Size matters

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Our first motorhome, a 27' (8.23m) American a class RV, was purchased with our grand tour in mind. We thought it was fantastic, the common consensus at the time agreed it was ideal for visiting Europe. We joined the American motorhome clubs and attended their very enjoyable organised rallies. Although it answered our every living space desire, spontaneity was seriously reduced. It was difficult to park in towns or drive down country lanes. Not all UK campsites, especially smaller farm style sites, have suitable pitches, entrances or approaches. We hated having to phone round campsites, only to discover their nervousness over accessibility. This lack of mobility proved too much of a compromise.

We down sized to a 6.5m (21'4'') European motorhome, proving comfortable for two. The compromise on the living space was worth it for the manoeuvrability and running costs, but it was on the cusp of being too big. Once a slight navigation error led to tight squeezes past low balconies in narrow back streets, a refrigerator left on the pavement had to be moved so we could pass. Visiting one campsite out of season meant navigating through a maze of narrow residential streets before discovering the gate was locked and the campsite closed. Our length prevented us from performing a turn in the road so 15 minutes of intricate reversing was required. On campsites, especially Mediterranean tree lined ones, we often found we could just get round, but half a metre off the back would have really helped. As for living accommodation we had too much. A smaller motorhome, with a different layout would have provided just as much comfort but much less stress on the road.

A down size further and we had a Mazda Bongo. This is a great vehicle for getting out in the wild, being lightweight and 4x4 provides for some amazing opportunities. We found pubs and farmers were much more willing to allow us to stop for the night, and we were privileged to stay in some fantastic locations. The down side is the living space is very difficult, the seat bed was uncomfortable without modification and you do have to be very organised. We enjoyed a two week tour without staying on any campsites and cooked all our own meals but compared to our other motorhomes this was hard work. However this was the best day-to-day vehicle we've had and ideal for occasional use.

We now own a 5.25m (17"3') British motorhome with a perfectly adequate layout for long-term use. We drive it everywhere there is tarmac or a reasonable hard surface.