Your Guide to Buying the Perfect Camper Van for Your Next Adventure in India

by Kartik Ranjit | Guides to Camper Vans

May 21, 2024

Your Guide to Buying the Perfect Camper Van for Your Next Adventure in India

After years into the pandemic, all of us are craving now more than ever to escape the four walls of our homes and surround ourselves with nature. However, with the threat of COVID-19 still looming in the air, public transportation does still come with its fair share of risks.  

Camper Vans are popular in countries like the US, UK, and Australia, but recently this trend has also begun to emerge in our own country. The trend had emerged around the time that restrictions were reduced, however, the risk of public transport would always be on our minds. So, what exactly about these camper vans has recently brought about their rise in our country?  

Well, let’s dive right in and discuss the important details that you’ll need to know before setting off on a camper van holiday: 

What exactly is a Camper Van?

Benefits of a holiday in a Camper Van

Types of Camping Vans in India

Where can I find a Camper Van?

What to look out for while choosing a Camper Van?

Can you turn your car into a Camper Van?

Where can I find a Campsite near me?

Why travelling in a Camper Van isn’t for everybody?   

 

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What exactly is a Camper Van? 

To put it in simple terms, camper vans are recreational vehicles that provide you with not only a comfy ride but also provide cozy living spaces. Combining transport with accommodation, camper vans are perfect for road trips with friends and family. You can coast along the highways as you take in the picturesque beauty that surrounds you.    

Although camper vans don’t have much of a history in India, there’s been a recent surge in the number of people spending their holidays in one. With higher risks to be considered and more, while using public transport, it comes as no surprise that we would prefer to travel in private vehicles. Well, with camper vans we not only get safe and private transportation but also, we needn’t have to worry about finding a clean hotel to stay in.  

 

Benefits of a holiday in a Camper Van 

  • Safe private transportation  
    These days when we’re looking into taking a vacation, safety concerns remain a major factor of the planning process. After spending months locked away in our homes, travelling around surrounded by strangers proves to be a hectic ordeal. Sure, guidelines are in place to minimize risk, however, we do quite often see these guidelines flouted almost everywhere we go. That’s one of the greatest benefits of travelling by camper van. The only ones joining you on your holiday are your closest friends or family.  
    These motorhomes are designed with the intent of providing as comfortable a journey as possible. You can sit back and relax, without having to worry as much about catching the virus.  
     
  • You needn’t bother booking hotels 
    The beauty of camper vans is that transport and accommodation have been bundled together, having been built on the premises of serving as a home-on-wheels. Generally, camper vans are equipped with cozy bedding that’s fixed into the body of the vehicle. Camping tents are yet another option for those who want to get as close to nature as possible. With no late check-outs to concern yourself with, you can sleep in as long as you’d like in your comfy campers. 
    Hotels can be expensive, especially when travelling with your family. Not to mention how hotel prices might soar during peak season. With camper vans, you can find very reasonably priced campsites where you’ll be surrounded by the lush green beauty of nature.   
     
  • Flexible itinerary 
    When you’re travelling by public transport or even checking in at your hotel, you often have a strict time restraint to follow. Well, when you're travelling in a camper van, you get to enjoy the journey at your own pace. Enjoy the surreal sights as you pass them by, or maybe even park the camper for a few minutes to take in the fresh air and scenic surroundings.  With no fixed itinerary to abide by, make the most of your free time.  
    What if we made the decision to alter your travel plans in the middle of your journey? It isn't a problem at all. We won't have to bother about making hotel reservations ahead of time or arranging transportation to our new location. All we have to do now is pick a new campsite and plan the route to it. And all of this can be accomplished with a few simple mouse clicks on our laptop! 
     
  • Safe storage 
    With public transport, we feel the need to keep an eye on our personal belongings when we're surrounded by strangers. Having heard so many stories of pickpockets and lost bags, we constantly struggle with keeping everything close to our chest. Yet another horror would be for when our flights have just landed, but somehow our baggage has been misplaced, leaving us stranded in a different city with none of our belongings.  
    Well camper vans solve that problem with ease, as all the valuables you may need are conveniently stored in your motorhome. With no one else having access to the vehicle, your belongings are safe from theft or misplacement. 
     
  • Cost friendly 
    Although purchasing our own camper van can be a rather large expense, there are several sources for us to just rent the vehicle for short durations. When we compare the costs of renting a camper van to that of booking tickets and hotels, we often find the former option to be much more cost friendly. Since the camper vans merge together travel and accommodation, we won't have to break our bank accounts trying to afford a good holiday. 
    Campsites can be found all over the country, where you can park your camper and enjoy the surrounding scenery at a fraction of the cost of booking hotel rooms.

 

So now that we’ve covered the basics of what a holiday on wheels will look like, it’s up to you to decide whether this could be your cup of tea. For those of you who are still interested in holidaying in a camper van, let’s take a look at a few different recreational vehicles that you can pick from and try to understand the minute differences between them.  

