SOME PEOPLE ARE reluctant to fly at the moment or would prefer to holiday in the UK, and others are attracted to the self-contained nature of a caravan holiday – the fact that the accommodation is yours and not shared with anyone else, makes it easier to maintain social distancing.
Whatever your reasons for wanting to try a caravan holiday, you’ve made a fantastic choice. A caravanning adventure is a great way of travelling the country and reconnecting with nature and there are some amazing sites to enjoy in fantastic locations.
They’re also proving hugely popular with all generations, families, couples and solo travellers, and are especially good for those who like to travel with their pets.
And don’t think you have to rough it. Yes, some sites are basic, but others are packed with facilities – from luxury washrooms to multi-functional gyms and leisure centres. Whatever you’re looking for, there truly is a site that is perfect for you.
No doubt you have a lot of questions – What’s the best car for towing a caravan? Can I tow a caravan? Where are the best caravan sites? Here, we aim to answer them all and provide some top tips for your first time out on the roads.
We hope you enjoy your return to or first time caravanning and recommend you use the many useful links and resources available on this website. Be sure to check out the Practical Caravan Forum where you can chat with like-minded people, ask advice and share top tips and insights. Happy caravanning!
Are you looking for a new caravan that’s ideal for your needs? If so, Practical Caravan can help! Just follow this link, enter a few details, and we’ll send you personalised quotes from the UK’s leading caravan manufacturers.
Join a caravan club!
One way in which you can find out a lot more about caravanning and become part of the community is to join one of the many caravanning clubs – the two largest national clubs being the Camping and Caravanning Club and the Caravan and Motorhome Club (formerly the Caravan Club). Both of these organisations will provide you with access to several member benefits including access to sites and membership discounts on site stays, insurance and breakdown cover and access to driver training.
The Camping and Caravanning Club was formed in 1901 and now has more than 700,000 members – membership costs £41-£47 a year. Benefits include:
• Club shop with exclusive discounts for members
• Free car and caravan matching service
• Manoeuvring and B+E training courses
• StaNav campsites points of interest file
• Club publications
The Caravan and Motorhome Club was formed in 1907 and membership costs £54 a year. Benefits include:
• The largest network of over 2,700 sites and locations in the UK and Europe
• Members save £140 on average per year on site pitch fees when staying at Club sites
• Great savings on over 1,000 UK attractions, whether you’re touring or at home
• Save up to 50% on Club site pitch fees for each night’s stay
How to tow a caravan
For some people, towing a caravan is the most daunting part of a caravan holiday – but don’t despair, there are lots of options. For a start, many sites allow you to hire static caravans which in itself will give you a sense of what a caravan holiday has to offer. Alternatively, some people choose to have their caravans driven to a site where they can happily spend the summer season.
If you are happy towing a caravan but need a little confidence building why not sign up for a training course? Both of the clubs listed above offer driver training courses, and across the country there are many private driver training agencies. Check out Caravan and Motorhome club courses and Camping and Caravanning Club courses.
One thing to note is that if you passed your driving test after 1997, your total outfit weight is limited to 3500kg. If you want the flexibility to choose your perfect caravan and tow car combination, you’ll have to take a test to get your ‘E’ entitlement, which will allow you to drive an outfit of up to 7500kg. Practical Caravan writer Bryony Symes explains how to pass your B+E test
The relationship between tow car and caravan is a crucial and you’ll need to make sure you have the right set up with a car that is powerful enough to legally tow your van. Writer David Motton is on hand to explain how to match a car and caravan
Caravan brands and manufacturers
Caravans are particularly popular in the UK and Scandinavia and the best caravan manufacturers are exhibiting right here at Van Live! Hall 1 is devoted to British-built caravans while Hall 2 features Continental Manufacturers.
You’ll find our Tests Editor Peter Baber is running through some of our Buying Guides to certain categories of caravan here in the Advice Lounge, otherwise, you can check out our full selection of Buying Guides where you can see round ups of the best performers – you can see the best models based on number of berths, price and other factors such as the most innovative or the best caravans for families or couples.
Take the time to familiarise yourself with what’s out there and what would best suit you. It’s also well worth reading our individual reviews of the very latest models; we add new reviews of the latest vans to the website regularly.
Whether you’re looking to buy new or used there are plenty of options with large network software dealers across the country. Exhibitions such as Van Live! are a great way of finding out about lots of different models and meeting dealers and manufacturers. Head to Hall 1 and Hall 2 for British or Continental manufacturers, respectively.
Choosing a caravan park or campsite
When you’ve got a whole country worth of caravan parks to choose from it’s difficult to know where to start, but your first stop should be Hall 5, where all the 2020 regional winners from our Top 100 Sites Guide are exhibiting.
Choose from the best 100 sites as voted for by the public across 12 regions. You can also pick out individual sites that best suits your needs from dog friendly to adults only.