Parts & Accessories

Caravans vs motorhomes UK: which should you choose?

08th April 2021 | Bailey of Bristol
When looking to purchase your own Bailey of Bristol leisure vehicle, the first decision you’ll make is also the biggest: whether to go for a caravan or motorhome? Given that you’ll likely keep your new home away from home for many years to come, this decision helps to set the tone for your future leisure trips.

To help you make the right choice for the kinds of holidays you’re planning, we’ve put together this guide to look at the pros and cons of each vehicle type and answer the following questions:

  • What’s the difference between a caravan and a motorhome?
  • What requirements do I need to meet to take a caravan or motorhome on the road?
  • Which is easier to drive with – a caravan or a motorhome?
  • Can I tour the UK in a caravan or motorhome?
  • Which is better for UK camping?
  • Are caravans cheaper than motorhomes?
  • Do I want a motorhome or a campervan?
  • Is it better to have a caravan or a motorhome?

What’s the difference between a caravan and a motorhome?


The main difference between a caravan and a motorhome is that a caravan is towed by a towing vehicle and a motorhome is a self-contained vehicle with its own cab. With a caravan, when you reach your campsite, you can unhitch your caravan from the car leaving you with a base onsite, and your car to drive around in. With a motorhome, everything is contained in one vehicle, meaning that you can easily move from place to place while taking everything with you – this can be especially useful if you are doing a long trip and staying in a lot of different places.

Both caravans and motorhomes have their own living spaces. There are a wide variety of options to choose from when it comes to layouts. All Bailey caravans and motorhomes come with their own washroom and kitchen and you can choose from a variety of sleeping and living set ups.

What requirements do I need to meet to take a caravan or motorhome on the road?

Thankfully there are also a number of places that are available to help with making sure you have covered all the bases before you set off. Here’s some information about towing, tow matching and licences with some links to help you:

Touring caravans

How much can I tow?

It depends on if you passed your test before or after 1st January 1997. Both of the big UK clubs – the Camping and Caravanning Club and the Caravan and Motorhome Club are able to help you with ensuring that you have all the information you need. Take a look at the links below for more information on driving licence considerations:

How do I match my car to a caravan

The next factor that affects the caravan you choose is the car that you tow it with. You need to make sure that the caravan you choose and the car you are towing it with are a match.

Both the Camping and Caravanning Club and the Caravan and Motorhome Club also offer help and a matching service to members.

It’s worth noting that if this is the first time you are looking to tow, a small car will very likely restrict you in the choice of caravans available, and you will need to check that your current car can do the towing work you will be asking of it – both clubs can assist with this if you join them and become a member.


What does my licence allow me to drive?

In common with caravans, the date of 1st January 1997 is the point at which the weight of motorhome that you can drive changes.

Generally, someone who passed their test before 1st January 1997 will automatically have the C1 entitlement on their licence and can drive a large motorhome up to 7500kg. If you passed after this date, you will only be able to drive vehicles up to 3500kg and will need to take another test to get the C1 entitlement added to your licence.

When you reach 70, you will need to renew your driving licence. If you had the C1 entitlement and you go through the standard renewal process, your C1 will be suspended until you pass a medical. To avoid this, you will need to complete a form D2 and ask your GP to fill in a medical report form D4.

The Camping and Caravanning Club have more information on motorhome licences here

Which is easier to drive with - a caravan or motorhome?

A Bailey Adamo on one of its many road trips
Whether you want to drive a caravan or tow a motorhome will often come down to personal preference

This is something that comes down to personal preference and whether you prefer the idea of towing using your car, or driving a larger vehicle but not having to consider the towing aspect.

If you are considering a caravan and you’ve not towed before, then there are courses available from both the Caravan and Motorhome Club and the Camping and Caravanning Club that will help you learn all the basics. 

Both clubs also offer motorhome manoeuvring courses to help you build your confidence with a larger vehicle so that the first time you hit the road isn’t the first time you’ve been behind the wheel.

Use the wealth of help and information available from both clubs and you’ll be out on your road trips in no time!

Can I tour the UK in a caravan or motorhome?

Two girls hitching their Discovery caravan to their car
Touring the UK can be done in either a caravan or a motorhome

The UK has a long history of caravanning and motorhoming with Bailey of Bristol being the oldest of all the UK caravan manufacturers. The long term popularity of caravans and motorhomes means that there are plenty of campsites available, so touring the country is a very straightforward exercise with a little time and planning.

