When we first got Bertie we joined both of the main clubs in the UK – The Caravan and Motorhome Club (CMC) and the Camping and Caravanning Club (CCC). We were working, so the cost of joining was not an issue, and we really believed we would get good use from them. However it just wasn’t the case, we wild camped (i.e. spent the night outside of a designated campsite), and camped in privately owned campsites but only spent about two weeks in club sites, a couple of bigger sites and a couple or three certified sites. Although the clubs do offer discounts on other things useful for travel abroad (insurance, ferry travel etc) we found they couldn’t match what we were already getting, so as soon as we could we cancelled our memberships.
On return to the UK we decided to take a more considered approach to joining a club. Originally we had just thought that we wouldn’t bother, but a recent post on facebook had alerted us to the existence of Temporary Holiday Sites (THS) run by volunteers in the CCC. These sites are usually cheap and don’t always have facilities (other than water and waste disposal), a bit like a temporary aire. With our eyes opened we looked at the various clubs again, paying more attention to information about rallys rather than the main campsites.
This time in the UK we weren’t going to be touring extensively, we wanted to spend most of our time in three places; home in Taunton, visiting our old haunts in Exmouth and visiting our son in Northumberland. Our experience is that it is quite easy to ‘wild camp’ in the UK if you want to spend one or possibly two nights in a parking spot and aren’t heading for an exact destination, but because we wanted to spend long periods in specific places we were intending to use campsites for the majority of the time.
We had a look at the places we wanted to be and the overnight options in those places and decided that the Camping and Caravanning Club would be our best bet. It offers a very nice certified site in Exmouth and we were able to find out (through their Out and About section) that there were two THS in Northumberland in the summer. In Taunton we’ll have Bertie in storage some of the time, but when we need a campsite we’ll use Tanpit’s Farm which is a great value private site.
As we were being scientific about the process we looked at the numbers – last year it cost us an average of £18.36 per night to stay on campsites in the UK. We expected to stay at least 10 nights on THS at £8 a night and 13 nights in the Exmouth CS at £13 a night, plus the £39 membership fee. That works out as an average of £12.52 per night, definitely worth it. The additional benefits of easy search engines and apps for THS and sites, plus facebook communities are the icing on the cake.