Initially of the pandemic, when it regarded like lock-down was going to be introduced, Declan Feeney decided he’d been toying with for some time – he purchased a camper van.
“It had been on my radar,” says the Sligoman, “However as soon as I knew we had been going to be caught in lockdown for some time, I agreed the sale.” Having owned older camper vans previously, he determined that this time he needed one thing high-spec and dependable with the belief of a beneficial dealership behind it. He is now the proud proprietor of a €52,000 Renault Trafic and already having fun with a break in Connemara together with his 11-year-old son and their canine.
“As quickly as rules eased up, we had been away,” he grins. “However earlier than that we spent nights in it, we used it to drive to eating places and have our take-away within the van whereas it was sizzling. With issues being the way in which they’re, there’s additionally nice peace of thoughts in realizing we’re the one ones who’ve been in right here, it feels secure.”
That is clearly the large promoting level proper now. So far as a Covid-safe staycation goes, a van ticks numerous containers. It is a self-contained residence on wheels. With sufficient provides, you may be in a camper and nonetheless cocoon.
Loads have cottoned on to the enchantment. “We’re getting double the quantity of enquiries we might usually get at the moment of 12 months,” reveals Joe McLoughlin of Cosy Campers in Co Dublin. “Gross sales are psychological,” agrees Pat Horan, of Pat Horan Motors Ltd in Co Tipperary. Within the 25 years that he is been dealing camper vans, Pat says he is by no means seen something like this earlier than.
“The growth years, 2006/2007 had been hectic, however this has surpassed it,” he reveals. He estimates gross sales are up 50computer on what he’d count on for this time of 12 months.
One in every of his latest prospects is Kerryman Peter Clark, who discovered the pressures of latest months impressed him to make the leap and purchase the van he’d at all times needed. “I would been serious about getting one for the final 5 years,” explains the emergency medical technician. “However in the intervening time I’ve had numerous adjustments with my job and, seeing issues from a unique perspective, I simply determined to go for it – now I am sorry I did not do it years in the past. I can clear it, maintain it sterile and, even with work being busy, after an extended day I can get into the camper and spend the evening regionally,” he says. “Some days have been hectic and to only get within the van, be by the ocean and put the kettle on may be very restorative.”
Some 30,000 camper vans are owned in Eire, with costs ranging anyplace from €2,000 to €250,000 for a top-of-the-range Hymer VW. The slow-down in manufacturing, attributable to the pandemic, has lowered provide to the market and, with demand at an all-time excessive, patrons beware.
“The quantity of needed adverts I’ve to authorise on our gross sales group on Fb has elevated tenfold,” reveals Ally Onion, who runs motorhomecraic.com. “However there have additionally been fairly a couple of rip-off gross sales and needed adverts that we’ve got needed to deal with,” he provides. “On-line is a minefield of scams and new patrons have to be very, very cautious.”
Peter had checked out shopping for a van from non-public sellers. “However I received messed round a bit,” he reveals. He had a way more constructive expertise shopping for from a seller. “The after-sales care particularly is one thing you’d by no means get from a non-public sale,” explains Peter. “Each query I’ve had – from water pumps to gasoline providers – he is helped me.”
Declan is likewise eager to sing the praises of his purchase from Cosy Campers, who specialize in constructing vans to the client’s particular person specs. “The spec is so good, proper right down to rear imaginative and prescient cameras,” he enthuses. “I am planning on utilizing it day by day and eliminating the automotive.” He is already had enquiries from folks eager to purchase it off him.
However for these on a extra restricted finances, many camper-van house owners are evangelical about the advantages of self-builds and conversions. Stephanie Collins from Tralee purchased her camper van – a former affected person switch automobile – two years in the past for round €6,000 and spent one other €1,000 changing it into a cushty vacation residence for her companion and three-year-old daughter. “What you may purchase for €7,000 would not evaluate,” she says.
They did the work themselves with no earlier background in DIY. “It has been the very best factor ever,” says Stephanie. “We’re each college students and we lease however that is ours and we personal it. All over the place we go folks love Neena – named as a result of she’s an ex-ambulance! My companion’s brother has been trying to get a van nevertheless it’s subsequent to not possible. Each time one seems on-line, it is gone two minutes later.”
There’s one other welcome facet to a camper-van vacation, particularly for individuals who have maybe been dwelling an remoted lifetime of late. Shopping for a van is shopping for right into a neighborhood, with a number of Fb teams to ask questions in and share experiences.
“Usually there are many meets,” explains Dublin mum-of-two Denise Carr, who has been taking holidays in her camper van together with her children, aged seven and 9, for the previous eight years. “There are occasions the place all of the VWs drive in convoy round Eire. My children have summer season mates who they meet up with yearly. As a single father or mother, you do not essentially need to be by yourself so the neighborhood facet of getting a camper van is one thing that I like.”
The craze for camper vans has additionally hit the rental market. “For the final two or three weeks, we have been working 12 to 14-hour days answering emails and cellphone enquiries and bookings!” reveals Sue Finest who, alongside together with her husband, runs Lazy Days camper rent in Co Wicklow. Hires in July and August run at €165 per day with a seven-day minimal, falling to €130/day and a three-day minimal in September. “It hasn’t stopped,” says Sue. “We’re very almost booked out and we count on the season will proceed properly into September and October.” And that is with out their common inflow of worldwide prospects.
Driving wherever you fancy at a second’s discover and by no means even having to test the climate forecast sounds fairly idyllic, however there are issues to contemplate do you have to want to be part of the ranks of blissful campers. Examine the burden of the automobile and what your licence allows you to drive – not all licences will cowl a 7.5 tonne automobile. Insurance coverage would require your electrical energy and gasoline has been serviced and a few insurance coverage stipulates peak restrictions.
Nor are you able to park anyplace. Some seashores are no-parking or function peak restriction indicators. It is a common bone of competition within the camper-van neighborhood that there is a scarcity of devoted parking areas in lots of picturesque Irish cities. “Most native authorities deal with holidaymakers as free-loaders and stop us from parking and spending cash in native retailers, eating places and bars, not like France and Spain, who truly present parking for motor properties,” studies one irate camper-van proprietor.
“Eire has an extended solution to go to develop into as welcoming as France, Spain and Germany to camper vans,” agrees Ally.
On the different finish of the dimensions there are tales proper now of fields within the West of Eire full of 40 or 50 vans – a lot for splendid isolation. However at a time when freedom has felt curtailed of late, there’s lots to be stated for having your personal vacation residence on wheels. “The motor caravan vacation is the way forward for holidays for at the least the following two years,” predicts Invoice Lupton, president of the Motorcaravan Membership of Eire.
“It provides the proprietor the safety of a mattress they know solely they’ve slept in, they do not should work together and so they can park nearly anyplace they like, after they like. It is freedom and a house on wheels – what extra might you need than that?”