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Holidaying abroad, or staying at home??


Dave225

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Like many others I look forward to the new caravanning season with a mixture of anticipation and a little bit of concern. The anticipation is obvious but the concerns arise when I start to think about how much will it cost. Every year fuel gets more expensive, site fees are always rising and as for food, well any shopper will have seen a big increase there. So, I work out the costs, have a bit of a gulp, and then think maybe I should try something else.

 

Let me add caveats by stating that we are retired so we are not limited to a 2 week splurge in high season. What we do go for is a 3 month splurge in EU between Spring and the high season. However, once I start with ferries and insurance a grand has disappeared for starters. ‘Ouch!’ We live ‘oop north’ so it is as cheap to pay the higher ferry costs from Hull or Newcastle as it is to drive to Dover, and it is a lot less stressful. Then consider road tolls in France, site fees, entertainment (of sorts) and I am sure many will agree the numbers rise and rise. So, there is always the question, should one go that far or stay nearer home.

 

However, there are pluses. By staying away for 3 months I save the living costs we would incur at home, even down to 3 months electric and gas. Also, by going outwith the very high season mostly, we get sites at either Camping Cheque (£14.10 per night) or ACSI (€15 per night) which is very reasonable. We also tend to get down to Spain and ‘park up’ for 2-3 weeks at a time. This saves the towing fuel costs, plus if we are near a beach/town then we walk or cycle. The weather is of course much warmer than the UK so much time is spent outside and the big expense, if you wish, is the daily icecream to cool one down. Wine and food in Spain are both cheaper than the UK, so a saving there.

 

Therefore the conclusion is that once I have looked at all the holiday costs, deducted the costs from home, we are spending about £200 per week for our trip. Whether we would spend less in the Uk is questionable especially if I look at CC/C&CC site fees at about £15-20 per night, invariably parking costs wherever you turn, any entrance fees that are always high and the ‘kicker’, wine at £5 per bottle or more. No, we are not alcoholics, but do enjoy a little bit of what does you no good. Plus there is always the UK weather, maybe you are lucky, maybe not. We did Cornwall one year for 3 weeks in August. Ouch! it was 30% more expensive than France and it rained.

 

So, my reasoning usually comes down to the fact that it is as cheap, if not cheaper to go, as stay, and as we enjoy ourselves thoroughly, then it is worth it. Last year, we were very greedy and had 2 trips, leaving the van and car in France while we flew home. This was as cheap as driving back, and again a lot less stressful. However, it did mean leaving the car at an airport car park for several weeks, which was a concern, although it was fine on our return. We left the van on a site in the care of a friend, but we cannot do that repeatedly. However. the bliss of being back on the Med beaches within a day with the outfit, was a very strange feeling, but very enjoyable. This year I am checking out a commercial place where we can leave both van and car, at reasonable rates, and if it looks good, will go for the double trip again next year.

 

So, my conclusion is that if you are retired and like us worry about costs, do the sums and maybe things are not as bad as they first look.

I will be curious to see how many people who have decided that this year, a holiday at home is the best way forward, will repeat that again next year. Of course, if we get a scorcher then I am sure many will.

 

Curious to see what other think. Sorry for being longwinded

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Randonneur - 2011-03-15 4:04 PM

 

If you are retired why use autoroutes in France, especially if towing a car. The only ones we use are round Bayonne because it is very busy and if we are going to the UK Poitiers Sud to Tours.

 

Martin

I got the impression this poster was a Caravanner! I may be wrong though

PJay

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Hi Dave - I read your post with interest as you are doing what I very much want to do but still being some yrs away from retirement I have to wait a bit.

 

Your costs seem spot on and much as I had worked out. My only thoughts are that the Dover crossing (to me :-S ) is awful tho blissfully short.

 

My preference is the Poole Cherbourg crossing with Brittany Ferries if touring into France and the Santander ferry if going to Spain. Now the later is expensive but the fuel and time saving considerable. And I would suggest if you drive down from where you live then the 18 to 24 hours rest on a nice Ferry would be a welcome break. The drive from Northern Spain to the med is good and goes through the Rioja region so if you like a good red wine!!!

 

Similarly, if you wanted to travel thro France - you could break the journey in somewhere like the New Forest before getting on the Poole Cherbourg ferry. The Barfleur is back on that run now and that is a great ship.

 

Plenty of good CL's and independent sites in and around the New Forest that are used by people doing this. I meet them regularly because I live here - so I am a tad biased as to the pleasures of the New Forest.

 

Another advantage is that the roads are good from Cherbourg and Santander and you can if you wish easily avoid the toll roads.

 

You could have a bit of a break in the UK as well as a great holiday over the water.

 

Very interested in your experience of leaving the cvan there and flying back to the UK. We fancy having 4 months away with Xmas in the middle and flying back for Xmas with the children then just when it is time to do the washing up jump back on the plane for the pleasure of our home from home in warmer climes.

 

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PJay - 2011-03-15 5:25 PM

 

Randonneur - 2011-03-15 4:04 PM

 

If you are retired why use autoroutes in France, especially if towing a car. The only ones we use are round Bayonne because it is very busy and if we are going to the UK Poitiers Sud to Tours.

