Are you looking forward to your next opportunity to hitch up the caravan and take off for a weekend away – or a longer holiday in the great outdoors?
Whilst patiently waiting for that day to come around, here are a few snippets to keep you abreast of recent developments and the latest news from the caravanning world.
The evolution of the static home
If you are setting off to holiday in a static home, of course, there is not even a need to tow a caravan anywhere – it’s already pitched on your favoured site.
Static caravans have come a long way since a resurgence in their popularity after the Second World War. Just how far they have come is illustrated in a story in the Mirror newspaper on the 20th of March, following an interview with static caravan manufacturers Willerby.
From relatively early on, the static caravan included such luxuries as space-saving fold-down furniture, gas cookers and ovens, sunroofs and laminate flooring – although such creature comforts were decidedly cheap and cheerful.
Today, of course, many make themselves at home by swapping that cheap and cheerful experience for the full-blown luxury of features such as under-floor heating and hot tubs.
The rise of the staycation
The trend continues. As bookings for foreign holidays see a pronounced decline, the appeal of the staycation is confirmed by more and more Britons taking their holidays at home.
Holiday parks and campsites are already reporting that summer bookings are up by 20% compared with the same period last year, said a story in the Guardian newspaper on the 4th of March. Internet searches of campsite listings reflect a surge in interest.
Although many staycationers are now showing a preference for more remote sites “away from the crowds”, the appeal of holidaying at home comes not only from being able to avoid flying but also the comfort of familiarity with the NHS and how it works.
Warning over recent caravan thefts
Police in Sussex have issued a warning to caravan owners to be on extra alert following an upsurge in thefts, reported the Crawley and Horley Observer on the 26th of March.
The past 12 months have seen a spike in such crimes and a week marked by yet another theft of a caravan in the county. Two other thefts were also reported stolen in the neighbouring county of Kent.
Anti-theft advice from the police includes the suggestion that caravan owners immobilise their trailers by removing the wheels and wheel nuts where possible.
If you are unfortunate enough to have your caravan stolen, its retrieval will be made that much easier, of course, if you had fitted a Thatcham-approved (category 7/S7) GPS caravan tracking device.
New motorhome pick-up point in London
The Caravan and Motorhome Club has opened a new pick-up point for its motorhome rental service, which is part of the Club’s Experience Freedom initiative.
The new pick-up depot is at West Drayton, on the intersection of the M25 and M4 motorways, and close to the airport at Heathrow. It joins other pick-up points in Manchester and Edinburgh.
The rental service is part of Swift Go, which offers a range of Swift coachbuilt motorhomes and van conversions for rental – at rates starting from £100 a day (for a minimum of three nights). A full range of accessories and optional extras is available, together with access to the Caravan and Motorhome Club’s more than 2,700 campsites.
Just when you thought you’d chosen a caravan that was perfect in meeting your every desire, you’ve thought of some small – or not so small – way in which it might be improved still further.
And although the modern caravan is designed and built to meet practically every whim and fancy of the discerning owner, there are still ways in which you might customise, personalise and simply make it better.
You might try several different approaches – depending on your budget and the extent of the changes you want to make:
- if you don’t have one already, probably the simplest, most straight forward and utilitarian way of improving your ‘van is to invest in an awning;
- they come in all shapes and sizes – with some doubling the usable floor area of your caravan at a stroke;
- the Caravan and Motorhome Club offers some comprehensive advice about choosing an awning that suits you and your caravan’s needs;
- all the major manufacturers regularly launch new models and variations on best-selling versions – the touring caravan market is especially fast-moving;
- if your caravan is more than several years’ old, therefore, you might feel that it is beginning to look a bit dated and in need of modernisation;
- if that is the case, it is surprising how relatively small-scale changes and adjustments can make the world of difference to an interior that has begun to look somewhat tired and worn;
- you might reupholster, for example, by recovering all the soft furnishings or simply introducing a few more scatter cushions;
- change the curtains or blinds and install new lighting ideas, or a new sound system might also give you a newly colourful sensory background;
- when all’s said and done, something as basic as a thorough spring clean is liable to bring your caravan up to date, with a modern-seeming appeal;
Upgrade and add a touch of luxury
- take a step beyond the simply utilitarian addition of an awning or breathing a more modern look into the interior of your caravan by upgrading towards an element of luxury;
- electrics – and the appliances and devices you run off the system – provide many opportunities for a touch of indulgence;
- this might come in the shape of the latest in Blue Tooth speakers, for instance, or a clever network of USB plug sockets and ports – which can be used to connect as many devices and gadgets as you care to imagine;
- other upgrades might be designed to take some of the chore out of setting up your pitch upon arrival at the campsite of your choice;
- an automated levelling system, for example, will help to ensure that your caravan is immediately on an even keel, as electric corner steadies and hydraulic jacks beneath the axle settle your ‘van on the most uneven of pitches – and you’ll be set up in just a few minutes;
- an electrically-powered motor-mover will also take the strain out of manoeuvring your caravan in any tight space – making the very best of your chosen pitch or ensuring the perfect positioning for storage.
