The beauty of a touring caravan holiday is that you aren’t ever quite sure where your adventures might take you. Those who plan a trip with every intention to visit the south of France might very well find themselves overshooting their destination by a few hundred kilometres and stopping off in Spain, and why not? Without any hotel bookings or connecting flights to hold you back, you’re free to roam the land however you and your travel buddies please. Holidaying in this way is totally liberating, a true break from the routine and structure found in your day to day life.
One of the many things that people find appealing about this kind of holiday is the element of unpredictability that travellers will experience, giving them an opportunity to have real adventures. Here we chat to fellow caravan and motorhome enthusiast Mike Garrity to hear about his first European caravanning trip. Maybe his adventure will inspire you to ditch the itinerary and simply enjoy each holiday experience as it comes, whether you’re in mobile accommodation or not.
When Mike lost his job, he discovered that his wife Kathryn and his well travelled Bailey Orion caravan were all he really needed to turn the bad news into a positive and once in a lifetime experience.
“Losing your job doesn’t usually signal the beginning of life affirming adventure, but when I was delivered the news that I would be made redundant from my job as a builder’s merchant by the end of the month, I immediately decided to take the plunge and start planning my dream holiday.
“My wife and I have owned a caravan for many years, escaping into the countryside for a week or so at a time to get some much needed rest and relaxation. We had always dreamed about taking a longer holiday with our caravan, but work obligations and money had always got in the way. With work no longer an issue (for now at least) and the sudden cash injection that comes from an abrupt redundancy, we got our caravan serviced, filled it with some basic essentials and headed for the continent.
“Our plan was to make our way to through France as rapidly as possible while taking in as much sight and culture as we could. This way we could spend the majority of our 8 week break in Spain. We had holidayed in Spain before, but always as more conventional (stationary) tourists. The idea of touring the country and observing the subtle differences in the culture of the various regions was something that really appealed to us.
“The longest we stayed in one site in France was just outside of Marseille, Le Grands Pins camp-site. The whole facility was surrounded by beautiful forest, the weather was great and the facilities marvellous. The hotel style pool, the bar and the on site restaurants were unlike anything we were used to in the UK. On the other side of the channel, people seem to take camping and caravanning much more seriously and the facilities are much more lavish. I’m not sure if it is just because the sun is usually shining, especially heading south, but people just seem much happier to be camping.
“It was a conversation we had with a British family at this site which really cemented in our hearts that we want to do more of this type of touring. The question they asked us was simple: Where are you heading when you leave this site?
“I answered and told her that we were heading West, over the Spanish border and onto a camp-site called Globo Rojo in a town called Canet De Mar near Barcelona. The conversation moved on, but the question really highlighted to me the beauty of holidaying in a touring caravan: the fact that if we had undergone a sudden change of heart that night and decided to head to Italy instead, the consequences would have been minimal. We had very little in the way of bookings in Spain and although we had planned a route and a loose itinerary for our Spanish trip, we could have easily planned a new one to take us on an adventure around Italy at a moments notice.
“This realisation was totally liberating. Although we did go on to spend the rest of our holiday in Spain (which was amazing!), knowing that we had freedom of movement around Europe and were masters of our own fate made doing exactly what we wanted that much sweeter. I would recommend travelling like this to anyone who is given the opportunity. It can be a nerve-racking experience but once you have hit the road and start to let go of your preconceived ideas of what a holiday should be like, I promise that you will never consider an all inclusive hotel break again.”