We regularly go to the caravan show, but this time it was with a new project in mind. A few years ago we toured the American Midwest and the Great Lakes on motorcycles. Rather than hire the bikes, we bought them, and enjoyed three years of touring before selling them on. We had great holidays on bikes that suited us, and all for less money than we’d have spent on motorcycle hire alone.
Well, we’re thinking of repeating the exercise, but this time with a motorhome, and basing ourselves in California rather than Wisconsin. Provided we’re not too ambitious by going for anything too new or too luxurious, we can again do a series of hols for around half the cost of hiring, and probably with a more suitable vehicle into the bargain.
The Caravan Club was offering free “tasters” of motorhome manoeuvring. Jean went first …
We chose the largest motorhome to try out, because although 8 metres is long by UK standards, a 26 footer is very much mid-sized for America.
Different from a caravan, of course, but certainly no more difficult to handle.
So having established that we were happy with the concept, we went to look at layouts. The parameters of choice are well-known and discussed endlessly amongst caravan and motorhome folk. What we really want is a tardis-like vehicle, handy to park, economical to drive, yet enormous inside. And of course a powerful engine, great road manners, and every mod con, yet at a budget price.
What we concluded rather underlined what we’d already researched. For us, fixed beds take up too much space. We’re happy to make up the beds each night in exchange for more living, kitchen, and bathroom area.
This configuration is quite clever, though:
The beds are mounted high up in order to make room for a spacious garage underneath:
It would be tedious to list all the motorhomes that we looked at, so I won’t. But there were other highlights. We visited the Camping and Caravanning Club stand partly for the free coffee, and partly for the talk on their organised American motorhome tours.
At £8,000 for the two of us, we probably won’t be joining their Californian tour. But I’m afraid that their brochure is going to be extremely useful in our route planning!
As we arrived for the tour, there was a large audience for the previous talk, given by Julia Bradbury, who is president of the Camping and Caravanning Club. I have to admit that I’d never heard of her, but it turns out that she’s a well-known television presenter on countryside topics.
The other thing that amused us was an announcement from the Caravan Club. When we went to book our motorhome taster, there was a huge crowd. Had I read the emails I too would have been all agog at a promised mystery announcement. After much build-up, it finally came, “We’re changing our name to the Caravan and Motorhome Club!” Cue jeers and whistles and a large section of the crowd stalking away in disgust. I’m not quite sure what they expected, but they clearly wanted more substance than that!
Much like the way the CTC (aka Cycling UK) are slowly moving away from their touring roots, it looks like the lightweight camping brigade are being brushed over in favour of where the money now is!