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Young man and women sitting on beach in front of Apollo rental campervan

Alyssa Tresider
/ Categories: AU Blog

What’s the difference between a motorhome and a campervan.

Planning an Australia road trip and asking yourself: “What is the difference between a campervan and a motorhome?” You are not alone! To those outside the self-drive holiday industry, terms describing rental vehicles can be a little confusing. Words such as camper, motorhome, campervan, RV (recreational vehicle) and caravan often describe different vehicle types available for hire. We are here to set the record straight. 

In this guide, we'll dive into the essential differences between two popular options: motorhomes and campervans. While both these vehicles allow you to explore at your own pace, they have slight differences in amenities to cater to different travel styles and needs. Whether you're a couple seeking a cozy getaway or a family needing space for kids to sprawl, understanding these distinctions will help you make the best choice. Throughout this guide, we'll explore what each vehicle offers, its benefits, and which might be the best fit for your Australia road trip. 


What’s a motorhome?

A motorhome, commonly referred to as an RV (recreational vehicle) in North America, is essentially a mobile home equipped with all the comforts you’d find in a stationary home, only on wheels. These vehicles are designed to provide you with everything you need while you travel Australia. From compact models ideal for couples to expansive ones perfect for larger families, motorhomes are versatile in size and functionality. Motorhomes are equipped with: 

  • Sleeping quarters

  • A fully functional kitchen

  • Bathroom facilities

  • Entertainment systems

These amenities not only add comfort but also convenience to your travels. Imagine waking up in a snug bed to the serene views of a national park or the gentle sounds of the ocean at a beachside campsite—all possible in a motorhome. This level of integration and convenience is what sets motorhomes apart, providing a fully equipped base for both short getaways and extended Australia road trips.


The benefits of choosing a motorhome for your Australia road trip

Choosing a motorhome hire for your Australia road trip offers unparalleled freedom and flexibility. The key advantage of a motorhome is having your essentials with you at all times—be it your comfortable bed, your private bathroom, or your kitchen stocked with your favourite snacks. This autonomy allows you to explore remote areas without worrying about accommodations or dining options.

Whether it’s the Outback's rugged landscapes or the Daintree Rainforest's lush greenery, a motorhome makes these accessible and comfortable. You can park and stay overnight at various scenic spots, from campgrounds to RV parks. Moreover, the storage space in motorhomes is a huge benefit for families, often allowing you to carry outdoor gear like bikes, surfboards, and more, enhancing your Australia itinerary.  

Motorhomes are also a practical choice for those who value comfort and space. After a long day of adventures, returning to a space that feels like home is truly unmatched. With the ability to cook your meals, you can ensure that family mealtime on the road is tailored to your schedule and dietary preferences, which is especially beneficial when you travel Australia with children. For more tips on family motorhome adventures, check out the full guide to planning a family-friendly road trip. In the next section, we'll compare these features to those of campervans, helping you decide which vehicle best matches your travel style and needs.

Image: Lachlan Gardiner


What’s a campervan?

A campervan, often referred to simply as a camper or a camper van, is the epitome of compact, mobile living. It's a unique blend of transportation and accommodation, typically built by converting standard vans into cozy living spaces. A campervan is an all-in-one vehicle that supports a minimalist lifestyle on the move. In a campervan, you'll find:

  • Cleverly integrated bed

  • Basic cooking facilities

  • May or may not include bathroom facilities 

While campervans are smaller and offer fewer amenities than motorhomes, they excel in providing a more nimble and affordable option for travellers. This simplicity appeals to those who prefer a more intimate connection with their surroundings and a straightforward approach to road-tripping. Campervans are particularly popular among couples and solo road trip adventurers who value the ability to spontaneously embark on adventures without the setup and breakdown that larger vehicles/motorhomes might require. Their compact size not only makes it easier to handle and drive but also allows for greater flexibility in where you can go, from winding mountain roads to parking up next to secluded beachfronts.