 

Martin

I got the impression this poster was a Caravanner! I may be wrong though

PJay

 

Could be PJay, this is the problem these days as Members don't put details of their vehicles etc in their profiles. Even so, when we caravanned, we didn't use the motorways over here. If you are retired then you have the time and probably wouldn't drive as far towing a caravan as you would driving a motorhome as it is more tiring, but that is only my opinion. On the motorways caravan/car is Class 2 anyway.

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Randonneur - 2011-03-15 8:05 PM

 

Big Momma - 2011-03-15 6:53 PM

 

Not wishing to sound like a smarty pants but I think the clue to him being a 'caravanner' was in the very first line of his post ;-)

 

So it was, but there are a lot of motorhomers out there who use the same term.

 

Shall we call it an easy mistake to make then :D ;-)

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Unsure how you manage to get from "up north" to the other side of the ditch, to cost £1,000!  Say Newcastle to Dover return = 700 miles.  Towing caravan, so largish diesel, say 25mpg = 28 gallons.  Fuel at, say, £6 per gallon = £168.  Dover Calais return, Stena, car, 2 adults + 6 metre caravan, out 15 April @ 09:40 am, return 16 June @ 10:00 = £232, and that is without shopping for a cheapie.  That's only £400, so either you are paying way too much for insurance, or the perceived cost of stress driving south has a disproportionate impact on your arithmetic!  :-)

As above, if retired, why autoroutes, you are surely not rushing?  No autoroutes = no tolls, so another big saving. 

But then, you have a caravan, so maybe you don't want to take too many overnight stops with all that unhitching and siting, and winding down of steadies, and fetching of water, and then emptying it all out again, and winding up, and hitching up (and that's without erecting and striking the awning!). 

So, perhaps you feel driven (pardon pun) to doing your travel in long, boring, motorway stretches when instead, if you had a motorhome, you could amble happily down more minor roads, stopping here and there as the mood, and your interests, take you, and arriving wherever you had decided upon - or not, because you hadn't booked, and had found somewhere else that you liked, in the mid-afternoon for stretch of the legs, and a poke around some village before settling to your evening meal, and glass or two.

I think, at heart, you are really worrying about the cost because you have the wrong vehicle, and that is imposing costly solutions upon you.  It is that caravan that is making life difficult and stressful.  Get a motorhome, and travel in relaxed comfort, and you will save money, and stress, on the trips even if the van does cost more. 

There, that's my two pennyworth, and yes, I have had a couple of caravans - but only tiddlers so you may consider they don't count!  But then, that is surely the reason you posted on here in the first place, because that is secretly what you wanted to be told.  :-D

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Hi Dave - abroad every time for us! B-) We read your post with interest and loads of "exactlys"! from the other half ;-)

 

We can't wait for our next trip - Germany in 2 weeks and France for Easter week - we love the country, they are so friendly to us "travellers" ;-)

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We hope to visit Europe at least 5 times this year using Aires and off peak sites as in the CC / ASCI guide, but like other years we will avoid the peak period of going during the Europeans Holiday Period I feel as its their country then they should be able to holiday without being cluttered up by outsiders..During July / August we usually spend our time touring the UK using CCC temporary holiday sites which are great value for money especially if we are also able to use our bus passes.
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Abroad every time for us! (We live there, so it's somewhat easier though).

 

The only time that we never go off touring around Spain, or tripping into Portugal or France, is July and August.

 

 

 

Three reasons: it's VERY VERY hot. Not nicely hot, but Oven-like hot. We've fitted a roof-mounted air-con unit last year, and it's still damned hot in a tin box when ambient temp is close to 40 degrees in the day, and almost 30 degrees at night.

 

And it is utterly crowded out with gazillions of Spanish and French and German and British and Dutch campers and all their sprogs rampaging around in every nook and cranny of every site/aire/car park in every holiday town and village.

 

And it's very expensive: sites charge a fortune, 'cos it's their peak season.

 

 

 

But mid-September through to mid-June?

Fantastic!

 

 

 

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You know! - you can really go off people when you are moving paper from one side of the desk to the other and only have a "cool" weekend in Dorset to look forward to. :'(

 

And others are saying how wonderful the med is from September to June. 8-)

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We live in the North East and have a large german caravan for touring, we can get from Sunderland to Folkstone on a tank and a half of diesel that being about £120/£130.

 

I have to admit to not driving economically either

 

 

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I quite enjoy the ride from the N.E down to Folkstone stopping at Peterborough breaks the journey and the thought of all that lovely weather and quieter roads once in France really spurs you on.

We dont use toll roads either and usually stay at a mix of Aires and Stalz; in Germany. With 6 weeks we can take it easy and it doesnt cost us anything like what it would to stay on sites only over here.

If you are a caravaner then its time to take he plunge as we did and get a motorhome Id had enough of a bad tempered O.H. complaining about traffic and putting up awnings, life should be easier when your retired stop worrying and enjoy there are No Shops in Heaven (lol) Spend It.

