How to save money & enjoy your caravan or motorhome holidays!
There was a time when we’d write a “how to save money” blog so that you could spend all that extra moolah on your holidays or the latest leisure vehicle gizmos and gadgets.
But the sad fact is that the UK is smack dab in the middle of a cost of living crisis.
As the price of fuel, gas, electricity, and food soars, it’s only the most privileged amongst us who aren’t feeling the pinch. Sadly, many caravanners and motorhome enthusiasts are resorting to selling their pride and joy to offset the massive increase in the cost of living.
If you have no plans to sell your holiday home, we’ve come up with an exhaustive list of tips and tricks to help you save money but still enjoy your passion.
If you’re new to leisure vehicles and are thinking of buying your first home-away-from-home check, follow this advice to avoid unnecessarily wasting money.
Buy an appropriate caravan for your existing tow vehicle
It might be tempting (if you have the disposable income) to buy the most extensive, fanciest caravan in your budget. However, you must ensure your car can tow the caravan you want to buy, or you’ll be left with the hefty bill of purchasing a new vehicle.
The mass of your new caravan needs to be less than 85% of the kerb weight of your car so that it can safely pull the van. The RAC has a detailed article on calculating your car’s towing capabilities and the reasons behind it.
Buy what you need, not what you want
Modern motorhomes and caravans come with a veritable cornucopia of optional gadgets & gizmos. While they’re fun to use, and some of them make life a little easier, most of them aren’t essential, and avoiding them can see you with a few extra quid in your bank account.
Items like caravan movers could be essential to some people but a luxury item to others. Be honest and ask, “do I really need this?”.
Used caravans or motorhomes are a more affordable option
Check out the used vehicle market if you want to make significant savings.
If you’re willing to entertain the idea of buying a pre-loved motorhome or caravan, you can save thousands and thousands of pounds that can go towards reducing the outgoings on your household bills.
The Caravan Club has a wonderful guide to buying a second-hand caravan, and most of the tips are transferable to purchasing a motorhome too.
Rent instead of buying
If you’re a leisure vehicle newbie or only plan on getting away once or twice a year, renting a caravan or motorhome is a much more affordable option.
While the renting fees for a week, fortnight, or month, might seem very steep, they’re nothing compared to the price tag of buying your own vehicle. However, renting a motorhome is a little more expensive than renting a caravan as you’ll spend more on fuel on your holiday.
Consider renting your leisure vehicle
If your ‘van’ is sitting unused, you’re throwing money down the drain.
The motorhome and caravan renting business is a lucrative one, and you can recuperate some of your expenditure and put it towards other things. If you’re skeptical about renting out your pride-and-joy, start by renting to only people that you know.
Booking sites and parks for your stay can be an expensive affair, but a little savvy thinking can go a long way.
Book off-peak getaways
Most caravan parks and sites are seasonal and increase their prices at peak times (usually between June & September for the school holidays). If you don’t have time constraints, you can make significant savings by booking your holidays in off-peak times.
Sure, the weather might not be as nice, but the giant piles of cash make up for it.
Book early to avoid price hikes
Booking your holidays well in advance is a tried and tested method for saving money and avoiding disappointment. Some parks will let you pay in instalments to lessen the financial impact of your site fees.
While planning well ahead can result in having some extra pennies in your pocket.
Book late for increased discounts
Paradoxically, you can book last-minute getaways to save money. Ringing a site the day you leave or the day before you want to go away might see you get a healthy discount as the park would prefer to rent a plot for less money rather than letting it sit empty.
However, this money-saving method is quite risky because there may not be any spare spots for your preferred time, leaving you with nowhere to go.
Keep your campsites close
And your bank card closer.
With sky-rocketing fuel prices, visiting local motorhome and caravan parks will reduce your fuel bill and allow you to funnel your funds elsewhere.
Look for sites and attractions within 50 miles of your home; we’re sure there are plenty of hidden gems that you can have fun at without spending an arm and a leg.
