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Camping holidays soar in popularity with bookings up 500% – but you can still get a pitch

Camping and campervan trips are seeing a huge boost this summer as more families are taking staycations, with sales of camping equipment also seeing a surge.

As the warm weather reaches the UK and foreign travel looks increasingly uncertain, bookings for outdoor holidays have increased by as much as 273 per cent compared to two years ago.

Campsite bookings are up by as much as 500 per cent in some parts of the UK, according to travel agent Cool Camping.

Meanwhile, Camplify, a campervan and motorhome sharing community, is predicting a record year for rentals after it had its busiest month ever for bookings in May. It has seen a 189 per cent increase in bookings since March 1 2021.

Camping and campervan trips have soared in popularity as more families take staycations

Justin Hales, CEO and founder of Camplify says: ‘We have hundreds of self-contained motorhomes and campervans up and down the UK that allow the freedom of movement and exploration that so many people are craving right now.

‘Based on recent booking patterns, we fully expect this to be one of our best summers yet.’

This is Money spoke to a number of camping and caravan firms to see how much demand had increased by in the recent months – and which locations are the most popular. 

Cool Camping is seeing a big rise in camping holidays at the moment, with a large increase in bookings compared to last year and much more compared to pre-pandemic levels.

Last week, bookings were up by 92 per cent compared to the same period in 2020 and up by 195 per cent compared to the same period in 2019.

Areas seeing the biggest increase include the South West, where reservations have gone up by 273 per cent since 2019, and the Lake District, where they have risen by 218 per cent.

It says this has been influenced by an increase in as new campsites, which have opened to account for the surge in demand. 

Meanwhile, Camplify, which allows campervan owners to rent their vehicles out, has also reported that more van owners signed up to share their vehicles in March than any other month in the last 18.

Between February and March this year, it also saw a 240 per cent increase in owner sign-ups compared with January 2021.

It is encouraging campervan owners to sign up with the site, claiming that there are currently over 1.1million leisure accommodation vehicles registered in the UK and most are only used for 2 to 4 weeks a year.

Over the busy summer period, UK van owners have the potential to earn between £850 to £1,150 a week by renting out their motorhomes, £750 to £1,000 with campervans and £500 to £900 by leasing out their static caravans.

The Camping and Caravanning Club says bookings for its pre-pitched Ready Camp safari-style tents are up 81 per cent compared to 2019.

Meanwhile, bookings for July and August on its 103 UK Club sites are 101 per cent higher than it would typically expect, and it is celebrating record Club membership in April. 

Another popular camping site, Pitch Up has seen a 234 per cent increase in bookings this week compared to the same time in 2019.

Dan Yates, founder of Pitch Up says: ‘What is partly driving this year’s enhanced staycation boom and year-on-year increase is consumer confidence following the vaccine rollout in the UK and the general easing of restrictions in line with the Government’s roadmap. 

‘Adding to this is consumer hesitation around booking holidays abroad due to the potential repositioning of countries on the traffic light system and the potential of missing out on a UK substitute if they don’t book something soon.’

Sales of camping equipment has also been boosted by up to 150% in some stores this summer

Sales of camping equipment has also been boosted by up to 150% in some stores this summer

He revealed the South West – Cornwall, Dorset, Devon and Somerset – is among the most popular regions once again. However, despite reports of huge demand he says the UK is not yet fully booked for summer.  

Yates suggests that, while coastal sites tend to book up first, picking sites a little further inland can easily open up choices. 

‘Heading even further inland to areas like the Midlands, consumers will find plenty of sites with availability in beautiful surroundings – in fact over half of sites on Pitch Up still have availability for that all-important last week of July.’ 

Sales of camping equipment is also signalling a rise in demand with products at The Range up by 150 per cent year on year.

The retailer said this was a record year with its ‘staycation’ event selling at a rapid pace as people spot warmer weather forecasts approaching.

Go Outdoors says that in the week that followed this February’s roadmap out of lockdown announcement, it saw a 37 per cent increase in website traffic looking for camping equipment compared to the week before.

Meanwhile, this week, it generated more sales revenue than the week prior for tents, with sales up 30 per cent; camping chairs; which were up 33 per cent; and air tents which were up 62 per cent. 

Jim McNamara, buying director at Go Outdoors, says: ‘Looking forward to 2021, we anticipate another positive year for the outdoors industry.  

‘Much like with campsite availability, it’s difficult to say whether demand will be higher than supply, creating a surge in bookings and camping equipment purchases respectively. 

‘For consumers this means a need to book and buy early, and for the industry this provides a much needed boost to keep campsites, services and stores open and prepared for a rise in demand.’ 

Camplify said more van owners signed up to share their vehicles in March than any other

Camplify said more van owners signed up to share their vehicles in March than any other

Campers urged to think about insurance 

With so many looking to go camping or travel in a motorhome, insurers are urging people to think about their insurance.

According to comparison site GoCompare, many people mistakenly believe their personal belongings – including mobile phones, jewellery, wallets, clothing, gadgets, bags, and bicycles – are covered by their home insurance policy while they are out and about. 

However, only 16 per cent automatically provide cover away from home, GoCompare data reveals, whilst 82 per cent provide ‘personal possessions’ cover as a paid-for extra.

The amount households can claim for the belongings they carry around varies between insurance policies.

Limits are applied to single items – which can be as low as £250 – and to the total amount you can claim for your personal belongings.

Typically, items worth over £1,000 need to be specified, otherwise they won’t be covered.

Specific cover limits, restrictions and exclusions usually apply to valuables, cash and cards, mobile phones, sports and camping equipment, and spectacles.

Meanwhile, bicycles are only generally covered away from home if you have opted for personal possessions cover. 

Items left in tents when campers are out for the day may not be covered by insurance if stolen

Items left in tents when campers are out for the day may not be covered by insurance if stolen

Theft claims are likely to be declined if the items were left unattended, such as leaving an iPad in a tent whilst out for the day.

Meanwhile, stolen items left in a car are usually only covered if they were out of sight in a locked boot, concealed luggage compartment or glove box. 

Therefore, before heading off to the campsite, it is sensible to check your insurance policy limits and conditions. 

Ryan Fulthorpe, spokesperson for GoCompare Home Insurance, says: ‘At home, we’re so used to being surrounded by an array of technology and gadgets and, probably don’t give much thought to the cost of replacing them if they are stolen or lost.

‘Obviously, these items are highly desirable to thieves, and will be much more vulnerable left in a tent than in your home. 

‘So, before setting-off, consider whether you really need to take all your gadgets and valuables with you. If possible, keep electrical items to a minimum, and make the most of your car for safe storage.’

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