 

Types of Camping Vans in India 

When it comes to categorizing camper vans, the lines between different types can often be blurry. Generally, these vehicles are referred to as RVs or recreational vehicles, and they provide both accommodation as well as transport. However, not all RVs are equipped with the same amenities. In an attempt to clear up any confusion, let’s take a closer look at the minute differences between each.  

  • Motorhomes  

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Seen as the top of the line when it comes to RVs, motorhomes are without a doubt the most comfortable option for living life on the road. From spacious interiors and comfy bedding to kitchenettes and washrooms, these vehicles can generously accommodate you and all your pals. Most of the furnishings inside the motorhome are fixed in place, so you needn’t have to worry about things fallen over during your journey. 

Motorhomes are quite popular abroad, however, they are a rare sight in India with only a handful of local manufacturers to be found. A few companies like JCBL and Pinnacle Specialty Vehicles do offer these kinds of recreational vehicles for road trips, but with higher costs as compared to the other types of campers, this option is yet to gain popularity in the country. Another drawback of motorhomes is that you’re required to have a special license to operate them, which means that you may also have to hire a driver for your trip.  

 

  • Camper Vans  

 
Camper vans are seen as the smaller option when it comes to RVs. Ordinarily, these vans only serve the purpose of transport and accommodation, without offering amenities such as washrooms or kitchenettes. The storage capacity and seating space in a regular camper van is ideal for short trips with fewer people. As the name suggests, these vehicles are the size of regular vans, which makes it easier to navigate and park but the lack of space means you won't be able to stand up straight comfortably inside one.  

Camper vans are generally the size of normal road vehicles, and hence you rarely require a special license to operate them. Fuel consumption for such vehicles is seen to be lower than that of the larger sized RVs. These types of RVs are generally the most popular option to be seen since the onset of the pandemic.  

 

  • Caravans  

 

Hitting the middle ground between camper vans and motorhomes, these types of RV’s are generally the size of large trucks and will be fitted with cozy furnishings. These vehicles offer reasonable space in terms of storage as well as accommodation, however, not as lavish and comfortable as a full-on motorhome. One could say that these vehicles are a slightly downgraded version of motorhomes, however, the shrunken size makes it easier to drive as well as park as compared to the motorhomes. 

Depending on the weight and size of the caravan, you may require a special license to operate these kinds of RVs. Compared to motorhomes, caravans consume less fuel, however, more so than camper vans. Caravans are generally easier to find in India, with several service providers all over the country.  

 

  • Trailer homes  

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Now the main difference between trailer homes and other RVs is that the accommodation space isn't merged with the transport. Trailers are generally hooked onto the back of your own vehicle and dragged along with you, wherever you go. These mobile homes are generally smaller in size when compared to motorhomes or camper vans, but you have the added benefit of being able to detach your trailer whenever required.  

Imagine you’ve reached your campsite but you seem to have forgotten to pick something up along the way. Makes no sense to drag your trailer all the way back to the store to pick it up right? Just simply remove the hooks attaching your trailer to your car and head on your way. Depending on the size of the trailer that’s being attached to your car, the driver may be required to acquire a special license to operate the vehicle.  

 

Where can I find a camper van?  

Well, if you’ve made it this far, it seems safe to assume that you’re still keen on taking a road trip in one of these recreational vehicles. In that case, let's take a look at some options: 

  • Invest in your own camper van 

If road trips are something you’d like to do quite often, then investing in a mobile home could be money well spent for you. One of the benefits of purchasing a camper van would be that you get a vehicle that’s already fitted with the required amenities. There’s no requirement for us to make any modifications to the vehicle. Generally, first-hand camper vans can be rather expensive, with prices starting at around 20 lakhs and upwards.  

If you’re eager to cut down on such costs, there are still several second-hand camper vans up for sale. However, when purchasing a second-hand vehicle, we need to be extra precautious of the condition of both the vehicle as well as the living space to make sure we’re getting the best value for money.  

 

  • Rent out a camper van 

With the recent rise in interest in vans for camping in India, there have been several entrepreneurs who have made it easier for us to rent such a vehicle for short durations. This option is considerably cheaper than purchasing your own camper van and is perfect for people who won't be spending too many days every year going on road trips. The cost of renting a camper van can start from as low as a few thousand rupees per person, and depends on the duration of your journey, distance covered as well as the type of camper van you pick. 

If you aren’t sure if holidaying in a camper van is for you, this would be the best way to find out. Take a short holiday in one, if you’re satisfied you can always come back for more or acquire your own camper van. If you haven’t enjoyed the trip, well, be glad that you chose not to invest in some of the more expensive options.  

