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  • mbwatts

Just Stop Campervan W#nkers

Updated: Aug 17, 2023

Everyone will have different views of camping. I think everyone would agree that there's a massive amount to see in the UK and Europe, and that potentially a camper is a way of doing that. Most of our friends are intrigued. Some have indicated that it sounds like a lovely romantic idea. My guess is that most would feel it's really not for them.

In the UK however, acccording to the NACW (national association of Campervan wankers) there are 555,000 touring caravans. 365,000 caravan holiday homes. 225,000 motorhomes. So about a million owners.

This isn't scientific but I have read about it. Which means I know more than you. So you're going to believe me. The highest concentration of Motorhome owners is in the West Country, particularly around Bath. And the majority of owners insure their vehicles for less than 5000 miles a year usage. Indicating pretty clearly that the major use is for short runs to the coast on nice weekends simply to piss off car drivers.

Not for exploring the deepest unknown bits of the world.

We know the reason for this, after our recent European trip. Campervans are great for taking to a campsite. They are a bloody nuisance to drive anywhere else.

So if you live near the coast, have a spare sixty grand sitting around, and like a weekend by the sea, it's a no brainer. You most likely know a campsite you've been to before and have a repeat booking.

The Centre for Economics and Business research has found that 8% of the uk population are considering buying a Motorhome in the next five years. It's a massive business. Ownership is therefore predicted to grow by 40% by 2030. Dirty great diesel guzzling environmentally catastrophic lumps of climate changing wonderfulness. Having read these stats I'm inclined to form my own environmental group simply titled "Just stop campervan wankers".

The driving is fun, but the experience can be mixed. Weve driven through hail storms. We had power failures. Our water tank emptied itself into the van. Nessa goes top speed 65mph. Everyday on the road we had a destination, in France we turned off the option of tolls and drove through the countryside. But when the temperature reached 38*c, we turned it back on again. Figuring reaching our destination only half cooked was preferable.

I'm very much undecided, but it helps to write it down. We've just returned from an epic trip through Europe. Covering over 3000 miles and reaching as far as central Hungary, we would be entitled to an opinion. But we don't know. Set aside what else you could do with the money. Set aside how potentially climate damaging our holiday activities might be. Let's concentrate on whether campervan holidays are something we actually like?

I've written about this before in an attempt to clarify for myself.

In my blog of March this year I opened the subject of whether the love affair with the campervan was over for us. You can read it yourself, but the bit that strikes me firmly between the eyes is this:

"......But this is now more about rekindling the wonder and joy of being in a field alone, lungs full of fresh air, glass of red wine in hand, a steak on the grill and a wonderful country side view..... "

What I didn't write ..." Rekindling the wonder and joy of parking on concrete hardstanding between one campervan and the next in a campsite with communal shitters and low shower pressure and a queue for the washing machine when it's raining. Simultaneously looking around for the perfect photo to make your Instagram post look like you are having an amazing time."

That was certainly part of our experience in Europe. On the edge of an amazing town, so close you could almost get there. But the practicalities of using VanNessa as our transport into town, left us getting trains and buses with many of the attendant downsides. Made more difficult when travelling with Reg the cockerpoo.

And the sites themselves, clean, great facilities, but unsurprisingly, full of campervans, Motorhomes, caravans, tents and worse than this, their owners. Uninspiring.

Let's discuss as an example, our experiences at Lake Garda, with wonderful views of the lake. Through wire fencing of course in reality. Front row pitch. Between a caravan with a delightful German lady couple, and a double pitch of two motorhomes owned by a very miserable Swiss couple and their unpleasant children, parked next to their acid faced granny and grumppa. They grunted in our general direction. Behind us, a travelling German family with three caged dogs. The nearest town was an easy 15 minute drive. We had sufficient supplies to enjoy the lake with a single trip to Aldi. We decided to eat in the van and the beach bar and camp restaurant, this was Italy and really the food was great, but it wasn't in a bustling Italian high street or on a hillside surrounded by vines like the ones just fifteen minutes away.

One real bonus is the mobility. In Austria, when it was raining constantly, we opted to head for the better weather of Hungary.

In a recent blog , however I discussed what I described as the beauty, and in equal measure the pain of the campervan, being this total flexibility. It means in effect that you could always be looking for what you are missing rather than enjoying what you are doing.

Then there's the cost. Camping is cheap as chips we thought. But in Europe there is a triple whammy. Fuel, tolls, and camping charges. In an average day over the time we were away we spent 30€ on fuel, 15€ on tolls and 60€ on the campsite. Most sites are basic 20-30€, but they charge extra for humans, dogs electricity and Wi-Fi . So approximate average total of 105€ a day. An Airbnb or cheaper hotel can easily be found for the same sort of cost. The idea that the campervan is a bargain holiday starts to look dubious when it's all added up.

Nearly a thousand euro on diesel would have seen the two of us on a bargain bucket return flight to most places in the world.

Then luxury. Every few days we wanted a hotel, a clean bed, a private shower and a lovely expensive meal. This seems a realistic thing to do once a week or so. On occasions it's been essential, but usually it's just a luxury that makes the trip a better overall experience. The cost of these days was significantly higher because of the fuel and the tolls paid on top of the charge for the room. These days would cost upwards of €350 in total. Once a week on average adds approximately 50€ a day.

Lots of the time we shopped and cooked in the van. So this is a definite saving on a hotel holiday. But an Airbnb could be used the same way. So shopping I won't cost as we tend to eat at home too, so that's not an added cost.

Overall our 30 days campervan trip through Europe cost 155€ a day. £4,500.

Shall we just push the financial arguement one step further. Let's see what an Airbnb, flights, car hire, and a meal out once a week for 30 days would cost in let's say Lake Garda.

There's a pleasant Studio in Garda town, available tomorrow for £1500 Airbnb for a month rental. Looks very pleasant, certainly more space than Nessa, although snug!

Car hire for same period, August to September 2023, lots of economy car availability for around £650.

Lavish meal out for two once a week £1000 budget.

Flights tomorrow EasyJet £228 for the two of us return in a month

Total £3378.

Ummmm., makes you think doesn't it?

Of course, its not just economics that should dictate the outcome of this thought process. But it certainly played a role in justifying the initial outlay on the van. £33,000. Plus several more on upkeep, repairs and refits. Thanks to the demand for campers, our Nessa has probably held her price. So that's not going to be a factor, but it is "holiday money" firmly invested and not accessible.

The upsides for me are many. If we decide to re home Nessa I shall be sad. I do love a peaceful British weekend in a field near the sea. I love a bbq and a bottle of red wine. I love long spontaneous country walks with the dog. I love a music festival in the van.

No conclusion, but plenty to consider. As readers are aware, Mrs NHSontheRun will have a strong opinion. This is my reasoning, and I'm hoping she finds it helpful too as we mull over the recent experience.

1 comentário

David Price
David Price
16 de ago. de 2023

Thank you Martin Lewis.

I for one will be very sorry if Nessa makes way for more conventional holidays. I love the blog and enjoy having cool, boho friends. x

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