Camper Van As Daily Driver: Is It Possible?Anthony Day
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- Determining the type of camper van that works best largely depends on your personal needs.
- A camper van can be great for daily activities and running errands with less of a need to make stops.
- You should have heightened awareness of road conditions and spaces when driving a camper van daily.
After driving my camper van for several years, I wanted to know if it was possible to use my camper van as a daily driver.
It is possible to use a camper van as a daily driver, but extra precautions should be taken due to its larger size. A camper van may be taller and wider than standard vehicles, so certain roads, parking structures, and other areas might be too tight for a camper van to safely navigate.
If you have as much experience driving a camper van as I do, you are probably aware of most of the obstacles you’re likely to face on the road. You should carefully consider road types and conditions on your particular daily routes and prepare for them accordingly.
What Types Of Camper Vans Work Best As A Daily Driver?
Camper vans come in many shapes and sizes with various engines and cabin features such as dinettes, refrigerators, and beds.
One of the main reasons I purchased my first camper van was to have more space to transport my family and our belongings.
My children would often have school and weekend activities that required us to bring along music instruments, sports equipment, and just about every type of bag in existence.
Compared to our other vehicles, which included sizable SUVs and station wagons, the camper van accommodates our cabin and storage space needs much better.
Though a spacious camper van works well for my family, a smaller camper van might work better for you if you don’t need as much space for daily driving.
On top of being much roomier than a standard vehicle, our camper van provides us with plenty of amenities that benefit our daily activities.
One of the camper van features we use most often for daily purposes is the refrigerator.
We can keep our prepared lunches and snacks cool and fresh, which reduces our need to buy food at restaurants and stores.
Rather than just bringing along packaged foods such as chips and crackers, we can bring more perishable food options with us like sandwiches, salads, and fruit.
Camper Van Challenges You Might Face
I decided to buy a camper van due to its extensive vacation-related capabilities compared to our other vehicles.
Since I already had experience driving larger SUVs, it wasn’t a big stretch for me to drive our camper van.
However, I need to be more aware of road conditions and other challenges that can make driving a camper van on a daily basis more difficult.
For the most part, most places I’ve driven seemed to be designed for vehicles that are smaller than our camper van, so I need to be more cautious when driving through every area.
Before you take too many chances driving your camper van, you should familiarize yourself as much as possible with its dimensions.
You should also have a solid understanding of how it handles on the road at certain speeds, turns, and angles.
Even when my camper van is empty, there is a significant risk of it tipping over when I drive on slanted roads.
All of the risks are magnified when I drive at higher speeds or when slippery road conditions are present.
Camper Van Height Challenges
Even the most harmless looking areas could present dangerous challenges for a camper van.
Just because you were able to clear certain areas at one point doesn’t mean you’ll be able to do it again.
I used to drive my camper van under a tree branch to get to my office parking lot, but one day I ended up bumping into it after it slightly cracked.
When it comes to clearing fixed openings like garage and drive-through entrances, you should only use displayed measurements as a guide.
A drive-through barrier might be displayed as being 9 feet high, but it could actually be lower than that.
I’ve driven camper vans that were very tall on the camper van spectrum, so I would often come too close for comfort at many drive-through barriers.
Drive-through barriers and other entryways could always be lower than expected, which could lead to you damaging your camper van or getting stuck.
Even when someone is outside of your camper van guiding you through, they might not properly observe the distances and angles you’re facing.
I once drove my camper van into a mall parking structure without any issues, but as I ascended from the first to the second level, I was met with another barrier that was different from the entrance barrier.
A parking attendant drove by in his truck and slowly guided me to make sure I wouldn’t hit the barrier.
This barrier was hanging from the parking structure ceiling and resembled a thick and wide barrel.
I carefully moved my camper van forward according to the parking attendant’s instructions.
All seemed well until I suddenly heard a loud thumping sound as my camper van hit the barrier.
So even if someone that seems to know what they’re doing is helping you clear your camper van, you can’t always rely on what they tell you.
Camper Van Width Challenges
On a wide open road in the countryside, there might not be many obvious obstacles within view.
However, you should be mindful of camper van hazards that could exist with the more narrow confines of more populated areas.
Many cities these days seem to pack more roads, bridges, buildings, and parking lots into smaller plots of land.
As population counts rise, city and real estate planners often need to be more creative about how they design and engineer various vehicle-related structures.
The development of roads and driveways within private complexes like schools and office buildings don’t always account for larger vehicles such as camper vans.
You should familiarize yourself with your camper van’s width before taking on tight spots on your daily driving journey.
The ability to remove your camper van from a stuck position could be extremely costly and time-consuming.
To play it safe, you should install exterior cameras and sensors on your camper van to help you navigate tight spots.
Cameras and sensors can be especially useful when no one is around to guide you.
I didn’t have any cameras or sensors when I bought my camper van, but I was able to have both affordably installed.
Camper Van Weight And Handling Challenges
Another big challenge you might face when using your camper van as a daily driver is maintaining control and stability.
Daily driving on the road in many cities can be much more fast-paced than common vacation driving to places like beaches and camping grounds.
The heaviness of my camper van caused me to be somewhat disoriented when driving at first, but I got used to it after many miles of driving in town.
If most of your driving experience involves smaller vehicles, you might instinctively lean towards driving your camper van in a similar manner.
Camper vans have different handling capabilities, but they will generally not handle as well as more compact vehicles.
To be better prepared for daily driving, you should practice driving your camper van in more open areas to get a better understanding of how it handles.