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Choosing the right self-drive van size: a complete van size guide for you

Are you gearing up for a self-drive van adventure in the UK? Whether you’re moving house, running a business, or embarking on any transporting task, making the right choice regarding van size is pivotal to a successful journey.

Our comprehensive van size guide will walk you through the process of selecting the perfect van size based on your unique needs. From assessing your load to considering manoeuvrability, budget, and more, we’ve got you covered. Get ready to make an informed decision and ensure a smooth and efficient self-drive van experience in the UK.

If you’d like to consult with a local van hire expert, call 020 7916 6616 or email now. Our team would love to help you, with advice as well as quality self-drive vans!

Types of self-drive vans available for hire in the UK

Small vans

Small vans are the ideal choice for individuals or businesses with light payload requirements. Their compact size makes them easy to navigate through narrow city streets, and they are perfect for transporting smaller loads.

These vans typically offer a cubic capacity ranging from 2 to 5 cubic meters, with a payload capacity that usually falls between 600kg to 800kg. If you’re looking for an economical and agile option for your transportation needs, small vans are a great choice.

Short wheelbase vans

Slightly larger than small vans, short wheelbase vans provide more payload space, making them suitable for medium-sized loads. With a cubic capacity of approximately 5 to 8 cubic meters, these vans offer versatility without sacrificing manoeuvrability.

Their payload capacity typically ranges from 800kg to 1,100kg. Short wheelbase vans strike a balance between compactness and space, making them a popular choice for various transportation needs.

Long wheelbase vans

When you require even more payload space, long wheelbase vans are the answer. These vans are ideal for tasks like moving furniture, appliances, or larger items.

They offer a generous cubic capacity, typically ranging from 10 to 15 cubic meters. With payload capacities starting at 1,200kg and going up to 1,600kg, long wheelbase vans provide the room and strength needed for heavier and bulkier loads.

Luton box vans

Luton box vans are renowned for their spacious box-shaped design, which makes them a top choice for house moves and sizeable items.

These vans offer substantial cubic capacity, ranging from 15 to 20 cubic meters, allowing for the transportation of large and cumbersome items. Their payload capacity often exceeds 1,500kg, ensuring you can move both voluminous and heavy goods comfortably.

Luton low loader vans

A variation of the Luton box van, the Luton low loader van retains the advantages of its boxy design but has a lower loading height. This feature makes loading and unloading easier, especially for heavier items. The cubic capacity and payload are similar to standard Luton vans, making them a practical choice when you need the convenience of a lower-loading platform.

Crew vans

Crew vans are a versatile option that combines passenger and payload space, making them suitable for transporting both people and goods. These vans come in various sizes, offering different levels of cubic capacity and payload capacity, usually ranging from 800kg to 1,300kg.

Crew vans are a great choice when you need to transport a team of workers along with your equipment or when you require a versatile vehicle for multiple purposes.

If you wish to discuss your van hire requirements in London, including detailed discussions about van size, payload capacity, suitability, and more, feel free to get in touch with H&H Van Hire. Our experts would be happy to guide you!

9 tips to choose the right self-drive van size based on your needs

Assess your load

Before embarking on your self-drive van journey, take the time to thoroughly assess the volume and type of items you’ll be transporting. This initial step is crucial as it sets the foundation for selecting the appropriate van size.

Whether it’s household possessions, business equipment, or commercial merchandise, understanding the specific characteristics of your load is key. By doing so, you can ensure that the van you choose will comfortably accommodate your items without the constraints of limited space.

This level of assessment will help you avoid the frustration of realising the van is too small to fit your load or unnecessarily renting a larger van for a smaller load.

Calculate payload

Once you have a clear picture of your load, it’s essential to calculate the payload capacity your chosen van can handle. Different van sizes come with varying payload capacities, so it’s vital to match the van’s capacity with the weight of your belongings.

