Holiday hook-ups

EVER thought of buying a holiday home? Sounds like a luxury and not a cheap way of finding a place for a break each year.

Let’s put it another way: what about a caravan and car for less than the price of an average family holiday? Yes, caravans do tend to incur the wrath of road users - but what’s it like to actually use one yourself?

As an alternative to the more conventional excursion to a Spanish resort they can be a fun way to spend time with the family.

After taking the plunge and spending a relatively modest £3,000 on a slightly ageing Swift 4-berth caravan and a sturdy Mercedes E320 Estate, there was nothing to do but jump in with both feet.

Admittedly, it could never compare with five-star luxury and hot-and-cold room service, but escaping from the fast-paced modern world is one of the key appeals.

Be warned: those with driving licences issued after 1997 are restricted to a maximum authorised towing mass of 3,500kgs, before that date and the weight limit is increased to 8,250kgs, which is plenty to tow the biggest of outfits.

After the initial purchase of the Mercedes and the caravan - a 13-year-old Swift Danette Diamond for £1,700 - and apart from insuring the two, there was little left to buy. Joining the Caravan Club cost a reasonable £40, giving access to all its UK and European sites and therefore a multitude of choice.

The Caravan Club estimates that it costs on average £23 per night in high season to stay on one of its many sites.

And it also dispels the myths of a windswept field full of caravans: shops, very clean washrooms and loos, laundry rooms, pubs, restaurants are common and, in some cases, a swimming pool.

What’s more, with the caravan in situ, surrounding attractions were a short hop away.

Staying local for the maiden voyage was a sensible first step, but once becoming confident with towing (or, to be more truthful, reversing the outfit into a space), travelling further afield held no fears.

After a year of ownership, taking in Denmark, Germany, Holland and France, the whole outfit was sold as we bought them, via an online auction site.

After tallying-up the original purchase price and then subtracting the selling price, all it cost was £100, or just under £2 per week.

It’s worth remembering next time you see an outfit hugging the inside lane.