Hiring a campervan in Scotland is a great way to see the country in a completely different way. There’s nothing better than waking up in some of Scotland’s most amazing scenery – hills towering above you or looking out towards where dolphins play.
I love travelling Scotland and have done so in many ways (hotels, cottages, camping) – but having your home alongside you as you explore is a really fun way to do it. I’ve travelled quite a lot of the country in a camper and it’s always a wonderful experience.
It’s great for navigating the damp weather, heading where it might be better, and just being right on the doorstep of where you’re exploring that day!
If you’ve ever considered campervan hire in Scotland, whether island hopping, driving the North Coast 500 or exploring the Borders, then this post is for you as I’ll answer all your questions that you might have!
Our Top Pick
Campervan rental – Spaceships UK
This company has depots in both London and Edinburgh and allows unlimited mileage for your trip.
You can also choose from a small van all the way up to a 6-berth motorhome.
Basics about camper hire in Scotland:
What licence do you need to hire a camper in Scotland?
For most campers for hire in Scotland you’ll need a full driving licence and be able to drive a vehicle up to 3.5 tonnes. This will cover most camper vans and motorhomes which tend to have a 3.5t weight limit.
While driving licences changed in 1997 (just when I took my test!), meaning you could drive only smaller vehicles, they should still be fine for a basic camper rental in the UK.
How old do you need to be?
Again, this might depend on the camper rental company that you go with. Most will have a minimum age of at least 21. Also be aware that if you are on the younger side you might need to tick more boxes like never having had accidents before etc.
Check the small print and FAQ sections of whichever company you go with.
Sometimes being younger, or older, can mean more expensive insurance. Again, check with your intended provider and ask before booking if you’re unsure!
Spaceships have a minimum age of 21 and there’s no upper age limit. There’s also no difference in the insurance options for camper rental for older and younger drivers.
Can you hire from overseas?
Yes, you can hire camper vans in Scotland from overseas – in fact it’s a great way to get around the country from abroad.
Where do you pick up campers from in Scotland?
Every camper van hire company will have their own depots – think about where you’re coming from and what works for you.
Many people start their journey in England so it might make sense to pick up there and give yourself some time to get used to the van before getting to Scotland.
Some people may want to fly to Scotland and pick up from there. Always check where to depot is, this isn’t like regular car hire in the UK where the depot is right next to the airport!
Hiring a Campervan & Motorhome – Money Matters:
Best Campervan hire company in Scotland
There are many companies that rent out motorhomes and camper vans for a Scotland trip. Here’s a list of them to get you started:
- Tripz (based in Derbyshire, England)
- PaulCamper (hire out other people’s vans)
- Quirky Campers (self built campers for hire)
- Motorhome Republic
How much is it to hire a camper van in Scotland?
Larger campers will work out much more expensive that smaller camper vans so the first thing to consider is what size you’ll need – I touch on this a little further down the page.
Approximately, and to give you a rough guide, aim to budget for around £100 – £150 per day. This should include any extra insurance as well.
Renting at popular times of the year might push these prices up.
Insurance for campervans
Insurance can be a big extra when talking about hiring campers and motorhomes and in Scotland it’s no different. It can be a little bit confusing as to what you need or should get. Here’s what you need to know about insurance:
- Your quoted daily rate should include basic insurance for the vehicle
- If anything happened on your trip you would be covered but there would be an excess to pay. Sometime this can be fairly hefty.
- Some companies will also charge your card with a deposit to cover for this excess (see security deposit below)
- In order to mitigate a potential huge excess bill in the case of an accident, often companies will encourage you to take out their ‘extra’ insurance which can bring down the excess to a much more reasonable amount or even zero
- It’s important to check all the fine print when hiring a van. Check what is covered and what is not. Damaged, theft, accidents can all have different outcomes
- Insurance sometimes doesn’t include damage for inside the van
- Each company is different – don’t assume that because one has rules about coverage that others are the same – always check.
- Since motorhomes and campers are incredibly expensive vehicles insurance can seem like a huge chunk – It’s also boring, but it’s always a good idea to be knowledgable about what is covered or not
Almost all the negative experiences of camper hire in Scotland are around the charges that can be imposed – yes it’s boring but this is a necessary thing to get your head around. Better to be informed than get a nasty shock if something goes wrong.
