), available via PaulCamper, Europe’s largest online platform for campervan and motorhome sharing. She's one of the last built in Brazil (2018), has more power than the T1 and features mod cons including power-assisted steering, Bluetooth connectivity and a USB port.
VW Bluebell, available for hire from £95 per night, PaulCamper
Volkswagen ID Buzz
Meet the futuristic fully electric camper van from VW that's creating a massive buzz! When the Volkswagen ID Buzz concept was shown at the 2017 North American International Auto Show in Detroit the reaction was so hot that VW decided to roll the dice and put it into production.
The ID Buzz looks like it will be a game-changer in a market that arguably has changed little in 70 years. Brimming with the latest technology inside and out, it should also have a range of more than 300 miles.
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Most luxurious camper vans
Volkswagen Grand California
VW has a superb track record when it comes to camper vans, exemplified by the California range. Starting with the dinky Caddy California (which sleeps two), moving up to the larger California 6.1 (from £56,039), then the 6.1 Beach and finally the flagship Grand California, there's something for everyone and they are more practical, comfortable and connected than every before.
Of course, if money is no object, then the all-new Grand California (from £77,693) is the one to go for. Not only can it sleep two adults and two children, but there's a fully equipped kitchen and separate wet room.
Practical touches include mosquito nets built into the sliding door, up to six USB sockets and four 230V plug sockets.
Mercedes-Benz V-Class Marco Polo
The V-Class Marco Polo is a class act. Priced from £63,425, this beautifully finished camper van features a fully equipped kitchenette, two built-in beds and an electric pop-up roof, plus yacht wood flooring in the rear compartment and Lugano leather upholstery.
It’s also packed with technology, including an autonomous parking system that helps guide you into tight spaces.
And if you're after something a little more sporty, there's an AMG-Line version with big wheels and spoilers, front and rear.
Most economical camper van
Vauxhall Vivaro Elite
Based on the British-built Vivaro van, Vauxhall's camper van has also been converted by Wellhouse Leisure. Priced from £49,000, it can sleep up to four people and features include an elevating roof, a kitchen with cooker, sink and fridge, plus a solar panel, heater, dark-tinted rear glass and LED mood lighting.
If you'd rather not drive a diesel, an all-electric version with a range of more than 200 miles is now also available.
Most affordable used camper van
Voted best rising-roof camper of 2015 by Practical Motorhome magazine, the ‘Ellastone’ conversion by Hillside Leisure, is now a great second-hand buy. Less than £25,000 will buy you a low mileage example from 2014-2015. This four-berth camper features an extensive list of equipment that makes it a relaxing and enjoyable home from home, but it’s also perfectly usable as a daily driver.
When new, it was acclaimed for its combination of value, innovative design and quality. The Trafic also features some clever design touches, such as an offside kitchen and a rock ’n’ roll bed (the bench seat folds into a double bed) accessible from the side door.
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