Having been on one caravanning holiday as an adult, I feel that I’m properly qualified in giving you tips for an enjoyable UK break.
Tips are a result of either things that we did that I was glad we did, or things that we didn’t, that we wished we had. I realise that I’m doing that awful couple thing where I use a collective pronoun and talk about my better half and I as a unit. Did I just say better half? Am I a bloke in the pub in the 1990s?! I think that not being more than 30 feet away from her has had a more profound effect on me than I’d hoped. Joking aside though, this week has been bloody brilliant. There was tears this morning at the realisation that it was our last full day here before returning to being real life grown ups with charge of a cat and a dog, real jobs and washing to do.
So, how to have a smashing staycation (or caravan break elsewhere, perhaps you’ll venture to the Continent or get a VW to tour around in, which is definitely on my long term “things to get done before I die” list- don’t like the term “bucket list”).
Check the weather
We’ve been extremely fortunate with the weather this week. Despite it being mid (to late) September, it’s been pretty hot and very bright. But I’d packed for Autumn and the would-be inevitable daily downpours. We had jumpers and socks and emergency ponchos. What we needed was shorts and sunglasses and dresses. We ended up buying some things and wearing what I had intended as ‘evening wear’ during the day and were still very hot. Had I packed the other way and remembered my jelly sandals I’m sure it would have bucketed down all week and we’d have been storm chasing along the beach. But either way, fail to prepare prepare to fail. So yes, get a peek at the 7 day forecast before you go.
Write a shopping list
One if the things that I love about this type of break is that you don’t have to eat out every day or every meal. But you can if you like. It’s cheaper and healthier (depending on what you cook) to eat something you’ve made and we tended to have a breakfast rather than a big lunch. We had some meals out and takeaway but we also cooked at base. However, unlike at home where you have a store full of herbs, spices and little extras, at the caravan you only have what you’ve brought or bought. This means a careful list and plans as to what you’ll cook (and if you really like to micro-manage like I do, when you’ll have it) life will be a lot easier.
Good meals to cook are the kind that go into the oven or on the hob in a pan or two so avoid anything too elaborate and one of my favourite meals was a waitrose Makhani sauce and rice (it was as good as eating in a restaurant but at a fraction of the price.)
Borrow condiments, sugar and salt from eateries
As I’ve mentioned, unless you’ve really planned ahead and brought sauces with you, you’ll be without condiments, salt and sugar. It seemed silly to buy a huge bag of sugar and a ketchup and a mayo and a salt when we’d likely only use each of them a couple of times and either have to waste the rest or lug the remainder the two hundred or so miles back home with us so we borrowed (took) them from the services, pubs we’d eaten and anywhere else that gives sachets when you buy a drink or a meal. Now, we took quite a few at a time which I wouldn’t condone (I.e. This blog is not telling you to take the piss!) but if I buy a green tea from Starbucks and take a couple of sachets of sugar they’ll hardly miss it and I might have had one anyway if I’d had a breakfast tea. I wouldn’t because I’m sweet enough but with the tax that particular retailer is avoiding anyway I’m sure a couple of sachets of sugar won’t be missed. Likewise, Burger King charged us so much at the services that I reckoned they owed us some ketchup (I’d asked for a Chicken Royale with Cheese not shares, much to my surprise.)
Or, if you’re really well prepared save your half used condiments/shower gels/shampoos
A few weeks before your trip start putting things that are half or two thirds gone away ready for your trip. This’ll mean that when you do go away you’ll have the essentials (to take one-way only) and you won’t have to sneak off with handbags full of sauce sachets! It’s win win!
Empty your change jar
You know the one. Ours is an egg shaped money box with “Girls night out” printed on the side. My Dad has a huge whiskey bottle from a pub at some point (he’s not a whiskey drinker but it’s huge and does the trick). You toss your silver and orange coins (coppers) in and sometimes if you’re particularly flush that month- or after a night out- you’ll throw in a pound coin (you’ll thank yourself later, trust me).
So, keep doing that and very occasionally (not every weekend when you need change for a pint of milk and loaf of bread or on a bleak Monday morning when you need change for bus fare to work or parking funds for the hour that you’re at the dentist) empty it out, preferably immediately before your week away.
We had nearly thirty quid in (mostly) five, ten and twenty pence pieces, but there were a few of the ‘bigger’ coins too. They served us well for parking and putting into Boirnemouth’s most basic of bandit machines. We even won some of the cash back and invested that into games of air hockey (which I believe I came out as champion of, by a narrow margin.) It feels like free money and you’ll be glad you hung onto all of the rubbish that you thought would just crowd your purse until the end of the world. We’ve saved our 2p’s for Blackpool next month.
Invest in a basic first aid kit
Things we needed this week that we hadn’t brought include; plasters, antiseptic, bite and sting relief spray, ibuprofen. I feel like this should have been an obvious item on the “things to definitely not to forget under any circumstance” list. Unfortunately, that list entailed iPads, electricals chargers and my straighteners while the first aid kit consisted of a part-used packet of antihistamines. It’s a pain when something happens where you need what you haven’t got and on-site shops often charge over the odds (probably because if you need it you need it so they have a captive audience). So pack it and keep it in your car, hopefully it won’t be needed but if it is you’ll feel like you’re winning.
Only go with someone you really, really like
I mean, you do have to live in very close quarters for the week so if you and your partner like your space or there’s a stroppy teen to consider it really might be better to get a little lodge or a cabin or somewhere with proper walls where if you row (or want to have a wee without the other being able to hear) you have some space. We didn’t have any issues but we are a very lovey-doves, touchy-feely couple that make most people a bit sick in their mouths, if you’re not (and there’s no shame in that) then pick a different type of holiday or plan some activities where you can enjoy solitude during the week.
So there you have it. Now- enjoy (and bookmark this for next year’s summer holiday!!)