Peter BaberSee other Blog articles filed in ‘Travel and touring’ written by Peter Baber
It’s the end of October, it’s Halloween, and the big motorhome manufacturers are happy. Why? Because at this month’s NEC Motorhome and Caravan Show, they believe they have seen the return of the serious family buyer.
It’s not quite a return from the dead, but Bailey marketing director Simon Howard is one to notice the difference. “More families are also buying into the idea of motorhomes,” he says.
Success with families, however, shouldn’t mean that, if you don’t fit into that category, the motorhome lifestyle is not for you. In fact, there is one sector of the market that is also proving very successful for some specialist manufacturers: those who prefer to tour alone.
Motorhome holidays for one are more popular than you may imagine, and the advantages of motorcaravanning for the single traveller are more obvious than you might think. There are no single person supplements to worry about. And no other hotel guests patronisingly assuming that because you are sitting at a table on your own you must be lonely.
Travel industry body ABTA claims that the proportion of people booking holidays for one has held fairly steady over the past few years at around 15% of all holidays taken. But even if you go with a company catering for single travellers, you often find that you have to go with the flow, leave when you are told to, and generally do what the group wants. This writer recently heard of a single mature lady who booked a women-only group holiday to Egypt hoping to visit ancient sites, only to find that all the other women in her group had ideas of a rather more Mills and Boon nature. They didn’t want to go near a tour bus.
All up to you?
With a motorhome at your disposal, you can put it into gear where and when you want to. And if you come across a spot you didn’t know about where you want to stay a bit longer, why, you can!
That’s certainly the kind of thinking Stephen Wheeler from Wheelhome is responding to. His company has been producing single-berth campervans since 1999. This year’s latest model, the Vikenze II, is built on a Fiat Qubo. It only has one bed, although it does include two seats in the back so that the owner can invite a guest in for tea. “We’ve certainly had a good year with this ’van,” reports Stephen.
The Vikenze II is entirely electric, something Stephen has been able to achieve thanks to a clever combination of powerful batteries and inverters. This, he says, should appeal to the single traveller wanting to pitch camp entirely alone. But it is also to help the older customer, perhaps with arthritis. “They may find changing over a gas bottle difficult and don’t want to have to rely on asking other motorcaravanners to help them,” he says.
And there's more. Middlesex Motorcaravans, which used to make bespoke ’vans for solo motorcaravanners, has also chosen this year to launch an off-the-peg model. It is called the Middlesex Mira and is built on a Citroën Berlingo.
“It is not something you would want to go away for six or eight weeks in, but it’s great for a short break – and you can use it as an everyday car,” says director Hilary Law.
Is it just retired people who take holidays for one? According to ABTA, over 65s are the age group most likely to travel alone, with nearly 45% of those who do saying “travelling to a new destination” is the main reason why they do. So if that’s the motivation, a motorhome should be ideal for them.
Hilary says the Mira is partly responding to existing customers it had who had sadly lost a partner but still wanted to carry on touring.
But Stephen of Wheelhome says his solo customers are split roughly half and half between retired people and those who just want to be alone.
There does, however, seem to be one feature that unites them. “They almost always have a dog, for company rather than security”. So while the motorhome may be designed for a solo traveller, there has to be room for man’s best friend, too.