FAQ Series: Should I Rent a Campervan Before I Buy a Campervan?

Couple sat on bed of campervan with doors open, testing it before they buy a campervan

FAQ Series: Should I Rent a Campervan Before I Buy a Campervan?

Buy or Sell Campers

Buy or Sell Campers

1 July 2023

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Are you ready to embark on a thrilling adventure on the open road? The idea of venturing out to buy a campervan holds the promise of endless freedom, exploration, and unforgettable experiences. But before you dive headfirst into the world of vanlife, it’s important to make an informed decision.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll take you through the process of buying a camper van, step by step. From renting and testing different models to exploring the benefits of a Class B RV, we’ve got you covered. So, fasten your seatbelt and let’s hit the road!

📖 Table of Contents 

  • Try before you buy a campervan
  • How to find a campervan to rent?
  • Benefits of renting a campervan / RV
  • What to look for when choosing a campervan rental company
  • Benefits of a Class B RV / campervan
  • Best vans for a custom campervan build

  • Winnebago Revel
  • Coachmen Galleria
  • Pleasure Way Tofino
  • Hymer Activ Dodge Promaster
  • Airstream Interstate Nineteen Touring Coach
  • Don’t forget older manufactured campervans

Green Mercedes Sprinter camper with black wheels and windows

🚌 The Benefits of Renting a Campervan Before You Buy a Campervan


Try before you buy

If you are thinking you might buy a campervan, you don’t need us to tell you that it is a significant investment, both financially and emotionally.

That’s why it’s crucial to experience the vanlife firsthand before committing to a purchase.

Renting a campervan allows you to test the waters and get a taste of life on the road. It gives you the opportunity to assess your needs, preferences, and must-have features.

By trying different models, you’ll gain valuable insights into what works best for you, helping you avoid costly mistakes in the long run.


How to find a campervan to rent?

When it comes to finding the perfect campervan to rent, there are several reputable companies in the UK , EU and the US that offer a wide selection of options.


RVshare: One such company is RVshare, which is recognized as the world’s first and largest peer-to-peer marketplace for RV rentals. RVshare provides an extensive inventory of campervans and Class B RVs across the US, making it a convenient and accessible option.


Camptoo: A popular peer-to-peer campervan rental platform that connects travelers with private owners. They offer a wide range of campervans and motorhomes for rent, providing flexibility and choice.


Outdoorsy: Known as the “Airbnb for RVs,” Outdoorsy offers a diverse selection of campervans, motorhomes, and travel trailers for rent across the UK and the US. Their user-friendly platform allows you to browse and book the perfect vehicle for your camping adventure.


Indie Campers: With locations in the UK, EU and the US, Indie Campers is a renowned campervan rental company offering a fleet of well-maintained vehicles. They provide different campervan models suitable for various travel preferences and group sizes.


By exploring these options, you’ll have a wider range of choices to find the ideal campervan rental that suits your needs. Remember to compare prices, availability, and customer reviews to ensure a satisfying rental experience.

Interior of campervan with blue cabinetry and fixed bed at back

Benefits of renting a campervan / RV

Renting a campervan before you buy a campervan offers numerous benefits beyond just getting a feel for the lifestyle.

It allows you to narrow down your preferences and determine the essential features you need in your own camper van. Do you require a full bathroom or a larger kitchen space? Is a fridge and solar setup a must-have, or would a cooler and a portable solar generator suffice?

Also, sleeping arrangements, storage capacity, and overall comfort are factors that you can only truly gauge through firsthand experience. Renting gives you the chance to tailor your choices and ensure that your future purchase aligns with your specific needs.

Additionally, renting provides an opportunity to learn from experienced RV owners. Interacting with fellow enthusiasts and tapping into their knowledge can be invaluable. They can guide you, answer your questions, and offer insights that you might not have considered.

By leveraging their expertise, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of the camper van lifestyle, making more informed decisions along the way.