Whatever your ‘van, whatever its age and whatever your budget there is always likely to be room for improvement. You might want to consider some of these tips and suggestions for modernising or adding a touch of luxury to your caravanning experience.
Finally, don’t forget that if you make extensive changes or improvements to your caravan, do let us know – you may need to increase the sum insured of your caravan insurance to reflect its increased value.
Motorhome and Campervan Awards 2020 winners announced, ABI Coworth static home reviewed, and glamping planned for York Naburn Lock holiday park
Can’t wait to get the caravan hitched up and set off on a Spring outing? That’s hardly surprising, given some of the fierce storms we’ve had to endure this winter.
To set your mind at ease that all is still well in the caravanning world, here are some snippets of news …
Motorhome and Campervan Awards 2020 winners announced
It’s that time of year for the annual jamboree that is the Motorhome and Campervan Awards, organised by the Caravan and Motorhome Club and held at the National Motorcycle Museum, near Birmingham.
Announcing the winners in a post on the 25th of February, Out and About Live picked out those in the specialist categories of large, A class luxury motorhomes, coachbuilts, van conversions, and campervans:
- top of the class A motorhomes costing more than £90,000 went to the Frankia Mercedes-Benz i8400 Plus Platin;
- also an A-class motorhome, but in the category for those costing under £90,000, was the Mobilvetta Tekno K Yacht 79;
- in the class for luxury coachbuilts, the top prize went to the Swift Kon-Tiki 675;
- best van conversion was the Leisure Treka EB from Moto-Trek; and
- best of the campervans was the Volkswagen VTA 20/20 Vision from the UK’s Vision Tech Automotive.
New owner and glamping for York Naburn Lock holiday park
Owners of the York Caravan Park in Stockton Lane have acquired a second caravan park, also in the city, at nearby Naburn Lock, writes the York Press on the 26th of February.
The new site currently has 115 pitches – twice the number of the Stockton Lane’s 55 pitches – and is the subject of a planning application for the construction of new washing and toilet facilities.
Expansion comes after the success of the original York Caravan Park, which continues to offer a 5-star experience for touring caravans and campers for adults only and attracts some 50,000 visitors a year.
The new site at Naburn Lock is on the banks of the River Ouse, close to the Park+Ride scheme and about a 15-minute drive from the centre of the city.
ABI Coworth static caravan is reviewed
UK static caravan manufacturers ABI have invested the whole of their 45 years’ experience in the crafting and design of their newly unveiled Coworth Deluxe model.
In their review of the Coworth, Ideal Caravans highlight the many features of this family-oriented static caravan which is capable of sleeping six. The two bedrooms include a master suite, with king-size bed and its own ensuite washroom and toilet, and a further bedroom with two single beds. Additional sleeping accommodation is in the lounge area.
The large toilet and family shower room also has an in-built extractor fan.
That U-shaped lounge area at the front of the caravan is open and spacious and has an L-shaped dinette which is divided from the kitchen by a three-quarter wall. The kitchen comes ready-equipped with gas cooker, extractor fan, built-in microwave and fridge-freezer.
Shropshire Council set to rule on caravan park plans
Bridle Way Caravan Park, at Gobowen near Oswestry, in Shropshire, has applied for planning permission for a change of use from its current caravan, motorhome and camping pitches to pitches for 13 static caravans for year-round holiday use.
In its coverage of the planning application, the Oswestry and Border Counties Advertiser on the 25th of February noted the opposition currently voiced by nearby residents. Opponents of the proposed change of use are concerned that owners of the static caravans will try to use them as permanent, year-round residences and, so, have called for conditions requiring any static caravan site to be vacated every February.
Shropshire County Council has yet to decide on the planning application.
It’s sometimes frustrating that we seem to spend a large part of our lives waiting to reach a certain minimum age where we no longer have to pay extra for our insurance and then shortly after, we start finding that we must pay more because we have passed a certain age! It is a fact of life that age is sometimes an issue in some forms of insurance.
Of course, there are understandable reasons behind insurance providers needing to take into account, in some circumstances, the age of a policyholder.
For example, few people would really dispute that a typical 60 year old is unlikely to have the same reaction times when driving a car or caravan as those of a 25 year old.
Even though this might be counterbalanced, to some extent, by the greater experience of the older driver, the reality of life is that insurance providers may feel that older drivers constitute a slightly higher risk than those of the younger age groups.
Unfortunately, sometimes it is difficult to follow the logic when it is ruthlessly applied to caravan insurance. Some insurance providers may, for example, decline to offer an insurance policy to over 60 towing drivers at all.
This appears to be a gross overreaction and disproportionate.
Some insurance policy providers will not take drivers over 60 under cover for the towing of touring caravans.
The logic behind this isn’t always entirely clear but presumably reflects some views that older drivers may be less able to manage a caravan behind the car than younger drivers.
Fortunately, this view is not universal and there are other insurance providers who are more than willing to offer over 60’s touring caravan insurance. At Cover4Caravans we are proud to be able to offer help in such areas and to confirm that we can offer over 60 driver insurance cover.
