Renting a van is a dream within reach. The road trip in a van assures you of unique freedom of movement, proximity to nature, and the excitement of a great adventure!
Whether traveling as a couple, with your family, or with friends, it is essential to know some tips to make your project successful. Who better than a van rental company to advise you? We asked a van rental company for their advice on how to make your van vacation a success.
Booking your van: information and advice
Choosing the right van
Several seats: Not all vans are equal. The first difference to consider is the number of seats equipped with belts. There are vans for 2, 4, or 5 people.
Pop-up roof: Another element that impacts the van’s habitability is the pop-up roof. Very practical, it offers a double bed and allows you to stand up to cook.
Compact or large: For more comfort, let’s also mention the category of fitted vans. Large vans offer a ceiling height of nearly 2 meters and include a permanent double bed in the back. Of course, compact vans under 2 meters high have a significant advantage: they fit under the height bars that sometimes limit access to parking lots. The size of the vehicle also impacts the budget: when it is less than 2 meters high, it stays in category 1 of highway tolls (the same as cars) and consumes less fuel.
Equipment: Depending on the season and the use you wish to make of your van, you may appreciate the presence of heating on board or even a shower. Please note that not all vans are equipped with one.
The number of beds
If you are traveling with two people: a van without a pop-up roof is perfectly suitable, with a low bed 120 cm wide, greater discretion at the stage, and optimal insulation in winter.
The double bed on the pop-up roof will be appreciated for more than two people. It also offers some advantages, such as opening windows with mosquito nets, allowing one to enjoy the light of the setting sun. The van rental company recommends the Volkswagen California and the Ford Nugget in this category.
For trips with five people, having a three-seat rear bench is imperative. The van rental company offers the Trekker VAN-IT with its 130 cm bench and an optional hammock to install in the front. The Ford Nugget and Volkswagen California Beach are also available in a 5-seater version (but with a narrower bed for the first and a reduced layout for the second).
Storage: cupboards and chest
The rear kitchen of a Ford Nugget. Lots of cupboards but little trunk space.
Make sure you have enough cupboards and trunk space. If you’re traveling with two people, you shouldn’t have a problem. But in any case, choose vans that require less handling: in some vans, you have to move the cushions and furniture to access the trunks.
Four-person vans generally have a good storage level, but sometimes it’s distributed differently. The Volkswagen California, for example, has a large trunk. On the other hand, the Ford Nugget has a lot of closet space, so suitcases are not recommended.
Tip: Choose soft bags over hard and bulky suitcases for your road trip in a van.
Book in advance
These last few seasons, van rental companies have received a lot of requests, especially for long weekends, spring break, and the two summer months. So remember to get in early. Please don’t wait until the weather is nice to think about it!
Insurance and mileage options: to be taken seriously!
From one rental company to another, the guarantees provided in the insurance contract are more or less the same. What changes is the rate? All the options must be taken into account to determine the total budget of your rental. Discover below the rates proposed by the van rental company (as of January 1, 2023).
Security deposit: compare the rates
The security deposit is what we commonly call the deposit. It is generally included between 2000 and 2400 €, but it can be reduced for a fee. To note: the guarantee consists of a print of the card. Be sure to have a sufficient bank ceiling because the top is active even if no payment is made.
Mileage allowance: a variable amount
When booking, check if the rental is subject to a mileage limit. The additional kilometer is usually charged at 0,35 € / km. When multiplied by the number of kilometers, this amount can be pretty high. The van specialist offers a fixed amount sufficient to limit the risk of exceeding the limit: 300 km per day or 1200 km for the 3-day packages.
Glass breakage protection: Important
The replacement of the windshield is expensive! This is why it is strongly advised to subscribe to glass breakage protection. Sometimes it is included in the deposit reduction package at 9 € per day.
Assistance: often included, but only sometimes!
When you rent a van, assistance is usually included. But beware, some rare rental companies need help abroad in their primary contract. Here again, you can save by comparing offers without neglecting your safety.
Preparing to choose the proper night stops
Stage-setting, out of the campsites: In a van, we can sleep almost everywhere, but not in any conditions. The legislation forbids us to ride on the beach or in the forest. On the other hand, you can park in a parking lot near the sea or the mountains, as long as it is not explicitly forbidden. You can then sleep on board, as long as you don’t set up as if you were camping (with the laundry drying and the garden furniture). You would then meet the definition of camping, which is forbidden on public roads.
Step on dedicated sites: There is a large number of sites that specifically welcome vans and motor homes. Of course, there are campsites, but there are also stops at farmers’ or private dwellings, reception areas, and other natural municipal areas.
There are mobile apps, websites, and other guides listing parking lots and other official stops, with reviews and practical information.
Toilets and shower: how to find the valuable information
Not all vans are equipped with toilets and showers. You can always rent a portable chemical toilet and a solar storm with a canvas cabin, but addresses of “hard” bathrooms are always precious.
For toilets, campsites, cafes, restaurants, and other places welcoming the public are obvious. There is also a mobile application referencing public restrooms.
For the shower: you can find them in some paying camping areas, and of course at the campsite. You can also take advantage of an accurate shower at the swimming pool or on some beaches.
Prepare for your trip sparingly
It is a classic pitfall when you start with a van: wanting to plan all the steps and visits and programming the itinerary on your GPS. Remember that improvisation is the greatest pleasure of the road trip in the van. Learn to take your time, follow the sun, and change your program at the last minute.
Respect the places
This advice is common sense, but only some think about it. Always leave the place clean after your visit, be careful not to stay too long in one place, and be relatively discreet if you are close to houses. Bad behavior can jeopardize our freedom.