What, where, when, why and how to rent a motorhome for your ski trip
Is your motorhome truly winterised? Do you have a family campervan? Are you, like us van-less altogether but still fancy the idea of motorhome skiing or simply spending some time in the mountains in the snow (check out our blog, winter motorhoming for non-skiers’)? If this is you, read on…
In this blog, we’re going to answer a load of questions that have been going round in our brains about renting a vehicle for a motorhome ski trip.
Many of you reading this will already own fancy motorhomes but anyone who’s been winter camping in Europe in recent years will tell you that the variety of people, and vans is on the up.
That means that motorhome skiing, snowboarding and winter sports is becoming more diverse. Previously the privilege of wealthy empty nesters and seasonnaire vanlifers earning a crust in resort, motorhome skiing is becoming far more accessible, and that opportunity just got a whole heap more attainable with a very savvy rental company.
Have you ever tried to rent a motorhome to take skiing?
Well we have. We contacted no fewer than 11 companies last season. On discovering that our motorhome was wholly inadequate and had now become a noose around the neck of the Winterized Project as a whole, we set about Plan B. With jobs jacked in, rental agreements terminated and even the car sold, there was no way on earth James and I were giving up our season touring the Alps part way through because of, let’s just call it, a gross underestimation of the technical and practical requirements of a truly winterised motorhome (and not by us).
Equipped with everything we needed from winter tyres and chains to the gear we’d invested in for ourselves, we were dead set on renting a more suitable vehicle – even if that meant driving the 1800 miles home and back to pick one up in the UK.
We hit a brick wall. Five of the companies we approached refused point blank sighting (quite correctly) that as much as they would love to rent us a vehicle, their fleet did not include winter specification motorhomes or campervans. Three presented quotes that were so mind-bogglingly extortionate that we were priced out of the game and three simply didn’t respond.
With a determination to improvise, adapt and overcome, we soldiered on in the vehicle we had, deciding that we would lose more time than was worth the hassle, and we could adjust our plans to nurse our lame home-on-wheels around the Alps.
On returning, we decided that someone must be able to rent us a van for a decent price without the bonkers restrictions (mileage, drivers and ALL the extras*) – someone that got it.
Browsing the Ski Club of Great Britain website, we came across an advert for Spaceships Rentals who proclaimed they have suitable motorhomes available for motorhome ski trips.
PAH! Given our experience, James and I quaffed at these crazy people – they couldn’t possibly be sending out vehicles that were fully winter ready, with the risks we’re all aware of…they must be daft!
So inquisitively, we called them to challenge them on their preposterous claim.
And we were pleasantly surprised. Not only did they have staff who were motorhome skiers but it transpires, they know a thing or two about picking the right tool for the job.
NB: at the bottom of this blog there’s a cracking discount code if you want to see what a motorhome ski trip could set you back. Compare it to a package and see what you think.
Why rent a motorhome for a ski trip or mountain holiday?
A whole bunch of reasons – the most obvious of which is you don’t own a motorhome! Just like you probably don’t own a cruise ship so it seems more sensible to ‘hire’ a space in one rather than invest.
Do not get us wrong. Owning a motorhome is fabulous and liberating and brilliant in many ways, but it’s rarely a sound economic decision – it’s an emotional and practical decision.
Here are our top 5 reasons for renting a motorhome for this winter:
– You can’t afford or can’t justify motorhome ownership
– You’re thinking of investing in a motorhome and want a try-before-you-buy experience
– You’ve got a camper but have realised that winter camping is more comfortable in a motorhome with the space that offers
– You have a perfectly good motorhome but aren’t sure it’s sufficiently winterised or would prefer not to test it
– You just fancy a winter motorhome trip!
What you need to look for in a ski-ready rented motorhome…
Ideally you’re looking for a European manufactured motorhome – preferably German or Slovenian. This way you know that the thermal testing has been taken seriously and those are the vehicles you’ll see everywhere on your sub-zero travels.
If it’s your first time or you’re not experienced in manoeuvring bigger vehicles, keep it as short as you can (no more than 7.5m if available) and under 3.5 tonnes – this will offer you considerably more flexibility in terms of where you can stay and park, and be cheaper all round from the hire cost, crossings, tolls (if you choose to use them) and fuel.
Where should I hire?
If you’re from the UK, you can hire on the mainland but unless you have a continental European address and are fluent in the home language, we’d recommend hiring at home. You’ll be able to get a better grip on the small print and you’re going to have a lot of questions. For your own peace of mind, you’re also going to want English speaking customer service – this is not like hiring a car. You will likely forget something you learned on your handover and need a remote refresher!
When should I book?
Here’s the luxury – you can see a dump hanging over Alpe d’Huez on Thursday evening, get online, make a booking, and be on the slopes for first lift on Saturday. All without facing a powder-rush at the airport!
You can also take advantage of early season offers, or book well in advance, safe in the knowledge that you can go wherever there is snow so the risk of a snow-less holiday is considerably lessened.
Why hire at all?
The ‘whys’ are many and really dependent on your personal circumstances but here are a few stand out reasons that you might want to consider hiring a motorhome for your winter camping trip:
– Cost – just on hire alone, and assuming the alternative is to invest in a used winterised motorhome, around 25 week-long trips is where you breakeven on your investment!*
– Convenience – storing a motorhome, maintaining and preparing it for a winter trip is costly and time consuming. Hiring is a pitch-and-play game that is as hassle free as a tour operator booked package.
– Van Flexibility – growing family? Friends joining you? Leaving the kids at home? Hiring a winterised motorhome means you can choose your winter camping wagon based on your individual needs for each trip. It’s also a great way to try out some different layouts before you take the plunge in a new purchase
– Worry free – the reality is, everyone worries about their motorhome’s capabilities in very cold conditions. Hiring relieves that concern. Whilst you obviously have to take care of the motorhome you hire, you don’t have the niggling concern – did you use the right washer fluid? Are my tyres suitable? Will my heating be sufficient? If you hire a motorhome from people who know what they’re talking about, you’re going to be fine.
*a gross generalisation but you can do your own sums!
This is not a sponsored post but it is a poke in the direction of one company in particular when it comes to hiring a motorhome for your winter trips.
Spaceships Rentals are a big-little company… what we mean is they’ve been going a long time (starting in New Zealand yonks ago), they’ve expanded where they’ve wanted and unlike a number of hire companies we have talked to – all their staff are mad about motorhoming. In fact, as we type, Jeremy and a couple of mates are about to set off to Val Thorens for a motorhome ski trip and to test a few upgrades they’ve been adding to their winter fleet.
Winterized with Spaceships
Not only do these guys know their stuff, they also have ambitions to be THE go-to rental company for motorhome ski hire and winter camping. So they’ve offered the Winterized Tribe a pretty mint deal – 10% discount on all hire bookings.
Even if you just want to see what a hire might cost you, it’s worth taking a look – and if you’re interested in buying an Adria or Sun Living motorhome, what better way to try before you buy. Their winterised fleet are made by the Slovenian stars of winter motorhoming Adria and we can’t say enough good things about these vehicles and the company. A breath of fresh air from a mainstream manufacturer.
Here’s the link to get your Winterized Discount of 10% off motorhome rental and keep your eye out in the coming weeks as we’ll post updates from their trip in ValT.
*Currently there is a £450 charge for full spec winter tyres from Spaceships – we will see what happens with this optional extra as the legislation for winter tyres becomes more widespread across Europe.