One of the first things I noticed when I moved to the UK five years ago was the amount of driveways peppered with caravans or campervans. I soon became aware that camping, or caravanning, was practiced by both young families and retired couple alike in Britain. But what to choose? A tent? A caravan? Campervan? What is the difference?! Keep reading to find out the best option for you.
Camping with a tent is, perhaps, the closest one can get to nature without living à la Tarzan. The great thing about owning a tent is that it is the cheapest choice and it takes up the least amount of space. You can have a normal sized car, and you can pack everything you need in either the boot or a roof rack. It is an ideal solution for backpackers who can, literally, up sticks and be on their way the following day. Because you will sleep on either blow-up beds or sleeping bags, it might be a better option for younger campers. Nowadays you can get tents of all shapes and sizes, but this does mean it will take time to set up, so you will have to wait a little longer to put your feet up after a day of exploring.
One of the perks of having a tent is that there are more sites that welcome these contraptions as opposed to caravans. If you are an urbanite, you might want to check there are facilities nearby; otherwise you can look forward to feeling at one with the wilderness when answering the call of nature. Similarly, it is the choice that is most vulnerable to the elements given you are at the mercy of floods and strong winds. It is also the least secure of the three and you might encounter thieves both in human and animal form on your travels. However, there is something very special about sleeping under the stars snuggled up to your loved one.
The great thing about campervans is that everything is self-contained. You are a snail; you take your home with you. Home and car merge into one and you are effectively driving a big van. With a campervan you can make easy pit-stops and you are protected from the changing British weather. While it is true that there is not much space inside, you can buy a tent extension, but that will come at an extra cost.
It is the option that offers the most security, and you can have it parked on the drive with no bother. However, while you can store everything in the campervan, you need to be inventive with the space, and generally in order to have breakfast you will have to hide a bed away; although, it is quicker to set up than a tent. In this sense, it is important to know how many people are going on holiday, as two’s may be company, but three might well be a crowd.
As opposed to camping with a tent, investing in a campervan is considerably more expensive, and depending on which model you go for you might not have the commodity of a loo or kitchenette area. However, it can work as a family car, in which case it’s a win-win.
Caravans are the ones which have the most mod cons, i.e. toilet, kitchen and, potentially, shower. It is perfect to store all your gear, and come holiday time you just need to hook it to your car and off you go. The vital thing about caravans is to remember that they can’t exceed 85% of the car’s unladen weight, they can be difficult to manoeuvre, and they can be expensive. However, out of the three options we have discussed, a caravan is the most spacious and comfortable choice.
Unlike the campervan, they might not be as sturdy and can be a little unsteady in the wind; it all depends on the model you go for. At the same time, it the ideal retreat in the event of rain because the campers will not feel cooped up. A part from the fact that it is a considerable investment, the potential downside of owning a caravan is that if you don’t have the storage on your drive, you might need to find somewhere to keep it when it is not used, adding to the cost of owning one. Additionally, many campfire sites do not accept them thus reducing your choice of places to stay at.