Alastair ClementsSee other Blog articles filed in ‘A tour that changed my life’ written by Alastair Clements
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You can’t be both a caravanner and a motorcaravanner, can you? At least that’s what I thought. And why would I want to have anything other than a caravan anyway? After all, I can get it all set up and cosy on my pitch, unhitch the car then go exploring – far more convenient than some big, bulky motorhome, surely?
That view wasn’t aided by my first motorcaravanning experience, either: trying to take away a family of four – plus a large dog – in a Volkswagen California. Yes, it was quite a squeeze. Now I love my family very much indeed, but to avoid murdering each other on tour, we need more living space than that for a holiday.
In the end, it was Practical Motorhome’s very own Gentleman Jack who got me to change my mind. “One isn’t better than the other,” he told me, “it’s simply that the style of touring is different. In a touring caravan you go to a site, park, then go out in the car; with a motorhome, you tend to go from site to site, and see stuff en route.”
Inspired by Jack’s sage advice, we began planning a dream tour of Scandinavia, stopping for only a night or two in each region. And it was simply wonderful.
Not only that, but it was a 17-day, 1293-mile trip that we just couldn’t have managed in a caravan, which would never have coped with the tight, convoluted streets of Copenhagen (where it wouldn’t have been allowed into the City Camp), nor would it have been so easy to pitch and pack up at every scenic stopover. We were converted.
Our Swift Lifestyle 686 was wieldy enough to allow us to take routes that were well off the beaten track, and we loved the fact that every time we stopped, our ‘home’ was ready, be it for lunch in one of the beautifully kept picnic areas by the road, for a quick toilet break for the kids, or for us to camp in the dedicated bays near some of the more popular attractions.
Above all, it gave us freedom, never leaving us tied to a fixed itinerary – which, after all, is why so many people today are turning to motorcaravanning. And it was why we turned to four wheels rather than six once again this year for a short tour to Paris, this time with a Bailey Approach Autograph 765. As we sat pitched by the Seine, just a Métro ride from the centre of town, we knew that, although caravans will always be a part of our lives, these days they are merely one of our two holiday passions.