Also see extras that you might want to budget for below
Travel Insurance in general
While you’ll pay for insurance for your motorhome be aware that this will likely not cover more personal travel.
You’ll want to take out extra travel insurance that will cover you if you need to cancel or if the company cancels. Personal travel insurance will also cover your own belongings and any personal accidents that could occur.
I like comparison sites to get the best deals on travel insurance. Check out Travel Supermarket (UK travellers) or Travel Insurance Masters (overseas).
If you choose not to take out the full insurance excess cover then the camper van rental company may need to have a security deposit for your time with the van. Again, this can be a hefty chunk!
Make sure that you have funds available to cover the excess otherwise you may not be able to rent the van, and incur cancellation charges, or you might be made to take out the extra insurance.
On the road in a camper rental in Scotland:
How many miles can you drive?
This depends on the company that you hire from. Some will have unlimited mileage, which is great for if you have grand plans to explore more than just Scotland, and some will have a limited amount per day.
What extras are not included?
A campervan should have a decent amount of what you’ll need for your trip, but often some basics are NOT included such as bedding.
You can choose to take your own items to keep costs down, or you might like to take advantage of any upgrades the company offers.
Things to check if included or not:
- Bedding and pillows
- cutlery and plates
- cooking items
- Gas – (often included but you may need to fill up on return)
- Camping chairs
- picnic blankets
Can you take pets?
Yes! Most camper hire companies will allow you to take your pets to Scotland.
Camper travel is great for pets, I know our dog Annie loves it!
One thing to be aware of is that you’ll likely be charged a ‘pet fee’ for bringing your animals. Also most interior damage cannot be claimed on insurance so be sure that your dog or cat will not damage things.
You may wish to think about how your animals will be restrained when driving. Annie, our small terrier, uses a Kurgo harness which attaches to seat belts.
Can you take kids?
Kids love travelling in camper vans and motorhomes and the majority of camper hire companies will be family friendly.
You might have to also consider:
- car seats – will you need them, or can you use existing ones you own
- space for sleeping – if your kids are tall or older will they have enough room?
- bedding – you can never have too many blankets to keep kids warm!
- toys and games – think about what outdoors or rainy day things you can do with kids
What size camper should you choose?
This is a tricky question to answer as everyone will be different, however here are my thoughts from someone who has done quite a lot of camper travel in Scotland.
- Think about the roads you will travel on – if single track roads in Scotland then a smaller motorhome is better.
- will you spend a lot of time out of the camper?
- How comfortable are you driving a large vehicle? I’m don’t like big vans so much but my husband is an HGV driver so he doesn’t mind big campers at all!
- Are you planning campsite or wild camping?
- How many of you are going?
- I like to be able to stand up and my husband’s back would not thank him if he couldn’t! This means at least a tall camper.
The bigger the camper you go for the more expensive it will be. This is in many ways – fuel costs, ferry costs and also hiring costs. It will also be harder to drive on narrow roads BUT it will be amazing once you’re camped up in a campsite!
Smaller campers are ideal for wild camping and if you just want a place to rest your head. They can be tricky when the weather isn’t on your side though. You might also need to be very familiar with each other if the toilet is brought out into the living area!
Can you camp for free in a camper in Scotland?
One of the benefits of travelling around Scotland in a camper is that parking up in a lay-by and spending the night is tolerated and quite normal.
This is in stark contrast to England where it’s not so nearly tolerated.
Many places will be ok for you to spend the night for free in Scotland, although it’s becoming a little but more difficult near the cities and on islands.
Often islands will ask that you have a campsite booked for your time there as it reduces pressure on the small spaces – this is relatively new, since COVID, but seems to have taken hold.
While I love wild camping in our camper it’s a good idea to factor in some campsites on your trip – you’ll want to have a place to empty your waste and take a shower (if your van doesn’t have one).
What are the roads like for campers in Scotland?