There are sites available for everyone – from the large sites with water and electrical hook-ups at your pitch, plus onsite entertainment, to the small secluded sites which offer a peaceful place to park up and a shared tap for water.

We’ve got plenty of blog posts on the Bailey website with inspiration on where to go and where to stay. Why not start with these:

Rediscovering Britain – a 5 part series written by Marcus Leach; a motorhome ambassador for Bailey of Bristol

City Break by Caravan – Our caravan ambassador Lee Davey looks at taking a caravan on a city break and compares his experience of doing this in the UK to previous caravan city breaks abroad.

And finally, something a bit different – Andy Torbet, motorhome ambassador for Bailey of Bristol explains how he uses his motorhome for his UK adventure and filming projects. If you are into outdoor sports and getting off-grid, this may inspire you to consider what a motorhome can do beyond a traditional family campsite holiday

Which is better for UK camping?

Both caravans and motorhomes are equally good when it comes to UK camping and the Bailey Alu-Tech construction system means that you will be able to stay warm and comfortable whatever the weather throws at you.

When it comes to campsites, both caravans and motorhomes can be pitched on grass or hardstanding, and can be connected up to pitch amenities such as water and electricity. If you prefer to go off-grid though and be self-sufficient for your services, all caravans and motorhomes have their own gas bottles, on-board water tanks and leisure batteries for electricity. You can choose a van that has a solar panel to generate extra electricity if you choose, or in many cases, you can have one installed. See our blog post on off-grid camping for more information.

Again, the vehicle that is best for you will often be down to personal choice, so have some fun doing your research, looking at how you might want to use your caravan or motorhome and making a shortlist of vans that might suit your needs.

Are caravans cheaper than motorhomes?

Bailey Phoenix Plus pitched at a campsite
Bailey caravans and motorhomes both have high specifications at superb value for money

In general caravans are cheaper to purchase than motorhomes. Regardless of price though, all Bailey products are built on one principle – high specifications at superb value for money with no hidden extras to help your money go further.

Bailey caravans (at the time of writing) start at £18,099 for a two berth Discovery D4-2 (our smallest caravan) and range up to £33,399 for an four berth Alicanto Grande Porto (part of our luxury 8ft wide range).

Bailey motorhomes (again at the time of writing) start at £59,999 for an Adamo 69-4 (in our newest motorhome range – perfect for adventures) and go up to £67,299 for a luxury 6 berth Autograph 81-6.

You can compare all our current caravan models here and all our current motorhome models here.

Do I want a motorhome or campervan?

The terms ‘campervan’ and ‘motorhome’ are often used interchangeably but there are some differences between the two types of vehicles.

A campervan is normally smaller in size than a motorhome and is often a conversion where an existing van has been converted to allow you to live in it.

Campervans also don’t normally have facilities such as a washroom or a toilet and cooking facilities can be more minimal than those in a motorhome.

Usually, things like a small kitchen area and seating that can be converted into beds are added, and the roof may have a pop-top to allow the owner to stand up inside.

Motorhomes are larger than camper vans and are either a larger conversion or are coachbuilt. Both usually include washroom and cooking facilities and are large enough to stand up inside.

Coachbuilt motorhomes are created when a motorhome manufacturer such as Bailey purchases a cab and chassis and then builds the living area of the motorhome (known as the habitation area) onto the chassis from the inside out.

In a coachbuilt motorhome the internal features like the living quarters, beds and kitchen are built onto the chassis first and then the sides and roof are added last.

Is it better to have a caravan or a motorhome?

Both caravans and motorhomes offer unique benefits for your holidays

There are many positives that caravans and motorhomes have in common, and in addition, both offer their own unique benefits.

Once you’ve decided if a caravan or motorhome is the vehicle for you, there’s then so much choice available in terms of layout, features and other benefits, so you are sure to be able to find a vehicle that works for you and your family.

The best way to find the vehicle that is right for you is to do your research, think about the way that you and your family will use the caravan or motorhome, and make use of all of the resources available to you. These include the Camping and Caravanning Club and the Caravan and Motorhome Club, but you can also find so much online ranging from blogs to YouTube videos to the dedicated caravan and motorhome media outlets. Offline, you can find magazines dedicated to caravans or motorhomes in your local supermarket or newsagent.

We hope this blog post has started to answer some of the questions you might have and points you in the right direction to start finding out which Bailey caravan or motorhome might be your ideal choice.