Our guest bloggers ‘The Marmalade Tour’ are a family of 4 from Lincoln who sold their home and nearly all of their possessions to live life on the road in a motorhome!
Thank you Scott and Mel for sharing your experience with us and giving us your thoughts on whether a family motorhome holiday in UK or Europe gets your vote…definitely something to consider when the current travel and holiday restrictions are lifted.
If you’re interested to find out…read on.
We’ve spent nearly two months in Europe in our brand-new motorhome (it should have been a year – thanks coronavirus). We spent nights in France, Belgium, Lichtenstein, Luxemburg, Switzerland, Austria and Germany. Not really a fair comparison of all of Europe by a long shot, but let’s consider this a work in progress and we’ll update you in a year! We thought we may be able to help you decide if your motorhome holiday should be in the UK or Europe.
We’re a little adventurous, selling our home and most of our possessions to live and travel together in a motorhome. Most people would say that it’s crazy, but really the crazy thing about it was that we’d never spent a night in a motorhome prior to this!
We spent nearly a month travelling around areas of the UK to familiarise ourselves with the van.
But how does motorhoming in the UK compare to Europe, here’s what we think.
Motorhoming in the UK
In just under a month, we visited Caravan and Camping campsites, Caravan and Motorhome club sites and certified locations (CL) and also free stops wherever we could find them. We experienced a good diversity in the types of places that you can legally park overnight in a motorhome, in the UK.
Pretty much every site we visited was of good standard, hygienic washrooms (where present, not every campsite has these), water and waste facilities, good electricity supplies and safe secure compounds.
We really enjoyed our time in the UK, there are so many great places to stay and explore, but our main issue with motorhome life here, was the cost, with some sites being £25-£30 a night (for a family). This becomes an expensive option when considering multiple stays or indeed full-time, ‘vanlife’.
Certified locations (CL – another offering from Caravan and Motorhome club) were a cheaper option when travelling as we could book and pitch up somewhere, often a farm site with a small number of pitches, and pay in the region of £15 a night with Electric Hook-up.
Apps such as ‘Park for the Night’ help find free stays, but as the price is reduced so too are the amenities. Electricity, water and emptying facilities become a rare commodity in these instances, so we often intertwined these stays with CL or club sites to refill the essentials.
Motorhoming in Europe
The idea of motorhoming in Europe may give you some feeling of tension and this was the case for myself prior to journeying there. Ferries, driving experience, language barrier, culture, could I deal with it? What if there was nowhere to park and I couldn’t ask for help? Well, my angst was misplaced.
Our first nights in Belgium painted a good picture of motorhome life in Europe – an image of motorhome inclusivity.
After three nights held up in France (avoiding Storm Ellen) we stayed at our first free motorhome Aire near Ghent in Belgium, and we couldn’t believe our luck. This site had dedicated motorhome parking for two motorhomes, grey water emptying facilities, white water and electricity, all free of charge… FREE! The maximum stay was 72 hours which gave more than enough time to explore the city. The site was situated in the car park of a sports centre – a typical placement for this type of Aire.
Our travels through Belgium, Luxemburg and the East of France continued much the same. Most Aires did require some minor payment but was never expensive. The most expensive was €3.50 for 10 minutes of water and 1 hour of electricity, which is still not too bad. We used sites once a week to have a longer shower or do some laundry. Austria in particular didn’t have as many Aires as some of the other places we visited, but they did have the most beautiful campsite we’ve ever stayed at so we can forgive them!
The water pressure at European campsites and Aires seemed a lot stronger, so much so, that it was actually a problem in our early days. Our hose worked on suction and blew off the tap all the time, I was always dripping after filling the white!
To summarise, the cost and experience of motorhome living in Europe was a lot more enjoyable for us and there seems to be more acceptance and a real sense of a community around motorhome travel. The negatives? The travel time and fuel to reach these places is considerable. Also, the great Aires we’ve mentioned are only great if you can get a space. They can get full fast so you can’t fully rely on them or book ahead, but you can often still park in the general vicinity of the parking spot if you’re respectful.
A motorhome holiday in the UK or Europe?
You can’t really lose. There are benefits to both options. We’d advise that cost should not be a factor to visit Europe in a motorhome, if you’re planning on two weeks or more, it could work out similar in price due to the cheap living and running costs in those areas. In terms of beauty, if you head to the right places, the UK has just as much to offer as Europe. Places like Snowdonia, the Cairngorms and our great coastlines are examples of this. You have to decide what’s best for you and your trip… Do you want a relaxed local trip or a slightly more adventurous trip into the unknown? Be brave and get out there in your van!