David MottonSee other Blog articles filed in ‘Travel and touring’ written by David Motton
Caravan holidays in the summer can be very expensive.
Peak season means peak prices at touring parks and campsites, and plenty of tourist attractions hike their prices over the summer months, too.
Add in the cost of a pasty here and an ice cream there, and the total spend can quickly mount up, without you even noticing.
The good news is you've already made at least one very smart choice – caravan holidays are great value for money. But here are a few more tips to keep a lid on the price of your summer holidays.
Prepare your car and caravan
You should also be sure that every aspect of your caravan is working properly. Be sure that you have plenty of gas and the tyres are correctly inflated.
"How does this save me money?" I hear you ask.
Well, setting the right tyre pressures won't just make your car and caravan more safe, it will reduce fuel consumption on your journey.
And by making sure you have plenty of gas before you leave, there's less chance of having to dash to your nearest caravan dealer or outdoor store to buy more, eating into your holiday time and burning more petrol or diesel while you travel.
Choose the right campsite for your type of caravan holidays
On the face of it, a campsite with tip-top facilities can seem like a more expensive option than somewhere more basic.
However, having lots to do on-site means less need to get in the car and drive to an expensive local attraction, or pay exorbitant parking charges at a nearby beach.
Remember, don't just check what facilities are available at a campsite, understand which are included in the price and which cost extra. Sites with all-inclusive packages can look pricey at first, but if you intend to spend a lot of time on site, the savings can add up.
Caravanning is a pretty broad church, and the busy, bustling, holiday resort-type campsites don't suit everyone.
If you and your family prefer a more peaceful environment and are just as happy enjoying the view or reading a good book, smaller campsites offer great value.
One of the Caravan and Motorhome Club's Certificated Locations or The Camping and Caravanning Club's Certificated Sites should suit you down to the ground.
These small, privately run sites are hard to beat for back-to-basics touring, and they are very affordable compared with big sites offering lots of facilities.
It's all about finding a campsite that gives you the kind of experience you want, at the best possible price.
Picnic to save pounds
If you buy lunch out every day on your caravan holidays, even if it's just a sandwich rather than a proper sit-down meal, the costs soon mount up.
It takes a little more time and effort, but you'll be far better off making a packed lunch instead.
Plus, if your children are fussy eaters there's no need to worry that there won't be any food they enjoy on the menu.
Look online for a great deal
There's nothing more annoying than seeing another family pay less for the same day out, because they have a money-off voucher. So, instead of being annoyed, be the annoying family.
It's also worth following your favourite campsites on Twitter and Facebook. Some sites will announce special offers or last-minute deals through their social media channels.
Join the club (or more than one)
Most caravanners are members of either the Caravan and Motorhome Club or The Camping and Caravanning Club, sometimes both.
Joining means saving on site fees compared with non-members (currently a £12 per night reduction with the Caravan and Motorhome Club and up to 30% with The Camping and Caravanning Club).
You only need to be away for a handful of nights to make up the cost of membership in the reduced price of pitches, so it soon adds up on a longer tour, as you might enjoy on your summer holidays.
It's not just caravanning clubs you should think of joining.
Take the National Trust, for example. Membership gives free access to more than 500 parks, country houses and gardens. Individual memberships are typically £64.80 a year, couples pay £108 a year, and families £114.60.
Given that a family ticket for Polesden Lacey house and gardens in Surrey costs £34.50 for non-members, it could take as few as four days out to cover the cost of membership. After that, you're quids in.