Campervan Rental

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Semi-integrated vs. Camping bus vs. Compact Van 

Semi-integrated

Semi-integrated campervans are among the most luxurious campervan rentals available. They are the most popular type of campervan rental currently available. The roof over the driver's cab slants down, and the transition from the driver's cab to the living area isn't precisely straight. As a result, the term semi/integrated was coined. Partially integrated campervans are, on average, more aerodynamic than clunky alcove motorhomes. Because the campervan is shorter, it has a lower centre of gravity, making it more like driving a car. A panoramic window, where the roof begins to tilt downwards, is common on modern semi-integrated models, bringing extra light into the Motorhome. The driver's seats can usually be rotated to be part of the seating group. Four people can sit comfortably at the dining table.

The sleeping arrangements are however limited compared to other models like the alcove campervan, beds are usually located in the rear or as a loft bed above the living area. In some campervan rentals, a seating group may also be converted into a sleeping area. Thus, the space available in this campervan rental is best for couples and small families. 

Pros and Cons of semi-integrated motorhomes:

Suitable for 2-4 people comfortably but some can fit up to 5

Comfort level: medium to high

Pros

  • Ideal for couples and small families
  • Pleasant driving experience
  • Lower fuel consumption

Cons

  • Poorly insulated cab
  • Only one real bed, optional lift bed

Camping bus

The first nomad campervan is the camping bus. The Bulli, a VW bus, is the most famous representation of it. This camper van has been used by generations of nomads for vacations and extended excursions. This campervan rental is suitable for deep garages due to its low height of fewer than two meters, and its handling is usually comparable to that of a regular automobile. Because of their small size, city travels are just as easy as weekend camping vacations with these camping buses. However, compactness has its drawbacks: the available space is restricted, and having a functional bathroom is not always possible. The tiny camper's storage space is likewise restricted, making it perfect for travelling couples but less so for families.

Pros and cons of camping buses:

Suitable for 2-4 people

Comfort level: low

Pros

  • Compact and manoeuvrable
  • Suitable for holiday and everyday use
  • Suitable for travelling couples

Cons

  • Limited headroom
  • Limited (stowage) space
  • Rather for summer use than winter use

Compact van

The compact van is becoming increasingly popular. Although the compact van is wider and taller than the camping bus, it is still more compact than most motorhomes. Above all, they are slimmer and frequently shorter, with an average length of six meters. The presence of a full wet space with a sink, toilet, and shower is the second difference. The level of comfort is determined by the number of passengers. Two sleeping places are the most frequent, however, variants with four or more sleeping places are also available. There is also a wide range of craftsmanship available in this category of motorhomes, from low-cost finishers to high-end manufacturers. Longitudinal beds are popular because you can get in there more comfortably, but they also require more length.

Pros and Cons of extended camping buses:

Suitable for 2-4 persons

Comfort level: medium

Pros

  • More storage space than in a compact camping bus
  • WC available
  • Standing height throughout

Cons

  • Limited winter camping
  • Too small for families

Built-in toilet vs Portable Chemical Toilet

Built-in toilet

The built-in toilet in a camper van is made up of two parts: a permanently fixed toilet and a waste holding tank that is located under the toilet and can be removed via an access door on the outside of the motorhome. 

To Prepare For Use 

  1. Remove the waste holding tank by pulling the safety catch upwards. 
  2. Pull the waste holding tank outwards towards the stop. Tip it slightly and take out the tank completely. 
  3. Place the tank upright and turn the emptying spout upwards. 
  4. Remove the cap (which has a measuring cup inside) and pour into the tank the required quantity of toilet fluid. Add approximately 2 litres of water (enough to cover the bottom of the tank). Screw the measuring cap back onto the emptying spout and turn the spout back to its original position. 
  5. Slide the holding tank back into its original position via the access door. 
  6. Make sure that the waste holding tank is secured with the safety catch. Shut the access door and lock it. The toilet is now ready for use. 

