Are you an American thinking about traveling the UK in a campervan? Well here are all the things you need to know, written by two people who are thoroughly qualified to give advice on the subject. You can find out more about Mr and Mrs Adventure here.
If you’ve been following our blog since we first started it back in 2013, then you are already well aware of the fact that Drew and I are both Americans, well, I am also half French but trying to get my French citizenship has been a 3-year process that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere fast. C’est la vie. Any who, 5 days after getting married on the beach in Islamorada, Florida, we flew to England for the very first time to make our VanLife honeymoon dreams come true! Now, almost 3 years later, we are still rolling, and thanks to our little van, which we bought in England, we have been able to call countless places across the UK, Europe and Africa, “home”. We have learned a lot about traveling the UK in a campervan.
We’ve grown quite fond of England, “ole Blighty,” throughout the years, and as a way to encourage people from our homeland to experience our home away from home, we have written these 10 things you need to know if you’re an American thinking about a campervan trip in the UK:
1. This may seem obvious, but we’re going to bring it up anyway – everyone speaks English
….just a prettier sounding version with fun and quirky words scattered about. We started our endless honeymoon on wheels in England specifically because we wanted to be somewhere were English was spoken in order to make the transition easier, which it definitely did.
While you’ll find many British terms to be different, like “bonnet” for the hood of the car, “petrol” for gasoline (which is sold in liters not gallons), “plaster” for band-aids and, one of our favorites, “ice lolly” for popsicle, it’s extremely easy to find your way around and converse with the Brits, who, in our experience, have always been extremely polite, warm-hearted and more than happy to help in any given situation.
2. Driving on the other side of the road isn’t as hard as it sounds
we promise. Just remember to “always keep left,” which we have to repeat out loud to ourselves, especially at roundabouts, until it eventually becomes second nature.
AND remember to look RIGHT when crossing the road on foot!
3. We’ve always felt extremely safe in England
We hardly see Police, but when we do they always seem to be having a jolly good time, and depending on where you are, people don’t even lock their bikes!
4. Pub culture…
…it’s a beautiful thing, especially on rainy days, when you can escape the campervan for a frothy beverage or a warm cup of tea and cozy up at the bar or next to a fireplace, passing endless hours conversing with delightfully witty and spirited Brits who will effortlessly make you fall in love with England even more, and when they buy you a drink (because they will), be sure to do the same.
5. With westernized grocery stores in every town, cooking in the van is easy, but make sure you make it out for a few bites to eat
because the food everywhere is actually pretty outstanding. From the fish and chips to bangers and mash, Cornish pasties and the famous Sunday roast, PLUS the plethora of delicious Indian food AND “the full English breakfast,” VanLife foodies will find something around every corner.
6. The villages and cities all have their own unique, old-world charm about them
You’ll find cobblestone streets, bustling cafes + buildings, churches, universities and castles twice as old as anything we have in America. It’s incredible to see how such grand (mostly hand-built) structures have withstood the test of time so well.
7. There is A TON of adventure
Some of our favorites include hiking Helvellyn in the Lakes District National Park (which is excellent for campervans) + surfing the waves in Cornwall + caving and white water rafting in Snowdonia + “coasteering” in Wales + fossil hunting on the Jurassic Coast + taking “The Long Walk” to Windsor Castle + loads more.
8. England is a great starting off point for visiting its beautiful neighbors too
With Scotland to the North and Ireland, France, Belgium, the Netherlands and even Scandinavia just a ferry ride away, if you’re looking to go International, England is the perfect place to get your feet wet… though we like keeping them warm and sunny too 😉
9. BBC Radio 2 is our absolute favorite radio station
We stream it when we are in America too.
10. The campervan culture in England is a national pastime
Families have been spending their holidays traveling in vans since way before #VanLife in America was ever a thing, so they have had time to perfect their craft. You will see VW’s and campervans of all shapes, colors and sizes on nearly every street, whether in driveways or on the road. You might even see converted box trucks, fire engines, ambulances (referred to as “van-bulances”), school buses and loads of other creative rolling homes, though many prefer to keep it stealth on the outside and magic on the inside. It’s amazing what you can do with a simple Ford Transit; this is Dave, part of the Quirky Campers fleet available for hire.
Basically, as Americans, traveling around England in a campervan is just as easy as back at home… just a lot more culturally rewarding! From the accents, to the quirky differences of everyday normalcies and the beautiful landscapes that surround you, you’ll be charmed everywhere the road takes you, as long as you remember to stay left!