“What’s inside a campervan?”, “what are they like to drive?” and “How can you spend so much time travelling in a campervan?”. These are the most common questions I’m asked by people when they see us heading off on another motorhome road trip.
My favourite statement often said to me is, “Oh, I’ve always wanted to travel in a campervan; they look like such fun.”
They are indeed a fantastic way to travel, but I usually always ask them in return, “Have you ever camped?” or “Do you like spending a lot of time in confined spaces?” or “What’s the relationship like with the person/s you are planning on travelling with?”
For the better part, most times the answers to the above will assist me in how I answer the question truthfully. It allows me to make sure wherever possible that people think properly about this method of travel before getting too romantic about the idea of being free on the road.
My husband and I always travel together in motorhomes and have been doing so for more than 25 years. We’ve also taken my parents along for the ride – twice! We own our own motorhome in Australia too, so we are suitably qualified to talk on a range of campervan and motorhome topics.
There are a lot of factors that can make (or break) a great trip.
Knowing what’s inside a campervan and how they are laid out is one of the crucial first steps in deciding whether you’ll survive for a couple of weeks or even months.
This guide takes you through what they generally look like on the inside, allowing you to see how the size, space and configuration of a campervan/motorhome might work for you and those you are planning on travelling with.
Instead of hiring a motorhome without any idea of what they look like, use this guide as a starting point to understand how they look and work. This is really beneficial as it ensures that you hire a vehicle that will give you the best possible chance of having a fantastic holiday.
We use and recommend Anywhere Campers for motorhome hire (and one-way hire) in Europe. Get a quote online here.
Are they motorhomes, campervans or RVs?
Let’s discuss the language first. The name really depends on a range of factors. It can change depending on the continent, country or region you hail from or visit. It can also waiver depending on your age or gender. Confusingly, it can differ depending on the actual size of the vehicle.
In the US they are generally known as RVs, or even sometimes by the brand name like Winnebago (a bit like how we use the term Google for an internet search). Australians and New Zealanders call them motorhomes or campervans. Campers or camping cars are the regular terms used in Europe. Then there are caravans and camper trailers, which are different vehicles altogether.
We’ve talked to people who will call them campervans when they are small and motorhomes when they are large. RVs can be seen as being super luxurious and expensive, or articulated trailers that are hitched onto another vehicle.
Wherever you’re from, whatever you call them, they are an amazing way to travel, as long as you are clear upfront on what to expect and know your limitations or pressure points.
Campervans and motorhomes come in all shapes and sizes. They can be small, Kombi-style vehicles with just enough space to squeeze in two people. Sometimes they have pop-top roofs to get a bit more head height. I’ve known people who have squeezed in more!
The number of berths (spaces for people) increases as they get larger. Generally, campervans and motorhomes for hire range from two-berth to six-berth. Those that are much larger, the big RVs and the buses, are usually privately owned (not hired) by families undertaking long journeys.
As a general rule when hiring motorhomes, we always upsize. So, if it’s just us, we would hire a four-berth. We will hire a six-berth if four of us travel in one motorhome. Ultimately, it depends on how much space you require (or prefer) and your budget.
There are pros and cons to having smaller and larger campervans, which won’t be discussed in this guide.
So let’s take a look at the inside of some different campervans and motorhomes we have hired to give you an indication of how size, features and functionality change accordingly to each vehicle.
Motorhomes book out well in advance in Europe, especially in summer. Get your online quote from Anywhere Campers and lock in a great deal.
Different types of motorhomes
Adria Matrix 4/5 berth
*Rented through Anywhere Campers. The Adria Matrix is one of the most comfortable motorhomes to hire in Europe for sure.
- length 7.4m
- width 2.35m
- height 2.8m
- maximum weight 3.5t
- 9-speed automatic transmission
Pro tip: If you’ve never done this type of travel before, starting a little smaller might be a good idea until you get the hang of it. The only sacrifice will be space.
The front cabin is not separated from the main part of the motorhome, meaning access to and from is easy. Both front seats swivel back into the living area, providing additional seating around the dining table and for general lounging.
The armrests on the seats go up and down so they can be changed according to passenger preference. There is air conditioning, cup holders in the doors and console, 12-volt and USB charging outlets, good space in gloveboxes, and open apertures for storing items required when driving.
Motorhomes have come a long way in terms of storage areas, which is visible in this vehicle. There is no bedding area above the cabin here, so it has full head height, a fantastic sunroof and shelving that wraps around the cabin’s edge for smaller items.
Built-in concertina window covers are part of the vehicle, providing easy-to-use privacy screens when required. A GPS unit is also provided as part of the hire and sits on the dash when used.
The living area is immediately behind the front cabin and consists of a dining table, L-shaped seats, and a separate seat on the other side.
As mentioned above, the front driving seats also swivel around making the living area more usable.
There is good overhead storage in the living area as well.
The two seats behind the dining table are legal driving seats with seatbelts provided for extra passengers. The dining table also swivels so the configuration of the dining area can be changed slightly.
