Sometimes you really want to visit a part of the UK but can’t find somewhere that you want to stay. Other times you find somewhere but its miles from the locations you want to visit. So why not try a mobile holiday where you can stay in many more places and move as often as you want? Here is how to plan a campervan holiday in the UK.
About the campervan
At one time, the campervan was seen as a hippie thing, an old VW campervan travelling around the outdoor concerts and the occupants sleeping in fields. But today, the campervan comes in a range of different styles and features, though the VW campervan is still a good starting point!
Other big name manufacturers are now producing their own versions, with both the Sharan and the Harry being Peugeot’s offerings. Recently, a New Zealand company has begun to convert Toyota people carriers into campervans and these are now available in the UK. There are also specific motorhome companies that make spacious and luxurious mobile homes that you won’t want to leave behind at the end of the holiday.
The variation and type of route you can plan is only limited by how long you have. You can cover all the main sites within a single county over a few days or take a week or longer to cover a larger area and see the most important sites.
One example is the 7 day English Heritage route from Spaceship Rentals. Their route starts in London then heads south to Hastings to see the abbey and the battlefield then along to Dover Castle. On the 2nd day, travel to Portsmouth and hop on the ferry to the Isle of Wight or enjoy the sites around the city. The third day recommends visiting Osbourne House and Carisbrooke Castle while on the 4th, take in Salisbury and Stonehenge, adding in Woodhenge if you have the time. On day five, visit Oxford and the sights of the city then do the same the next day in the other big university city, Cambridge. Finally, on the 7th day, head back to London and visit sites such as Kenwood House and Parliament Hill. All of these come under a special pass from English Heritage.
Places to stay
There are plenty of caravan and camping sites around the country that will happily accommodate campervans. Some can be closed at certain times of the year so if you are planning to travel in autumn and winter, this may limit your options a little more. Sites can range in price from £15-20 a night for those with an electricity connection and organised sites will often offer features such as coin operated laundry and free showers as well. There are often eating and drinking facilities on or near the sites if you want to have a drink without moving the campervan again. You can turn up and hope to fit in but planning your route ahead of time may be advisable in case there is no room when you arrive!
Camping in the city can be a little more difficult as the lack of space always creates issues. However, there are places that will offer parking facilities for the van overnight while other cities have sites on the outskirts that connect with ring roads or even public transport to get to the city centre if you don’t want to drive the van along tiny, ancient streets such as York.
In theory, you aren’t allowed to simply park in a layby or on public land to camp but many people do this and it is known as wild camping. Make sure if you consider this that you aren’t trespassing on anyone’s land, you aren’t disturbing anyone and there are no signs specifically prohibiting camping overnight on the spot. Some of the best spots recommended for wild camping include around Loch Lomond and the Isle of Skye in Scotland, the Causeway Coastal Route of Northern Ireland and in Llandovery in Wales.
Like everything else about the campervan, there are various options for hiring one. There are websites that connect up people who own a campervan and are willing to rent it out at specific times of the year such as Camberbug.co.uk and this is a less formal but varied way to find the right campervan. There are also plenty of big companies that offer all types of campervans, including those that specialise in the old VW.
When going on holiday in a campervan, remember that you only have a limited space so prioritising what you need for the break is important. Depending on where you hire the campervan from, it will often come with a range of basics including a gas burner, mattresses and kitchen basics.
Take essentials in the way of food and drink with you but remember most of it can be bought while on the road, as there will only be a limited space to store stuff. If you are using a gas burner, don’t forget to have space fuel for it and the same if you are taking a barbeque. Dishes can be cleaned as used but don’t forget to take items such as cloths.
Some may want to hit the road and go without electrical equipment but it is always important to have at least a mobile phone in case of emergencies and suitable charger. You should be able to charge the phone through the van but check before leaving that adaptors work.
Most campervan holiday fans will advise you to plan ahead for your trip – being spontaneous can be fun but can also be disappointing if things don’t pan out as expected. Include things in your planning such as toll roads and ferries so you have change for them and watch out for closures on roads and in venues.
If you are travelling with young kids, don’t forget to take along the car seats they will need and plenty of entertainment for the travelling part of the holiday – avoiding bored kids is every parent’s ultimate aim in life!
Main image by Beverly Goodwin