To Use 

• Rotate the toilet bowl to the desired position. 

• The toilet may be used with the blade valve open or closed. To open the valve pull the valve handle under the bowl towards you. If the toilet is being used with the blade valve closed run some water into the bowl by pressing the ‘FLUSH’ button once. 

• After use, open the blade valve (if it was closed) and press the ‘FLUSH’ button. Close the blade valve after flushing.

Portable Chemical toilet

Chemical camping toilets consist of two parts separated by a gate valve: (1) flush water tank in the upper part of the toilet and (2) waste tank in the lower part of the toilet. With a manual or electric flushing system, no sewage, water or drain connection is required. 

Construction of a chemical camping toilet

This is the construction of a camping toilet - not witchcraft, but a look at it will make it clear how a camping toilet works, and this will help you with the next steps:

Chemical toilet schematic

In the left part of the picture, you can see the upper part of the chemical camping toilet with a flush water tank. On the right picture, you can see the lower part of the toilet, in which the holding tank is located. These two parts can be easily put together or taken apart by the lock on the back of the toilet, which becomes especially important for emptying!

How to use a chemical camping toilet?

Prepare the fresh water tank

The fresh water tank, as the name implies, is filled with water. Unscrew the lid from the flush water tank and fill the tank with 3 L of water (or until it is full). If you prefer a less chemical smell, you can add an aroma liquid or rinse water cleaner. Special products are suitable for this, such as Aqua Rinse, but dishwashing liquid or liquid soap are also good options. You can add 50 ml to 100 ml of this rinse water cleaner.

Prepare the holding tank

Fill the holding tank with a suitable sanitary liquid, which is strongly advised to avoid unwanted odours. You could, for example, use Aqua Kem Green. Pour the chemical toilet cleaner into the holding tank to begin. To do so, elevate the toilet seat, pull the sliding lever (to open the lower tank access), and pour the liquid directly into the toilet. You can also pour the sanitary liquid directly into the bottom tank through the drain spout by laying the tank on its side, turning the drain spout upwards, unscrewing the lid, and pouring the liquid in. The first alternative, however, is the one we prefer because it is a little more practical.

As a rule, you should fill 110 ml of the sanitary liquid, but the amount may vary depending on the liquid. We advise you to check the amount indicated on the package label.

Tip: Always try to choose biodegradable and more environmentally friendly dissolving liquids.

Here are the steps to use a chemical toilet:

  1. Open the toilet lid
  2. Toilet flush
  3. Flush (We recommend doing 3 to 4 small flushes).
  4. Pull the sliding handle

Important: The toilet paper used in chemical toilets must be water-soluble to avoid clogging.

Emptying

Emptying the tank is straightforward and just takes a few minutes! There's no perfect science to determining when to empty the tank if your chemical toilet doesn't include a waste tank level indicator. Simply open the slider and look inside; when the tank appears to be full, it's time to empty it! The camping toilet should be emptied at least every three days, depending on its capacity, ambient temperature, and frequency of usage.

Emptying a chemical toilet schematic

How to empty the waste tank:

  1. Disconnect the waste-holding tank from the flush-water tank using the rear latch and place the waste-holding tank on its side
  2. Turn the emptying nozzle (pipe) 180º so that it points upwards and open the lid of the emptying nozzle.
  3. Hold the tank by the rear handle, press the vent button and pour out the contents.
  4. Fill the tank with water and close the lid.
  5. Now shake the tank well to remove any remaining residue
  6. Finally, pour out the contents again, close the lid and turn back the emptying nozzle, and you're done!

Please note: The emptying of the camping toilet is only allowed at designated places, such as campsites, caravan parks, gas stations or public toilets, never on the street or in a green area.

Emptying Toilet - Black water tank

Please note that you may only dispose of the contents of the waste tank in approved dumping stations or through a normal household sewerage system. This can often be done at campervan parks with the permission of the park owner. Different chemical packs allow for different removal options. Make sure you read carefully the contents of the material as to where you can dispose of waste.

