The COVID-19 pandemic has put pressure on all of us for obvious reasons. But for many motorhome and campervan owners the dream of visiting their favourite spot has been what has kept them going.
So, as the lockdown and travel restrictions have begun to lift, outdoor enthusiasts up and down the country have been getting prepared.
Checking on their motorhome and campervan insurance, charging their batteries and dusting down their camping gear. People are desperate to get back on the road and experience our wonderful landscape as never before.
However, as you head off to the ideal getaway you may be feeling some trepidation. How will things have changed? Will everyone be wearing face masks? Will the campsite showers be running? We’ll answer some of your holiday queries below.
Can motorhome and campervan sites reopen?
Ever since the government announced that lockdown restrictions would be eased, campsites have received an avalanche of inquiries from eager campers.
People have been queuing up online to book pitches at campsites from Lake Windermere in the Lake District to the Lizard in Cornwall.
Speaking to Wired magazine, booking site Pitchup.com said that following the announcement, a booking was made every three seconds on its site and bookings have been 59% higher than this time last year.
And it’s not just enthusiastic outdoorsy types who were desperate to see the sites reopen. The Camping and Caravanning Club, which represents 103 sites across the UK and 1,400 smaller certificated sites, said it lost £25 million during lockdown, but has now seen a 70% increase in bookings over this time last year.
While most campsites across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland (including those with shared facilities) are open at the time of writing, the picture can change based on the latest government guidance on controlling the virus.
In order to be given the go-ahead to reopen, businesses must adhere to ‘COVID-19 Secure’ guidelines developed by the government and key sector bodies such as the British Holiday and Home Parks Association.
Meanwhile Visit England has partnered with national tourist boards to launch the ‘We’re Good To Go’ industry standard and supporting mark.
This lets businesses demonstrate they’re following government and public health guidance, have carried out a COVID-19 risk assessment and checked they’ve the best plans in place.
What sites are reopening?
Despite the easing of restrictions some smaller sites don’t feel comfortable about reopening as they’re worried about keeping visitors and their employees safe. So, you’ll need to call ahead to check. But what about the bigger UK camping groups?
- The Caravan and Motorhome Club – not all Club Sites have reopened but the organisation is constantly reviewing openings. Certified Locations and Affiliated Sites are able to reopen but campers need to contact them directly to confirm.
- The Camping and Caravanning Club - the majority of club sites are open for the 2020 camping season. However, some have had to open without toilets and showers. So, these campsites are better suited to campers who can bring their own facilities. Note that only campers with proper chemical toilets that can be disposed of via waste disposal points will be allowed to stay.
- Camping in the Forest - closed until April 2021. The partnership between Forestry England and Forestry and Land Scotland is not opening its 16 secluded woodland locations in England and Scotland. However, they are accepting bookings for 2021.
- Haven – now reopened. Haven has given a ‘book with confidence’ guarantee so campers can be certain they won’t be left out of pocket if their travel plans are disrupted due to COVID-19. Haven also has a new ‘Clean and Safe Charter’ to reassure visitors to their holiday parks.
- Parkdean Resorts – The company’s 31 holiday parks suitable for motorhomes and campervans are now open. Parkdean is offering a ‘Peace of Mind Promise’ covering contact-free check-in and strict deep cleaning regimes.
How will motorhome and camping sites look different after lockdown?
To deliver a safe environment that adheres to government guidelines requires some changes to sites. Just like other businesses, motorhome and campervan sites must show they’re taking measures to reduce the risk of COVID-19.
While businesses have some leeway with the one-metre plus social distancing rule, most campsites are following the two-metre rule.
This will always be alongside guidance for campers on face coverings and handwashing.
Some changes you’ll likely see around the sites are:
- Booking in advance – just casually turning up on the day will probably not work in terms of present restrictions and the need to maintain safe numbers.
- Contactless check-in – many sites are offering this facility and are going about it in various different ways. Essentially, you’ll provide your car registration so that when you arrive you’ll stay in your car and a staff member will direct you to an allocated pitch.
- Social distancing – many sites already have sensibly distanced six-metre spacing between pitches to cater for this. They might be forced to reduce numbers on site if their facilities can’t cope.
- Signage – there’ll be plenty of signs and floor markings displaying common sense social distancing and hand washing reminders.
- Toilet and shower blocks – if they’re open then expect extra deep cleans and regular cleans throughout the day. You might also have to sign up to an allotted time during which to use the blocks in order to stagger usage and maintain social distancing.
- Individual bookings – many sites are dissuading large groups from travelling together.
- Day visitors – these are discouraged in order to manage numbers of people on the site.
- Restricted areas - don’t rely on communal areas such as receptions, shops, laundries and play areas being open. Popular shared facilities like hot tubs, swimming pools and cafes might also be closed.
After COVID-19 put the world on lockdown earlier in the year, many holidaymakers were left with travel vouchers and a ruined family vacation.
