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Practicalities of Life in a Classic VW Campervan

by Zoe | Friday 4th March, 2016

Practicalities of Life in a Classic VW Campervan

The Practicalities of life in a Classic VW Campervan

We aim to think about all the sensible practicalities so you don't have to. So please read this before your holiday so you can arrive calm, organised and prepared for a relaxing holiday.

Electricity and camping gaz

The facilities in your van can run from camping gaz (fridge and cooker). The fridge can also run from the van battery whilst the engine is running; it can also run from electric if your van is connected to mains hook up. The internal light runs from the van battery. The van cigarette lighter will charge your phone, ipod, etc. Your van comes with 2 bottles of camping gaz.

If you feel you simply must have electricity in the van, all our vans have a mains hook up lead which connects an electric socket in the van to an electricity supply at the campsite. This electricity can then be used to run fridge (as an alternative to the camping gaz) and also for the electric socket. This socket can then be used for hair straighteners or phone charging, etc. Most campsites do have electric sockets available in the shower blocks for hairdryers, etc so electric hook up is not essential in order to access electricity at a campsite.

What do you need to bring?

Our vans are equipped with everything that you would need for cooking, eating and drinking. They come with free extra campbeds (if you choose), sink, cooker, fridge, 2 bottles of camping gaz, crockery, cutlery, cooking equipment, extra outdoor table and chairs. The feedback we get from customers is that we have thought of everything down to ecover washing up liquid, tea towels, salt and pepper and even some tea, coffee and sugar to get you started. You need to bring clothes, bedding (we can supply sleeping bags and/or pillows as an 'extra'), a road map & a camping lantern plus all the toys and books you think you will need.

And a few things you might like to bring along with you: kitchen roll, a small bottle of cooking oil, lots of plastic shopping bags for rubbish, cling film, small amount of foil, salad dressing, bottled water, baby wipes (for sticky BBQ fingers!), hot water bottle (for winter), citronella candle (for sitting outside on balmy summer evenings), plug-in mosquito repellant (if using mains hook up), pack of cards. Micro-fibre camping towels are quick-drying and less bulky. Solar lanterns are useful for extra evening illuminations and come in a variety of lighting arrangements: from the normal camping lantern to strings of fairy lights. Getting the lighting right will really transform your evenings so give it some consideration.

We will send you a list of how the van is equipped during the week before your hire commences. If you have any queries, please do get in touch.

Choosing the right van for you

We are here to help and advise on your choice of van. It is worth thinking about where you will all sleep if the weather isn't on your side. Even in the summer, it might be better not to book one of our two-berth Split Screen vans if you are a family of four. The awnings are a single skin shelter. We do provide a separate ground sheet, but this isn't attached to the awning. They are great for sleeping in during a hot summer, but during high winds and driving rain they do not provide solid protection against the elements.

A van with sleeping capacity inside for each member of your party will be the best choice and should avoid sleepless nights.

Equally, do think about storage space/luggage capacity. Mr Orange and I am Spartacus are both spacious and will sleep six people quite cheerfully. But if you do try to pack six adults and all their luggage into them, the vans may not be quite so happy trundling around the country lanes. They are great for a couple of adults and up to four small children though! If you are planning a break for a group of six adults it might be worth thinking about hiring two campervans or taking another car alongside the van.

The Free-standing Awning

We can also provide a free-standing awning for a small additional charge of £25. This does take up quite a lot of luggage space in the van if your chosen van does not have a roof rack: so think carefully before you include this in your booking: will you have space for it in the van along with your luggage? If you are on a shortbreak or planning to move around a lot will you want to be putting the awning up and down every time you move?

Your Collection time

We aim to stagger our customer collections, and Zoe will be in touch about your collection slot about a week before your hire commences. Please do try to reach us at your allocated time, as it takes time to introduce you to your van, and show you all his or her facilities. We do not want to keep anyone waiting to start their holiday due to other people turning up late.

If you are due to be in the area early on your collection day, do let us know. We might just have your van ready slightly sooner than planned. Equally, if it is likely that you will be later than your allocated collection slot, please be aware that we have a 4.00pm cut off point.

The Driving

If you haven’t driven a vintage Camper before please be aware that it is a completely different driving experience from that of a modern car. Please allow time to familiarise yourself with your van. You will be given driving instruction on collection of your van, but if you are not feeling confident do let us know and we can spend some extra time with you.

