Touring Scotland in a motorhome is one of the best ways to see the country.
There are plenty of places to park up for the night with wonderful views, and Scotland’s right to roam laws make it so much easier to experience Scotland in a motorhome. Just imagine being self-contained yet having all the comforts of home, while being surrounded by nature. There’s no having to pack your suitcase and rush from hotel to hotel- instead you just jump in the driver’s seat and off you go!
In May 2021, I worked for a motorhome hire company in Edinburgh for a year, and thus my passion for motorhome travel began.
My only experience with motorhomes prior to starting my new job was when I spent 8 months living in a van in Canada. I had some wonderfully wild adventures during this time, however, I’ve since upgraded my travel style since then, and I definitely enjoy a more luxurious style of travel versus my backpacker days!
Here are some tips for first-timers touring Scotland in a motorhome based on my own experiences and what I’ve learned on the job!
10 tips for touring Scotland in a motorhome
1. Stay at campsites
For your first trip touring Scotland in a motorhome, I recommend booking a pitch with electricity at a campsite. This way you won’t have to worry about running down the leisure battery, and you’ll be close to facilities such as water and areas to dispose of your waste.
There will also be other motorhome enthusiasts around if you need to ask any questions! Then once you’re confident and you know how everything works, you can give wild camping a go.
I recommend a maximum of two nights wild camping, and then staying at a campsite. This is because your water tank will probably run out after two days in the wild, plus you will need to recharge the leisure battery. The general rule is two days wild camping, one night campsite.
2. Know where to find everything
If staying at a campsite, you should be given a map or there should be a sign with a map outlining where you’ll find everything, such as toilets and showers.
Be sure to familiarise yourself with where to empty your grey water waste and toilet waste stations are. When you’re leaving your campsite, you’ll be in a rush [if you’re anything like me!] so it will save you time if you know where you’re going, as you will need to empty your grey water and waste before returning your motorhome or leaving your campsite.
3. How to save money on your motorhome booking
Want a cheap motorhome holiday? Some motorhome companies have one-way hires when they need to return a motorhome from one depot to another. Extra nights can be added, but at the standard price. These specials are popular, so be sure to sign up to the mailing lists of companies that offer these one-way hire.
It is also much cheaper to hire a motorhome during the shoulder season. I personally like travelling in April, May, October and November. There are less crowds, the weather is still nice, and you’ll have more campsite availability.
Many motorhome enthusiasts will book their rental and campsites a year in advance- so this isn’t really the best trip left to the last minute. Of course, there will probably be availability last minute, but you won’t have as much choice [especially in summer!]
4. Be aware where to refill your LPG (gas)
Before you return your motorhome you will probably need to refill the LPG. Not all petrol stations will have LPG, so be sure to ask the company you hire from where the closest garage is with LPG.
The LPG Stations website lists refuelling stations which is handy to use, but just bear in mind stations can run out of LPG, so make a plan/map of places you can refuel along your itinerary before you leave.
5. The golden rule of reversing
Always have someone standing outside, directing you when you are backing. Even if you have a reversing camera! It’s difficult to see the height of the terrain with a reversing camera- and most accidents will happen when you’re reversing. Plus, many insurance companies won’t cover you if damage is caused when reversing the motorhome!
Another one of the most common accidents is losing a wing mirror- especially on the narrow Scottish roads! Be aware of your wing mirrors at all times, and use them frequently to check your status on the road.
6. Take your time
I recommend spending at least 2-3 nights in each campsite you book. I feel as though changing campsites every day would feel frustrating- plus many campsites have a 2-night stay minimum.
Your leisure battery will charge as you drive. Your motorhome will also receive a charge if it has solar panels on the roof. If you’re wild camping, the one thing you don’t want to do is run your leisure battery flat. If it does go flat, this battery is separate from your engine battery so you should be able to drive around to recharge it or drive to a campsite that has an electric hookup.
7. Use your mirrors
I’ll be honest- I was nervous the first time I drove a motorhome. They are massive vehicles! However, once I’d been driving for around an hour I started to relax and enjoy the experience.
Now I love driving a motorhome! You can see quite a lot because you’re up higher, and motorhomes actually feel smaller to drive than they look. My top advice is to always use your mirrors and use them as a gauge for how wide your vehicle is.
If you feel tired, swap drivers. It does take more concentration driving a motorhome, especially on narrow Scotland roads.
There are also parts of Scotland that aren’t motorhome friendly, however, including some narrow and steep roads in the north-west highlands and the Isle of Skye. Do your research before you go, and you’ll be fine.
8. Make friends
Scotland has a massive, super-friendly motorhome community. It’s a lovely community to feel part of. Before I rented a motorhome I met many retired motorhome enthusiasts staying in campsites when I walked the Scottish National Trail. Several of them invited me to their motorhome for a meal, and made sure I left with snacks!
It’s a good idea to make friends with other motorhome owners so you can ask them tips or tricks, or any questions you may have. They’ll be happy to talk about motorhomes all day, this I promise you!
Plus there are plenty of motorhome groups on Facebook where you can ask questions. Here are a few I recommend joining:
- Scottish Motorhome Campervan Adventures
- Scottish Motorhomes and Caravanners
- Caravan and Motorhome Scotland
9. Avoid this road if driving the North Coast 500
Driving the North Coast 500 in a motorhome is a popular way to experience one of the most beautiful road trips in the world, however, not all sections of the route are ideal for motorhomes.
One thing to keep in mind is that some areas have shingle roads that are also single-track. There are passing places you can pull into to let opposing traffic pass, but there are certain roads I would avoid that aren’t suitable for motorhomes, especially the Bealach na Bà pass in Applecross, one of the steepest roads in Great Britain! There are warning signs saying the road isn’t suitable for motorhomes at the start of this road, and there is another, lower road you can take.
Don’t let this put you off- many first-timers drive the North Coast 500, including my in-laws! They drove the North Coast 500 during their first-ever motorhome trip and they had a great time.
10. Be Organised
Honestly, my best bit of advice for first-timers is to give yourself plenty of time.
Your first motorhome trip is always going to be a learning experience. Being as prepared as possible will help you to enjoy the experience a whole lot more. Watch YouTube videos, read blog posts by motorhome bloggers, and join Facebook groups where you can ask questions before your trip.
Personally, I found the Wandering Bird blog super helpful for motorhome travel in the UK.
I hope you find these tips helpful! If you have any more questions feel free to drop me a message on Instagram. You can find me there at @wayfaringkiwi11