The Secret to Campervanning on a Budget

by Naomi Fiddes-Baron, owner of Wanda

Winter Holidays Are Better Than You Think!

Everyone has a big love affair with the sun.  Summer holidays, Summer sun, Summer time fun time, the Sun has got a hat on; we even go off in search of Winter Sun.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of a tan line and smelling like coconut all day long, but I think there’s a lot to be said for getting away in the Autumn/Winter in the UK and embracing all the benefits that brings.

For campervan owners who hire their vans out with Quirky Campers, the Summer season is of course peak time for vans to be out with intrepid adventurers and so it is not so unusual to swap metal for canvas and spend some weekends in a tent. Frankly though with the weather this Summer being so uncharacteristically glorious – so much so I’d almost forgotten what my waterproofs looked like – it’s been an absolute joy to try something a bit different.

I’ve discovered some absolutely brilliant things about taking the van away out of peak season, in fact I’m almost reluctant to write about them because I’m sure that once you read this, you’re going to want to follow suit and go vanning in the midst of Winter!

Ashleigh campervan on a winter trip in Scotland
Ashleigh on a winter adventure in Scotland (Glencoe)

There’s No Such Thing as Bad Weather, Only Bad Equipment

As someone who regularly traipses up mountains, I am amazed by people I encounter along the way or indeed at the summit who have failed to consider the fact that weather is by its very nature, changeable.  Therefore, the shorts and t shirts you set off in, may well prove to be less than adequate at the top of a mountain with a cloud cover summit and rain.  Misery and false bravado ensue.  At least pack a hat!

In the same way, so many of the campervans available for hire on Quirky Campers are absolutely equipped to cope with changing conditions so that you need not feel similar levels of discomfort at any point during your holiday.

Some vans have heating systems that allow you to set the level of optimum toastiness and they will self-regulate. This allows you to go to sleep happy in the knowledge that, if needed, it will kick in again overnight. Thus avoiding that moment of horror when you realise that despite all attempts to ignore it, you do need to get out of the bed to make a trip to the toilet and must emerge from the duvet. No!  In this scenario, you need simply skip sprightly out of your duvet, hardly registering a temperature change before either making use of the portaloo or, yes, braving the elements outside.

Indeed, after a solid day on a snow laded mountain, I defy anyone to hear a better suggestion than “fancy a cup of tea?”. Retreat to the warm comfort of your van, pop the kettle on, and thaw out in style. Snuggle up in a blanket whilst your boots dry out in front of the wood burner and your coats drip dry on the rack behind you. It’s like being in your very own John Lewis Christmas advert, only there are less tears!

Drinking hot chocolate by the fire in Constance the campervan
Getting cosy by the fire in Constance

Dog Friendly

The Summer months can be pretty restrictive on where you can take your dogs; beaches are often out of bounds and cafes become a game of “whose chair can I wrap myself around next?”

It’s more difficult to keep them in the van when you want to go out and about – and of course if you were in a B&B or hotel that wouldn’t be an option at all!

Thankfully, post October most beaches return to full canine-friendly status (though it’s a good idea to double check before letting your dog run free!) and sitting tight in the van is less of a health risk!

dog friendly campervans with quirky campers
Dog-friendly Wanda with two furry adventurers

I’m not unsociable but I do like my space

Travelling North in the Summer means you are more than likely going to encounter the M6, which is almost enough to entice you abandon the journey altogether.  I will never understand why Knutsford gets so heavily snarled up with traffic for some inexplicable reason and there’s only so many games of “what word can you make from the number plates around you” that you can stand.

Come September though, and the bumper to bumper frenzy to escape work and have an adventure seems to settle down as children are forced back into a learning establishment.

This could then be the ideal time to get away – reduced cars and, to be frank, reduced numbers of people!  I have nothing against being sociable, but if your preference for a place to stay is somewhere quiet, a significant draw of out of season holidays is the knowledge you won’t have to queue for showers, campsites won’t be rammed, forcing you to get up close and personal with your neighbours and on the whole, there’s a more chilled out vibe.

Land Rover Defender campervan in the snow
S’now problem for George – this beast of a campervan will get you anywhere!

Camp fires are not just for ambiance

Humans have long held a fascination with fire, so rarely is a glamping experience complete without setting some twigs on fire and burning something on it.

However, it’s worth noting that fire works not only as a very overkill way to melt some marshmallows beyond recognition, but also as a very useful heat source!  Whether you’re making up a full-blown campfire or simply stoking up the BBQ, there’s something magical about sitting around it, getting warm, watching the stars and regaling your friends with tales of your latest adventures with your hands nestled around a mug of steaming chocolate….

And, unlike the Summer months when irritating flying things (no, not drones) are likely to ruin that blissful moment, the colder weather means that the resident bug population is likely to have died off, meaning you enjoy your night without fear of stings.

Evening campfire by the campervan
Warming up around a seriously awesome campfire with Dave.

Beat the Winter Blues!

Seasonal Affective Disorder is a real thing.  I don’t think it’s helped by the fact that those of us working full time jobs get up in the dark, go home in the dark, and effectively become something similar to a pit pony for a good few months of the year.  It’s depressing, and bottled vitamin C tablets don’t help.

What does help, is beautiful views and amazing scenery that’s easily accessible.

Winter blues is perpetuated by the fact that it’s hard to get motivated to get outdoors so feeling glumpy (grumpy and glum, it’s my favourite word) is an easy cycle to get into.

A swift winter getaway can beat this!  Pack up the van on a Friday night, head off into the darkness, and wake up with the sun on your face ready for a dose of the real vitamin C.  There’s no denying the beauty of snow-capped mountains and the challenge of swapping rock boots for crampons to get up a frozen waterfall or two.  And if that kind of activity isn’t your thing, I think there’s something pretty magical about being on a beach in the Winter. Channel your inner “Frozen” and remember that, deep down, everybody wants to build a snowman….

View of Loch Lomond in the snow
View of Loch Lomond from the summit Conic Hill – then back to warmth and comfort!

Cheap Holidays

One of the best things about an out of season break, is that it benefits the pocket.

First off, hiring a camper van is significantly cheaper in low/mid-season and campsites are often cheaper so the overall cost of your break is lower.

If the primary reason for going away is not to return a slightly different colour than when you left, then I would urge you to consider a non-peak break.

To sum it up, it’s cheaper, quieter, you get more time actually on holiday rather than travelling, you retain your home comforts and warmth when staying in a van, and you get to see some super awesome places at the same time!

Snowy mountains of scotland out the back of Macintyre the campervan
Admiring the views in comfort from the back of MacIntyre.