With so many of us looking for new ways to holiday in the UK, it’s no surprise that sales of caravans and motorhomes have rocketed in the past year.
Louise Wood from the National Caravan Council says registrations for motorhomes were up 39% in July 2020. “But motorhome sales have been rising pretty steadily for the past decade,” she points out.
Motorhome and camping enthusiasts have known for a long time that they’re onto a winner. According to The Caravan and Motorhome Club, the industry is worth £6 billion per year, and in February 2020 a whopping 89,377 visitors attended the Caravan, Camping and Motorhome Show.
More good news for those thinking of trying it out is there’s also a much broader choice when it comes to modern motorhomes, with vehicles and accessories available at a range of budgets. If you’re thinking about investing in a campervan or motorhome, equity release might be the right option for you. In 2021 Legal & General saw a 60% increase in customers enquiring about equity release to fund their motorhome dreams, compared to 2020.
“Motorhomes are inherently versatile, and people are seeing them as socially distanced by design. They’re the ideal bubble in which to take your loved ones on holiday – including the
dog. We know that being in the great outdoors is good for our mental health, and motorhomes and caravans really are perfect for getting away from it all.” - Louise Wood National Caravan Council
We asked two fans – one a recent convert, and another with over 50 years’ experience – to tell us more about the benefits of owning a motorhome.
The newcomers to campervanning
Sarah and her partner Steven, both in their late forties, have been campervanning for a year…
“We got into campervanning when Steven’s folks bought one, giving us a great opportunity to try it out, without the cost of investing. His parents wanted to enjoy more UK holidays, which they definitely did (pre Covid-19, anyway). They can also take the dog with them, which is a bonus as they often struggle to find a dog-sitter.
We’ve found it’s a much better option than camping, especially for just a couple of nights. Also, it’s more comfortable and you can go away all year round – winter trips are much more appealing with the heating and TV for when the sun sets early.
A motorhome is quite a big investment so it’s not going to be cost effective for one or two weekends a year, but if you want to get away frequently then it’s definitely something to think about. Also, families can share, which can spread the cost. A campervan pitch with electric hook-up is about £35 per night, but there are off-grid places you can park up overnight for free (although that doesn’t mean you can park your motorhome anywhere – you’ll need to check local regulations).
There are also websites with information about car parks offering space for a small fee, or even pubs (who will let you use their facilities too).
Lots of campers come with a battery, a solar panel and a gas bottle, so you can survive without a hook-up. The camp sites we’ve been to are easy to find and book online.
Once we’re on our travels, the spending money is up to us. The camper has a hob, oven and microwave, so cooking isn’t a problem, although we haven’t used the oven yet! We prefer to cook breakfast and then usually buy a meal if we’re out and about for the rest of the day, before heading back for a movie or a game of cards and a few drinks. Or we just sit outside enjoying the scenery and the stars.
The best thing is that you can go where you want, when you want. We’ve been to the Lake District twice – walking the first time near Ullswater and cycling round Windermere on the second trip. The scenery was stunning, so we’ll definitely be back. I’d always wanted to go to Kielder to stargaze, and we managed to go last September. Being out in the wilderness with no light pollution was great for stargazing.
Hopefully we’ll get up to the west coast of Scotland in the summer. We’d also like to go down to the south coast and maybe over to France. Honestly, we can’t wait to get away again; we love the campervan life.”
The lifetime fans of motorhomes
John is in his 70s and has been a motorhome enthusiast for over 50 years. He used to go camping as a child, and loved the outdoor life; fishing, shooting and campfires. As soon as he was old enough to drive, he got himself a van and travelled around Cornwall, Devon and Scotland, sleeping in the back of the van. Finding he loved the freedom of moving from place to place, he bought his first motorhome at the age of 21 and has been an avid enthusiast ever since.
He met his partner Denise over a decade ago and quickly suggested a trip. “I had never been in a motorhome until I met John,” she laughs. “He took me to France for my first trip and I loved it. Financially it isn’t always the cheapest option, as there are a lot of costs involved like fuel, maintenance, insurance, crossings and tolls etc, but the pleasure we get from it makes it all worthwhile.
“We meet so many new people and the helpfulness of other campers is great. Whether you’re after local knowledge or a spanner, they’re always happy to chat.
“You can also support the local economy by eating out in restaurants and bars, and shopping in local markets. We adore trying the food and wine, and have picked up new words and phrases in places like Morocco, Spain, Portugal and France.
“We absolutely love the life and would recommend it to anyone. We can't wait to get back on the road.”