The UK is an extremely well-connected country with millions of people travelling on trains, planes, boats and all manner of vehicles 24/7, 365 days of the year. But if you’re really looking for the ultimate way to explore all the UK has to offer then taking to the road in your motorhome has to be it. But planning a serious round-the-UK trip takes a fair amount of homework to figure out how much it’s all going to cost.
While everyone has different spending habits, if you’re planning a trip of a lifetime in 2022 then here’s the place to start. We’ll look at the costs of a whole range of outgoings to give you an insight into the cost of life on the road. Because there’s nothing worse than running out of cash midway through an adventure!
Keeping the budget under control is a great way to have a successful and stress-free trip. But remember, never skimp on motorhome insurance coverage. After all, if something unfortunate happens you don’t want to be left without cover for your vehicle and its contents.
Fuelling those van life dreams
While the UK isn’t a vast country, if you're planning on exploring even a small part of it then your fuel costs are likely to be one of your biggest outgoings. Obviously how far you plan to travel and the types of roads you’ll take will all affect your final fuel bill. At the same time your motorhome’s age, engine size and the way you drive will also affect fuel consumption over the course of such a long trip.
In terms of fuel efficiency, the average modern compact motorhome probably gets around 30mpg. Using an online fuel cost calculator, you can soon come up with an idea of your potential fuel budget. With diesel currently around the £1.40 mark, that means it would cost you just over £20 per 100 miles. So, if you’re planning on travelling the length and breadth of the UK over several months your fuel bill could eventually hit the thousands. Comparing fuel prices at service stations around the country may not be the most fascinating part of your trip, but it could be useful in the long run!
On the subject of fuel. Don’t forget the cost of LPG for any heating, hot water, cooking and refrigeration. The amount you use will depend on what motorhome you have, the time of year you’re travelling, and how much off-grid camping you plan on doing. As a ballpark figure you’ll probably refill every couple of months for around £23. While this is unlikely to break the bank it’s still worth budgeting for. After all, look after the pennies…
Eating your way around the UK on a budget
After fuel, food and drink is undoubtedly going to be one of the biggest parts of any UK travel budget in 2022. Even before this year’s record jump in inflation, the UK was not always the cheapest place to eat. And with hundreds of varieties of cuisine on offer the temptations for foodies can sometimes prove too great.
As with many other items on this list, the final costs will depend on your approach to budgeting and travel. Factors such as what part of the country you’re in, how often you like to eat out, and how much you like a tipple at the local pub will all have a big impact. The travel gurus over at Lonely Planet estimate that for a cheap meal in a café or pub you should expect to pay between £7-11. A main course in a mid-range restaurant £10-20 and a three-course meal in a good restaurant £40+.
Eating out is a nice treat but can soon become expensive if you’re doing it regularly. If you really want to stretch your cash, then the best way is to brush up on your camp kitchen culinary skills before your trip. After all, a meal in a good restaurant could easily pay for a week’s worth of groceries for two people. It really is a no-brainer when you think about it.
Camping fee conundrums
We can all agree that having our travel and accommodation all rolled up into one easy package makes great budget sense. By avoiding the expense and inflexibility of hotel bookings you can free yourself from a lot of travel stress. That said, it isn’t all plain sailing. You’ll still need to plan ahead and work out where you’re going to park up for the night before it gets dark.
Fortunately, the UK is blessed with a wide variety of campsite options, each of which will have a different impact on your budget. These are the main ones to choose from:
- Club sites - Sites run by the Caravan and Motorhome Club and the Camping & Caravanning Club should be your first port of call. They’re competitively priced so expect to pay around £10 per night in the low season and £15 in the high season. And better yet, if you’re a member of a motorhome club you could get a discount on your motorhome insurance with Motorhome Protect.
- Certificated Sites and Certified Locations – Both clubs also have a large network of smaller, low-cost approved sites. They’re known as Certificated Sites (CS) or Certified Locations (CL).
- Forest sites – Set up by the Forestry Commission in partnership with the Camping and Caravanning Club there are currently 17 wonderful Camping in the Forest sites to choose from.
- National Trust sites – We all know and love the good old National Trust. But did you know you can camp near many of these wonderful properties? They charge anywhere from £7 to £25 per night. We’ve chosen some of the best National Trust campsites to include in your 2022 road trip.
- Free overnight stops - From country pubs and farm shops to breweries and antiques centres there are plenty of UK businesses offering free, safe and legal spaces to park overnight. You just need to show some respect and perhaps spend a few pounds with them. The Brit Stops book is well worth downloading to find out some of the best places to pull up.
- Holiday parks – If you feel like treating yourself to a bit of luxury then holiday parks often offer fantastic facilities. With restaurants, shows, entertainment venues, and even supermarkets on site, expect to pay between £20-40 per night.
