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David Preece - Touring caravan owner.
Caravanning is a massive part of my life. For as long as I can remember, my wife and I have counted down the days until we can hit the open road, and head to... well, just about anywhere. I don’t think I’ll ever be a ‘hotel person’. Hotels are functional and convenient, but for me they don’t come under the category of ‘enjoyment’.
Why do I think touring caravans are so much better than hotels? The obvious answer is the freedom they provide, but there are so many other reasons why touring caravan living beats a hotel stay in my opinion. I could talk all day on the subject, but instead I’ve broken them down into 15 reasons. That’s right – just the 15!
So here they are...
- 1. Dress for breakfast?
Starting at the beginning of the day, it’s not always ideal to have to get showered and fully dressed before breakfast. Some of us like to dive straight into a bowl of porridge, and so hotel breakfasts can skew our morning routine with the requirement of having to get ready and go downstairs before we can eat the first meal of the day. It might sound like a small thing, but if you are a creature of habit like myself, hotel breakfasts can start you off on the wrong foot.
- 2. No unpacking!
Living out of a suitcase might be the traveller’s way, but really it is no fun. Packing and unpacking gives me the feeling of staying in temporary accommodation which I can never truly relax with. In my touring caravan, I know where everything is, and can find it within seconds. On touring caravan breaks there is no rifling through a suitcase at ungodly hours trying to find something that you might have forgotten anyway!
- 3. Better bed times
Am I the only one who finds that the bed sheets in hotels are restrictive and uncomfortable? There is nothing like having a mattress which you have bought to meet your own requirements (I must have a firm mattress!), and a duvet which cradles you in comfort, rather than feeling like your blood supply is being cut off.
- 4. Great for guests
I own a touring caravan which might be uncomfortably big for some, but for us, it is just perfect. We have more than enough space for ourselves, and when relatives or friends come along for the ride, all it takes is a quick conversion of our sofa and a couple of sleeping berths can be created. In comparison, hotel rooms aren’t really conducive to socialising or sharing. Caravans are a lot more flexible. Easy come, easy go!
- 5. A portal to the Great Outdoors
Even if your hotel is in a beautiful spot, it still requires a wander before you make it outside. In some of the larger establishments, you could write your first novel in the time which it takes to walk down the hallway, wait for a lift, go down to the ground floor, and make your way through the lobby and reception every time you go out. The second I open our door on touring caravan holidays, I am stepping straight into the environment I like the most.
- 6. Keys in the ignition
On hotel holidays gone by, we have felt a bit stranded at times without a motor. It is in our nature to explore a little further than a realistic taxi ride away, which can be difficult with no car to use. Stress can begin to rise once you have taken the time to research all the local transport options, which may or may not be reliable. We know that whenever we go away - for the season or for touring caravan weekend breaks - our car is there too, which can make getting around a whole lot easier. That goes for anything from a dash to the shops to a day trip.
- 7. Holidays which don’t hurt
I find that before you know it, costs on hotel-based holidays can start to add up at an alarming rate. It’s not just late night raiding of the mini bar or the room service - the areas in which hotels are based seemed to be a lot more pricey, and of course the base rate for rooms is typically a lot more expensive than a pitch fee. Now I understand totally why some people are content to spend away their two week holiday budget, but for us, touring caravans allow us to go on holiday for longer, without breaking the bank.
- 8. Don’t forget your five a day
We might no be the healthiest eaters on the planet, but fresh fruit and veg do make it into our fridge. Without a fridge, we have to eat out, which means entering the world of tempting and unhealthy meal choices. OK for a couple of days, but my weakness for curry and fish ‘n’ chips means that a hotel holiday can take miles and miles on the bike to burn off!
- 9. My coffee, my way
I don’t consider myself a fussy person, expect when it comes to coffee. It must be a certain type, made inside my stove kettle, and with a certain amount of milk and sugar. Many hotels provide a kettle, a cup and some sachets, but the more I become set in my ways, the more my morning cuppa cannot be compromised on.
- 10. Overhead disturbances
Ever felt like a herd of elephants has taken up residence above your hotel room? It might be the thinness of the floorboards, but it is incredible just how large the reverberations from those footsteps can be. The walls can also be thin, and there are some occasions when you could simply do without the insight into somebody else’s life!
- 11. Pet-friendly
If he could talk, I’d wager that our dog would say that he enjoys our holidays as much as we do. With the majority of hotels, pets are restricted. Again, this might suit you fine for a one or two week trip, but if you like your holidays as long and relaxing as possible, it’s not an option to leave your poodle at home!
- 12. Itchy feet
Every now and then we like to up sticks on holiday, and try out a different holiday park for a few nights. Invariably, we end up returning to our favourite spot, but it is nice to have the freedom to switch up our location every now and then. Book into a ‘Hotel Nightmare’ for two weeks, and you can find yourself stuck.
- 13. A community spirit
I guess it is feasible to make good friends with fellow hotel guests, but it is hard to imagine that anything could replicate the community spirit of a holiday park. We have made lifelong friends thanks to our touring caravan, and the best thing is we get to see them in a place which we all love, every year. Going back to my previous point (no. 10) about disturbances; touring caravan sites give you enough space for peace and privacy, while still offering a social element.
- 14. Get On Your Bike
I enjoy cycling, and while I can’t quite hit Geraint Thomas speeds up and down the hills, I like nothing more than a cycle through the countryside. Hotels rooms can be downright inconvenient places to store a bike, and leaving them on the car rack is certainly not the most secure option. For me, touring caravans put me in the best place for one of my hobbies, and the choice of routes mean that it never gets boring.
- 15. Closing the gap
The amenities which hotels provide can add to the relaxation of a stay. Whether it is a heated pool, restaurant or fitness centre, having these options under one roof is an advantage when taking a break. What we have seen with our own eyes in recent years, is that touring caravan sites are closing the gap, and offering an increasing number of amenities more akin to a luxury holiday resort. That means more eateries, gyms and pools. Some might prefer the ‘purity’ of a site without these amenities, and there are still plenty of those in operation too.
Bonus Point: Love2Stay, situated in the sleep Shropshire Hills near the border with Wales, is a 21st Century holiday park - packed with amenities from a chemical-free swimming pool to a fitness centre and a Cinedrome - which offers over 120 fully serviced pitches. Well worth a visit!