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How to Choose a Tour Van and What You Need to Consider (Guest Post by Vans For Bands)

If you’re in a band and you want to tour then you’re going to need transport. For most bands starting out this takes the form of a splitter van; a vehicle with seats in the front half and an equipment storage area behind a bulkhead at the back. You can either buy one of these or hire one from a rental company.

3066102990 fbfcdf07c8 How to Choose a Tour Van and What You Need to Consider (Guest Post by Vans For Bands)

Buying your own van

Buying your own van can be a smart move in the long term. If you tour a lot you will save on rental fees and you also have the convenience of having the transport available and at hand whenever you need it. However, there are a few pitfalls to be wary of and some important considerations to bear in mind.

Get the right vehicle:
If you’re going to buy your own van its really important to get the right vehicle for the job. Often hire companies will sell off vehicles when they renew their fleets and this is an easy way to get hold of a ready built splitter van (expect to pay anywhere from £3000 – £8000 for an ex hire vehicle that is being sold for fleet renewal, depending on age, mileage and general condition). Bear in mind that a van being sold by a hire company will probably have covered a lot of miles and seen a lot of life. So you may want to go down the alternative route of purchasing an empty vehicle and having the seats and bulkhead installed by a third party, usually a specialist coachbuilder (coachbuilders will usually charge between £3000-£6000 to complete this kind of work).

You’ll also need to purchase a vehicle you can legally drive. If you passed your driving test after 1996 then you have the B and B1 categories on your driving license, which means that you can drive a vehicle with a gross weight of up to 3.5 tons and up to 9 passenger seats. Its important to check that the vehicle you purchase fits inside these boundaries to stay legal.

Most hire companies use 9 seat splitter vans based on 3.5 ton Mercedes Sprinters. This is because Mercedes Sprinters are about as reliable as you can get in the van world and have a higher payload than most other vehicles in the 3.5 ton gross weight bracket.

If you buy your own vehicle then its imperative to keep it well maintained. With tax and mot costs you should budget on spending in excess of £1000 per year just keeping the vehicle in good condition with regular servicing and parts replacement. The more miles you do, the more you will need to spend in maintenance. If you skimp on maintenance your van won’t last. Period.

Insuring splitter vans is a bit of a minefield, because they encompass to things the insurance industry really doesn’t like: the music industry and converted vehicles. You should expect to pay in excess of £1000 per year to insure a splitter van legitimately. Most domestic and commercial vehicle insurance policies explicitly exclude use by musicians in their small print, so make sure you check you’re getting the right thing. If you’re in an accident and the policy isn’t right they won’t cover you!

Hiring a splitter van

If you don’t want to buy your own van, the UK has a number of specialist splitter van hire companies (of which my company Vans For Bands Ltd is one) from whom you can rent a vehicle. You should expect to pay between £70-£100 plus VAT per day, depending on how high a spec vehicle you want. The benefits are that in return for your money you get a purpose built, well maintained and properly insured vehicle, that is right for the job. Rental vehicles, as a general rule, will tend to be newer and in better condition than the vans most bands can afford to buy themselves (they cost £30,000 plus to buy new and fit out) and as a result they can often present the best way forward for bands who want reliable and comfortable transport and don’t want the responsibility and financial outlay of buying and maintaining their own vehicle.

This is a guest blog post by Tarrant at Vans for Bands who offer splitter tour bus hire for the entertainment industry.

Image Credit: Mindtalk

About Marcus Taylor

In 2013, Marcus Taylor won the award for 'Young Visionary of the Year' at MIDEM. Marcus is passionate about marketing and the music industry, and has consulted to some of the biggest names in the music industry through his agency, Venture Harbour. Marcus founded this website in 2009, and has reached over half a million musicians ever since.


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  • Operating a rental van or truck in reverse offers other challenges and hazards. To avoid having to back out of parking spaces, its a good idea to have a friend or family member with you that can guide you safely, allowing you to exit them more safely and easily.

  • splittercritter says:

    anyone able ro recommend an insurance company that DOES insure vehicles used in entertainment industries? So far I've hit a brick wall, to pardon the pun

  • hezelcrowns says:

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  • Mick Tee says:

    When hiring a Splitterbus & Driver, it is very much a case of ‘hirer beware’. Do not be tempted to base your decision purely on price, at the potential heightened risks associated with having to use an unlicensed company. And never be tempted to accept an offer to carry more than 8 passengers unless you have been provided with proof that the vehicle has a Coif & an Operator Licence.
    Anyone that wants to be certain can check with the local authority to find out if a company is licensed for private hire or with VOSA if they claim to have a Public Service Vehicle Operator Licence and/or offer to carry more than 8 passengers. VOSA have a hotline for anyone that is concerned about the validity of an operator. The number is 0870 60 60 440.
    Crossbow are a Licensed Splitterbus Operator , licensed by the
    PCO/ TFL London – Number 02068 
    PSV Operator Licence Number PK1044578 R

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  • Great Ideas, While in New York City area you should check out GO Van Rentals with Their Specialty Touring Van Rentals and Splitter Vans for Your Traveling Band http://GoVanRentals.com

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  • Touringtony says:

    Also should mention there are lots of other companies like Tigertours in London and Tune Unit in Manchester. Everyone wants a deal but I found the cheapest are never the best! One cheap guy in London was Moving Space……… enough said!! You get what you pay for and need to have a company behind you that will answer the phone and support you when things go wrong!!

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