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Caravan or tent ?

(33 Posts)
Pollypickypocket Mon 13-Mar-17 18:16:22

I have two teenage children - we do lots of short breaks and some wild swimming. Have been using a cheap tent but frankly fed up of being cramped, wet and aching from cheap blow up beds.

Thinking of either mega new tent and good camp beds or cheapest small caravan.

What's your experiences ?

cerealnamechangers Mon 13-Mar-17 18:18:48

A caravan without a doubt, tried camping once and i vowed never ever again, sorry! We love caravan holidays and usually book one every year.

Worriedgranny Mon 13-Mar-17 18:19:23

Are you qualified to pull a caravan?

MatildaTheCat Mon 13-Mar-17 18:21:00

A small cheap caravan can always be extended with an awning or supplemented with additional small tents. When the rain comes hammering down it's likely to feel a lot warmer and drier than even a decent tent.

A caravan also allows you to be spontaneous as you can keep your basics in situ and go off on a whim sort of.

Having said that it's a very long time since I did either!

MaxPepsi Mon 13-Mar-17 18:21:54

Firstly, can you tow a caravan on your license?
We upgraded a couple of years ago from tent to caravan and we love it. It is however much harder logistically than camping.
If your teenagers are prepared to help tho go for it!

IloveJudgeJudy Mon 13-Mar-17 18:24:24

Have you considered a folding camper? Easier to tow than a caravan, but not quite as easy to put up, but the beds stay put throughout your stay and the best bit is, you stay off the ground. Just putting that idea out there.

CigarsofthePharoahs Mon 13-Mar-17 18:25:04

The major drawback of a mega tent is the time it takes to pitch and to pack away.
We have a lovely mega tent, its big, comfortable and is polycotton so doesn't get sweaty on hot days.
However its only worth going for a week plus as we need half a day to pitch and nearly a whole day to take down.
Then if its wet its not easy to dry.
I'm holding out for when air beam tents become cheaper. So much easier to pitch!
Given you want to do short breaks, I'd go for a caravan as long as you've got somewhere to keep it. There are a lot of smaller, lightweight models on the market now.

PossumInAPearTree Mon 13-Mar-17 18:26:02


I had a big outwell tent, then a campervan, then a bell tent and now a caravan. It's so much better. Warm, dry, flushing loo, oven, fridge.

Even if you passed your test after 1997 you can tow as long as combined weight isn't above 3500kg without having to take a further test.

Wolfiefan Mon 13-Mar-17 18:27:40

Caravan think storage. Needs maintenance.
We are about to sell our folding camper. It's been ace.
Really would like a motorhome!

sum1killthepawpatrollers Mon 13-Mar-17 18:30:51

how about a trailer tent? still like camping but more room, warmer,can cook inside, easier elec hook up... got a near enough brand new one for sale with extras if ya like!! grin

QueenInsomnia Mon 13-Mar-17 18:47:24

We used to love camping & caravan-ing(?) before we had our son. Given the option now I'd pick caravan. So much easier getting ready, dealing with luggage etc. And you'll be nice and warm, not that sticky clammy warm you get from a tent!

Pollypickypocket Mon 13-Mar-17 18:49:32

I passed my test in the 80"s so am ok to tow - will probably have to change the car though

ratspeaker Mon 13-Mar-17 19:23:36

Campervan with awning. Much more useful.

Huldra Mon 13-Mar-17 20:24:40

If you go for a tent I agree with others who said don't get one too big. There are plenty 3 and 4 berth ones which are this sort of size

You have the benefits of a sig and standing height without taking an age to pitch. Always go for the extra footprint groundsheet to go under the entire tent. They help with insulation and make it easier to pack up!

Ditch the cheap blow up beds, they're like sleeping on a mat of ice and circulate the cold ground temp around. Better to go with self inflating mats like this
All the big camping brands do them, I would say for comfort 6 to 10 cm thick. It doesn't sound like much but they're surprisingly comfortable. Watch out for the temp comfort ratings when choosing.

What you sleep on his as important as the thickness of your sleeping bag. In the mean time putting a plastic backed picnic rug under your air beds, like a carpet, will help. Towels or those cheapo foam mats, blankets, anything.

Huldra Mon 13-Mar-17 20:29:36

I linked to the wong mat earlier, that was a lightweight one. For car camping more like this one.

BabychamSocialist Mon 13-Mar-17 20:41:13

A tent ...for the kids. I'll be up the road in a hotel, thanks. grin

We did 15 years in tents and caravans until giving it up last year. The caravans were much nicer because you had a proper bed/mattress, proper cooking facilities, running water etc and a nice warm environment as well.

