A motorhome is all about having the luxuries of your own property on four – or sometimes six – wheels. The market is full of great ideas as to how to make your life more relaxed and comfortable and to give your motorhome that touch of extra grandeur. It doesn’t matter if you have a day van to go surfing on the beach or a live-in full time A-Class RV, motorhome accessories will give it a personal touch.
There are some great accessories and clever ideas now available and some you’ll wonder how you ever set off without them.
An awning really should be classed as a necessity rather than an accessory, but some motorhomes aren’t supplied with one as standard and you need cover for instant shade in the sunshine, protection from light showers and to extend your living area to include the space around your motorhome.
There are a number of designs available, but the two basic kinds are:
• Drive away: Self-supporting and attaches to the motorhome awning rail. It’s a tent-like structure and great for leaving wet clothes inside rather than having to keep them in the motorhome. Some are large enough to offer extra sleeping accommodation.
• Canopy: A canopy awning will unroll and usually be supported by two poles. They are a similar design to roller blind and are quick to set up however they do leave you more exposed to the weather.
Setting out your awning as you arrive, the last thing you’ll now want to do is either sit on the floor or have to use seating inside your motorhome to be in a comfortable environment rather than enjoying the fresh air. You also don’t want to be carrying more bulk than you need to, so the solution is some fold-up chairs and a table. There are a great range of chairs available from simple three-legged fishing stools to luxurious camping chairs. Ones with drinks holders set into the arms are a great way to relax in an evening with a bottle of beer directly beside you as you watch the sun go down.
Having two or three small foldaway tables with you all the time means you can quickly set up an outside cooking area or have a small area off the ground and away from insects for your drinks and snacks. Hardwearing and durable, you can buy tables in all sizes to suit the amount of outside space you have.
Many sites offer free internet access with a code but often the signal doesn’t reach much further than the administration office and anyone trying to get online is left disappointed. A Wi-Fi booster means that you will be able to pick up signals much further away.
Whilst the majority of camp sites offer electricity, there’s a daily cost involved and this can add up over your holiday. Installing solar panels to the roof of your motorhome means that you have power wherever you go as the sun fills the attached batteries, a fantastic option for those who prefer wild camping or are living in their motorhome full time. It’s something which needs careful planning so if you aren’t sure of where to start, take advice as you’re working with electricity and don’t want to suffer any kind of injury due to lack of expertise. Solar panels are fantastic for running 12v lighting or a 12v shower and it means you can charge up items such as phones and laptops for the price of only a very small panel.
Cooking in a motorhome usually means that space is at a premium. Larger models are usually equipped with full size cookers but for those in day vans, panel van refits or small 2 berth models, there isn’t the space for a larger cooker. A microwave takes up only a small amount of storage space and fitted to a wall bracket means you keep the work surface clear. There’s the additional benefit of the food being cooked quickly so you can sit and relax with everyone else without having to slave over a hot stove and miss out on all the fun.
Satellite TV is now another almost necessity for any motorhome. Everyone has become so accustomed to watching TV that fitting a dish really is towards the top of the priority list – particularly if you are heading off on long road-trips or living in your motorhome full time. Check out the size of dish you’ll need if you’re not in the UK and want to pick up channels from home as the footprints often change and you may find you need a larger dish than you imagine. Look for one with an automatic satellite finder feature to make your life that much easier as it will scan the sky for you to point you in the right direction.
Whilst one of the advantages of having a motorhome over camping is that there’s often a fully equipped kitchen, you’ll want to take advantage of good weather and cook outside as often as possible. Check the rules first of every site you visit as they’ll all have different guidelines as to what equipment you can and cannot use – especially in the summer months if you’re in a dry and hot country. Disposable sets are great for one-off use if you’re wild camping and there are some mini barbecues you can buy for a very small price to quickly set up.
When you’re trying to reverse your motorhome into an allocated spot on a busy campsite, it’s very difficult to know exactly where the end of the vehicle is and how much more space you have. If you install a rear view camera, you can see instantly where you are manoeuvring into and won’t have to suffer the embarrassment of others see you clip posts or scrape your wheel arches.
When you’re outside in the evening relaxing under your awning, you’ll need portable lighting to be able to cook and read. They are also a good item to have as emergency back-up if you break down at night and you need to see what’s happening under the bonnet. Choices include lanterns which have small solar panels on top which can be left outside during the day to charge, battery operated or wind-up ones. Having one of each, means that if one should fail, you have other styles available.
If you’re planning to get out and about when you’re on holiday in your motorhome, having a bike rack means you don’t have to clutter up the precious inside space you have. There’s a choice of manual or motorised with different sizes depending on how many bikes you need to accommodate. Ensure you keep them safe when you’re away from the motorhome with security locks and there are also extension packs available if you find you need to add to the kit you already have installed.
There’s bound to be a few rainy days when you’re out and about in your motorhome, so ensure you have plenty of games to hand. Family favourites such as traditional board games are always popular so if you don’t have them already but don’t want a huge amount of expense, take a day to visit the charity shops in your local town as they usually have a selection which have only been played a small number of times and cost a fraction of buying brand new.
Reading and relaxing go hand in hand when you’re living in a motorhome, but with space being at a premium, you don’t need to be struggling to pack a number of weighty novels into the storage compartments if you buy an e-reader. Slim and lightweight, you can add literally hundreds of books to one reader and there are often manufacturer offers for a number of free books such as the classics so you’ll be able to read to your hearts content knowing you’ve spent nothing on the pleasure other than the reader itself. They are now very affordable and many have extra features included such as Wi-Fi connectivity, Bluetooth, back lighting and pre-installed dictionaries.
Many people dream of throwing a hammock between two trees and rocking themselves to sleep for a relaxing afternoon on holiday. A hammock is a great accessory to take to either a campsite or for wild camping in a forest area as it can be quickly attached to the trees and takes up virtually no room when removed for storage. A double hammock means you and the one you love can snuggle up together to watch the stars at night.
You’ll usually need some kind of step arrangement to enter and exit the door of your motorhome as it will be a good way off the ground – even more so if you aren’t keen on stepping off anything of any kind of height. There are a number of manual step designs you can buy but installing the luxury of motorised steps means that with a press of a button you can lower or raise them from inside the motorhome and you won’t need to get wet putting manual steps on the side of the van on a wet day.
If you’re going to be away for more than a few days, you’ll probably want to at least rinse a few pieces of clothing to ensure you don’t have to take huge amounts with you when you set off. A great innovation is the mini twin tub. It’s lightweight and uses very little power. It is portable and can be set up inside or outside. It takes a smaller load than a front loading automatic washing machine, but it’s great for smaller items. They are also relatively cheap and the simplicity of the mechanics means it’s reliable.
If you’re planning to travel in the cooler months – whether in the UK or abroad – you will need some kind of heating in your motorhome. There’s a range of well-designed heating solutions which not only look great and will keep you cosy during the day and night, you can be assured that they are safe for use in enclosed spaces. The main choices are:
• Electric fan
If you’re planning on towing anything with your motorhome ensure that you have the correct towbar and noseweight. The National Caravan Council recommends a noseweight between 5% and 7% of the weight of the loaded trailer. Also make sure your check your driver’s licence. If you intend on driving very heavy motorhomes you may need to take a further DVLA test.
Owning a motorhome is exciting. These accessories can help make life that bit more comfortable and give you more free time to relax at the end of a day out exploring.