Caravan holiday parks offer a cheap family holiday but it’s certainly true that some are better than others. If you pick carefully you’ll end up in a prime location with decent beaches nearby and accommodation with facilities on-site.
The first thing to do is to decide which part of the country you want to explore.
Devon and Cornwall have some of the best caravan holiday parks in the UK with fantastic sea views as well as attractions such as The Eden Project. However, the far end of Cornwall is a patience-testing 6 hour drive from Manchester so you might prefer to stick with a staycation in North Wales, Blackpool or the Lake District which can all be reached within a couple of hours. Alternatively, if you want a bit of adventure without going too far then the ferry to the Isle of Wight is a 4 hour drive from Manchester. The Isle of Wight has a good choice of holiday parks, including many right by a beach.
Caravan holiday parks in the UK can generally be split into two types and it’s worth thinking about what you want from a holiday as well as location. Many caravan parks are run by big chains such as Haven and Parkdean Resorts. These are brilliant for family entertainment with many having swimming pools, playgrounds, restaurants and sports. However, they tend to be busy and aren’t necessarily the best choice if you want complete silence on holiday. If that’s what you’re after, look for a holiday park without many facilities as these tend to be used as a base for exploring.
Before you book, check recent reviews of a few parks but also look for reviews for different grades of caravan. Some ‘bronze’ caravans get better reviews than ‘gold’ caravans simply because they’ve been replaced or refurbished more recently.
If you’re feeling more ambitious, head for a holiday park in France, Germany or the Netherlands.
Holiday parks in Europe are often described as ‘campsites’ but many of them have static caravans and lodges as well as fantastic facilities. Driving to the Netherlands via the Eurotunnel will take you somewhere around 10 hours from Manchester (or much quicker by plane obviously). You can either pick a holiday resort brand you’ve heard of such as Center Parcs or a company such as Roompot or Landal which are popular in Europe but less well known in the UK.
France is similar with a good choice of Center Parcs resorts as well as plenty of holiday parks with waterparks. Some people stay in a holiday park near Disneyland Paris and then drive in each day. It’ll take you about 9 hours to drive to Paris from Manchester if you head for the Eurotunnel.
Germany also has its own choice of Center Parcs and independent holiday parks. It’s much further to drive though (15 hours to Berlin) so you’ll either need a lot of patience or to book some flights.
Robert Lane is a blogger who writes about travel and shopping and runs The Best Mattresses Guide