What to look for when choosing a campervan rental company

There’s a lot to look for when you consider renting a campervan before you buy a campervan:

  • Variety of Vehicles: Ensure that the rental company offers a diverse selection of campervans and RVs to choose from, catering to different travel preferences and group sizes.
  • Rental Locations: Check if the company has rental locations near your desired destination or starting point. Having convenient pickup and drop-off locations can save you time and transportation costs.
  • Rental Durations: Consider the flexibility of rental durations offered by the company. Some companies may have minimum or maximum rental periods that may or may not align with your travel plans.
  • Insurance Coverage: Verify that the rental company provides comprehensive insurance coverage for the rented vehicle. This will protect you against any unexpected damages or accidents during your trip.
  • Roadside Assistance: Look for companies that offer 24/7 roadside assistance. This service can be invaluable in case of vehicle breakdowns, flat tires, or other emergencies during your journey.
  • Customer Support: Check if the company has reliable customer support available to assist you throughout your rental experience. Prompt and helpful support can address any concerns or queries you may have.
  • Transparent Pricing: Ensure that the rental company has transparent pricing policies. Look for any additional fees, such as cleaning charges, mileage limits, or fuel requirements, to avoid any surprises when finalizing your rental.
  • Reviews and Ratings: Research customer reviews and ratings of the rental company to gauge the experiences of previous renters. This can provide valuable insights into the company’s reliability, customer service, and overall satisfaction.
  • Extras and Amenities: Consider any additional amenities or extras offered by the rental company, such as camping equipment, kitchen utensils, or optional add-ons like bike racks or Wi-Fi.

By considering these factors, you can make an informed decision when choosing a campervan rental company that best fits your needs and ensures a memorable and hassle-free travel experience.

Benefits of a Class B RV / campervan

Class B RVs for sale, also known as campervans, offer a host of advantages that make them an appealing choice for many travelers.

Their compact size and built-in maneuverability make them easy to handle, even for those who are new to driving larger vehicles. These are the perfect campervan to buy or rent if you are just starting vanlife.

Unlike their bulkier counterparts, Class B RVs can fit into standard parking spots, drive-thrus, and navigate areas with height clearance restrictions. Moreover, their smaller footprint allows access to remote areas and off-the-beaten-path destinations that larger rigs cannot reach.

If you crave the thrill of exploring uncharted territories and boondocking in secluded spots, a campervan is your ticket to adventure.

In addition to their mobility, Class B RVs can be more eco-friendly than larger gas-guzzling motorhomes. Their smaller size and efficient design often translate to better fuel economy and reduced environmental impact.

So, not only will you be embarking on unforgettable journeys, but you’ll also be doing so with a smaller carbon footprint.


💥 Best vans for a custom campervan build

For those who prefer to commission a custom campervan build, starting with the right base vehicle is crucial. While there are various options available, a few vans have proven to be popular choices among vanlife enthusiasts:


1. Mercedes-Benz Sprinter camper

The Sprinter  has become very popular with folks who want to buy a campervan. Synonymous with luxury campervans, it has a spacious interior, powerful engine options, and robust build quality.

Overall, it provides a solid foundation for a comfortable home on wheels. Its reputation for reliability and extensive support network make it a top choice for DIY conversions.

Mercedes Sprinter camper in forest

2. Ford Transit

The Ford Transit  offers versatility and a wide range of configurations. With ample cargo space, multiple roof heights, and engine choices, it caters to different needs and budgets. Its popularity among van builders means you’ll find a wealth of resources and conversion kits tailored specifically for the Transit.

Grey Ford Transit camper with roofrack, ladder in mountain backdrop

3. Ram ProMaster

The ProMaster’s front-wheel-drive layout sets it apart from its rear-wheel-drive competitors. This configuration results in a lower step-in height, increased interior space, and improved fuel efficiency. It’s a favorite among van converters due to its spacious interior dimensions and ease of customization. Photo credit: Tommy Campervans (a van conversion company in Phoenix, AZ).

Grey Ram Promaster Capmpervan on beach - best vans for van life

4. Nissan NV:

The Nissan NV is known for its affordability and reliability. It offers a sturdy platform for a camper van conversion while providing a comfortable ride. Its wide range of configurations and available options make it a compelling choice for those on a budget.


5. Chevrolet Express / GMC Savana

These classic American vans have long been popular choices for campervan conversions. Their wide availability, robust build quality, and proven track record make them reliable options for turning into comfortable living spaces.

When choosing a van for your custom campervan build, consider factors such as interior space, headroom, cargo capacity, and ease of maintenance. Research the specific model years and engine options that best suit your needs, and always thoroughly inspect any used van before making a purchase.


