With overseas holidays taking a backseat over the past year, the campervan staycation is finally having its day. And it's about time too, says camper-fan Tracey Davies.
Staycations have boomed over the last year (for obvious reasons), and campervan dealers across the country are reporting rocketing sales as the nation turns to camping on wheels. Last year, the National Caravan Council saw registrations increase by 71% compared to 2019, a number set to climb even higher this summer as the nation once again turns to a nomadic staycation.
Whether it’s halcyon days playing Swingball, toasting marshmallows on the campfire, to sleeping under the stars, camping is one of life's great pleasures. But like many, I'm a fair-weather camper whose season starts on May Bank Holiday and ends the first week in September. So when Mother Nature has other ideas and opens up the heavens, an upgrade to a campervan will not only keep me warm and dry but will extend my camping season to all year round.
After a year of lockdown, the freedom and flexibility to go wherever you like whenever you like has made the campervan staycation more popular than ever. (There's a good reason why #vanlife is trending on social media). It's not only a fun and wallet-friendly way to holiday this summer, but it's also a great way to see more of this green and pleasant land, from the rolling Scottish Highlands to blustery Cornish beaches.
Buying or renting a campervan is key to organising this year's mobile staycation. Not much larger than an MPV, a camper's compact size means it's easier to navigate narrow country roads than a larger motorhome. But fear not, campervans have come a long way since the Dormobile in the Fifties. Popular branded vans like the Volkswagen California and Ford Transit Custom Nugget come with electric-operated pop-up roofs, fold-out rock and roll beds and built-in mini-kitchens, while larger mobile homes and RVs often have separate living quarters and built-in shower rooms.
I'm part of the Mazda Bongo minivan crew. This Japanese import has attracted a cult following in recent years, especially in my hometown of Brighton; you can't move for pastel-coloured campervans strapped with paddleboards and kayaks.
Campervan holidays are becoming increasingly popular with families looking for a budget-friendly way to get away, especially those with young children and/or dogs, who both enjoy such liberation. Plus, owning a campervan can mean any weekend can turn into an exciting minibreak at the drop of a hat, whether it's surfing in Devon or walking in the Lake District. And the best thing about having a campervan is that you can pack everything you need at home and not have to worry about lugging heavy bags to your destination.
While it's tempting to wing it, campsites will book up quickly as campervan staycations get more popular, so it's worth planning ahead and booking pitches in advance. Wild campervanning (parking up anywhere and staying overnight) is not really the done thing in England and Wales; the law states that, like wild camping, wild vanning is not permitted without explicit permission from the landowner (although restrictions are a little looser in Scotland).
A campervan holiday offers the perfect mix of comfort and adventure for your next staycation, so let's all aim to have more #vanlife in 2021.
Staycation top picks:
We here at BikeMatters have also collated a few guides on some of the best campervan and motorhome locations to travel to across the UK, so feel free to take a look and get inspired:
- Best Winter Motorhome Sites in the UK
- Top 10 Most 'Instagrammable' Destinations for UK Motorhome Holidays
- 10 of the Best UK Motorhome Routes