DH and I have always enjoyed camping. Mostly wild but occasionally sites. Then children came along and we upgraded to a family tent.
Boys are 2 and 5 and love the outdoor life. The problem is that camping has become a massive amount of work. And the rain means a massive faff getting the gigantic tent dried.
Some friends have bought a caravan and it seems like a fab idea. DH is not so keen.
I imagine we would keep the caravan ready to go, sling some wine/food in the fridge and off we go. Is it as easy as that? What are the positives and negatives of caravaning?
It's dry when raining, you can have a fridge for wine, cooking is easy and you can still BBQ if you desire. It's warm at night, you can dry stuff, awnings give you loads of space.
I am a caravan her
I love my caravan.
Always dry and warm. Onboard loo and shower. Cooking facilities, comfy beds and a fridge and electricity.
Those are the main plus points. Plus it's always ready to go. Just sling some clothes in a bag and some fresh food and you're ready. Much better than packing the car with all the camping stuff.
Downsides. Having to store it somewhere. Annual service is recommended and can cost up to £200. There is less space than in a tent which with two kids may be a bit claustrophobic? But you can easily set up a tv/dvd player down one end of the caravan which should keep them entertained on wet days!
You could also set an awning up which yes if it's raining means you have something to dry when you get home. But I find they're a lot quicker to put up and take down than a tent. I have a one pole porch awning and it's up in less than ten mins on my own.
Getting to places is a bit slower as you're towing and your mpg will not be as good.
I actually came on today just to post I love my caravan! because we've just got back from the second music festival in a month and it is so much easier in a caravan than a tent or our old tin top VW camper.
We have had our vintage (not very vintage - 1979) 5 berth for just over a year. It's basic in terms of facilities - no heating, oven (although you can fit one if you'd like) or shower and only cold water, so it's not mega luxury like modern caravans, but it's comfortable, warm, dry, has it's own loo for night-time/early morning requirements and I can stand up, indoors to prepare food (this is a massive plus for me after 10 years of backbreaking kneeling up or bending over to cook in our tintop). We were very lucky to have bought it from it's second owners, in near original condition (it had been dry stored and only used two weeks a year for decades) and have had fun buying all original 70's bits and bobs to keep it original.
We have two awnings, a porch awning for quick weekend stays and festivals and a big vintage Isabella canvas one, with additional sleeping pod for when we're away longer. If we're just doing one night and the weather is good we don't bother putting one up at all, so it's literally arrive, legs down
wine opened kettle on.
We pay a couple of hundred pounds a year to store it in an massive indoor barn, with lots of security and just bring it home when we want to use it, tending to keep it on the drive, with a decent cover on it for a few weeks when we've several things planned in succession.
Being an oldie that's dry stored, we don't have the whole thing serviced every year, just a gas check on the fridge and a qualified mate checks the electrics for us. Ours is so basic that dh managed to replace all the water pipes himself in a weekend last year.
There are five of us, dh and I, two dses (14 and 12) and dd (7), plus two large Lurchers - although we rarely take them with us. We really enjoy all being able to sit around the table indoors and play board/card games together when it's throwing it down outside, but still having the option to sit outside or in the awning if it's sunny.
Across the summer we keep our sleeping bags and a blanket each in there, along with wellies and raincoats. We also have lightweight camping chairs and a table for sitting outside stowed under one of the seats and a stash of 70's comic annuals, kids books, jigsaws and board games that live in the caravan permanently. Obviously all our pans, crockery and utensils live in there and I keep a stock of basics like spices, stock cubes, coffee, tea, hot chocolate in there as well. So as your op said, yes, I just sling a couple of bottles of wine into what dd now calls 'Mummy's wine cupboard' (I think it's supposed to be for trays and chopping boards but the two bottle wine rack fits perfectly ) chilled food in the fridge (although you have to remember to hook it up at home to cool the fridge first) and off we go.
Things you have to consider are towing and nose weights and how to load the caravan safely to avoid towing problems such as snaking.
Our caravan is a lot lighter than most new caravans, which have all mod cons, so we haven't had any problems with weights (we tow ours comfortably with a 2L diesel Citroen Xsara Picasso) and it tows like a dream. Dh was extremely nervous about towing, but says it's so light and easy to pull that he could easily forget it was there if he couldn't see it in his mirrors.