Best Standard Manufactured Class B RVs

If you’re not inclined towards a custom build or prefer the convenience of a ready-to-go campervan, there are excellent standard manufactured options available. These Class B RVs offer a combination of comfort, functionality, and quality craftsmanship. Here are some top contenders to consider:


Winnebago Revel

The Winnebago Revel is a rugged and capable off-road camper van built on a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 4×4 chassis. It features a power-lift bed, a compact kitchen with a refrigerator, a wet bath, and ample storage space. With its advanced off-grid capabilities, including solar power and an efficient heating system, the Revel is designed for adventurous souls seeking remote destinations.


Coachmen Galleria

The Coachmen Galleria boasts a sleek and modern interior, making it feel more like a luxury apartment on wheels. It offers a range of floor plans with various sleeping arrangements, a well-equipped kitchen, a bathroom with a shower, and a cozy lounge area. The Galleria also includes advanced technology and premium finishes, elevating your travel experience.


Pleasure Way Tofino

The Pleasure Way Tofino is a compact and affordable campervan designed for those who value simplicity and mobility. It features a pop-top roof for added headroom, a small kitchenette, and a rear bench that converts into a comfortable sleeping area. The Tofino’s compact size and nimble handling make it ideal for urban exploration and weekend getaways.


Hymer Activ Dodge Promaster

The Hymer Activ Dodge Promaster stands out with its European-inspired design and intelligent use of space. It offers a spacious interior with a fully equipped kitchen, a bathroom with a shower, and a comfortable sleeping area. The Promaster’s thoughtful layout and high-quality materials create a cozy and inviting atmosphere for your travels.


Airstream Interstate Nineteen Touring Coach

Airstream is renowned for its iconic silver travel trailers, and the Interstate Nineteen Touring Coach is no exception. This luxury Class B RV combines classic Airstream style with modern amenities. It features a well-appointed kitchen, a full bathroom, a comfortable sleeping area, and a stylish lounge space. With its aerodynamic design and smooth ride, the Interstate Nineteen is a true head-turner on the road.

White microcamper in snow with hooded man sat on roof

Don’t Forget Older Manufactured Campervans

While newer models offer innovative features and updated designs, older manufactured campervans should not be overlooked. They can often be found at more affordable prices and still provide a comfortable and enjoyable camping experience.

However, when considering older campervans, it’s crucial to conduct a thorough inspection and have a trusted mechanic assess its condition. Addressing any maintenance or repair needs before embarking on your journeys can save you headaches down the road.


🟢 🔴 Pros & cons of Class B RVs

As with any major decision, it’s essential to weigh the pros and cons of owning a Class B RV to ensure it aligns with your lifestyle and travel preferences. Let’s explore the advantages and potential challenges associated with these versatile campervans.


🟢 Pros of Class B RVs


Class B RVs are relatively easy to drive and navigate compared to larger motorhomes. They offer the freedom to explore narrow roads, fit into standard parking spaces, and access remote destinations.


Fuel Efficiency

With their compact size and efficient engine options, Class B RVs often provide better fuel economy than larger recreational vehicles, saving you money at the pump.



Class B RVs can serve as both your daily driver and your home on wheels. Their compact size allows for easier urban maneuvering and more flexible travel plans.



Despite their smaller footprint, Class B RVs offer essential amenities, such as a kitchen, bathroom, sleeping area, and storage space. You can enjoy the comforts of home while on the road.


Off-Grid Capabilities

Many Class B RVs are equipped with advanced off-grid features, including solar power, freshwater tanks, and efficient heating systems. This allows you to boondock in remote locations and minimize your reliance on campground hookups.

White campervan with red interior, at night. with sidedoors open

🔴Cons of Class B RVs

Limited Space

Class B RVs have a smaller living area compared to larger motorhomes. This can be a challenge if you prefer more room to move around or if you’re traveling with multiple people or pets.


Storage Constraints

Due to their compact size, Class B RVs have limited storage capacity. You’ll need to be mindful of your belongings and optimize storage solutions to make the most of the available space.


Bathroom Size

The bathroom in a Class B RV is typically smaller compared to larger RVs. This might require some adjustment if you’re accustomed to more spacious facilities.



Class B RVs can be more expensive than traditional camper vans or travel trailers. Their premium features and compact design often come with a higher price tag.

When considering the pros and cons, think about your travel style, the number of people traveling with you, and your budget. Class B RVs offer a balance between maneuverability and comfort, making them an attractive choice for many adventure-seekers.