Most roads are good for driving in Scotland although if you drive very far north, perhaps driving the NC500, then you’ll start to come across a lot of single track roads. Just take your time, be patient and keep an eye out for passing places.
Roads can be winding and dangerous in wet weather, of which there is a lot! Try and keep to sensible speeds and don’t be tempted to go too fast – if you’re concerned about holding up traffic you can always pull in and let people go past you.
If you’re in a rental camper then you’ll want to stay well away from any dirt tracks or unsealed roads in Scotland so don’t feel like going off road should be on your radar!
Can you take campervans on ferries in Scotland?
Yes – most camper companies are perfectly happy with you exploring the islands of Scotland in their camper vans. If you’re unsure it’s always wise to check the fine print or ask them before booking.
10 Motorhome & Campervan driving tips for Scotland
1. Have a planned short day for your first day
Whether you’re entirely new to driving a campervan or an old hand, having a short or light day for your first day is a good idea.
Choose a good place to stop, preferably in a campsite rather than a free camping spot by the roadside, and give yourself the gift of time to get used to your new home for your trip!
You’ll want to get to know the van set up, how to cook and go to the toilet, as well as how to empty things too. Believe me, emptying toilets are never fun, but for the first time you might want to do it when it’s only had some light use!
2. Get in some good routines for setting off
The first time you drive off in the van you’ll likely realise that you left things on the surface, cupboard doors aren’t closed right and you forgot to close the windows.
It’s a good idea to give yourself a checklist of things to do before setting off:
- clear any surfaces
- turn off the gas
- make sure all cupboards are secure
- close any windows
- close any roof lights
3. Download parking apps
I really like the app Park4Night which has been designed for people to share good overnight spots for camper vans and motorhomes. Another is Searchforsites.
When you’re out and about you can see if there are any places nearby that are good for staying at – perfect if you like to be open to where you end up!
These apps are also really useful if you’re heading into towns and cities and want a place to park for the day too – you can see if they have height restrictions or if they have camper parking spots.
4. Take note of your dimensions
Most camper rental companies will have a note of how tall and wide your van is. Take heed!
Lots of parking places may have height restrictions and of course bridges can be low too and the last thing you want to do is get stuck or cause damage to the top of your van.
It takes a while to remember about this so always have the dimensions on hand.
5. Use passing places to pass, not to park!
Passing places are common once you head out into places with single track roads. They are what they say they are – places where you can wait and allow someone to pass.
Especially in high season, we hear of many stories of people using these passing places to park up and head off somewhere. Don’t be this person!
6. Always dispose of waste properly
It’s really important to dispose of any waste in the proper manner when using a campervan in Scotland (or anywhere really!)
This means taking any rubbish onwards with you until you can find a bin (I find supermarkets are good places for disposing of litter).
It also means not emptying waste water or toilets by the roadside. While it probably sounds sensible, it does happen a lot – and often by people renting vans who don’t know that you shouldn’t.
Keep taps to your water tanks closed until you can get to a campsite to empty them and only empty toilets at campsites too. Some people try and use public toilets to empty them and the chemicals used can really damage them – best to stick to the proper places.
7. Wave at others!
Okay, something a little more lighthearted!
Once you’re in a motorhome or campervan in Scotland you’ll likely come across others waving at you when you drive past.
You’re now part of the motorhome community – get waving!
8. Take your time on winding roads
I hinted at this earlier but it’s really important to take your time on Scottish roads that can be winding, bendy and sometimes quite dangerous.
If the weather has been bad and the roads are wet you’ll want to take even more care.
If you’re worried about slowing others down pull in at a parking spot to let others past.
9. Book ferries in advance
If you’re hoping to do some island hopping then it’s advisable to book your ferries in advance so you know that they will have space for you.
This is important at all times of the year – in the summer the demand is high but in the winter the services are a lot fewer too.
10. Allow plenty of time to get back to drop off your van
Similar to your first day, you won’t want to do too much on your last day either.
Many companies will charge you for dropping off late and for not filling up or cleaning up the van so it really pays to be on top of it all and give yourself time to finish up easily.
A campsite for your last night on the road will make a lot of sense and means you can empty everything and give a last minute clean before you drop your motorhome rental back.
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