Join the Caravan & Motorhome Club for some exclusive discounts
The Caravan and Motorhome Club have a modest £56 annual membership fee that not only offers you discounts on 2700 of their affiliate caravan sites (which they claim can save you on average £156 on pitch fees) but also has a vast array of discounts on attractions all around the UK.
Driving for pleasure is fast becoming a luxury item thanks to the surging cost of petrol and diesel. While it’ll still cost you an arm and a leg to tow a caravan or drive a motorhome, there are still some ways to save money while on the great British roads.
Practice economical driving
You can improve your fuel mileage and reduce how hard you get kicked in the wallet/purse with a little concentration. Practice these techniques for better fuel economy:
- Smooth Acceleration & Braking
- Maintain a Low RPM / Drive In The Highest Gear (Where possible)
- Occasionally Skip a Gear
- Don’t Fill Your Tank Any More Than You Need To
Don’t overload your vehicle
The more your car, caravan, or motorhome weighs, the more energy is needed to propel/tow it. Only packing what you need for your holiday will decrease the amount of fuel it takes to get to where you want to go.
Make sure your types have the correct pressure and aren’t worn
Tyres on your vehicles will naturally lose 1-2 PSI per month, and when your pressures are low, it increases the amount of fuel you use.
Fuel use is increased by 0.2% for every PSI that your tyres are under-inflated by.
It’s also good to make sure your tyres aren’t worn. Not only is it unsafe, worn tyres increase rolling resistance and, ultimately how much fuel you use. The AA does an excellent job of explaining ‘rolling resistance’ and its effect on fuel consumption.
Fit a towing jacket
While it’s true that you’ll need to spend a couple of hundred quid on a tailored Towing Jacket, that amount pales in comparison to how much you’d have to spend on repairs should your caravan suffer damage while you’re towing it.
Keep an eye for our TJs in the cleaning section too.
Spend time planning, save on fuel
“A goal without a plan is just a wish”
You’re not going to save money without a rock-solid plan. Before you depart for your favorite holiday destination, plan your route carefully.
- Set off at a time when the roads have a lower traffic volume
- Pick a route that requires the least amount of acceleration & braking
- Choose refuelling stops that avoid expensive service stations
- Avoid notoriously dangerous stretches of motorway
- Figure out alternate routes in case of emergency
Sitting in traffic is a surefire way to empty your fuel tank without getting anywhere.
Keeping warm is one of the biggest concerns amongst consumers right now as gas prices sky-rocket. Here are some simple yet effective ways to ensure you don’t lose a limb to frostbite while holidaying in your caravan or motorhome.
Install thermal curtains or blinds
Preventing heat from escaping from your vehicle is one of the most efficient ways to keep it warm. You’re pouring money down the drain if you’re heating your van only for that warmth to escape into the atmosphere.
Thermal blinds and heavy-duty curtains plug those gaps and keep windows from emanating their cold touch.
Heat the human, not the home
It’s cheaper and easier to keep the people in your home warm than heating the domicile itself. Money-saving expert Martin Lewis and his team have produced a sobering yet helpful article giving us all tips on staying warm while saving cash.
Invest in refillable gas bottles
Despite the expensive initial outlay for a refillable gas bottle, you’ll save a nice chunk of change if you generally holiday a lot or use a large amount of gas in your leisure vehicle. These bottle types weigh a lot less than traditional bottles, too so you’ll reduce nose weight and the overall weight of your caravan/motorhome.
However, if you only holiday once or twice a year, refillable bottles might take a lot longer until you see the fruits of their labour.
Even though this tip is included in the Martin Lewis article, we felt it deserved its own category to highlight how cost effective electric blankets are.
With a running cost of around 3p per hour, you’ll only spend about £1.50 per week keeping yourself warm at night (assuming a 7 hour sleep cycle), which is way less money than it would cost to leave the heating on over night.
Electricity has seen its steepest price hike in living memory, while inefficient water facilities can also raise your bills significantly. Here are a few minor changes you can make to keep your heating on and your bank manager at bay.
Install solar panels
Solar power and solar panels are among the most efficient and cost-effective ways to keep your battery charged (assuming you plan to keep your vehicle for many years) and the lights on. You can even trickle-charge your battery when your caravan or motorhome is in storage if you have one of our covers with a solar panel insert installed.
