How to drive a rental van safely

Jul 7, 2020.

Hiring a camper van enables you to be adventurous and have a great vacation, even in current times when travelling might be a little more difficult. A holiday with a camper van brings you closer to nature and lets you save money you would otherwise spend on flight tickets or accommodation. But if your only driving experience is behind the wheel of smaller rental cars, the prospect of steering one might feel pretty intimidating.

But, don’t worry – once you get comfortable with it, it’s not really much more difficult than driving a car. Here are a few things you need to remember.



Don’t rush

The last thing you want when driving a big van for the first time is to be stressed and in a hurry.


So, plan each journey in advance, avoiding busy areas, narrow streets and bad weather where you can. And always give yourself more time than you think you’ll need.



Get to know your rental van

First, make a note of the height of your van – it's best to discover this yourself rather than with the help of a height restriction barrier. Then, take the time to learn the layout and functions of all your van’s controls, to avoid fumbling around for the headlights while driving. Finally, adjust your seat for maximum comfort and the mirrors for maximum visibility. Speaking of which: given your more limited visibility, it's more important than ever to remember to use those mirrors.



Safe driving starts with safe loading

Load the heavy, solid things first. Distribute the weight over the van’s base, placing the heaviest items in the centre for a balanced load. Unsurprisingly, tall things have a habit of falling over, so tie them down before you set off. Once the heavy stuff is in, place smaller and more fragile items on top.



Drive rental cars slowly and smoothly

And not just because you’re a beginner – fast, jerky driving equals breakages.


So, keep well within the speed limits (which are often lower for vans, so be sure to check first). A leisurely pace is especially important when parking and reversing. Whenever possible, have someone with you who can jump out and give you directions. Take corners and bumps slowly, and avoid sudden stops by braking in plenty of time.


In short, relax and enjoy the journey – the hard bit should be the lifting, not the driving. Click here to learn more about how we can help you in the event of third-party damage.