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The great British staycation

All the evidence seems to suggest that 2017 is going to be the year of the “staycation” for many British families and celebs.

This term has been picked up from the American “vacation” and it describes the move by many British holidaymakers, away from the automatic assumption that holiday means overseas.

What’s driving this?

Value for money

There’s little doubt that the decline in value of Sterling against the Euro and dollar since 2016 has been a major factor.

That’s largely attributable to uncertainty over the outcome of the Brexit process but the result is that the pound today is buying a lot less abroad than it was earlier in 2016 and before. Suddenly Europe doesn’t look quite so attractive anymore in terms of a low-cost holiday.

By contrast, that drive up the motorway to Scotland or across to Cornwall, is looking much more financially attractive.

British resorts / sites have learned lessons

Going way back to the 1970s, one reason increasing numbers of British holidaymakers fled overseas each year for their break was the rather indifferent state of many British resorts. Some, including some caravan sites, hadn’t really done much to improve their facilities since the 1950s – and that carried on even into the 80s and 90s.

All that now has changed though. Huge sums have been spent in the past 20 years in order to bring the sites and resorts up to 21st century standards. Now the facilities are often excellent and designed with the caravan communities needs in mind rather than just expediency.

A re-discovery of the UK

The UK has scenery and natural beauty that compares very favourably with any major holiday destination in the world.

In past decades, going abroad for a holiday was trendy and fashionable. Today, that’s less so and people are re-discovering the beauty and grandeur of their own country. It has been said that some British holidaymakers were more familiar with the geography of Spain or France than they were that of the UK.

That looks to be changing.

The weather

This is, of course, an old chestnut and one that can’t be ignored.

Nobody is ever going to pretend that the UK is likely to have a reliable Mediterranean summer. What might be called “iffy” weather is always a possibility.

However, two factors in recent years are reducing these concerns:

  • climate change is leading to typically warmer summers;
  • UK resorts and caravan sites are simply much better prepared to offer poor weather entertainment than they were say a decade or more ago.

So, if you get the odd rainy day, it’s not a disaster.

Caravans have hugely improved

At Cover4Caravans, we’ve frequently spoken to people who remember caravan holidays (static or touring) in the 1950s and 1960s and what you hear is fond nostalgia but also stories that are closer to endurance epics than holiday fun.

Today’s technology and caravan design coupled with the new site facilities have simply changed all that. Many caravans today offer exceptionally luxurious and comfortable surroundings (which is one reason why it’s important to make sure you have appropriate touring or static caravan insurance).

Summary

For all these reasons, 2017 looks like being another bumper year for staycations.

We think that’s something to be welcomed given the contribution that will make to the overall UK economy.

Destinations for Spending the August Bank Holiday

Now, not even the greatest lover of the UK’s bank holidays would argue with the statement that traffic can be a problem over these marvellous long weekends.

However, that does not have to be inevitable. Here are some top tips and ideas for destinations for the August bank holiday that might help you to miss the crowds and traffic queues. Of course, in what follows, we’re discussing caravan bank holiday breaks:

  • think twice about the big coastal resorts if the forecast’s good. They’re lovely but if you’re determined to go to one, consider the train rather than road. Whatever you do, during the main travel hours the roads into the big seaside locations WILL be congested and the best sites likewise.

Top tip – favour inland destinations during bank holiday weekends. They’ll often be quieter;

