Cost-of-living caravanning – getting the most value from your holiday

Setting off for a summer holiday in your caravan? Here’s our top tips for saving money on your travels, from finding the great value pitches to fuel-saving driving.

Summer holiday season is well and truly here, and whether you’re a seasoned road-tripper or a first-time traveller, the allure of the open road and the freedom it brings is hard to resist. However, the prospect of planning and budgeting your caravanning adventures can be somewhat daunting, now more than ever.

We all need a break from our everyday life, to explore new places and unwind – it’s important for our mental wellbeing! But it’s hard to relax with the cost-of-living looming in the back of our minds. So how can we enjoy a getaway, even with these higher prices?

It would seem that for many Brits, one solution is exploring options closer to home. A recent survey asked 1,000 UK adults ‘what would be the cheapest and most convenient way to travel and enjoy the summer this year?’

Caravanning holidays were the most popular response, with 39% saying a leisure vehicle would be the least expensive way to travel and explore the country. What’s more, 34% said that outdoor camping would be their holiday of choice.

So, let’s take a look at the campsites offering the best value for money, alongside stunning views, and a much-needed escape.

The best value campsites the UK has to offer

If you’re watching your budget this summer, quite understandably given all the recent price rises, here are some of best campsites in the country offering you bang for your buck. We’ve compiled the top ‘bargain breaks’ for caravans via Campsites.co.uk by their overall rating, but they also come with a specific value for money rating, which we’ll detail below. We used the value for money score to break any ties.

Taking the top spot is Norden Farm Campsite, in Dorset, with an almost perfect overall score of 4.97. With high season pitch prices starting at £21.50 per night, visitors love the location, with access to walking spots, beaches and places of interest such as Corfe Castle. There’s also a farm shop and small food shack on site, and many say they’re making plans to return.

Coming in second place, Thornbrook Barn in North Yorkshire offers high season pitches from just £32 per night. Campers praised the facilities and site for being immaculately kept, with large pitches in an idyllic setting.

Rounding out the top three, Nottingham’s Sherwood Pines has earned an impressive 4.91/5 from reviewers. Pitches start at £22.50 at this action-packed site, home to the legendary Robin Hood. It’s dog-friendly, and you can be in the forest within two metres of leaving your pitch, no matter where you are onsite.

Here’s the full top 10:

  1. Norden Farm campsite, Dorset – 4.97
  2. Thornbrook Barn, Yorkshire – 4.97
  3. Sherwood Pines, Nottingham – 4.91
  4. Tranwell Farm, Northumberland – 4.9
  5. Willenhall Way, Shropshire – 4.87
  6. Flaxton Meadows, Yorkshire – 4.85
  7. Elm Cottage Touring Park, Cheshire – 4.84
  8. Painters Farm Campsite, Kent – 4.84
  9. Wideacres Camping, Cornwall – 4.83
  10. Atlantic Horizons, Cornwall – 4.81

Bag the best prices on your caravan pitch

It’s worth thinking about when you travel, and whether you could save some money by holidaying outside the peak season in July and August. Each site will vary when their exact high, mid, and off seasons run, but the price variety can be drastic!

For example, take the highly rated Devon campsite Hunters Lodge. In the low season, in the months of March and October, an electric touring pitch will set you back £30 a night. But, in the high season, in June, July and August, the same pitch costs £40. Let’s say you took a long weekend and stayed three nights, you’re looking at a low season cost of £90 versus a high season price tag of £120.

Smaller sites can sometimes be cheaper too, so don’t count out the quainter pitch options! When you are on site, use the facilities for showering and washing up, and the bathrooms, rather than your own, to get the most from what you’ve paid for, and save your own resources.

Another option for when you’re caravanning on a budget is to travel to nearby campsites, rather than driving further afield. You can still enjoy a getaway at a lovely site, while spending less money on fuel for your trip.

Keep an eye out for discount codes or subscriptions that could save you money, on pitch prices, meals or excursions. Certain caravan clubs offer access to sites at a discounted rate, and other benefits, for a monthly or annual fee.

Saving money while on the road

The beauty of towing a caravan is that your holiday accommodation comes with you on your travels. So, it makes sense to take care of it, to get the most value out of your adventures.

While caravans don’t legally require an MOT like motorhomes and other vehicles do, as an owner, you’re responsible for ensuring your caravan is roadworthy. Instead, an annual service is recommended to ensure all the elements are in safe working order, such as the chassis, bodywork, and ventilation.

You should also check your caravan’s tyres before setting off. Not only can you save fuel by driving with the correct tyre pressure, but you can check for any signs of wear that can lead to a blowout during your trip. We’ve got even more caravan maintenance tips here.

Packing your caravan in the right way can also make your journey more fuel-efficient, and safer. Ideally, you should spread the load equally across the front, middle and rear. Consider how everything you pack adds weight and requires more effort to tow. Of course, you can bring as much or as little as you like for your holiday, but overpacking could drain your fuel tank faster than you want.

There’s also a quite an overlap between safe driving and reducing your fuel consumption, i.e. accelerating and braking gently, and avoiding high speeds. Of course, when you’re towing you can’t accelerate above 60mph, but you should also take extra care to change gears to avoid over-revving. Save even more money on your fuel with our advice here.

Some UK roads and major highways in Europe charge drivers, which can also add to the cost of your trip, and caravans often have to pay a higher rate than cars. Since part of the joy of caravanning is the freedom to explore, why not avoid the toll roads altogether and take the scenic route? With the caravan-specific speed limit in place anyway, you might not add that much time to your overall journey. You can even select an ‘avoid toll roads’ setting on your Satnav or Google Maps to help you calculate the timings.

Cover for your caravan

With this maintenance in mind, you also need to think about your caravan insurance, so that you’re covered come rain or shine. The last thing you want during a trip is an uninsured break-in, or to have to deal with weather damage, which could end up being a costly hassle. You need a policy that meets all your needs, and the make, model and year of your caravan.

Our caravan insurance experts are here to help you make sure that you have the right cover in place, and to answer any of your questions. By working with a broker, we can help you find a great deal that gives you piece of mind for your travels.

Give us a call, or if you prefer, pop into your local branch to speak with one of our friendly advisors.

A-Plan’s Summer of Fun

At A-Plan, we want everyone to make the most of their summer holidays, without worrying about the cost-of-living That’s why we’re going all out, celebrating a huge Summer of Fun with you, our clients.

We’re giving away prizes throughout August – so if you want to be in with a chance of winning a Kindle, National Trust membership, a Cadac Camping Grill, or much more, follow us on social media, or pop down to your local branch.

Sources: Caravan Times, Practical Caravan