It is perhaps worth mentioning that towing a caravan is only one aspect of an insurance policy risk profile. In other respects, such as experience in terms of hitching and siting a touring caravan, age may be a positive advantage.
So, in terms of discounts, you may find that cover and discounts are available and over 60’s caravan insurance is perhaps far more cost-attractive than you might anticipate.
Older drivers with convictions
Of course, as you might imagine, driving convictions are an issue for insurance providers irrespective of the age of the driver concerned.
If you have penalty points on your licence, these may adversely affect your insurance premium or any discounts that might be available to other drivers without such convictions.
Upper age limits
Some policies may, in fact, have no absolute upper age limits for towing drivers.
Providing you hold a full and legal licence, it might be possible to find you appropriate insurance cover.
There is absolutely no need to think that your caravanning expeditions may need to come to an end simply because you are approaching 60 or 65 years of age and you cannot get insurance!
We are pleased to say that here at Cover4Caravans we don’t believe in pulling down the shutters in terms of being over 60 and wanting touring caravan insurance. We are happy to take older drivers and indeed younger drivers under cover on this type of policy. We can even help you if you are looking for over 80’s tourer insurance!
We believe that there may be significant advantages to being a more mature owner and driver, running from a reduced risk of over-reaction to road situations, to increased levels of patience, right up to a greater familiarity with the vehicle and things such as reversing in tight spots etc.
So, if your 60th – or even your 80th – birthday is approaching there is no need to start thinking about giving up on caravanning or that you are going to need to start writing some substantially bigger cheques for it.
We’re here to help!
Where your caravan is stored when not in use is extremely important – and will influence the price of your touring caravan insurance.
Why is this?
It is in the very nature of the lightweight construction of a caravan that keeping it secure against unwanted intruders may be a more than usual problem. When in storage, you may ensure that doors and windows are locked, of course, but this is unlikely to provide complete security during times when the caravan is left on its own for long periods of time.
Keeping your caravan away from unwanted attention and interference, therefore, is more likely to depend on the security of the location at which it is kept.
It is also important to note that if you change the storage location of your caravan, you must inform your insurance provider immediately – for the reasons explained here.
Choosing a storage site
The level of security which you are likely to be able to provide on your own driveway is typically quite limited. For storage security on which you may be able to rely, there is a network of some 500 purpose-designed sites at various locations around the country. Sites are members of the Caravan Storage Site Owners’ Association (CaSSOA), which grades each one according to the level of security offered, through features such as:
- alarm systems installed;
- controlled points of entry;
- perimeter fencing; and
Depending on the site you choose, you may even be able to store your caravan undercover – although the locations offering this facility are relatively few and far between.
Rather more certain, however, maybe your insurer’s recognition of the enhanced security available at a CaSSOA-approved site to the extent that accreditation may gain significant discounts on the annual insurance premiums you pay. At Cover4Caravans, for example, we offer up to a 15% discount on the cost of your caravan cover for ‘vans stored at a CaSSOA-approved storage site.
When choosing a site, even if it promotes itself as a CaSSOA-approved site, it is still important that you do double-check with the CaSSOA website too and ensure you feel comfortable with the security offered.
During the winter months, your tourer might safely be laid up for the duration. That is when your choice of location is likely to be critical to its security and safety during the more punishing weather that winter in this country inevitably brings.
Obviously, you’ll need to avoid a location underneath trees or close to dilapidated buildings where storm-damaged branches may fall or slates and other debris may be blown onto your caravan.
Getting your ‘van ready for storage
Now you’ve chosen the right caravan storage site for your own unique needs, how do you get your ‘van ready for storage?
Having washed down the exterior of your caravan to remove bird lime and other damaging pollutants, you may be tempted to keep it as clean as possible by storing it under plastic sheets or tarpaulins.
Most expert advice warns against such a measure because of the very real risk of such airtight coverings adding contributing to one of the worst nightmares for any caravan owner – condensation. Unless the interior remains adequately ventilated, there is a danger of condensation building up and creating the almost intractable problems that may bring in the way of damp and mould, which are not only unsightly but may also pose a health risk and lead to rotting of the very structure of your caravan.
If you insist on storing your caravan with a tarpaulin, therefore, you might want to make sure that it is made from a “breathable” material.
Charcoal, salt or other proprietary granules used for absorbing moisture in the atmosphere may be put in cupboards and wardrobes – with the doors left ajar.
Some measures for keeping your caravan safe during storage are also associated with the steps you take to improve security.
This may also be an ideal time to check that the hitch coupling is thoroughly cleaned and adequately greased.
The safety provisions you may make whilst preparing your caravan for storage are likely to include checking for gas leaks and the proper functioning of any gas appliances and the safety and integrity of electrical supply lines and equipment.
In the relatively closed confines of a caravan, the safety of any gas installation may be especially important in order to prevent the potentially fatal risk of carbon monoxide poisoning – a risk you may feel to be sufficiently serious to call in an appropriately trained and accredited gas engineer to check over the gas equipment.
Further reading: Guide to Caravan Storage and Security