If you are thinking of buying a hire voucher for someone as a present, please do bear in mind that this might not be the ideal gift for a nervous driver!

‘Wild’ Camping

Dartmoor is one of the few places which actually encourages ‘wild camping’. DNPA says “Camping for one or two nights on the open land on Dartmoor is perfectly acceptable provided that you choose your spot sensibly and don't pitch your tent on farmland, on moorland enclosed by walls, within 100 metres of a road, on flood plains or on archaeological sites.” Just make sure that you observe a few common sense rules:

  • Take all litter home
  • Guard against risk of fire
  • Ensure you do not pollute streams or rivers
  • Avoid disturbing wildlife particularly during the moorland lambing and bird breeding season, from 1 March to 31 July

For more information, visit DNPA website.

Outside of Dartmoor, can I sleep in my campervan when it is parked on the road or in a lay-by?

We downloaded the info below from It does not represent the opinion or views of O'Connors Campers.

“It is very difficult to give a straightforward answer. The problem is that many bits of legislation may apply, including the Caravan Sites & Control of Development Act, and recent legislation covering gypsies and travellers. As a motorhome or campervan is classed in law as a ‘caravan’, sleeping in it may constitute ‘camping’.

Our interpretation of the law is that you cannot 'camp’ on land in England and Wales (the law may be different in Scotland and N. Ireland) without the permission of the land owner. As far as the highway is concerned (this includes lay-bys) the land owner is normally the local authority.

However, whether you are moved on or not will depend on the attitude of the local authority or the local police. Our opinion (and it is only an opinion) is that you are unlikely to be moved on if: the vehicle is not causing an obstruction (but remember that there is no 'right' to park any vehicle on the road); there is no specific by-law prohibiting overnight parking or sleeping in vehicles; you are not in the same place for more than a day or two.

For what its worth, during our 28 years of ownership of campers and motorhomes we have never been moved on from any lay-by or roadside stopping place in the UK – but we only use them as an overnight stop on a long journey.”

If you do decide to park on the road or a layby, please note that it is at your own risk. Please always park safely, keeping yourselves and the van as far as possible away from traffic.


Check out our campsite list here which has been created by gathering together the experiences of friends, family and customers! It is a fantastic resource and just keeps getting better! Those in green are open all year.

We would advise that you book your campsites in advance during the peak season and school holidays, particularly if you would like electric hook up.

Seat Belt Law

We ask that you only carry as many people in the van as there are seatbelts and that you use the suitable car seats/booster seats for the children in your party. Please see: to get an understanding of the law in this area.

Planning your route and the last evening

Your campervan will be due back by 10am on the last day of your hire. This allows us time to service and thoroughly clean the campervan ready for the next customers. We provide a list of places to camp nearby in order to avoid a last minute dash back to the workshop: this isn't good for the vans and not a great end to your holiday. A base close by will ensure a leisurely breakfast and a relaxing final leg of your journey.

These sites can also be used as a base for your first night. If you arrive to collect your van later than planned, use a campsite near us for your first night. You can be settled and cooking your first meal on Dartmoor before the sun goes down rather than struggling with your awning in the dark after driving to Penzance!

Keeping Warm

This could be the make or break of your holiday, so please think about it before you book a holiday with us in December! While the new VW California Campervans have cosy diesel heating, fans of our vintage campers might need some extra help to keep toasty at night. 

If you are hiring during the colder months of the year, please remember that the nights can be quite chilly. When packing, do remember to include extra clothes for sleeping and more blankets than you would use at home. If you are using a van with an elevating roof, putting the roof down at night will keep you warmer. It is wise to arrive dressed warmly - the driving can be quite breezy. Your Hawaiin shorts might not be the best choice for your maiden voyage.

We do include an electric heater in each van. Some even have independent gas heating. Please remember that neither form of heating can be left on overnight. Previous customers have brought along their own hot water bottles or electric blanket. Alternatively, just put the kettle on and have a cuppa.


All our vans are non-smoking.

Getting to Okehampton and parking

We are more than happy to arrange for you to be collected from Exeter, Plymouth or Newquay by taxi. If you are driving your own car, you can leave it at our workshop, parked inside or out, whilst you are off building a relationship with your van!

Posted in Useful Information
on Friday 4th March, 2016
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