Built-in gas stove vs. Portable Gas Cooker

Built-in gas stove

A built-in gas stove in a campervan rental works similarly to the one you might find in a home. These are more convenient for larger groups and longer trips. To use:

  1. Make sure you have gas and that the gas valve on the gas bottle is open before you begin cooking.
  2. Before lighting the burners, lift up both hinged glass lids that cover the cook top and bowl.
  3. To light the burner, gently press in and adjust the control knob to the high flame position, then press the igniter button while maintaining the pressure.
  4. Maintain pressure on the knob for a few seconds after the burner lights to disengage the flame failure device.
  5. Adjust the size of the flame as required. 
  6. To switch the burner off by rotating the knob until the dot on the knob is in line with the indicator on the hob.
  7. Whilst cooking, always leave a window open for ventilation. Be aware that the glass lid gets hot whilst cooking.
  8. Keep the gas cooker lid open after cooking until the burners are cool. 
  9. Only use pots and pans whose diameter is appropriate for the gas cooker burners.  When the flame goes out, the thermocouple automatically cuts the gas supply. 

The don'ts of using a gas stove:

  • Don't use the glass gas cooker lid as a hob.
  • Don't close the gas cooker lid while the gas cooker is in operation. 
  • Don't apply pressure on the gas cooker lid when it is closed. 
  • Don't place hot cooking pans on the gas cooker lid.  

Portable gas cooker

A portable gas cooker is perfect for smaller campervan rentals as they take up very little space and can easily be stored away. To use:

1. Place your gas stove on a flat surface.

2. Remove the pan support from the top of the stove. Turn it over so that the support is then facing upwards ready to hold your pan.

3. Open the cartridge cover on the stove. Remove the lid from your gas canister, and gently slot the gas cartridge into the stove.

4. Hold in place straight and press the cartridge stop lever down so that the gas canister slots into place. Check that the gas canister has been slotted in place correctly before use.

5. Turn the control knob fully to the left to the ‘ignition’ position until the stove clicks and lights. If it doesn’t work, repeat until it does light.

6. Adjust the control knob to the desired height of the flame.

7. Your stove is now ready to use. Do not use pans or kettles that are too large for the stove as this will cause the heat to be directed downwards, towards the gas cartridge. If using more than one stove do not position them too close to each other as this can cause the stoves to overheat.

8. Once you are finished, turn the knob to the ‘off’ position and lift the cartridge lever up to the unlock position.

9. Check that the flame is extinguished, and leave to cool down completely before disconnecting the gas cartridge. Never leave the gas cartridge inside the cooker when not in use. Replace the red protective cap on the gas cartridge when finished.

Cooling box vs. Built-in fridge 

Cooling box

Electric coolboxes are great for small campervans and can stay cool for as long as they are plugged in. If you are not going to have access to a power source on your trip, you may need to consider a different option. Coolboxes will take considerably longer than your regular domestic refrigerator to cool down. 

The first is the basic absorption cool box, which is the simplest and cheapest version available. They all need an air gap around the cooling fan and vent region as well. Some versions employ a cooling fan, while others use a water cooling system. They are not supposed to freeze, but if left on in freezing conditions, they can, resulting in goods freezing within accidentally. Compressor coolers, on the other hand, need an electric compressor to keep the cooler operating, making them noisier than other versions.

Most coolboxes can run from either 12v sockets or 240v mains. However, there are simpler versions of a cooler box that don’t require any electricity. These are simple insulated coolers that are ideal for days out and parties/BBQs.

Built-in fridge

Having a built-in fridge in your campervan rental is not only incredibly convenient but also a luxury. Some may even come with a freezer. These fridges allow you to store a good amount of food at once but will also keep things fresh longer. 