Here's a picture of ours, not the best, but the only one I have on this laptop.
WTFIS if you don't mind me asking - which porch awning do you have? Our's doesn't take too long to put up, but we're on the look out for something even more simple and quicker.
moose. It's a sunncamp swift. Cheap and cheerful, probably not the best quality but this is the 3rd year ive used it and it's stood up to constant 40mph wind storm for two days with no damage.
I would love to see some interior photos of your caravan at some point if possible. Mine is a 2012 caravan but I love the old ones.
If you live in the Home Counties allow for an eye-watering £50+ per month for storage. It was one of the reasons we gave up after 30 years caravanning. We've converted our people carrier into a camper and couldn't be happier. Very basic but so easy. We never really got to grips with hooking up and levelling and took hours putting the awning up. It always seemed to be raining as well!
We took the plunge last year and bought a newish 6 berth caravan after years of camping, working our way up to a tent that was like a small bungalow and took over an hour to put up.
The caravan doesn't save much time once the levelling and awning and water and toilet etc have been set up, but oh my gosh the comfort is amazing. We sleep in a large double at the back, with the two dc's above us in bunk beds. Our bed is certainly king size and we bought a lovely duck down topper for the cushions and take our feather duvet and pillows, it's heaven!
We have a heater, cooker, large fridge freezer (we looked for one with a full height fridge) and bathroom with hot shower and loo.
I do love it, though I have to say we weren't terribly keen on the poo brown/pine interior and so sanded and repainted with leftover emulsion so it is now pale grey, white and navy with some lovely wide oak effect flooring and white work tops. We reasoned that if we were going to spend so much money, we wanted it to be something we would be comfortable in and enjoy spending time in.
We have taken it to France and locally so far and in general are really glad we bought it.
We are lucky to have a large driveway where we can store it and we cover it in the winter and always leave damp collectors and air fresheners inside.
My husband had to go on a course to learn to tow it and we have a land rover to tow it as it's so large.
I do occasionally hanker after a night in our tent though!
I will see if I can sort out some photos. If I can't find any, I'll nip outside and take a couple tomorrow. It's pretty orange and brown - much as you'd expect for a 70's caravan. I've sourced original 70's pans and mugs etc and a mismatched selection of cutlery. Also bought some cushions that were made from original 70's fabric and some shag-pile ones to add to the effect.
Dh snapped the toilet room door handle last weekend - so he's in the doghouse. I've just been perusing Ebay to see if I can find a similar caravan being broken that I may be able to source some spares off. Found one, but it's right at the bottom of Cornwall and may well go for too much. That's one of the biggest problems with a vintage one, sourcing spares and replacements can take months and require rather too much time spent on Ebay. It took me almost a year (and a wrong one bought in error) to source the right roof-light for it (that was the only thing that was damaged when we bought the van) as the type we have was only on that model and only for a couple of years. Ended up buying a whole caravan roof with the right roof-light attached and having to dismantle it, but dh fitted it and it's been perfect.
Bo we never bother with levelling, unless it's a particularly slopey site, but I think that's probably because it doesn't matter as much when your caravan is as basic as ours. Ours is also so light that it's easier to unhitch and push it into position than to mess about with reversing - very helpful at music festivals when the parking crew are rushing you.
Storage costs haven't been excessive for us, but I think we've been lucky, as we chose to keep it where it's been dry stored for the last 15 years and the owner of the storage facility is very fond of it. I just checked with dh and it's £250 a year, but my PIL's pay twice that for less facilities and security. We have a very large drive, but I'm happier with it dry stored, due to it's age. Also, some insurers insist on having it professionally stored with strict security measures in place.
The festival we camped at last weekend was totally off-grid, no water or electricity at all and it was fine. We just took a big water container from home and a few of the 5L bottles from the supermarket.
I think it depends what you're looking for. We definitely do low-budget, low-tech caravanning, as that's what we like and what suits us. The toilet is only used when we're off-grid or if dd is desperate in the night or before I am ready to face the rest of the camp site. A caravan like the one actiongirl has is definitely far more luxurious and offers a higher level of comfort.