Switch to LED lights
Regular incandescent light bulbs use approximately 75% more energy than LED bulbs. Installing these bulbs throughout your motorhome or caravan will see your power go further for less.
Low-flow shower heads and timers
Low-Flow shower heads can reduce your water consumption (and, by extension, your water bill) by as much as 40%. They’re good for your bank balance, and they’re good for the environment too.
You can also utilise shower timers to limit how long you spend in the shower. It might take a little practice to avoid getting left all soapy, though.
When you’re on holiday you won’t want to eat the same boring meals over and over just to save money. Following these tips you’ll be able to penny-pinch while still eating delicious, nutritious foods.
Take only what you need
One of the biggest faux pas you can make when trying to save money is wasting food. The UK wastes approximately 9.5 million tonnes of food every year, so planning your menus ahead of time and taking only what you’ll use is a great to start to keeping you in the black.
Prepping your meals and batch cooking
An extension of “taking only what you need” is to batch cook and meal prep before you go. Not only will preparing your food ahead of time and cooking them all at once save on gas and electric, you’ll be less likely to waste food or send for takeout when you know you have pre-cooked food waiting for you.
Use a slow cooker
Slow cookers don’t only make cheaper cuts of meat more tender and delicious, they’re also very energy efficient. Surprisingly, despite taking up to 8 hours to cook a meal, slow cookers use a relatively small amount of electricity, thus reducing your energy bill.
You’ll also find the pot is bigger than most pans you’ll find in your kitchen so you’ll be able to cook larger volumes of food at any one time.
Buy frozen fruit and vegetables
Frozen fruits and vegetables offer a trifecta of benefits. They’re cheaper than fresh produce, they last longer, and when they’re frozen quickly after being picked, they retain their mineral and fiber content too.
Try subscription-based food companies
Subscription-based companies like Gousto and Hello Fresh offer massive discounts for first-time users, sometimes by as much as 50%. If you haven’t used them before you’ll be able to grab a week’s worth of meals (with the weights and measures already sorted for you) for less than the ingredients would cost you in a supermarket. Just remember to cancel your account before you get home.
Do the “downshift challenge”
The Downshift Challenge is another Martin Lewis special aimed at reducing your outgoings so you can lift a more comfortable life. The premise is simple; when you visit your supermarket, drop down one brand to the ones you usually buy. For instance, if you usually purchase Heinz Beans, get ASDA’s own brand. If you usually buy ASDA’s own, buy their value range. So if you can taste the difference, keep a log of the cheaper options and over time you’ll save on your shopping bill.
For further tips, checkout this excellent article for 31 Insanely Smart Ways To Save Money When You Cook.
The expenses don’t stop when you’re not using your leisure vehicle. You’ll need to spend a little maintaining your motorhome or caravan and storing it to make sure you get maximum longevity out of your expensive investment.
Look for private land to store your vehicle
If you have the space to store your vehicle at home, you can save a small fortune, though you’ll need to ensure your land is secure, fenced-in, and has a lockable gate for maximum safety.
Alternatively, ask family members, friends, or seek local farmland you could use for a small fee.
Check terms and conditions for storage
While this tip isn’t a direct money saver, it could save you a whole heap of money in the long run.
Before signing on the dotted line at a storage facility, ensure there are no hidden charges, extreme cancelation-fees, or lengthy cool-off periods that will see you forking out for a plot that you won’t even be using.
Check for Caravan & Motorhome Club discounts
The C&MC doesn’t only offer discounts are caravan and motorhome parks around the UK. Being a member, you’ll also get reduced rates at more than 40 storage sites in the country.
Fit a storage cover
While your motorhome or caravan is not in use, it’s susceptible to adverse weather conditions, dirt, UV, and damage from debris. Investing in a quality tailored storage cover can prevent thousands of pounds worth of damage. Not to mention it’ll keep your vehicle free from dirt so you won’t have to spend extra cash on cleaning products or waste your valuable time up to your elbows in soap-suds.