As you would expect, kitchens in motorhomes aren’t enormous. While functional, this kitchen has very limited bench space, making it a little hard for people like us who cook a lot inside. But, the space taken away from the kitchen is so that there can be a separate toilet and shower, so I’m happy to survive with less bench space for a while.
There’s a gas cooktop with three hobs, a sink and overhead cupboards.
Basic kitchen utensils are provided. If we were travelling for a long time in this motorhome, we would buy some additional utensils (e.g. potato masher, grater) and wine glasses.
General inclusions are: all bowls, plates and cups, tongs, ladle, large spoon, egg flip, pasta spoon, wooden spoon, curring board, can opener and corkscrew.
The fridge and freezer are an excellent size and having a separate freezer is helpful.
Above the freezer is the motorhome’s control panel, where you can check the wastewater and freshwater levels, the temperature outside and inside, electricity connections and the state of the house battery.
This motorhome has two sleeping areas; a double bed suspended in the ceiling and beds down the back.
Suspended bed – these beds make practical sense as they are out of the way during the day, leaving more space in the general living area. At night when you need to sleep, they are easy to bring down from the ceiling with the press of a button.
Note, however, that once they are lowered from the ceiling, it takes up all of your living area and also cuts off the living area from the cabin. It also requires a ladder to get up; if two people are sleeping up there, someone will have to climb over the other if they need to go to the bathroom at night.
The beds up the back make sleeping easy and moving around if needed during the night without disturbing others. In this vehicle, the beds are set up higher than normal, providing a huge amount of garage storage and inside storage.
The two beds can be joined together using additional cushions to create one large bed. For us, it didn’t feel comfortable, especially with one tall person, and it also meant someone had to crawl over the other. Still, if this is something that suits you, it’s possible to do.
The hiring company provided the orange linen.
A soft-closing concertina door can also be used to separate the bedroom from the rest of the motorhome.
The toilet is from a well-known motorhome products brand, Thetford, and operates like any other cassette portable toilet. The only downside of this particular Thetford toilet is that it had a really small waste cassette, which meant it needed to be emptied every few days. There is an excellent bathroom cupboard with a mirror and a storage cupboard underneath the vanity basin as well.
Everything stays in place as long as you keep the cupboard locked when driving. There’s good lighting and good ventilation via a window that can be opened.
Something everyone will love is that the shower in this vehicle is in a room all of its own. This means more space and an area that, when wet, doesn’t impact anything you need to do during the day. This is a feature we love most. Towels can be hung up in here after they are used, and when parked up, the vent can be opened to assist with quicker drying.
It’s also a place where you can hang any small items of clothing you may have washed. However, the toiletry holder is quite fragile, so we just kept our things stored in the vanity cupboard in the other bathroom.
A solid door can be closed to the bathroom containing the toilet or to block off the entire bathroom and rear bedroom area.
The storage inside the campervan has been well thought-out, occupying spaces that would be otherwise unused. Cleverly, much of it is also out of the way.
There are several areas just inside the door that are suitable for a few magazines but not much more.
In the rear bedroom, several cupboards are behind the beds and a hanging rack is underneath one of the beds (in the cupboard). As space is always at a premium in motorhomes, even ones with more than average storage, the lighter you can travel, the better.
Pro tip: We travel with packing cubes wherever we go, but they become especially useful when travelling in motorhomes. Not only are they space savers, but they make finding our clothes easy every day. i.e. there is one cube for underwear, one for socks/tights etc., one for t-shirts, one for pants and so on. It also helps with keeping clothes in a non-dishevelled state. You can buy similar ones we what we use here.
It’s important to know in advance what the availability of technical outlets is like as this can determine what equipment you take, how much, or what adaptors and other connections you might require.
In the Adria Matrix, the following is available.
- A 12-volt outlet in the front cabin, rear bedroom and garage. The cigarette lighter outlet in the front cabin allows a USB car charger to be inserted to charge mobile phones and ipads on the go. We recommend dual car chargers like this one. These days we prefer several USB2.0 outlets and USB-C (PD30w) outlets.
- USB 2.0 outlet in the front cabin
- 2 USB 2.0 outlets over the dining table
- 1 USB 2.0 outlet in each reading light in the rear bedroom
- A 240-volt outlet in the rear bedroom, cupboard above the fridge and above the dining table. These can only be used if the motorhome is plugged into ‘shore’ power, e.g. at official campgrounds.
While this is technically ‘outside’ a motorhome, it all forms part of the overall hire offer, and it’s good to know about what’s included before you make a hiring decision.
The Adria Matrix 4/5 berth has an excellent garage and storage facility at the back. It actually sits underneath the beds and is the reason why the beds are built up inside.
The bikes, tables and chairs are stored in the garage. While there is a bike rack on the rear of the vehicle, keeping the bikes inside is more secure. There’s also a range of tools and equipment for motorhome maintenance, minor repairs, and spare tyre. We were also able to store our luggage here as well.
Anywhere Campers are our preferred motorhome hire company in Europe. They are also specialists in one-way motorhome hire. Click here for an online quote.
