Young buyers discover the joys of caravanning for the holidays of the Covid era | Travel and leisure
Are you looking for a charming hotel on wheels or a sporty model with room for your surfboard or kayak? Welcome to the UK’s growing number of caravanners – even millennials can’t wait to participate.
The coronavirus pandemic has prompted vacationers to see caravanning, often seen as a less fashionable alternative to camping, in a new light. Confusion over overseas travel has caused internet searches to explode, as dealers struggle to get their hands on enough trailers to meet demand. Buyers are facing increasing wait times, and rising commodity prices have also pushed up prices.
“We have been marketing caravans in the UK for over 54 years and the coronavirus crisis has resulted in a huge increase in demand,” says Jarrod Clay, Managing Director of Robinsons Caravans. He says that in the second half of last year, orders were a third more than in 2019.
The disruption caused by lockdowns means that, like other industries, manufacturers are scrambling to meet growing demand. Wait times for new caravans have doubled from the usual eight weeks to 16 and are heading towards 24, a delay which in turn is boosting demand for used caravans.
Robinsons’ largest customer base has traditionally been the over 55s, often with grown children and more money to spend on themselves. That’s still true, but Clay has seen a surge in the number of customers under 40, with that group now behind a quarter of the company’s business. More than a third of customers are new to the hobby, he adds.
The Caravan and Motorhome Club says its membership grew by 14% last year and that growth continued into 2021. The level of bookings for its sites, especially for the peak summer months, means that the organization believes that this year’s UK touring holidays will be “more popular than ever”.
Normally, around 50 million nights are spent in caravans each year, with the market dominated by a handful of UK brands including Swift and Coachman, both based in Hull. There are over a million leisure caravans in the UK, but that number is expected to increase significantly.
Costing an average of £ 25,000, a second home on wheels will appeal to those who can’t cope with nights under the canvas as well as the legion of new dog owners across the country who want to take their pets on holiday with them. . The demand for other vacation vehicles, including motorhomes and converted vans, is also high.
Nick Lomas, general manager of the Caravan and Motorhome Club, says that since people were forced to spend long periods away during the Covid crisis, the club has seen an increase in bookings from different generations of the same families.
“They can travel in their own units but all stay at the same campsite, or some can stay in their motorhome or caravan while other family members stay in one of our glamping options,” Lomas explains. . “It is this flexibility that more and more people appreciate.”
Childhood trailer vacation veterans may remember white boxes outfitted with faux wood veneer, drab banquettes, and basic cooking equipment. But a lot has changed. Most of the new models are equipped with fridge-freezers, suitable ovens, fixed beds and a separate shower room and toilet, as well as central heating.
In the past, would-be RVers would also have been put off by the prospect of having to reverse a trailer into position, but today most newer models come with electronic motors that allow them to be maneuvered into position using a remote control.
Design-focused brands like Barefoot and Rocket Caravans offer sleek shapes and cool interiors, but even mainstream companies are creating models for new audiences. With its mounts for surfboards and ATVs, the Swift Basecamp, which starts at around £ 20,000, is touted as a ‘crossover camper’. Its advertisements feature a glamorous young couple passionate about kayaking.
“Where the trailers were always white in color, now you have silver, champagne or metallic blue colored sides,” says Clay, who adds that the shapes change all the time. “Graphics used to be a front-to-back strip, but can now be quite elaborate. They are much more modern. “
At the upper end of the market, Clay points to Coachman Lusso, who, with a price tag of £ 42,000, he describes as having “a kind of boutique hotel inside.” Other features include free Wi-Fi and roof-mounted solar panels, spring-loaded upholstery, shag rugs, and ceramic toilets. But they’re hard to get hold of at the moment: “We’re exhausted; we can’t have any more, ”he said.