Campervan crashed off side of road in snow, being collected by recovery truck

✌️Safety Tips for Vanlife

While van life can be an incredible and liberating experience, it’s important to prioritize safety during your travels. Here are some essential safety tips to keep in mind, especially if you are renting a campervan before you buy a campervan, and are new to life on the road:


1. Maintenance and Inspections

Do a quick inspection of your campervan, ensuring that tires, brakes, lights, and other vital components are in good working order.


2. Secure Your Belongings

Prevent theft by securing your valuables and locking your campervan when unattended. Invest in anti-theft devices such as steering wheel locks or alarm systems for added security.


3. Safe Parking 

Choose well-lit and secure parking locations, such as established campgrounds or designated overnight parking areas. Avoid isolated or unsafe areas, and consider using RV-specific apps or websites to find safe parking options.


4. Fire Safety

Ensure your rented campervan has smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors. The fire extinguishers should be readily accessible and you should know how to use them. Be cautious when using open flames or cooking equipment inside your camper van.


5. Weather Awareness

Stay informed about weather conditions in your area and be prepared for changing conditions. Pack appropriate clothing and equipment to handle extreme temperatures, storms, or other severe weather events.


🧾 Legal and Regulatory Considerations


When embarking on your campervan journey – whether you rent or buy a campervan – it’s important to understand and comply with the legal and regulatory considerations associated with vanlife. Here are some key points to consider:


1. Driver’s License

Ensure that you have a valid driver’s license that covers the type of vehicle you’re driving. Different countries and regions may have specific requirements, so research and obtain the necessary licenses or endorsements as needed.


2. Insurance

Adequate insurance coverage is crucial for protecting yourself, your camper van, and others on the road. Explore insurance options specifically tailored for recreational vehicles and ensure that your policy covers your intended use and duration of travel.


3. Camping Regulations

Familiarize yourself with camping regulations and restrictions in the areas you plan to visit. Some areas may have designated campgrounds or specific rules for overnight parking, while others may prohibit camping altogether.


4. Environmental Responsibility

Practice Leave No Trace principles by minimizing your impact on the environment. Dispose of waste properly, respect wildlife and natural habitats, and adhere to any fire restrictions or guidelines in place.


5. Border Crossings

If you plan to travel across international borders, research the requirements for entry and exit, including necessary visas, permits, and vehicle documentation. Familiarize yourself with customs regulations to avoid any legal issues.

📖 Summary

Embarking on the journey of buying a camper van opens up a world of adventure, freedom, and endless possibilities. Whether you choose to rent a campervan before making a purchase, explore the options for custom campervan builds, or opt for a standard manufactured Class B RV, the key is to find the right balance of comfort, functionality, and affordability that suits your travel style and needs.

Consider the pros and cons of Class B RVs, pack the essential camping gear, prioritize safety at all times, and adhere to legal and regulatory considerations. Vanlife offers a unique way to experience the world, create lasting memories, and forge a deep connection with nature and fellow travelers.

📚Key Takeaways

1. Renting a campervan before buying allows you to try out different models and assess your needs and preferences.

2. Custom campervan builds offer the freedom to design a personalized living space based on your unique requirements.

3. Standard manufactured Class B RVs provide a balance of comfort, functionality, and quality craftsmanship.

4. Consider the pros and cons of Class B RVs to ensure they align with your travel style and preferences.

5. Essential camping gear, safety precautions, and compliance with legal and regulatory considerations are crucial for a successful vanlife experience.

🔍 Frequently Asked Questions

Absolutely! Renting a campervan allows you to experience the vanlife lifestyle firsthand and determine if it’s the right fit for you. It also gives you the opportunity to test different models and features before making a significant investment.

You can find campervan rental companies through online platforms and directories specializing in recreational vehicle rentals. Compare prices, read reviews, and choose a reputable company that offers the type of campervan you’re interested in.

Renting a campervan allows you to evaluate different layouts, sizes, and features to find the perfect fit for your needs. It also gives you a realistic understanding of the challenges and rewards of vanlife, helping you make an informed decision before committing to a purchase.

Class B RVs offer excellent maneuverability, fuel efficiency, and versatility. They provide essential amenities, are easier to drive and park compared to larger motorhomes, and often have advanced off-grid capabilities, allowing you to explore remote locations with comfort and convenience.

Popular choices for custom campervan builds include the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, Ford Transit, Ram Promaster, and Nissan NV series. These vans offer ample space, reliability, and compatibility with various conversion layouts.

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