I’M A FIRM believer that when it comes to holidays, the caravan you take with you is not as important as where you go, or who you go with.
I'll give you an example. Last year, Mrs Donnelly and I bought a cheap towcar and caravan to use for the UK Reader Rally to Stowford Farm. Finding them was easy enough, and despite some minor problems, we had a cracking weekend in Devon. In fact, over the course of the last year, both car and caravan have continued to give sterling service. With a combined purchase price of around £800, they’re not brand new, but there isn’t much wrong with them. So after a bit of thought, we decided that we’ll use them for our early summer break.
Time for a holiday
Mrs. Donnelly and I are heading to Croatia, via Slovenia, Italy, Switzerland, Germany and France. The round trip will be around 3500 miles but the beauty of having a caravan in tow is that you can stop and explore along the way.
As far as I’m concerned, the car and caravan are pretty irrelevant, as long as they get us where we want to go. We’re not going to Croatia to sit in the caravan. We’re going to explore the Istrian Peninsula. We want to go to Lake Bled and Bohinj in Slovenia too, and we’re hoping to do all this via Italy’s Lake Como and Germany’s Romantic Road. We'll be keeping the costs sensible using Camping Cheques and an ACSI Camping Card. These cap the cost of a night on site at a maximum of €15. They also have the advantage of letting you set your own pace. Travelling just before the season really heats up means you can turn up on sites and be reasonably confident of getting a pitch. If you really like a place, stay an extra night to take advantage. Just hand over another Cheque and leave the following day.
Fit and Healthy
To be honest, I’m not worried about car or caravan. The Volvo covered 1200 miles last week, up and down the country and never missed a beat. It’s got good tyres, good brakes and is bomb-proof mechanically. The Sprite feels a little more second-hand, but it’s good enough for us. In fact, its biggest strength is its simplicity. With no built-in space or water heating, the only things that could go wrong in it are the gas hob, water pump and fridge. I’ve replaced the gas hoses and the water pump already, so unless the Porta Potti packs up, I reckon we’re set for a trouble-free tour. I’ve adjusted the brakes, greased it all up and sported a fresh set of tyres last year. You reap what you sow maintenance-wise so I’m happy that I’ve done enough to get us there and back in one piece. I'm not saying I wouldn't like a newer caravan or car, but it won't massively improve my holiday.
And that's because great holidays aren't about plush upholstery, the thickness of an aluminium sidewall or the number of mains sockets. It’s about great places and great people.
And we can’t wait hit the road.