I don't think I'd go back to a camper van now, as I like the extra space to stand up and move around, but would quite like a day-van as well as the caravan, for long days out and picnics etc. I miss having a mug of hot chocolate after a long-cold winters dog walk. I definitely wouldn't go back to a tent after getting used to the comfort a camper/caravan gives you.
I have very fond memories of a Sprite Alpine caravan we had in the 70s when I was a kid.
This is what mine looks like inside, it's posher than my house!
I don't bother with levelling either. I normally caravan on my own as Dh can't stand holidays. So it used to be me and dd but dd is too old now to come away so it's me and the dog. On the odd time Dh has come he's infuriated by my lack of levelling but I don't notice a slight lean! I can unhitch, legs down and electricity plugged in in ten mins max! I take a large water bottle and can then sit and have a cuppa. Sort the water out later on.
moosemama we did consider buying a really old one and ripping it apart and redecorating but in the end we were seduced by weeks of looking at brand new German models which are uber stylish. (Although sadly we could only afford a british one). We have used it four times since we got it last autumn and have 3 more trips booked this summer which is far more than we ever tented, I think it will definitely have been a great investment.
Good luck with your decision making!
We bought one recently as I loved camping but got sick of having to go for midnight pees.
I love it when we're at the campsite especially as we've just bought ourselves a second hand awning. Sitting outside relaxing then going inside to bed.
However what a bloody faff it is! We have nowhere to store caravan so had to store it 25 mins away (only place available) and we have to go pick it up on way wherever. We've knocked it twice getting in and out of storage and. Levelling it, finding bits of wood to do so if pitch is terrible and it feels like such a money pit. we lost wheel arch on motorway last time and its going to cost £100-£300 to get a new one , along with trying to protect it from the dreaded damp.
DH refused to get a cheap and cheerful van with everything included so we got a van that I think is too expensive and I'm so nervous when he's towing it.
I am currently looking for a site to pitch it on next year as it apparently I'm far to nervous for my own good. Such a shame as it really is excellent when we get there.
Simon that's posher than my house too.
actiongirl we were almost at giving up point when we found this one. We looked at so many damp, smelly, frankly disgusting vans over about a 6 month period. We'd just said we were giving up when I spotted a small-ad listing for this one and we decided to see just one more, as it was local. Dh hankers after a vintage Eriba - a hangover from our VW days, when we thought that might be a good way to keep the tin-top and still fit everyone in. The german vans are really impressive aren't they. I'd love a Carlight. We very nearly got one from an independent auction house, but were on holiday when it finally sold.
That looks lovely Shang. Don't know any campsites in the SE sorry but have fun.
We are also caravan converts, we love our 1995 5 birth!
Dd3 has her own space and a double bed which she loves. I particularly like not having to sit in horrible folding chairs in the evening but also love veing able to extend our season so much.
We also have 2 awnings both lovely, both a bit tricky to put up but very much worth the effort.
We love our caravan too. Compared to camping, there's no damp feeling when you get up in the morning, you can stand up to get dressed, there's a toilet (number ones only!) and shower, we have a lovely corner sofa, you can sit at a proper table for meals, there's an oven, hob, grill, fridge with small freezer compartment for ice lollies, water on tap, blown air or gas heating and loads of storage space.
We keep waterproofs, wellies, non perishable foods, pillows, sleeping bags (keep meaning to buy proper duvets and sheets) extra blankets and a few toys and games for DS (7) in it. Oh and all cutlery, crockery and pans etc.
All we need to do is load up with food and clothes and were good to go!
If your DH isn't convinced about caravans, why not look at a folding camper. They are quick to erect/pack down, easier to store and have a full kitchen inc fridge.
You can get some real bargains off ebay
If you do go for a caravan, please get an independent inspection before buying. If there is any sign of damp, walk away.
Another convert to the indoor life having been introduced a couple of months ago to folding campers!!
DP couldn't cope with our sleeping arrangements under canvas but couldn't bring himself to 'go all the way'. He discovered the middle ground whilst googling for an alternate and we haven't looked back. Just come back from our third trip away in it in less than two months.
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