Convert your vehicle into a camper van 

If you already own a spacious SUV or minivan, and you love the feel of the open road, then you can definitely consider modifying your vehicle to suit your camping needs. This option is definitely cheaper than purchasing such vehicles, however costs more than renting one. One of the benefits of doing this would be you’re free to move around wherever you want, whenever you’d like. 

Converting your vehicle into a camper van can be tough, so be sure to do some proper research as well as talk to others who have already done the same. For more tips and ideas, take a look at these videos: 

- How to convert a Van in to an Off-Grid Camper in 17 Days! 

- CAMPERVAN BUILT ON SUV IN INDIA / CAMPERVAN TOUR / HOME ON WHEELS / CAMPER VAN ESSENTIALS / RV INDIA 

 

What to look out for while choosing a camper van? 

When you’re hitting the road with a camper van, it’s important that you pick a vehicle that’s up to the task. For some, road trips are about cruising along well-paved highways as you travel in between cities and states. For others, the route ahead could have them passing through thick undergrowth and tricky terrain. The camper van you pick could make or break your holiday plans, so be sure to check out these 4 major factors to consider while selecting your ride. 

  • Take count of the amenities you’ll need 
    Camper vans vary in terms of the amenities each one offers. Some may be equipped with kitchenettes and washrooms, whereas others can only provide you with a space to lay down and not much else. If you plan on dining within your home-on-wheels, then consider larger vans for camping that can accommodate all your needs. However, if you’re only looking for camper vans to take a short trip in, then there are plenty of mid-sized rides that can live up to the expectations. 
     
  • Pick the vehicle that suits your route 
    Just like normal cars are differentiated in terms of size and capability, so are camper vans. Large motorhomes might be perfect for long intercity journeys; however, they can't handle the tricky terrains offered in places like the hills of Coorg. It’s important to map out your route and figure out what type of recreational vehicle suits your adventure. 
     
  • How many people are coming along for the ride 
    What’s worse than having wasted money on more space than you actually needed? Well, getting squished into a small vehicle with little space to breathe for sure. Depending on how many of your friends and family are joining you on this road trip, it’s important to make sure you pick a ride that gives everybody enough space.  
     
  • Check if you have the required license to operate it 
    Depending on the type of camper van you choose, you may require a special license to operate it. Large motorhomes and heavy caravans can often not be operated by people who have just a regular automobile license. The heavy machinery can be rather difficult to operate and you definitely don’t want to be the cause of an accident along the way. Besides applying for the required licenses, what you can also do is pitch in for an experienced driver to handle the wheel.

 

Can you turn your car into a camper van? 

Short answer, definitely!  However, you can’t just turn any old vehicle into a camper van and expect it to work. We’ve seen from several failed attempts that smaller cars like hatchbacks and sedans simply are not up to the task of serving as mini homes on the road. To build a camper van, an equal amount of thought needs to go into the transport aspect as well as the accommodation.  

Ultimately, there are only two categories of automobiles that can successfully handle the transformation into a camper van; SUVs and minivans. These two divisions of the automobile industry are not only equipped with adequate space but also with a more power-packed engine to handle the extra weight that’ll be added onto it. A benefit of building your own camper is that it can be equipped to handle off-roading and can take you through some picturesque trails that ordinary camper vans can’t handle. Let’s go ahead and take a look at some of the popular vehicles that have successfully undergone such modifications.  

Minivans 

Minivans were designed with the purpose of being a people carrier, with adequate space in the backseat. You can make the most of this by stripping the rear seats and converting that area into a living space. Let’s show you some of our favourite minivan campers.  

  • Force Matador 

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The Matador was the car that was used to get many young students to and from school in the late 1990s. However, dependability remains a concern with these older automobiles nowadays. Proper maintenance, on the other hand, can help keep the automobile alive. It's a good camper since it has a lot of inside room. 

  • Tata Winger 

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The Winger is a wonderful platform for a mini camper, with a high-top variant and big interiors. This spacious minivan is reputed as a dependable people carrier. The abundance of space can be used to equip the van with more than just cozy bedding.   

  • Force Traveller

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For a long time, the Traveller has been regarded as a tough, dependable, and cost-efficient people mover. Though driving requires a special license, the roominess and ground clearance make this an ideal full-size campervan choice. 
 

SUVs 
SUVs, or sports utility vehicles, are larger cars that are capable of handling both city life as well as a bit of off-roading in the countryside. Here are some of the most popular SUVs that have been turned into camper vans: 

  • Mitsubishi Pajero 

One of the most popular body-on-frame SUVs in India. The Pajero is a popular vehicle for overlanding because of its tough appearance and off-roading ability. Slap a camping tent on the roof of the car, and you’re all set for your next adventure.  

  • Mahindra Thar 

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Because of its 4X4 and small wheelbase, the Thar is well-known for its off-road capabilities. It's one of the most cost-efficient and popular off-road vehicles on the market. It can handle everything you throw at it and more! 