The refrigerator can operate on three power modes:

  • Mains voltage (230V AC / External mains cable)
  • Direct-current voltage (12V DC / Backup battery)
  • Gas (liquid gas propane/butane) Atlas only 

Depending on the situation, you can turn the energy selector switch to select the desired power source. Rotate the knob to adjust the cooling temperature. There is no way to regulate the temperature in 12V mode.

Please note: The refrigerator should only be used in 12V (Backup battery) while the vehicle’s engine is running or driving, otherwise, the backup battery would be discharged within a few hours!

At Indie Campers we have two models with built-in fridges, the Atlas and the Nomad. 

In our Atlas it can operate in Gas mode or with electricity: 

To operate the refrigerator when not driving or when you are not connected to an external mains power source, use it in Gas mode:

1. Open the gas bottle valve and appliance shut-off valve on the valve block.

2. Turn the rotary selector switch to Gas mode (flame icon)

3. Turn the temperature selector clockwise and push. Keep the controller button depressed.

4. Then, press the button of the battery igniter down and keep it depressed. The ignition process is activated automatically.

5. Once the flame ignites, the pointer of the galvanometer begins moving into the green range. The refrigerator is operational. Keep knob depressed for approx. 15 seconds

and finally, release it.

As a basic rule, gas operation is prohibited in petrol stations and when driving the campervan.

Using Electricity:

To operate the refrigerator when driving the campervan, turn the rotary selector switch to

12V mode (battery icon). Make sure that the motor is running when using this mode.

To operate the refrigerator when parked in a camping site and with mains cable connected, turn the rotary selector switch to 230V mode (electrical plug icon).

In our Nomad

Rotate the knob selector inside the cooler and select the adequate option, depending on the case:

  • Turn OFF while parked, and with no 230V cable connection - the previously selected temperature will be maintained;
  • Turn ON, selecting Min, while driving - light refrigeration capacity;
  • Select any position (Min to Max) according to the desired temperature while parked and connected to the campsite via charging cable.

French bed layout vs. Top bed vs. Transverse fixed bed

When you rent a campervan, one of the most important things to consider is where will everyone sleep. At Indie Campers there are a few options you can choose from. 

French bed layout

A fixed double bed is set lengthwise against a sidewall of the Motorhome in this layout. In the back, most French beds share space with the washroom. A good bed (like the domestic standard of 4ft 6in wide) leaves only around 2ft 6in for the washroom. Keep in mind that the sleeper close to the wall will have to climb over their companion to get in and out of bed, no matter how comfortable the bed is.

Another, less common, variation sees the washroom arranged behind the bed and across the rear, so then there’s more space for both the bed and the reasonably palatial ablutions. The overall length of the campervan will be greater, though – probably 7.5m or more.

Top Bed

Present in our Atlas model, a top bed allows for an extra full-size bed to be hidden away when not in use. 

To prepare the top bed:

  1. Remove the seating area headrest 
  2. Close top lid 
  3. Release straps located in the corners of the bed
  4. Pull down the bed, it will automatically lock into place
  5. Use the provided ladder to climb onto the bed
  6. For added safety, you can attach the net that is stored under the top bed mattress

Please note that when the top bed is pulled down, the living is no longer usable 

Transverse fixed bed

The longest-established of all fixed bed campervan rental layouts, transverse fixed double beds live in the rear of all types of coachbuilts, but the bed also includes under bed storage. 

Bed length is a consideration: while lengthways beds can be awkwardly short, widthways berths in motorhomes are typically more than two metres long. If you're tall, a transverse double is a decent alternative, but keep in mind that the person who sleeps against the wall will have to crawl over their companion to get out at night. The beds in high-top van conversions are shorter, but they frequently exceed six feet in length. Van conversions, on the other hand, have rear doors that open wide to let your holiday gear to be loaded into their under-bed loading area.

