The difference between campers and motorhomes
Updated: May 5
Iceland is one of the best countries in the world to explore by campervan or motorhome. Taking a road trip around the Ring Road route is a fabulous way to explore the island at your own pace. There are so many sights that having the freedom to plan your own itinerary is invaluable. If you choose camper rental in Iceland you will have absolute flexibility. You will have your own means of transport as well as accommodation, a kitchen and a place to relax. There is no better way of exploring Iceland’s incredible great outdoors. The choice then comes down to which style of recreational vehicle you decide to go for.
So what are the differences between campers and motorhomes?
The terms campervan and motorhome are often used interchangeably. But these are two quite different wheeled beasts. They are both recreational vehicles with some level of accommodation and kitchen kit. Both types of rental style have their own unique advantages and disadvantages. Each one will suit a different style of trip or travel group depending on various needs and interests. So let’s clear up the confusion.
What is a motorhome?
A motorhome is both a larger and a more elaborate vehicle. They are wider and longer than a campervan with a lot more space to play with. Inside you will find separate defined living areas. There will be an area for sleeping and storing your clothes complete with windows and curtains and beds for up to six people. You can also get smaller motorhomes for 2-4 people. Often the larger ones that sleep up to six will require some folding out of beds or perhaps a sofa area that can be easily transformed into a bed. There will also be a compact bathroom with shower, toilet and running water.
The kitchen area will come fully equipped with a sink, fridge, prep area and cooker. All ingeniously fitting together very much like a kitchen you might find on a boat. Then there will be a dining area with table and chairs. All in all this is a space that you can really make yourselves at home in.
What are the pros and cons?
If you hire a motorhome for your camping Iceland trip you will be very much self-contained. You will have everything that you need for a really comfortable trip. However, you will need to keep in mind the manoeuvrability of your rental choice. These are much larger and slower vehicles that you will need to park and manoeuvre with care.
Motorhomes do not come with four-wheel drive so there will be roads in Iceland that you cannot negotiate in one. During the winter months it is generally unadvisable to drive far in a motorhome. Icy and windy conditions will make it too treacherous in such a large vehicle. Another factor is the upkeep of the vehicle. You will need to fill water tanks, empty toilet capsules and charge batteries. All this is perfectly doable and very simple at the majority of Iceland’s campgrounds. But something to factor in to your decision making process.
All in all a motorhome camping rental Iceland might be the best choice if your group like a little more comfort. If they have plenty of time to travel and enjoy a slower pace or shorter distances. For example a motorhome would be an ideal choice for a relaxed tour of the Iceland Golden Circle with a few friends.
What is a campervan?
A camper is a more nimble and stripped down version of a motorhome. These are often large (or small) vans that have been converted to accommodate some of the features of a motorhome. Inside you will find heating (often a webasto diesel heater) and one living space that can be adapted to use in different ways. There will usually be a sofa with a luggage storage area underneath. This sofa can then be transformed into a double bed at night. There will generally be a small kitchen set up too, with a hob, sink and cool box or fridge. This will all be functional and compact so you will need to be organised.
What are the pros and cons?
The beauty of this form of easy van rental is that you will be much more agile. Camper vans can be driven much like a car could and you can also hire a 4x4 camper van. Diesel van 4x4 vehicles can tackle almost anything that the wilds of Iceland might throw at them. So in a 4x4 camper you can explore year-round whether winter or summer. You can also take on the 4x4 only F-roads in Iceland’s highlands. As long as you research your next winter Iceland campground you can go anywhere anytime in one of these.
So a camper van rental might be the best choice for longer trips around the ring road. They are also ideal for those that want to cover more distance and tackle some of the wilder corners of Iceland. You won’t quite have the luxuries of a motorhome. Cooking will be a little more basic and you won’t have a table to eat at. You will also need to use the campground bathroom facilities as you will have none on-board.
What you will have is much more flexibility on where and when you travel. You won’t need to plug in or empty bathroom canisters to you will have much less maintenance time to factor in. You might also opt for a specially converted camper van with a skylight. These campers have been specifically designed so that you can watch the Northern Lights from the comfort of your warm camper bed.
So there you have it. Rental campervans and motorhomes are both fantastic ways to explore Iceland. Which one you choose will depend on your travel style and where and when you want to visit Iceland. Whichever option you go for you are guaranteed plenty of adventure!