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knight of the road - 2011-03-17 1:10 PM

 

I have no desire to travel abroad and would not thank anyone who dumped me in a blazing hot country with bright sunshine burning my eyeballs out, everything that I want and am interested in can be found over here.

 

Same here. We did used to travel abroad quite a lot when our lads (as they were then) were racing. Now like you we just don't find it attractive any more and spend most of the Spring, Summer and Autumn wandering round the UK. Even now we keep finding plenty of new places to visit. Given that one of our hobbies is walking hot countries would hold little attraction for us.

 

For the record I worked out in 2011 we will spend about £700 on fuel plus site costs of around £1900 less any site vouchers we may have from the caravan club. Food and entertainment will be around the same as if we stayed at home for 115 days. In addition there will be a saving on our utility bills including the water which is on a meter. I know we have depreciation and other running costs on the motorhome but I still reckon this is good value.

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Many thanks for the 'varied' and interesting comments.

 

Yes, I am a caravanner. I have been through caravans to motorhomes and now back to caravan for a number of reasons, which are not relevant here. May I suggest that motorhomes are more geared for those who like to travel and see a lot of places in any 1 trip, while caravans are more geared to staying around an area for a length of time. Of course, there are many options and variations on those themes.

 

Yes, caravans on autoroutes are Class 2 while motorhomes are class 3, and yes having paid both I always grumbled with the motorhome why i was 'penalised'. Now I am on the cheaper side. I tended to use the autoroutes in the past as my 'tug' was petrol fueled so a bit heavy, so using the autoroute was easier and therefore a saving on fuel. It did not balance out but it did make the trip a little shorter, and especially on the way home, you tend not to hang about too much.

 

My reasoning on a grand was based on 2 ferry crossings at £350 one trip, and £280 for the other. That included cabins (superior class), all meals etc. For the difference in price we feel the better cabin is worth it for an overnight crossing., plus you get a minibar (ok, not a lot). Plus a CC Red Pennant which is £245 for a single trip and my 'grand' was a round up number. For me to go to Dover, which we have done several times is 500 miles door to door each way, and as we are 'old gits' it takes us about 2-3 days. Going down is fine, coming back is gruesome. I always think one has in the back of one's mind that Dover is just a short hop from London when it is actually about 120 miles. I agree the costs are cheaper by about 3-400 smackers but the hassle is something we feel is just not worth it. I take the ferry back to Newcastle, get off at 8 am and am home by 12 noon. So I accept it is slightly more expensive, but keeps us younger.

 

Again, my point was whether it was cheaper to stay back in the dear old UK especially as costs are rising everywhere. I keep thinking I should do it, but when I make the calculations, going abroad is as cheap as anything at the end of the day, and much more fun.

 

Yes, we are planning a UK trip as well. Going down to Herefordshire in August for a week, so we shall see what it has to offer. I know alot of people thoroughly enjoy Scotland, but having had numerous wet ones as a child, I kinda have gone off the idea for a while. I was 16 years old before I learned that sea water could actually be above freezing on a 1st trip to Italy, so once savoured, never forgotten.

 

A number of our friends do store their vans either in France or Spain for the winter and use them there every year. The costs are certainly econimical compared to the UK and it does save a long'ish towing drive. However, my own feelings is to keep the van here over winter, where I can see it, and maybe store it just for the peak season. Getting that is relatively easy, it is storing the car that is the issue, unless you use the airport carparks.

 

As I said at the start, many people have opted to stay in the UK this year due to costs. I was just curious whether this is as good an idea as they think. I know the Pound is rubbish against the Euro, but what the heck. At least by spending it we do not leave it to the taxman.

 

As a newcomer to the Forum I haven't figured out puitting apicture up. Plus, if it was a self portrait then everybody would demand a 'Woollies bag' to be put over me. Might do the van when I have a chance tho'.

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Tony Jones - 2011-03-15 10:22 PM

 

Brian Kirby - 2011-03-15 9:16 PM

 

There, that's my two pennyworth, and yes, I have had a couple of caravans -

 

Is that a new cocktail I've not heard of, Brian? :D

I thought he was a bit inebriated as well Tony. :D
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If you were a member of the C C C you could holiday very cheaply in Uk and on the Continent using Temporary Holiday sites and also European Holiday Rallies, and if you chose to be a Steward on these meets you could be there for free as Stewards don't pay to camp, most of the D As are having trouble getting Stewards for their meets so you would be very welcome.
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Dave225 - 2011-03-17 9:32 PM

 

 

 

Yes, caravans on autoroutes are Class 2 while motorhomes are class 3, and yes having paid both I always grumbled with the motorhome why i was 'penalised'.

 

 

.

 

Most 3500kg motorhomes are Class 2 not class 3 unless you have a tag/twin axle.

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I stand corrected. In my days of old, my Mercedes motorhome was 3500 kg but was hit for the Class 3 as it was based on bonnet height. I was also hit for commercial rates in the UK as well, even although I tried to argue I was registered as PLG, but to no avail. I was commercial in their eyes, and that was it.

 

Wonder if I can get arefund

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