A general guide for winter camping in your campervan rental

If you want to enjoy the freedom of camping in winter as well, here are some hints for you:  

  • After driving on roads that have been sprayed with salt, wash the underbody and all exterior surfaces with water.  
  • Find out as much as you can about weather and driving conditions before you set out and during your journey. 
  • Fast removal of the water vapour produced by cooking, wet clothing and breathing is particularly important for camping in winter. 
  • Secure the vehicle against rolling away and then release the parking brake to prevent it from freezing. 
  • Whenever possible, place all cushions in the vehicle upright to ensure they are aired and dried.  
  • Use only 100% propane in winter, as butane will not gasify below its freezing point. Make sure you have an adequate supply of gas bottles. Keep gas bottles in the gas locker only! 
  • While heating up the vehicle, open all cupboards, flaps and storage lockers to prevent condensation from forming.  
  • Avoid storing containers (bottles, cans etc.) containing water, juice or other liquids in the unheated vehicle as they may freeze.
  • All snow and ice should be carefully removed from the roof of the vehicle and the awning; it is particularly important to ensure the flue on the sidewall is kept free at all times.
  • Never run power cables on the ground - they may freeze to the soil or be damaged by snow clearing vehicles. 
  • Keep metal taps open in an unheated vehicle at low temperatures, even if the water system has been drained. Always remember to open the mixer lever in both the "cold water” and then in the "hot water” position and to leave it in one of these opened positions.

Finding a Campervan community 

Campervan rentals, especially the first time, can be overwhelming. Finding a community of like-minded individuals with previous experience can help you answer any questions you may have. Here are some of the most common ways to connect online:

  • Instagram: Instagram is a great place to connect with other vanlifers. Instagram is also a great way to keep up with your friends and their travels.
  • Vanlife Facebook groups. There are several very active Facebook groups out there that cater to the nomad community. You can find everything from general #vanlife groups, to groups about RV/vanlife solar tips, to groups for “full-time families”. These groups tend to have lively discussions, and they’re great places to ask questions, learn, and connect with others.
  • Vandwellers subreddit. Like the vanlife Facebook groups, r/vandwellers is a great place to find tips and tricks, and connect with others interested in this lifestyle. r/vanlife is a smaller subreddit that’s also helpful.
  • Forums. There are several active forums that cater to various segments of the nomad community. Some of the more popular ones are:
  • The Project Vanlife Forum
  • Cheap RV Living Forum
  • Expedition Portal Forum

Camping in a campsite, everything you should know about using a campervan rental

General tips to keep in mind:

  • Keep to roadways unless otherwise directed. 
  • Adhere to speed limits. Note that these are generally 10 mph. (Remember that the stopping distance on grass is considerably greater than on the road.) 
  • Ensure that all fresh water taps/ connections are turned off after use. 
  • Children under the age of six should be escorted around the park.
  • If the vehicle lacks a waste water tank, an appropriate receptacle should be installed beneath all waste water lines. Make sure these containers don't overflow. All waste water should be disposed of as directed.
  • Where directed, empty the tanks from chemical toilets.
  • Place all rubbish in specially labelled bins.
  • Don't create too much noise.
  • Unless muted, petrol generators should be operated with caution.
  • All dogs and other pets must be kept under strict supervision.
  • Adhere and take note of all fire precautions, noting the whereabouts of the fire points. 
  • Unless permission has been granted, barbecues should not be used. When permission has been given, consideration should be given to the annoyance that can be caused to other users of the site. Similarly, open fires are usually not allowed. 
  • Awnings and tents should only be used when permission has been obtained. 
  • Leave the pitch clean and tidy.
  • When leaving, check out with the reception, paying any required dues.

Campsite etiquette

When you arrive at a campsite, park as near as possible to the reception area and notify them of your arrival. Unless authorized by reception personnel, do not drive to a pitch and park.

To drive a vehicle on-site roadways, you must have a valid driver's licence. On your pitch, park as advised. You should allow about 6 meters of space around your car when possible.

