Alan's Blog




The Cost of Caravanning

While I was working in Kuwait in 2001 one of my colleagues questioned my use of a caravan. This was on purely economic grounds as he wouldn’t spend any money at all unless he really had to. He was under the misguided impression that people bought caravans to enable them to have cheap holidays. No doubt he would have bought a caravan himself if it meant him saving money for his holidays. I had to explain to him that people choose to go caravanning because they enjoy it - not to save money.

Unless you have a fairly large family which require more than one room for accommodation, caravanning holidays (particularly abroad) usually cost considerably more than conventional ‘package holidays’ when one takes into account all the expenses involved as well as the initial outlay on the purchase of a caravan (and usually an awning). He too had actually taken the trouble of calculating the cost of caravanning holidays when compared to conventional holidays and reached that conclusion before asking me about it. I just confirmed that he’d got his sums correct. Even without the capital outlay, insurance, maintenance and additional fuel costs when towing, site fees are often very expensive, especially in the school holiday seasons. These can be anything up to £50/night - often more than hotel rooms. A 3-week holiday for the three of us would cost at least £2500 + entertainment / meals etc. Add that to what you’ve already paid out for your caravan / insurance / maintenance / repairs and in equipping your caravan, and you can see the cost soon adds up to being uneconomical. You should also factor in the loss of income based on what money you could have made out of the money spent on the caravan - an outlay that can be many thousands of pounds - and the depreciation costs. And, don’t forget, you also lose at least 6-7 days of your holiday by doing all the driving (and having all the aggravation that towing a caravan entails) to and from your destination in the sun. So what amounts to a holiday of only two weeks will cost in excess of at least £3000 for three people. Is it worth it? Only if you love caravanning. If you have a big family, it may well be financially worthwhile. Otherwise, the only economical way to caravan is to travel for extended periods out of season. That’s when so many retirees go to spend the winter in southern Spain. That would suit me fine too. I wish.

After nearly three years of not being used, I towed our caravan from its storage location on 22 March 2018 in order to prepare it for action once more.  Thanks to our friends at a nearby caravan site, I towed it to their site so we could work on it. You may remember that our caravan was our home for about ten months on our return from The Netherlands, and we stayed on his site for some of this time. It was also the only home that our baby daughter, Annelise had whilst she was in good health as the last time we used it was the day she was admitted to hospital with cancer.

We had a week to work on it before taking it away for a short holiday. The first job was to clean it inside and out – and disinfect it. It took us most of the week to prepare it as there was so much to do. The day before we were due to leave, I smelt burning – as in an electrical ‘fire’. The smell gradually got worse as it took a long time to track down the source, located behind a wooden panel inside the wardrobe. I eventually removed the panel and discovered that the plug and socket connecting the mains connection to the distribution panel were extremely hot. There was no way I was going to obtain replacement parts so I thought the end of our proposed caravan trip was over before it had begun.  Fortunately, I was able to deal with the problem and make it all work again so we were able to go after all.

The main purpose of our caravan trip was to help our friends get to grips with their new caravan – total beginners at caravanning. We stayed at Springslade Lodge on Cannock Chase in Staffordshire. The site is in a lovely location but is a very poor site – inadequate, only very basic facilities and very expensive – extremely poor value for money. This is not exactly a great site so I don’t suppose we’ll be returning.
Of course. The weather didn’t exactly make things as enjoyable as it might have done – very cold and wet – not great for living in the great outdoors, however it was a case of ‘Mission Accomplished’ in terms of providing help to our friends.

A few days before we left home, I bought JP an early birthday present – a new mountain bike. We went to the bicycle shop and he chose what he wanted – which happened to be something entirely different to what he had in mind when we entered the store! However, he is delighted with his choice and he has been able to ride it along some of the many bicycle trails on Cannock Chase.

This was the last time we used the caravan as it spent the next few months in the repair workshop being repaired and renovated – at a cost of about £3000. However, it was money well spent and we hope to get much more use from our caravan during 2019.

Update: 31 December 2019

We now have our caravan on a seasonal pitch which works out at about £2000/year.

Once again the caravan has been in the workshop at considerable expense - considerably more than £700 - so far. I will explain. After our 6 week summer tour Grace suggested that we replace the carpet with something easier to clean. This was because we'd taken our dog, Kanga, with us and having her in the caravan brought about a lot more mess than usual. The reason for this is because we'd not taken our awning with us because of its weight. The awning has very large, heavy steel poles to support it throughout the worst weather conditions, hence it being so heavy. We would normally have taken this in the car with us (to avoid overloading the caravan) but we now have Kanga travelling in the car so there is no space for the awning.

The carpet was removed and a thin layer of plywood laid to cover the floor. On top of this were glued vinyl strips designed to look like a wood laminate floor - real wood laminate flooring would be far too heavy and thick. I have to say the result of this new floor installation looks really impressive and should be easy to keep clean.

Various other repairs were carried out and the caravan is now back on its pitch.

Next, we hope to be getting the shower / toilet room repaired in the near future. The damage to the floor in this space is horrendous but the cost of a new floor is prohibitive - even if available. There is also a serious crack around the waste pipe region of the wash-basin which needs sorting out. Again, getting all this work carried out will involve considerable expense.

As a rough guide, our 6 week holiday in the summer cost us around £4000 and we travelled just over 4000 miles. You can read about our tour at URL: and the subsequent two additional pages.

Caravanning is certainly not a cheap holiday when one considers ALL the expenses involved. Even your car can cost a lot on holiday: our car battery failed and it cost 216 Euros just for the battery (the RAC service was free (although memberships fees are very high).


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