I didn’t do caravan holidays as a kid. It was either camping or staying with relatives.
In fact, I was 38 and a dad before I had a holiday in a caravan. I soon discovered that what I’d been missing was relaxing, homely and fun.
I also learned that each caravan and caravan park and it’s good points and it’s pitfalls.
The first one I stayed in was almost like a cabin. It was at the top of a site in Pooley Bridge, Cumbria, and the view was incredible. The weather was amazing and I had early morning coffee on a balcony that overlooked Ullswater. Out the back of the caravan, we saw wildlife and hot air balloons. It was a great trip.
Subsequent caravan trips have really shown me how lucky we were on that Ullswater trip. Since then, we have visited Thirsk, the Lake District and Dumfries & Galloway for multiple caravan trips.
With each trip, there’s an element of the unknown on the drive to the site. What will the inside of the caravan be like? Sure, the website shows some pictures, but they’re obviously not going to show any pictures of sinks with bugs around them.
Pros and Pitfalls
First thing I check out is the neighbouring caravans while we’re unpacking. Does it look like any of the groups are stag / hen parties or youths likely to be playing music until 4am? No? Damn. No parties we can crash.
Rabbits. A few of the caravan sites have had loads of bunnies scurrying around. That kind of wildlife I can live with, but beasties inside are an absolute no-no. We booked a six berth caravan, and that means vacant possession. We’re not paying to provide accommodation for a vast assortment of local bugs.
The cleanliness is a big deal as well. I know that there’s a huge amount of work for the sites to do when it comes to turning around caravans for new visitors, but a dirty sink or dead bugs on the floor (as happened at a lodge in Disney) are a disappointment. After a long drive with kids, the last thing I want to be doing on arrival is cleaning up the previous guest’s mess.
Then there’s the stuff in the caravan that doesn’t work. Roll a dice to figure out which appliance has had it’s day. We’ve had blinds that won’t close, faulty air conditioning and, currently, our fridge’s mini freezer compartment is leaking water all over our food. Light bulbs are blown.
On the plus side, we’ve got a phenomenal gas cooker – a mini-range cooker, actually. It looks incredible! We’ve also got a freezer, which is a first.
Amenities on caravan sites are touch and go. In theory, the site offices opened at 9am this morning, at which point we could book the swimming pool for an hour. I turned up after 9am and the place was deserted. Another guest was stood up by staff and she was quite vocal in her rants about the place.
The kids play barn was meant to be open at 9.30am, but that was also locked up and bereft of staff. Eventually, someone turned up and just unlocked the door and said “there you go”. Inside was a check-list of stuff to be done, none of which the fella did. But that’s the haphazard nature of the on-site kid’s entertainment at campsites. We’ve previously had swimming pools shut down when they were meant to be open. Oh, I’ve just remembered about Peter Panda, a kids entertainer, who was accompanied by an incredibly sleazy DJ doing a creepy routine with kids and mums. Shudder.
So, yeah. It’s very easy to criticise. I’m not sure I’d do any better if I was in charge of a caravan site. The fact is, despite all of the minor complaints, a caravan holiday is a thing I always look forward to.
A caravan holiday is usually somewhere with amazing scenery. We’re currently on the western shores of Loch Ryan, sheltered by the northern hills of the Rhinns Peninsula. We’re a short drive from Stranraer and right on the coast, which the kids love.
You don’t come to a caravan for the site. You come because it’s close to the beautiful scenery we have in this country. It’s more homely than a hotel, more private than a B&B and cheaper than a package holiday. You can spend as much or as little in the caravan as you like, using it as a base or a place to chill as you see fit.
It may be a gamble, but usually it’s one that pays off!