Pitching at a site

When selecting a pitch, there are things to consider such as, do not pitch in a position in which your vehicle will obstruct others coming in or going out. Try to choose a dry area, reasonably level and preferably with a hard base. It is always good practice to chock the wheels of the campervan when parked on a slope or a slippery surface, even when the brakes are applied. In poor site conditions, try to keep engine revs as low as possible to try to avoid wheel spin and try to steer as straight as possible.

Leaving any Site:

Always tidy your pitch and make sure you do not leave bags of rubbish lying about. Check out at reception, pay your site fees, and thank them for an enjoyable stay.

Campervan rental handling

Please remember that your campervan is much larger than a standard car or van when driving around.

  • Allow longer times to speed up when overtaking.
  • Do not swing out suddenly.
  • Carry out all manoeuvres as smoothly as possible.
  • Use the nearside wing mirror to check the campervan has cleared the obstacle when overtaking.
  • Do not bump the curbs with the campervan wheels.
  • Reduce speed accordingly in strong winds, going downhill or in poor visibility.
  • Large high-speed vehicles cause air buffeting, extra care must be taken when passing or being passed by a high sided vehicle.

Driver’s licence requirements 

When you rent a campervan, if you have a Category B Licence obtained prior to 1 January 1997 you can drive any campervan without a trailer where the maximum weight (MAM) does not exceed 7,500 kg. 

If you have a Category B Licence obtained on or after 1 January 1997, you may drive a campervan with a MAM of 3,500 kg. You must pass the LGV C1 test to qualify to drive a vehicle with a MAM of up to 7,500 kg.

Safety guidance

We want you to have a great and safe adventure! Please never obstruct the permanent ventilation openings in your campervan rental. 

IN CASE OF FIRE 

1. Get everyone out 

2. Turn off the outside gas valve at the gas cylinder. 

3. Disconnect the mains electricity supply. 

4. Raise the alarm and call the fire brigade. 

5. Attack the fire if safe to do so. 

Do not leave children unattended with no means of leaving the campervan 

Driving abroad

Please make sure you are aware of the applicable laws and regulations of the countries to which you plan to go. Many European nations have different laws and regulations, and it is your job to make sure that your vehicle complies with them and that you drive safely.

Insurance

The insurance is included in all our campervan rentals. You may choose from 2 protection plans: the basic and the Premium. 

The Basic protection plan is included by default with your booking, and includes one driver only, 24/7 roadside assistance (only in the EU) and coverage for the damages caused to third parties. Additionally, a €2,000.00 deposit is required at the time of pick-up. 

You can also upgrade to the Premium plan, which is exclusively available for drivers above 25 years old, and it allows you to include additional drivers and provides you with more protection. A€500.00 deposit is required at the time of pick-up.

A quick guide to environmental campervan rental

  • Collect all operating fluids (e.g. lubricants, spent oil and detergents) in suitable containers and dispose of them properly!
  • Never dispose of waste water of any kind or domestic refuse in the gutter or the countryside.
  • Always empty the waste water tank and the toilet unit at disposal facilities on the campsite or at specially designated disposal facilities. Observe town and district regulations and ask about disposal facilities.
  • For the WC, use small doses of an environmentally friendly and biodegradable WC chemical.
  • Separate domestic refuse into glass, metal tins, plastic and wet refuse.
  • Never dispose of domestic refuse in waste bins in car parks. Ask about disposal facilities in towns and districts.
  • If residing for a longer period in a town or district, look for a specially designated parking place for motorhomes. Ask about parking facilities in towns or districts.
  • Turn off the vehicle engine when parked.
Reviewed by:
Hugo Oliveira

Hugo Oliveira

CEO & Founder

Hugo Oliveira founded Indie Campers eight years ago after graduating with a double masters from NOVA Schools of Business and Economics.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the campervan rental options and what’s included at Indie Campers?

What are the requirements to rent a campervan?

How do I book a campervan rental online with Indie Campers?

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