Renault Sky 20 four-berth
*Rented through France Motorhome Hire (Apollo)
- length 6.61m
- width 2.24m
- height 2.94m
- internal headroom 1.995m
- maximum weight 3.5t
It is a large vehicle to drive and park, so be mindful of this if you are new to driving these vehicles. Also, motorhomes with the ‘bubble’ over the front cabin can be deceiving and easy to forget when driving. Crashing into something overhead is a common incident in motorhomes.
The cabin is spacious and very easy to move freely between front and back. There is plenty of legroom here and lots of storage as well. The dashboard is wide, and the front of the dash and the insides of the doors have compartments for drink bottles, snacks, books and gadgets.
There are multiple USB ports for charging. This is a great feature considering the number of smartphones, tablets and cameras we travel with. Being in a campervan means we don’t always have access to electricity either, so charging as we drive becomes really important.
- Fully air-conditioned and diesel heating is also available. In my opinion, diesel heating is far more economical and easier to refill diesel than it is to find compatible gas bottles if they are the swap-out versions.
- The armrests are moveable. This might sound uninteresting, but you would be surprised how annoying it is when they don’t, especially when you move from front to back.
- Storage space above the visors is within easy reach when you are sitting down
- Access point for removable GPS
- Easy to clean floor
- Safety implements for breakdowns
- Full curtain that sections off the front cabin for privacy.
This area is extremely spacious with room to seat four people around the dining table. Being in a larger campervan means we always have the table set up and ready for use. If you have a few extra people, the table and seats can be rearranged to form a smaller bed.
The large window right beside the table means that when the weather is great, you can open it up to let the fresh air in. All windows also come with screens to keep any unwanted critters outside.
Blinds and curtains also provide full privacy when required.
Shelving and cupboards can be found above this part of the cabin, giving you ample room to store pantry items.
The seats also lift up, providing further storage. We usually store our water under here. There’s also a small sunken storage area (almost like secret storage) under the table where I keep my shoes. It’s another example of how the manufacturers of these vehicles prioritise the use of the available space.
Being able to cook and prepare food in the campervan is one of the best parts of travelling in this way. If you are trying to save money, this is a great way to do it. For us, it allows us to use all the local produce we buy along the way.
A two-burner cooktop is more than ample, and the fridge/freezer on board is extremely spacious. Ours is always jammed full of things to eat and of course lots of local wines and beer. The fridge operates on electricity, battery (so it charges when driving), or off the gas bottles.
Try this easy motorhome meals recipe
All the necessary kitchen staples are included in the campervan as well. Eg cutlery, crockery, wine glasses, pots and pans etc. You might find a coffee plunger and corkscrew if you’re lucky. If not, we always take these essentials when hiring a motorhome just in case.
This configuration is good, with one double bed right down the back. We’ve had beds above the cabin and double bunks down the back over the years. The layouts of the beds become particularly important if you share with others.
You can bring your own bedding – we took our own sleeping gear a long time ago – but it’s far easier to take what is included in your package. The bedding provided is usually quite good.
Underneath the bed is cupboard access to the storage area under the vehicle. Here you can store luggage and any other larger items.
The large windows make such a difference to the feeling inside the campervan.
This particular campervan also had a suspended bed in the ceiling. Many of them have electronic beds these days to give more space inside the cabin. This bed is kept up in the ceiling to allow additional space over the cabin to be used for storage. At night, when the bed is required, a press of a button is all that is needed to bring the bed down to a point where it can be easily accessed.
It stays stored in the ceiling if you don’t need it.
Now, this isn’t a place where you will want to spend too much time. In vehicles such as these, bathrooms have improved out of sight over the years, but they are still small.
Having one on board can make all the difference in the world, especially at night or in far-flung places.
Containing a sink, toilet and separate shower (a real luxury) as well as good storage, this is one of the better bathrooms you’ll find in a motorhome. Until you’ve had a bathroom where you have to sit on the toilet to shower, leaving everything in the room wet, you won’t realise how luxurious this is.
The toilet moves sideways to accommodate people of different sizes.
This campervan had a huge amount of storage. It’s still a campervan, so space is always at a premium and isn’t limitless. Because we travel for long periods of time, and also because we aren’t light packers, we always have huge suitcases.
Some motorhome hire companies with depots allow you to store your luggage with them for the duration of your hire. One-way motorhome hire companies like Anywhere Campers however do not have depots, so the less you take with you, the better.
While the general inclusions are reasonably typical, any of this can all change, even if only slightly, depending on the make and model of the campervan, the hiring company and of course the size. The smaller you go, the fewer features and space. Configuration can also vary widely, especially with the beds.
When hiring, be sure to look at the specifications that should be provided with each type of vehicle. Don’t be shy in asking the hiring company any questions you might have or to request a specific configuration.
Other styles of motorhome
If you are interested in looking inside smaller campervans, check out the following guides and reviews we have also done. Both of these vehicles are much smaller, so they are easier to drive and park, but they have less conveniences and functionality inside.
More motorhome tips for beginners
Note: Beer and Croissants tries to provide you with accurate information at time of writing but makes no representations or provides any warranty or coverage of liability for bookings made with any hiring company