Overloading a van can lead to safety hazards and potential damage to the vehicle. On the other hand, selecting a van with excessive payload capacity can be an unnecessary expense. Ensuring that the chosen van can securely carry your items without exceeding its payload limits guarantees a safe and efficient transportation experience.

Consider manoeuvrability

Contemplating the manoeuvrability of the van is paramount, especially if your journey involves navigating narrow city streets, tight parking spaces, or areas with limited access.

Opting for a smaller van in such situations can significantly enhance your driving experience, making it easier to handle and park the vehicle. The ability to manoeuvre through confined spaces can save you time and reduce the stress associated with navigating challenging urban environments.

On the other hand, larger vans may be less suited for such scenarios, potentially causing difficulties in tight spots. Therefore, taking into account the practicality of manoeuvrability is essential for a smooth and convenient journey.

Loading and unloading ease

The ease of loading and unloading your items is a critical factor when selecting the right van size. Smaller vans often offer quicker and more accessible loading and unloading for smaller items. Their lower height and compact size make it easier to ensure items can be loaded and secured efficiently.

On the other hand, larger vans can be more convenient for substantial and bulky loads that require a spacious interior. Their generous payload space allows for efficient organisation and secure placement of your items. Considering the ease of loading and unloading according to the nature of your load is vital for a hassle-free transportation experience.

Fuel efficiency matters

Fuel efficiency is a factor that shouldn’t be underestimated, especially when planning shorter trips or city driving. Smaller vans typically offer better fuel efficiency, making them the preferred choice for journeys where fuel consumption is a concern. Their compact size and lighter weight contribute to reduced fuel costs, making them not only an economical but also an eco-friendly choice.

However, for longer journeys or when carrying substantial loads, larger vans can provide better comfort but may consume more fuel. Therefore, it’s crucial to consider the distance you’ll be covering and the nature of your load when assessing fuel efficiency to align with your specific needs.

Consider the journey’s length and durability

The length of your journey and the durability of your items are essential considerations when choosing the right van size.

For longer trips, larger vans may offer a more comfortable ride, especially when it comes to items that require extra care during transportation. The added space allows for better organisation and protection of your belongings over extended distances.

On the other hand, for shorter trips, smaller vans may be more practical and cost-effective. Assessing the length and durability of your journey and your items ensures that you select a van that can handle both the distance and the protection requirements for your load.

Storage space for tools or equipment

If your transportation involves tools, equipment, or items that require organised storage, it’s important to consider the availability of storage space in the van.

Crew vans, for instance, provide a versatile solution by offering both passenger space and compartments for storing equipment and tools. This can be particularly valuable for businesses and tradespeople who need to transport both a team of workers and their gear.

Assessing the need for specialised storage space ensures that you can efficiently organise your items and maintain a well-structured transportation experience.

Budget and van size – a crucial factor!

Budget considerations are a significant aspect of choosing the right van size. Larger vans typically come with a higher rental cost. Therefore, it’s crucial to balance your needs with your budget constraints.

Understanding the correlation between van size and cost is essential in making a decision that doesn’t overstretch your finances. Finding the right-sized van that meets your requirements without causing a financial burden is the key to ensuring a cost-effective transportation experience.

By carefully managing your budget and selecting the most suitable van size, you can enjoy a hassle-free journey without the worry of excessive expenses.


Choosing the right self-drive van size is a decision that can greatly impact the efficiency and comfort of your transportation task. By thoughtfully assessing your load, calculating payload, considering manoeuvrability, and keeping other factors in mind, you can make an informed choice that aligns perfectly with your needs.

Remember that booking in advance during peak seasons is a smart move to secure your preferred van size. With these tips, you’re well-equipped to enjoy a smooth and hassle-free self-drive van experience in the UK!

Let us at H&H Van Hire know what your requirements are. We’ll analyse your requirements and help you find the right van for your needs. Our vans are of high quality. They are well-maintained. And all our vehicles including vans and minibuses are ULEZ-compliant. Book your self-drive van now!

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