The benefits of choosing a campervan for your road trip

Opting for a campervan hire can significantly enhance the adventure for those who favour simplicity and spontaneity in their travels. The smaller footprint of campervans is not just about being easier to drive; it's also about access. With their agile handling, campervans can effortlessly navigate through narrower roads and fit into tighter parking spaces, opening up a wider range of destinations. Whether it’s slipping into a quaint village parking spot or cruising along remote coastal tracks, campervans make it possible to explore places that might be challenging for larger motorhomes.

Moreover, campervans generally offer better fuel efficiency compared to their larger counterparts, making them a more economical and environmentally friendly choice. This aspect is particularly appealing to eco-conscious travellers who are mindful of their carbon footprint while exploring the natural beauty of Australia (for more tips on eco-friendly travel, check out our full guide to responsible campervanning in Australia). The reduced fuel costs also make campervans a more budget-friendly choice, allowing you to allocate more of your travel budget to experiences and activities rather than transportation expenses.

What's more, the intimacy of a campervan setup encourages a closer connection with the environment. It's about embracing the essence of the nomadic lifestyle, where each stop is not just a place to sleep but an opportunity to engage deeply with your surroundings. Whether you’re pulling over to catch a sunset or finding a hidden gem off the beaten path, a camper van hire offers a unique way to experience the diverse landscapes and vibrant cultures of Australia.

Explore our range of campervans, perfect for your next spontaneous adventure, and discover the freedom of the open road with simplicity on your side. In the next section, we'll delve into the specific differences between motorhomes and campervans, helping you decide which vehicle best suits your travel style and needs.


What are the actual differences between motorhomes and campervans?

While both motorhomes and campervans offer the freedom to explore and travel Australia’s diverse landscapes, understanding their differences is crucial to making an informed decision that aligns with your travel needs and preferences.

Image: Lachlan Gardiner


Size and Comfort

Motorhomes are larger than campervans, providing more living space and comfort. This makes them particularly suitable for longer journeys or for travellers prioritising a more luxurious travel experience. In a motorhome, you'll find larger beds, more storage space, and often enhanced amenities like full-size kitchens and bathrooms. This additional space not only adds comfort but also means motorhomes are better suited for larger groups or families who might find the compact nature of campervans too restrictive.


Simplicity and Efficiency

On the other hand, campervans are compact and efficient, designed for those who value simplicity and adventure. The smaller size of a campervan makes it ideal for navigating narrow roads and finding parking in places that might be inaccessible to larger motorhomes. This agility allows adventurers to explore off-the-beaten-path destinations with ease. Additionally, the simplicity of a campervan means quicker setup which is perfect for travellers looking for a no-fuss, grab-and-go type of vehicle.


Driving Experience

Driving a motorhome vs. a campervan can feel different. The larger size of motorhomes requires more confidence and attention, particularly on narrow roads or in tight parking scenarios. Campervans, resembling regular vans in size and maneuverability, are often easier for those not accustomed to driving large vehicles. This can make a significant difference in your comfort level and confidence on the road, impacting your overall travel experience. For more tips on first-time road trips in a campervan or motorhome, check out the full beginner's guide to taking a road trip around Australia.


Budget Considerations

The choice between a motorhome and a campervan may also come down to budget. Generally, motorhomes are more expensive to rent and operate. Their larger engines and heavier weights mean higher fuel consumption, while the purchase price and maintenance costs can also be higher. Campervans, being smaller and more fuel-efficient, often represent a more budget-friendly option, not only in rental costs but also in fuel expenses. 


Rent a motorhome or campervan with Apollo

To wrap up, choosing the right vehicle for your Australia road trip—a motorhome or a campervan—depends largely on your travel style, budget, and desired comfort. Motorhomes offer expansive comfort and are suited for longer stays, while campervans appeal more to those seeking simplicity and closer interaction with the outdoors.

Want to experience what it is like to travel in a motorhome or campervan for yourself? You can easily book your ideal travel companion through Apollo's straightforward online booking system. Once booked, you can pick up your motorhome or campervan from any Apollo branch across Australia, conveniently located in major cities and popular tourist destinations. Whether you choose the luxury of a motorhome or the compact efficiency of a campervan, Apollo has the perfect option to make your Australia road trip unforgettable.


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