  • try Stratford-Upon-Avon (plus local Warwick, Royal Leamington Spa etc.) These are fantastic historic locations with lovely countryside as well. The nearby River Avon is great for water based leisure activities. As a destination, being in the Midlands, they’re also easily weekend-reachable from just about all areas of England and Wales. There are some really good sites nearby but as always – book early;
  • explore Herefordshire/Shropshire. These are two of tourist England’s least-known counties and that’s such a pity because they have some lovely countryside. The towns are also charming and full of historic interest. Try Leominster, Eardisland (buildings dating back to 1300) and of course Hereford itself. In Shropshire, don’t miss Oswestry for its timbered buildings, Much Wenlock (arguably where the first modern Olympic games were held) and Shrewsbury for its lovely river, buildings and culture;
  • drift lazily along in Leicestershire and Rutland. This is all about farming, rivers, fresh produce and historic towns. Oakham is Rutland’s county town and charming to visit with its stone buildings. Nearby Melton Mowbray was the original birthplace of pork pies and they’re still claimed to be the best in the world. Stamford is close-by (though in Lincolnshire) and that too is well worth a visit. Beauvoir Castle is also famous and the huge Rutland Water reservoir is a must if you’re into bird and nature watching;
  • see rugged life in the Peak District National Park. This is some of the hilliest and wildest country outside of Wales and Scotland. It covers parts of Derbyshire, Yorkshire, Cheshire and Staffordshire. This is a weekend that’ll be associated with trekking and nature watching in the hills. You’ll be able to escape the crowds and take in some amazing natural beauty;
  • sample the big skies of Cambridge and the Fens. Now it’s true, the scenery isn’t awe-inspiring in terms of hills and valleys but the peaceful vastness and openness of the Fens has inspired poets and painters for centuries. There are some great villages, thatched cottages and marvellous pubs too. For something a bit more lively and with inspiring architecture – try the world-famous city of Cambridge, which in August is likely to be quieter due to the reduced numbers of students there.

Hopefully some of the above ideas will have given you an alternative to the rush to the sea traditionally associated with the August bank holiday. Just make sure your touring caravan insurance is up to date before you depart.

So, off you go and enjoy yourself!

Protect your static home during storms

The British weather is nothing if not unpredictable – and at times may turn downright punishing, such as the recent bank holiday “violent storms” the south east of the country experienced.

As the summer wears on the risks of thunderstorms and lightning strikes are likely to increase and this is a time when your static caravan may be most at risk to loss or damage.

Protecting your static home

At Cover4Caravans, we have published a detailed guide to static homes, including your responsibilities as the owner, particular considerations if you are going to let it to others, and the importance of static caravan insurance.

Our guide contains essential information about your obligations and some general tips on safety, but what specific measures is it prudent to take as a precaution against loss or damage from storms?

The site

  • clearly, some static caravan sites are more vulnerable to the effects of storms than others;
  • even on a relatively sheltered site, however, there may be trees, bushes or structures which may give you cause for concern because of their proximity to your pitch;
  • if that is the case, make sure to put your concerns and reservations in writing to the site management – and your awareness of the potential for problems might count in your favour if you subsequently need to make an insurance claim;
  • remember too, the Royal Society for the Protection of Accidents (RoSPA) advice that trees may act as lightning conductors during a thunder storm and, so, pose great danger for anyone sheltering under them;

Your static home

  • depending on the site you have chosen your site might insist that your static home is securely anchored – if that is a requirement, you clearly need to make sure that anchor points are secure, and may want to consider the benefits of anchoring your holiday home anyway;
  • as any storm approaches, make sure that all windows and doors are securely closed, to prevent damage caused by frames and units rattling about, suggests the National Association of Caravan Owners (NACO);
  • for similar reasons, and because they are in probably the most exposed area of the caravan, make sure that skylights are also securely closed;
  • aerials and aerial brackets are likely to be similarly exposed and the fittings need to be thoroughly checked;
  • because of the danger of any aerial acting as a lightning conductor, you might want to consider taking it down if severe thunder storms are forecast or throughout the winter months when your caravan is not in use;
  • other fittings to check – both before and after any stormy weather – are gutters and downpipes, which may need to be re-secured and possibly unblocked;
  • outside, in and around your plot, make sure that everything is stable and secure – sheds, outbuildings, gas bottles, decking or verandas, garden furniture and storage boxes;
  • these are all structures and items which might not only suffer damage, but from which pieces might be blown off during the storm and impact neighbouring static homes – generating still further insurance claims;
  • to help prevent this happening, of course, any loose items need to be put away in a storage shed or box, or brought inside your caravan, whilst you weather the storm.

These are largely straight forward, common sense precautions, but you need to take particular note of any specific measures your insurer requires to be taken – on pain of any claim subsequently being rejected.