When we tried to rent a motorhome for a ski trip a few years ago we were surprised by just how difficult it was – and that was before we knew what we were looking for in a motorhome that would survive a ski holiday. We scoured the web and after a lot of research, we thought we’d share what we discovered.
Can I rent a motorhome for a ski trip? It is possible to rent a motorhome for a ski trip but you must make sure you hire a suitably winterised motorhome and have all the correct equipment with you.
In this blog, we’re going to answer some of the questions that we had about renting a vehicle for a motorhome ski trip so you know what to look out for when you investigate hiring a van.
Motorhome Skiing is Becoming More Popular
Some of you reading this will already own fancy motorhomes and anyone who’s taken their own winterised whip winter camping in Europe in recent years will tell you that the variety of people, and vehicles, motorhome skiing is on the up.
That means that motorhome skiing, snowboarding and winter sport 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 savvy rental companies all over Europe offering fully equipped ‘ski-vans’ for hire.
Here’s our story about how we tried to hire a motorhome for a ski trip.
Have You Ever Tried to Hire a Motorhome to Take Skiing?
Well we have. We contacted no fewer than 11 companies a few seasons ago. On discovering that our motorhome was wholly inadequate and had now become a noose around the neck of the Winterised 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 hiring 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*) – we found them and we’ll go into that later in the blog for those of you interested.
First we’re going to cover the why, what and how to hire a motorhome or campervan for a ski trip.
Why Rent a Motorhome for a Ski Trip?
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.
Some of you reading this might also be a little sceptical about just how ‘winterised’ your vehicle actually is. If you don’t have the inclination or knowhow to upgrade your motorhome to ‘winter spec’ and you’re only looking for one trip a year to the mountains, then hiring a fully kitted out winterised motorhome might be a wise investment.
Perhaps you have an awesome campervan – but think that the space and facilities offered by a slightly bigger vehicle might make a snomadic ski trip just a bit more comfortable?
If any of these is you but you need a bit more convincing – read on.
Here Are Our Top 5 Reasons For Hiring 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…
European. 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.
Under 3.5 tonnes. 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 7m 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 (we know people have had good experiences hiring from Indie Campers who offer well equipped winter vans if you pick up from certain locations in Italy and Germany) but, given the current situation and the complexities this is no doubt going to raise, we would recommend hiring in the UK.
The other HUGE bonus of hiring in the UK is taking all your own gear – which might include skis, boards, and a lot more than you’d comfortably fit in the hold of an aircraft or the boot of your VW Golf.
And for peace of mind – you’ll be able to get a better grip on the small print (unless you are fluent in the mother language) and you’re going to have a lot of questions. This is not like hiring a car. You will likely forget something you learned on your handover and need a remote refresher so English speaking customer service is very nice to have.
When should I book?
Here’s the luxury – you can see a dump hanging over Les 2 Alps 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 (and sometimes even less).
- 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!
How To Hire A Winterised Motorhome
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 from the UK – here’s how we came across them and a bit about our experience so far.
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.
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, Jeremy (UK & Europe Operations Manager) and a couple of mates did a fully recce to Val Thorens last season to test a few upgrades they’ve been adding to their winter fleet.
Needless to say, we were impressed
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. We were pretty excited about that because above everything, committing to a job, in our experience, produces much better results for everyone and we’d love to see these guys helping more people take a motorhome ski trip.
They’re in. So much so that they have offered the Winterised tribe a 10% discount on all hires, all year. We’ve also worked with them on something very close to our hearts – winter tyres!
So every ‘ski-booking’ will also come with 3PSMF fully compliant winter tyres, free of charge.
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.
If you want to add the ‘winter pack’, they have also generously offered a 25% discount on that when you book online – just add it to your basket.
We’re In Too
We know that for many reading this, the idea of going on a motorhome ski trip might be one of two things:
A bit nerve-wracking – What about the drive? Where will we park? Will we be cold? etc – You’ll be fine – you just need to prepare properly.
Full of confidence – it’s going to be amazing and carefree!!! Well yes but hold on cowboy, it will be, if you prepare properly!
So we’re offering a 30 minute skype call to anyone who books with Spaceships and just wants to brainstorm a few things. Hopefully we’ll be able to point you in the right direction and answer any fears or concerns you might have. All you need to do is message us on [email protected] or via Facebook once you’ve made your booking and we’ll schedule a time to suit you.
Here’s the link to get your Winterized Discount of 10% off motorhome hire – it’s not just for winter motorhome rental – this discount applies to all motorhome rentals, all year round.