The tent was good when the kids were younger as they took up less space but as we and they got older we needed the caravan really. Now I wouldn't go in anything less than a hotel (although I have been in a yurt last year that had a proper bed and carpet!) because it's just not worth it for me to spend most of my holiday setting up where we're going to sleep and eat.

Lazyafternoon Mon 13-Mar-17 20:50:31

Oh I'd definitely go tent. But not a massive one and not a cheap one. Caravans you are limited where you take them. Some of the best campsites we've been to are tents only/ no electrical hook up / leave your car in the farm yard and carry your stuff to the field. Plus caravans are ugly and who wants to be looking a white tin box when surrounded by beautiful scenery. A more subtle green/blue tent isn't as bad!

Plus I think
- caravans often have less space than a tent, unless you go for a huge one which is more difficult to tow.
- You are more likely to stay outside enjoying being outdoors in a tent. Why do you go in the first place...? If it is just to sit indoors watching TV then fair enough maybe a caravan would suit you. But we go camping to have campfires, toast marshmallows, wrap in blankets, watch the stars etc.
- pick your tent carefully. Check the footprint dimensions. Most standard size campsite pitches are not huge. The bigger the tent less space you'll have to put your car, chairs etc outside the tent. Also being ramped right up against your neighbours tent/ a hedge with a family of hedgehogs rustling about because your tent isn't going to fit otherwise isn't ideal. Plus how long would it take to pitch? BIL bought a big marquee of a tent and it'd take a couple of hours to get it up. They'd end up having an argument and being in a strop for rest of the day because it was such a big job. Took up most of the car too. Inflatable can be a good alternative, but expensive.
- a tent with sloping/ dome sides tends to feel cramped. Having a tunnel type tent with straighter sides makes the most of the space.
- personally I don't mind air beds. But has to be firm and we'll inflated. I don't go for cheap ones as they always go down. The ones with two air compartments are good. But the king size one we have is brilliant. Also being well insulated with a foil backed tent carpet under the airbed, then a thermal fleecy underblanket, then sheet, duvet and extra blankets and hot water bottle if needed. As long as cosy it's fine. I can't stand sleeping bags as I fidget too much. If if don't have the carpet and thermal blanket then I feel a chill and get achey. But we do also have a fairly expensive tent (a Robens) which doesn't seem to get as damp as out old cheap one. Or maybe we've just been more lucky with weather!

To make the most of space we have those really useful company plastic storage boxes with lids for most of our stuff. Keeps things tidy, can use as a little table, and when get home can just chuck straight in the garage ready for next trip.

MuncheysMummy Mon 13-Mar-17 20:58:19

Caravan absolutely definately 100% but go for 2002 onwards no older as that's around the age technology moved on significantly and much more modern and comfortable than the older 90's spec vans. Spend around £3k and you will get a decent one but shop carefully look out for damp make sure you buy and use a damp meter!

MuncheysMummy Mon 13-Mar-17 21:02:19

We have a 2008 Bailey Senator Indiana its got a full size permanent double bed and ensuite shower room and wc and a seating area at the other end with 2 proper sprung settees and every mod con I love it! We paid £8k

Huldra Mon 13-Mar-17 21:04:07

If you don't get a massive tent and want to go away for longer, you can extend your living space with a utility or cook tent.

Fooshufflewickbannanapants Mon 13-Mar-17 21:11:12

Bell tent 15 mins to pitch on my own with 6 little 'helpers' can put a stove in it (we do for cold camps) and sims not blow up beds

Fooshufflewickbannanapants Mon 13-Mar-17 21:19:46

This is our set up

Fooshufflewickbannanapants Mon 13-Mar-17 21:20:17


witsender Mon 13-Mar-17 21:35:16

Caravan/camper van. Definitely. We have had some great times in ours.

honeyroar Mon 13-Mar-17 21:39:09

We bought an old caravan about 8 yrs ago. (First £1000 caravan was 18 yrs old, we had it 5 yrs and got £300 back when we sold it, second and current one is now 18 yrs old, a huge thing, paid £1850 and no issues so far). We've never looked back. I like that it stores all our camping stuff,so we just have to load up clothes and food. It's warm, dry and comfy on colder wet days, and if it's nice weather we sit in the awning and cook on the BBQ, same as in a tent. We never use electric hook up or go to posh, manicured sites, so it still feels like camping, just with a few luxuries.

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