Caroline Mills is an experienced travel writer who spends much of her time touring and visiting destinations in the UK and mainland Europe. She can often be found, walking boots on, striding or sauntering along the footpaths of Britain, looking for an astonishing view or exploring a forgotten village. At other times Caroline is searching out the very best campsites or sampling the delights of a street cafe, in between discovering the vitality of a particular city. We chat with her below
Q: Tell us about your background?
A: Camping, in some form or other, has been a part of my life all my life. Like most, it probably began with a tent in the garden and a sleepover (or maybe even a duvet cover draped over a couple of chairs. Caravans and motorhomes (RVs) came soon after and I recall some fabulous times camping as a child – from my first glimpse of Mount Snowdon in Wales through the window of a rental campervan to making up beds and feeling cosy in a friend’s caravan in the Cotswolds. Now it’s my turn to enthuse my own family with the joys of camping and caravanning. I tour all over Europe with my three children in our family motorhome. We have some fabulous adventures. I’m also a professional travel writer, allowing me to ‘diary’ everything that I see. What a privilege.
Q: What are some of England’s most stunning caravan sites?
A: You’d have to look at Cool Caravanning for that! There are thousands of caravan sites in England (and the United Kingdom as a whole). Hence the fifty selected for Cool Caravanning are truly regarded as outstanding whether for their welcome, their ethos or, mostly, for their location. I can’t really pick a favorite; it all depends where the mood takes me. I love the incredible views from a hilltop site in the Lake District just as much as I do chatting to the welcoming owners of a tiny caravan site in a remote corner of Shropshire.
Q: Tell us about Destinations where you can either bring your own caravan or rent one.
A: The beauty of England is that its landscape is so varied within a relatively compact area. That helps when selecting a campsite or caravan park to stay. You can be opening your door to the most glorious Cornish sea views one morning and, within a few hours drive, enjoying dinner in the comfort of your ‘van while overlooking the rugged beauty of remote moors in the Peak District. You can also visit many of England’s major cities, including the capital London, and stay in a caravan or motorhome. Most campsites and caravan parks within the vicinity of a major city have great public transport links so you can leave the ‘van securely on site and take the bus or train into town.
Q: What is some helpful information for both long-time caravan enthusiasts and first timers?
A: For visitors arriving from the US, I would say opt for motorhome hire rather than towing a caravan. It’s far easier to hire a motorhome than it is a towcar and caravan in the UK – rental companies may have restrictions on towing (and the hire car will be unlikely to have a towbar attached at all). Pick a destination and don’t plan to cover too many miles in the first few days. If you’re nervous about driving a larger motorhome, there are lots of companies that hire vintage campervans (such as a VW campervan), which are great for pottering about a localized area. Alternatively, pick a site with ready-pitched caravans. And, don’t forget to drive on the left!
Q: What travel trends do you predict for caravan enthusiasts?
A: Motorhomes are becoming ever more popular in the UK with sales increasing year on year. That also means that leisure vehicles for hire are more accessible for visiting tourists keen to tour the UK and those that are perhaps trying out the lifestyle before they commit to purchasing a motorhome of their own. Vintage leisure vehicles continue to endear themselves too, whether the traditional VW campervan or a retro caravan such as an Airstream and there are an increasing number of places across the UK providing opportunities to rent a retro campervan or caravan on site as fixed accommodation without the need to tow.
There are certain destinations within England that have always proved especially popular with caravanners – most notably Southwest England (Cornwall, Devon and Dorset) and North Yorkshire. Though, as touring becomes more popular, I can see caravanners seeking out ‘new’ destinations that remain unexplored like the beautiful and ‘secret’ Shropshire and Herefordshire or the unpopulated and spectacular Northumberland.