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  • Writer's pictureManchester Camper Hire

Planning for Spontaneity

Want some top tips for a great campervan holiday? If you haven't done a campervan trip before, then take some advice from people who have! I asked some of our previous customers for one piece of advice that they wish they'd known before their trip, and now I've compiled all those gems into one handy list. A few general themes developed when we were making the list, so it's been split into three sections: General travel tips, food and drink ideas, and useful things to pack.

So here goes - some top tips to make your spontaneous trip go swimmingly.

General travel tips.

Less is more

Loads of people said that they wish they'd packed less. You'll appreciate the extra space more than you'll appreciate the extra hot water bottle/ drone/ 4 camera lenses/ 13 tee shirts/kitchen sink... Here's a list of the gadgets you don't need!

Smiles not Miles

It's very tempting to try and go as far as possible and see as many things as you can during the time you've got with the van. Of course, it's a driving holiday, but you're allowed to stop and chill out too! Driving for several hours in an unfamiliar vehicle, on unfamiliar roads, (particularly on the first day of your trip) is just going to get everyone tired and stressed. Trying to go too far each day will mean arriving late, and potentially setting up in the cold and dark. If you do arrive everywhere after dark, you'll miss the best bits! Your journey times won't always be as quick as Googlemaps says, because you'll want to stop to admire the views. It's better to do a small amount of the country really well than to whizz round all of it in a week - it'll still be there next year!

Be Prepared

Prepare for all that the British weather can throw at you - see the packing list for some more detailed ideas of what to take, but remember that the weather can vary from place to place, especially around the coast or in the mountains.

Get off the beaten track

It's easy to follow the herd and just do what everyone else suggests for the area you're visiting. If you're not careful, you can just find yourself following the same people around all week, and sharing a beautiful sunset with 100 other people! Instead of following TripAdvisor, ask the people working in the pubs, campsites and shops as you're passing through. They'll be able to tell you the best (and often quietest and cheapest) ways to see the area.

Leave no trace

One thing that came up a few times is a plea from other campers that all others leave wherever they visit exactly as they find it. You can read more about making your campervan trip as green as possible here (see green camping article), but in short, take your rubbish with you, keep fires and barbecues off the grass, respect the wildlife, and maybe even do a 2 minute clean while you're there.

Plan your route

It sounds obvious, but it's tempting to just set off and find somewhere that takes your fancy. The open road is great, but so is a vague plan of where you might stop and how long it's going to take. You can check out some suggestions for campsites on this map, or check out this article for other campsite finder websites. Having at least a couple of the campsites booked in advance is really important, particularly in summer when places get booked up. However...

Keep it flexible

Know when to admit defeat and/or change the plan. It's okay to book into the local B&B when the campsite has flooded. Just because something is on the spreadsheet doesn't mean it's enshrined in law! If something doesn't happen, just let it go, and resolve to come back and do it another time.

Don't move every night

This tip came from people who were doing road trips like the 'NC500'. It's tempting to try and see EVERYTHING but you're also on holiday, so it's good to stop and chill out. If you're doing a tour, make sure you build in time to have a 'day off' so that you're not always chasing the fun.

Take shelter

Whether you're in a campervan or a tent, a canopy or gazebo can create much needed space if it rains. Our campervans come with a sun canopy/rain shelter as standard, and there are a couple of other options for bigger awnings too.

Food glorious food!

Ready, steady, cook

Go for meals that are tasty but easy to cook - classic pasta dishes, easy curries, and fajitas are some of our favourites. Of course, if the weather's on your side, it's great to have a barbecue so that all the mess is outside the van! Similarly, keep some dried pasta and a jar of sauce or instant noodles handy as a backup plan.

Ready, steady, reheat

Make a stew, curry, or spagbol for your first night while you're at home, then just reheat it for your first meal. Something that you can heat up quickly whatever time you arrive could be a godsend. If you get stuck in traffic, or the chippy you were heading to is closed you'll be grateful for it. You'll have enough going on at your first stop without pulling together all the ingredients for a dish you've never cooked before.

Ready, steady, DON'T cook!

Just don't cook - go to the chippy, pub or cafe - it's good to support the local economy, it tastes great and there's no washing up!

Take a kitchen essentials box

It's worth packing those little things you use all the time in the kitchen at home: ketchup, foil, food bags, oil. Otherwise you might have to buy them all again at a petrol station. I had four bottles of ketchup at home before I finally learnt this! Some bits like washing up liquid and salt & pepper are included in the van, so check what's included before you go.

Size isn't everything

Opt for chipolatas instead of massive sausages! If you're cooking on a barbecue for hungry kids, it's much easier to cook lots of thinner sausages quickly than it is to get those artisan ones from the farm shop cooked through.

Choose your food and drink wisely

This is particularly true if you're in a tent and don't have the luxury of a fridge. Chocolate can melt, milk can go off quickly, bananas can turn to mush. Things like granola bars and bags of peanuts can survive anything.

Use your loaf

One experienced camper recommends taking wraps or pittas, instead of loaves or buns for your lunches. They're easier to pack and won't get squashed under the rest of the packing.

Get out more

Cook outside as much as you can, on the barbecue. It's much easier to keep the van clean that way! It'd also be a shame to miss all the fresh air you've travelled to enjoy.

Rice, rice baby

If you're in a rush, those packets of 2 minute microwave rice can be quickly reheated in a frying pan - much less mess than rinsing and cooking uncooked rice.

Steel yourself

Use stainless steel, not non stick pans. Non-stick pans are great, but will easily get damaged by even the most careful camper.

Think before you drink

If you're camping in summer, red wine is great because it doesn't matter if it gets warm! Or keep your beers cold in the river, as no one wants a warm one. (Make absolutely sure they're not going to get swept away!) If you're going winter camping, stick to beer and whisky - one is good cold, the other will warm you up!

Beers chilling in God's fridge

Don't wash, and go

If it's the last night of your trip, just take the washing up home and put everything in the dishwasher!

Handy things to pack

Make a list, and check it twice

Check out the packing list that we've put together which will tell you what's included in the van, and even what to take if you don't have a van yet.

Inspect a gadget

Here's a list of the camping gadgets you do need! They might not be essential, but some of them will save you space and time.

That's entertainment

Always pack playing cards and a book or your ipad/kindle. It'll be a godsend if the rain doesn't let up for a day.

Bags to the future

When you're in a small space, bulky rigid suitcases can get in the way. Small squashable bags are much better suited to being crammed into the different cupboards in the van.

Rubbish suggestion!

Always pack some bin bags. They'll come in handy for dirty clothes, shopping, carrying the washing up , being sick, sitting on wet grass, packing sandwiches...oh, and even as bin bags!

And finally, possibly most importantly...

Pack a bottle opener and lighter

There's one of each included in the van, but it's always good to take a spare. Even if you don't need one, someone on the campsite will, and many a friendship has started over a shared bottle opener!

I really hope this list has been helpful, whether this is your 1st or 50th campervan trip. Feel free to get in touch if you need any advice about your camping trip, or visit the website to check availability and book a campervan!

Thanks for reading,

Nick 🚌 😄


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