Is a caravan holiday a cheaper alternative? | Meet the Trudgians

Is a caravan holiday a cheaper alternative?

Posted by on Jul 23, 2019 in Featured, Trips & Adventures | 2 comments

Is a caravan holiday a cheaper alternative?

According to my non-caravanning friends, they think using a caravan is a cheaper way of having a holiday. I on the other hand think it is far from cheap, so in this article let’s explore the options and see if caravanning is a great way of getting away on a budget.

 

 

However, right from the start we have a problem. We cannot realistically compare a week in Greece to a 7-day caravan holiday in Tenby. Apart from the weather difference here is my rationale:

Photo from Lyttos Beach Hotel

An all-inclusive holiday for a week in Lyttos Beach, Heraklion Are, in Crete, will cost £3,892* (including a child goes free discount) for a family of four, whereas a week in Trefalun Holiday Park in Tenby is currently £189.00* (£27 per night). As you can see, it’s cheaper to stay in Tenby. But obviously we cannot compare the two, they are completely different styles of holiday.

 

To make a fair comparison and to really show if using a caravan can save you a few quid when on holiday, we should lay down some ground rules:

  • Must be for a family of 4
  • Must be able to drive to the location
  • Is Pet Friendly
  • Both destinations are within 45 miles of each other
  • For 14 days duration
  • In the Summer holidays (after July 26th 2019)
  • Is in South West Wales.

I’ve chosen South West Wales because it’s a beautiful location, is somewhere I visited frequently as a child and offers so much for a family, but don’t take my word for it, this article from Wales247.co.uk explains why you need to visit beautiful Tenby

We could have picked somewhere in Brittany, Spain or in Holland, with the same ground rules as I have stipulated above, the results are broadly the same. So, here goes:

 

Photo from cottages.co.uk

To stay in Upper Farm Barns, (found on cottages.com) from the 26th July, in Mathry, Pembrokeshire – will cost £2,000.00* for the rental for the cottage. It is stunning and set in some very beautiful scenery.

This cottage also allows pets and to secure this cottage will require a £350 deposit, if I didn’t have the caravan, I would be really tempted. Details can be found here 

 

 

Photo from Trefalun Park

To stay at Trefalun Park will cost £35.00* per night for a fully serviced pitch,on a family run independent campsite. For 14 nights it costs £490.00 Again, set in some beautiful scenery.

The site offers usual facilities and can offer some all-weather pitches. Click here for more details.

 

 

These two locations are about 35 miles apart from each other and as you can see – it is cheaper to use a caravan. Except, that’s not the whole story is it?

To own and use a caravan requires an upfront investment. Unlike getting in the car and heading off to a hotel, or hopping on a plane and arriving is some far and distant land, caravanning requires the purchase of a caravan and this is just a part of the upfront costs. For example, a quick brain storm creates this list:

  • The caravan
  • A suitable tow car
  • A tow bar
  • Some Bedding
  • Some kitchen equipment
  • An awning (Not essential, but is optional)
  • Caravan Insurance
  • Some security equipment
  • Caravan accessories (Aqua Roll, Waste master etc)
  • Caravan storage

This is a quick list, and I’m sure I’ve missed something, but these are all investments that need to be considered way before we set off for our 14 days in South Wales.

So how much will this cost. It’s difficult to put a figure on it, but to purchase everything on the list except a tow car, you could look to spend at least £5,000. With a suitable tow car, who knows! There are of course folks who have achieved this on a budget far less than this, but if you’re anything like me, it’s highly likely you will spend way beyond the £5k budget.

When I originally sold the idea of having a caravan to Mrs T, we went over the figures very carefully and in the end set a budget of £15,000. This figure considered the cost of a caravan plus accessories and a contingency for items we had not factored in.

The reason why we set a budget of this value is quite straight forward. How you raise the funds for the purchase, either through savings, a loan or the bank of mum & dad, you will at some point need to pay this back. We decided that we would pay back the £15,000 that we used from our savings at a rate of £3,000 per year for 5 years. Which worked out at a monthly bill of just £250.00

I mentioned we had calculated the budget, and this is where it gets interesting. £15,000 would also be the budget that we would spend on five holidays over the 5 years too. So, in our simple minds, and on a long term basis, the initial investment would cost the same as 5 package holidays.

Of course, with these figures we had not budgeted for the actual holidays, and as I discovered, these can be as expensive or as affordable as you like. I dropped a clanger when I was selling the caravan idea to the family. I stated that we would visit locations with Swimming Pools, entertainment and onsite facilities that the whole family could enjoy for a low price. However, these destinations of holiday parks are expensive. Make no mistake.

Here is a typical example: For 7 nights in a Park Dean resort will cost £749 in the Summer holidays. That is a price I wouldn’t pay, instead we found ourselves staying at the many sites offered by the Caravan and Motorhome Club and the Camping and Caravanning club. Both offer similar facilities, are spotlessly clean and are well kept relaxing destinations, and we pay around the £200(ish) mark for a week, depending on the time of year. For entertainment, we visit any number of attractions off site and local to the area. This is what makes caravan holidays so diverse and interesting for us.

But here is something else to consider. Once the initial investment has been made, it unlocks the possibility to holiday whenever you want. Quick weekends away, bank holiday mini breaks, short weeks, long holidays all of which can be achieved once you own the caravan. This was the sales pitch from me, that impromptu and spur of the moment holidays can be (and have been) all the reasons to own a caravan.

So how much does a caravan holiday cost? In our first year of caravanning, we spent a total of £2,780 on six holidays – a grand total of 37 nights in the caravan. This includes the site fees, the fuel, extra food and excursions we needed to enjoy our time away. If you want to think of it another way that’s just £75.13 a night for an all-inclusive holiday. We planned carefully, chose well to fit in around school terms and to maximise and not waste annual leave from work. I think you will agree, that’s pretty good going for 6 holidays.

The burning question is “Are caravan holidays a cheaper alternative?” I would argue that in the short term no they are not. Just look at our 1st year of touring and the cost of the caravan itself. We spent £5,780.00 repaying the caravan and having 6 holidays. In the long term? maybe. But how many non-caravanners do you know that have 6 holidays in a year? In fact, last year we had 11 holidays! And we use that £75 per night as a rough guide to save up to and to cost in our breaks away.

I was discussing this topic with Andy Morley and he mentioned that another aspect to consider is after the 5 years period of holidays, A package holiday would give me just memories and some nice pictures, whereas with the caravan I have an asset that I could sell, trade in or continue using.

The real consideration must be, you gain the ability to go on so many impromptu breaks in and out of the holiday season. Caravanning gives a sense of freedom that cannot be explained or achieved in a package holiday and that for us, is truly priceless. I’m by no means dismissing package holidays, I still look forward to the day we head off to the Caribbean, but until then touring through the UK and into Europe is all we need. Right, it’s time to book a campsite in South-Wales.

* All prices are correct as of June 14th 2019

 

2 Comments

  1. Dan
    After 10 years and 5 caravans can whole heartily agree with you hate going away and leaving dogs at home

  2. We love caravaning because when we go away it’s our stuff in the van, our bed sheets, food we like, just our stuff and most of all we get to take our dogs who love being with us and the van. It’s our portable / movable home . We can go as far or near as we want in the UK or Europe.

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