Instead of going without a holiday this summer, many thousands of those people will instead be heading into the great outdoors to go camping.
With so many thinking that camping is their only option for a break this year, prepare for some areas to be busier than normal.
With many campsites seeing an all-time high in bookings there's an increase in first-time campers and evidence people are replacing more expensive overseas holidays with a couple of weeks in our own stunning countryside right here in the UK.
After all, avid motorhome and campervan owners aren’t the only ones who think being outdoors might be a little bit safer!
Being cooped up together for so long means many families are looking for a bit of freedom to do their own thing and space out a little bit more. So a campsite staycation in the UK this year is going to be a popular idea.
With roads to camping locations busier than ever, have you got adequate motorhome and campervan insurance in place?
Can we go camping with friends?
Part of the fun of owning a motorhome or campervan is the possibility of meeting up with friends and socialising. But with new rules all the time, it’s sometimes hard to keep up.
The rules for indoors now state that you can meet up with another household either at home or elsewhere.
Indeed, many campsites are refusing to take group bookings and are trying to keep larger gatherings to a minimum.
What about wild camping?
Another joy of motorhome and campervan life is the possibility of pulling up in a quiet location and enjoying a night under the stars away from civilization.
While wild camping without the permission of a land owner is not allowed in England and Wales, most real wild campers are very respectful of the environment so usually there isn’t a problem.
Unfortunately, the bad behaviour of some so-called campers during lockdown means that wild camping is likely to be policed more strictly from now on.
An issue for all campers is the reaction of local communities to visitors from outside the area.
Campers and the campsites that welcome them need to understand the anxiety of local communities, who will be rightly nervous about the sheer number of people arriving, especially if, up to now, their infection rates have been relatively low.
During lockdown, local residents in some rural areas put up signs asking visitors to go home, while beautiful locations such as Snowdonia National Park and Durdle Door beach in Dorset were flooded with people flouting the rules.
How about camping abroad?
Just as in the UK, campsites are reopening around the world and you can now travel abroad.
However, residents returning to the UK and visitors to the UK must self-isolate for 14 days when they arrive unless you're travelling from an exempt travel corridor country.
These include Ireland, France, Italy, Germany and The Netherlands but not Spain and Portugal at the time of writing.
If you’re taking your motorhome or campervan on a ferry to Europe then be aware there are health restrictions that you’ll need to follow.
A trip to the EU will also require a quick call to your insurer. Motorhome Protect can arrange EU cover through its motorhome and campervan insurance.
How can I keep my home on wheels clean and stop transmission of COVID-19?
If you’re out on the open road during the COVID-19 outbreak you obviously need to review your cleaning routine to ensure that you are keeping yourself and others safe.
Here are some handy tips to keep your home on wheels clean and disinfected while stopping the transmission of COVID-19.
- Wear gloves – while gloves may not be part of your usual routine it’s a good habit to get into. It will protect you both from the virus and any harsh cleaning products.
- Use paper towels – something you can bag up and dispose of after cleaning is probably preferable to a cloth or mop that might simply spread germs and other nasties around your living space.
- Clean first – using simple soap and water is a great way to get rid of dirt and begin the process of getting rid of anything that could make you ill. Focus in particular on high contact surfaces such as light switches, table tops and door handles.
- Disinfect – once everything looks clean then follow it up with a dose of disinfectant to make doubly sure.
- Don’t forget soft surfaces – it’s easy to focus on the usual hard surfaces but often upholstery and carpets can be missed even though they’re just as likely to harbour germs.
- Devices need to be cleaned – handling our devices every day means they get pretty mucky. Giving them a regular clean (following the manufacturer’s instructions) is a good way to keep germs at bay.
If you do have expensive devices such as phones and a camera then make sure they’re included in your motorhome and campervan insurance in case of any accidents while you’re away.
How can I protect my vehicle with motorhome and campervan insurance?
Whether you own a motorhome or campervan, the vehicle you drive is a significant investment in both time and money, so never take them out on the road without the proper protection.
Whatever precautions you and others take to reduce the risk from COVID-19, it’s impossible to rule out everything. Whether driving on busy motorways or quiet country roads, your treasured vehicle can be prone to road traffic accidents and damage.
Working with our panel of leading campervan insurers, Motorhome Protect will find you the right campervan insurance, appropriate to your vehicle, needs and budget.
Our bespoke cover is arranged by our dedicated team of specialists and can include benefits such as:
- Cover for up to 365 days a year including foreign use
- Cover for vehicles valued up to £150,000
- Enhanced cover for personal effects up to £3,000
- Uncapped mileage cover
- Unlimited EU cover
- Quotes available for customers with claims and convictions
Call Motorhome Protect and get a quote for campervan insurance today.
Policy benefits and features offered may very between insurance schemes or cover selected and are subject to underwriting criteria. Information contained within this article is accurate at the time of publishing but may be subject to change.