  • Toyota Land Cruiser 

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Land Cruisers are a popular camping vehicle all over the world, but just a few are utilized as vans for camping in India. Its dependability and the assurance that shows owners that they can take it wherever has made it a popular overlanding vehicle across the world. 

  • Mahindra Scorpio 

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This Mahindra is a locally produced vehicle with excellent off-road capabilities. With plenty of reserves of power, you can slap on a tent or a trailer and hit the road with ease. 

For more information on what type of vehicles are best for camper van transformations, click the following link. 

CARAVAN INDIA - Best vehicles for conversion | Prices & Details | Beginners Guide 

 

Where can I find Campsites near me? 

The thing about travelling in a Camper Van is that you’ll have to search for campsites where you can park for the night. Generally, these vehicles require to stop for the night and refill on water and electricity. Besides just that, you’re not allowed to just park your vehicle wherever you like. So how do you find camper van-friendly campsites? Well, fret no more as we’ve compiled this shortlist of campsites that can accommodate your spacious camper for the night. 
 

  • K Gudi Wilderness Camp, BR Hills 
    The Kyathdevaraya Gudi Wilderness Camp gives you a chance for ecotourism in this biodiversity hotspot. The enigma of nature surrounds you, with fresh, luxuriant greenery and animals that roam freely in their natural habitat. As a Jungle Lodges & Resorts property, it strikes a balance between adventure and nature, respecting its surroundings while giving its guests an opportunity to get close to nature's wonders.  
    Click here to know more. 
     
  • Kabini River Lodge 
    The Kabini River Lodge echoes the principle of eco-tourism, helping their guests commune with the wildlife without disturbing the inhabitants of the forest. Situated by the banks of the River Kabini, this 54-acre, sprawling property comes with all the comforts you’re used to at a luxury stay such as a well-stocked bar, Ayurvedic treatments, and fully equipped conference rooms for those who are on a corporate getaway. 
    Click here to know more. 
     
  • The Bheemeshwari Adventure and Nature Camp, Mandya 
    If you’re looking for a nature stay near the majestic Cauvery River, the Bheemeshwari Adventure and Nature Camp combines what you love most, adventure and the untamed beauty of the wilderness for an experience that keeps you coming back for more.  
    Click here to know more. 
     
  • Hampi Heritage and Wilderness resort 
    The Hampi Heritage & Wilderness Resort is a popular JLR property, giving their guests a chance to see two sides of Hampi. Situated at the edge of the Daroji Sloth Bear Sanctuary, this craggy red terrain is the natural home for the regal sloth bears who stretch themselves out languorously in the countryside. 
    Click here to know more. 
     
  • Bandipur Safari Lodge 
    The Bandipur Tiger Reserve and National Park is nestled at the foothills of the Nilgiris and is one of the thirty reserves identified across the country to save the tiger and its habitat. Within its sprawling premises, the Bandipur Safari Lodge offers you a chance at ecological tourism so that you can spot the spectacular wildlife and interact with them as they tread softly through the forest trails. 
    Click here to know more.

 

Why travelling in a Camper Van isn’t for everybody? 

  • Limited space 
    There are limits to how large these vehicles can be, and as a result, passengers travelling in them can often find the living spaces rather cramped. If you’re used to luxurious hotel rooms equipped with all the modern amenities, then you may feel like the camper vans are a step down from your usual lodging experience.  
    Depending on the size of your camper van, storage space for your luggage and other essentials can be limited. If capacity is a major factor on your trip, you can choose larger recreational vehicles that may fit your needs. We’ll discuss the different types of RVs in a bit, so you’ll have a better idea of what vehicle would be the best fit for you.
  • More time spent on the road 
    Although camper vans are a great way to live the journey to its fullest, the number of hours spent on the road won’t be appealing to everybody.  You may have heard the saying “it’s not about the destination, it's about the journey”. Normally that would be true, however, there are several people who’d prefer to spend less time getting to wherever it is they’re going. If you have time to kill and enjoy coasting along the open road, then this option could be fruitful, however, if you’re eager to join in on the festivities at your destination at the earliest, then camper vans aren't for you.
  • Tough navigating and parking 
    In general camper vans are large vehicles designed to provide transport as well as accommodation. Correspondingly, these vehicles are rather large and difficult to maneuver. Camper vans can't be parked just anywhere either. You’ll often have to find designated caravan parking areas to roll into and settle down for the night. Drivers require special licenses to operate the larger recreational vehicles, hence holidaying in a camper van might cost you the additional charge of hiring a driver.

 

 Well, there you go, all the information you’ll need about holidaying in a camper van. If you’d like any more clarification, we at Avathi are always ready to be of service. Just reach out to us about any queries you may have or even if you’d like our help in arranging your next camper road trip.  

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