Is a motorhome classed as a caravan?

In today’s blog post, we will explain: Is a motorhome classed as a caravan? We will discuss the main differences between motorhomes and caravans, and explain the pros and cons of each type of vehicle. 

Is a motorhome classed as a caravan?

No, a motorhome is not classed as a caravan, although both are considered Recreational Vehicles (RVs). 

  • A motorhome also called a camping car, is a motorized vehicle with an interior designed to be able to live there.
  • A caravan is a trailer towed by a car and the interior of which is designed to be inhabited. In other words, the caravan is not motorized and requires a towing vehicle to be able to move.

Do not confuse caravan and static caravan. A static caravan is a transportable accommodation that, unlike a caravan, is not approved for use on the road. Most often, static caravans are preferred by long-term campers who stay on the campsite for an extended period. They are often offered for rent by campsites, for those who wish to experience the “camping adventure” although they do not have the equipment.

Motorhome or caravan – what to choose?

It is difficult to give a definitive answer to this question as the caravan on the one hand and the motorhome, on the other hand, have their fans. So what are the criteria to pay attention to in order to make up your mind? If you ask camping enthusiasts, opinions are very divided as to which motorhome or caravan is the ideal travel companion.

The following information will help anyone who has little or no experience of this type of vacation to make the right choice.

But first of all: give yourself plenty of time before making your decision. In fact, as with a car, the purchase of a caravan or motorhome represents a big investment.

Why buy a motorhome?

Before buying a new motorhome, it is important to inform yourself precisely about the different manufacturers and the products offered. Thus, the size of the vehicle and the number of seats will vary depending on whether you are travelling alone, as a couple or as a family. While larger models offer more room, they are also more difficult to drive and manoeuvre.

The motorhome is an autonomous vehicle that does not need an additional towing vehicle. The housing superstructure rests on the base vehicle, the living cell is therefore completely integral with the tractor. 

In most cases, the driver’s cab is connected with the rear of the motorhome by a passage. On modern models, the integration goes even further since the driver’s seat and passenger seat can swivel and become an integral part of the “living room”.

Nowadays, motorhomes are almost always autonomous, in other words, they do not necessarily need the facilities provided by the campsites (electricity, washing). In fact, most of the time, they have batteries of sufficient capacity, a freshwater tank, a wastewater tank, a cassette toilet, a sink/shower area and a kitchenette. This autonomy allows the use of motorhome areas, without the need to go to a campsite.

Compared to the caravan, the motorhome is more synonymous with adventure. As a rule, caravans are more rarely found where motorhome drivers go. Whether in the small villages of Provence or on winding mountain roads, the motorhome sneaks up everywhere (depending on its size, of course). 

Why buy a caravan? 

The caravan is in a way a habitable trailer, hitched to a towing vehicle and can be immobilized separately. Together, the towing vehicle and the caravan form a coupling. A hitch is always more difficult to manoeuvre and can result in additional costs on ferries or toll roads. 

In return, the towing vehicle can be detached to be used independently of the caravan with greater flexibility at the place of destination. A caravan is more economical but also easier to maintain and maintain since it does not have an engine.

Many caravans are designed for camping and do not offer any autonomy. The required driving license is different depending on the size and weight of the caravan.

The towing vehicle is decisive in choosing a caravan. The maximum towing load is indicated in the vehicle license. It defines the weight that can be towed by the car. You should not try to go to the limit, but rather stay 150 or 200 kg below. This will make the hitch easier to drive.

The coupling formed by the passenger car and the caravan is often more difficult to manoeuvre. This is because the additional load and the attachment by a towing device somehow form an oscillating weight at the level of the car. On a downward slope, for example, the caravan exerts a push, implying on the part of the driver stronger braking or more measured acceleration. It is therefore advisable to train before going on vacation.

Which driver’s license do I need to drive a motorhome or a caravan?

Before buying a motorhome or a caravan, you must think about the provisions to be observed in terms of driving licenses.

  • A category B license allows driving a team consisting of a passenger vehicle and a caravan if it does not exceed a total weight of 3,500 kg.
  • “Motor vehicles the total weight of which does not exceed 3,500 kg and the number of seats of which does not exceed nine; a vehicle of this category may tow a trailer whose weight in running order does not exceed 750 kg provided that the weight of the assembly does not exceed 3500 kg and the total weight of the trailer does not exceed the unladen weight of the towing vehicle. “
  • A category BE license also allows you to drive a combination of vehicles consisting of a category B towing vehicle and a trailer with a total authorized weight of between 750 and 3,500 kg.
  • On the other hand, it is necessary to hold a category C license to drive vehicles weighing from 3500 to 7500 kg.
  • Motor cars – except those of category D – the total weight of which exceeds 3500 kg without exceeding 7500 kg; a vehicle of this subcategory can tow a trailer the total weight of which does not exceed 750 kg.

The final decision – caravan or motorhome?

Obviously, there is no absolute answer to this question. There is no “better” or “worse” solution, as both have specific advantages. Personal preferences, travel habits, available budget and comfort requirements are decisive.

And if you still don’t know what type of mobile accommodation to choose, your best bet is to rent a caravan or motorhome first. This way you will know which type of vehicle suits you best!

Please feel free to share your questions or thoughts on the subject.

FAQ on Is a motorhome classed as a caravan?

What is a camper?

A campervan is a self-propelled vehicle that serves both for sleeping and for travelling. The fundamental difference with lifelong campers is that they have been conditioned from the original vehicle, customizing the interior according to the purpose for which it is to be used.

What is a motorhome?

The concept of a motorhome applies to vehicles built with a special purpose for the transport and accommodation of people. This means that everything or that serves for autonomous transport – serves as a properly propelled vehicle – and accommodation is a motorhome.

Which is better: a campervan or a motorhome?

Although there are exceptions, most motorhomes are better equipped than a camper van. In addition, they also have more storage space (the trunks of motorhomes are usually huge), and almost all motorhomes have a bathroom and shower, something that many campervans do not own.

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