Meet our Co-Founder - Mark
What better way is there to introduce you to the Just Kampers Community than by introducing our co-founders. This blog is all about Mark, who is the Managing Director of Just Kampers and has a life-long love affair with VWs and the endless places they can take you. We asked him to share his story with you!
Firstly, tell us a little bit about yourself (and your campers!)
Hi, I’m Mark, the MD of Just Kampers. I started Just Kampers way back in 1989, when VW Campers were still cheap and a way to have a fun holiday. JK has always been in the Farnham area and we are now in rural Hampshire just outside Odiham. I live about 30 minutes away, so I happily drive VWs every day to work; a T6 in winter and Classic VWs in Spring and Summer!
I’m told MD stands for “Makes Drinks” so my tea making is legendary and my coffee making is infamous.
When did your camper journey start?
It all started when I bought my first VW in 1987, it was a 1972 Orange and White T2. My now wife had the idea of driving it to Cape Town from the UK. Setting up Just Kampers got in the way and we never set off! The rest is history as they say…
Do you have your own camper?
Of course! I drive a 2015 4motion T6 on a day to day basis. All my classic VWs are Beetles and a Karmann Ghia. This is mainly because we are often too busy to get away during the summer months, so I can get my VW fix driving to work and shows.
What do you love most about campervans?
Two things, freedom and practicality. It’s amazing to have the freedom to take advantage of nice weather and be able to go wherever you like. You can go for spontaneous road trips to explore somewhere new or simply relax in the van on the driveway one sunny afternoon! I also use mine as a car, camper and a van so find them really practical. They are the original MPV.
What are your other passions that compliment your love of vans?
I really love working on Campers and Classic VWs, in fact any air-cooled cars. I actually spend every Friday in my workshop at home, covered in grease, my dogs love it too.
What activities do you enjoy when you are out on the road with your van?
I’ve used my T6 several times as a support vehicle and have taken it to some spectacular classic car driving events all over Europe. Some of the best experiences I’ve had include going from Lands’ End to John o’Groats for a charity event, Ice Racing in Austria and taking part in the Peter Maxx Muller race in Germany.
What was the inspiration for Just Kampers Hire?
At Just Kampers, we have about 100,000 current customers and we were hearing more and more people say things like “I love my Campers, but I don’t know where the time goes, so we just don’t use it enough”. It felt like people were finding it hard to justify having their campervan on their driveway all year when they only used it a couple of times a year. So with this in mind, we looked at how people could “sweat their assets” as they say in the USA, and the idea for a campervan hire community was formed!
When did JKH become more than just an idea?
It’s been on the “To Do” list at JK for about 10 years, but it is only now that we have the technology to carry out a safe and secure platform for renters and owners that the idea felt feasible and responsible. We also have our own JK insurance now which offers another layer of confidence as we can offer it to the Just Kampers Hire community.
What makes Just Kampers Hire unique?
We can honestly say that we are not just jumping on the “Staycation” Band Wagon, having been fellow camper owners for over 30 years now. We are passionate about campervans and have the expertise and knowledge that comes with experience. With JKH, we hope that owners and renters will feel confident and comfortable when using our platform.
What is the future for JKH and your community?
Hopefully a happy one! People will be able to slow down and escape the stresses of everyday life (ironic for someone who always have 500 things on the To Do list) and be able to reconnect with the beautiful natural surroundings that we have in the UK.
Can you tell us about a few of the best roadtrips you have been on?
- LA to San Francisco, then across to New York – my wife and I did this epic drive in 2014 in our 1972 VW T2.
- The UK to Tuscany, Italy – we have done this road trip about 5 times now and it still hasn’t gotten old, there is so much to see along the way.
- Lands’ End to John o’Groats – doing this trip really made me appreciate the beauty of my own country, I was blown away with the Highlands!
Which one was the most memorable?
It would have to be travelling from the West to East Coast of the USA. My wife Kerry and I had been dreaming about doing a trip of this size for years, so when Just Kampers turned 25 we decided to celebrate this landmark by taking a month off and heading to LA.
Some of the highlights of the trip were visiting Yosemite National Park and Colorado with its amazing lakes and mountains. We both agreed that exploring the Boston area on the East Coast was a standout moment. No wonder the Americans like to go to the Hamptons in the summer!
Who is your favourite person to travel with?
After 31 years on the road together, Kerry my wife…
What does #vanlife mean to you?
I’m old school, I’m less # and more just quietly get on with it…
How do you cope when it all goes wrong on the road?
I’m a “Prepare for the worst, Hope for the Best” sort of chap. So I always set off with far too many spares! See my backing blog for a classic… https://www.justkampers.com/jkblog/loading-up-on-spares-154/
I also always take out JK Breakdown cover, I’ve never had to use it, but I know the one time I don’t take it out I’ll have a huge bill from a garage!
Are there any common problems that people experience on the road?
The common mistakes that we have heard when jumping in a rental are things like mis-fueling, so filling a classic with diesel and wondering why it doesn’t run! We also hear that people have forgotten to take the handbrake off the classic models because there is no warning light, which leads to a very sluggish and smelly camper. And not securing the elevating roof properly and being driven mad by the whistling noise, or worse still the roof opening like a parachute on a motorway.
What’s the most important lesson you have learned on the road?
I would have to say not overpacking. I see Campers setting off with the whole house packed inside which is tempting I know. However, you will enjoy the experience a lot more if you travel light and have room to fully relax in the camper.
Also, try not to pack too much technology. A campervan holiday should be about switching off and making the most of the surroundings, so remove the distractions and enjoy the company.
If you could give people 3 reasons why to hit the road, what would they be?
- The build up: Planning the trip for weeks or months before is so much fun. I love researching places to stay and things to do on route. I also spend time reading reviews to make sure I’m creating the best itinerary!
- The journeys: Driving somewhere for me is decompression time, when I suddenly remember the things I had to sort before the holiday. So, by the time I get there, my head’s clear and I’m fully relaxed and ready to recharge my batteries.
- Independence: I don’t like being organised by other people, which is probably why I didn’t do well at school, so independent travel is my idea of heaven and an organised coach trip my hell.