- Wild camping – Going completely off grid and indulging in a spot of wild camping is well worth a try. It’s best to do this in Scotland as wild camping is technically illegal in much of England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Always ask permission of the landowner first. And follow the wild camping code of conduct, too. Cost? Well, free of course!
Deciding which type of campsite is right for you can be a tricky question. Read our recent article for some helpful pointers.
When you’ve made the investment in a motorhome, you’ll obviously want to use it as your main means of transport. However, it isn’t always practical and you’ll sometimes want to use local buses and trains to get around. Unfortunately, public transport isn’t always the cheapest option (particularly if you haven’t booked ahead).
Putting aside the constant grumbles over the price of train travel, there have also been concerns over bus prices, too. Particularly when you get outside the main cities. For example, while a single bus ticket in London costs £1.55, in Cumbria a short journey from Ambleside to Grasmere costs £4.90.
Also, if you’re planning on travelling over to Northern Ireland or the countless stunning islands around the UK then you may need to take your motorhome on a ferry. And these can be expensive. For example, a return ferry trip to Northern Ireland costs around £350 or more.
While road tolls are a much bigger budgeting nightmare when travelling around Europe, you will still come across them if you’re travelling around the UK. Well, in England at least. Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales don’t charge tolls.
Depending on location, the vehicle you’re driving and the time of day, the price of tolls varies throughout England. Tolls can range from 5p all the way up to £11.80! So, it’s always worth planning ahead to take them into account - indeed many sat navs include an option to avoid road tolls. Some of the major toll roads to look out for in the UK are:
- M6 Toll - West Midlands
- M25 - Dartford River Crossing, Dartford, Essex
- A15 - Humber Bridge, Hull, Yorkshire
- A4 - Batheaston Bridge, Bath, Somerset
- A38 - Tamar Bridge, Plymouth, Devon
- A57 - Dunham Bridge, Lincoln, Lincolnshire
- A3025 - Itchen Bridge, Southampton, Hampshire
- A19 - Tyne Tunnels, Wallsend, Tyne and Wear
- Mersey Tunnels - A59 Kingsway and A41 Queensway
- A533 - Mersey Gateway Bridge, Halton, Cheshire
If you want to know more details about the UK toll roads and how to avoid them then read our recent article on the subject.
Also be aware that a number of cities in the UK have introduced clean air zones to combat pollution. Vehicles with higher emissions either can’t enter the zones or need to pay a fee or register their vehicle before they do so. For further information on the UK’s new clean air zones go to the Government’s online portal.
Once you've travelled all the way round the UK you might want to extend your trip over to the continent either via the EuroTunnel or one of the many ferry links. If you’re wondering how much it costs to travel around Europe in a motorhome then we’ve got lots of insight on that, too. Alongside five of the best ways to save on costs. Aren’t we a thoughtful bunch? Just make sure your motorhome insurance covers you for foreign travel.
Just being in your motorhome and enjoying the great outdoors is probably enough entertainment for most people. But if you’re travelling for several months and really want to discover the different UK regions then you’ll need to consider attractions and activities to visit.
Obviously having memberships with national organisations such as the National Trust and English Heritage will help with some of this. But there are still plenty of museums, art galleries, tours and workshops that you’ll need to pay extra for. You’ll probably pay between £6-12, but some flagship exhibitions can be more.
If you’ve got a love for luxurious spa days or extreme sports such as skydiving then you could be looking at hundreds of pounds per person depending on the venue and season.
Travelling in your motorhome will mean you avoid some of the normal household bills such as water rates, council tax and electricity bills. However, just like death and taxes there will always be bills to pay. If you’re travelling or even working from your motorhome for several months then you’ll need to take into account internet and mobile phone bills.
Once you’re away from your home Wi-Fi network you’ll still want to maintain fast internet speeds, but you also need plenty of data. How to get the internet in your motorhome is an important question for anyone spending more than a week or two in a home on wheels. Many van lifers opt for a mobile Wi-Fi router inside the motorhome with a hefty data plan alongside an individual phone contract. This all needs to be budgeted for.
And don’t forget your subscriptions to services such as Netflix or Disney+, these all add up. Read our guide to how to watch TV in your motorhome to ensure you don’t miss your favourite shows while you’re away.
Motorhome insurance costs
A long trip around the UK will undoubtedly bring a range of hazards for your cherished motorhome. No matter how careful you think you are, having the right motorhome insurance in place means you’ll be protected from the financial costs of any mishaps.
Policies arranged by the specialists at Motorhome Protect come with a range of benefits.
Call us today to discuss your requirements and get a quick quote for motorhome insurance.
Policy benefits, features and discounts 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.