Parts & Accessories

How to Book a Last-Minute Holiday in Your Caravan or Motorhome

29th July 2022 | Lee Davey
Most of our trips were booked last minute shortly after buying our first caravan. The forecast would be hastily checked, and having scooped up the kids from school; we’d be on-site before sunset.
Bailey Phoenix at Trewethett Farm

With caravan and motorhome holidays enjoying a resurgence in recent years, finding an empty pitch at a moment’s notice can be more of a challenge. However, with an array of digital tools at our disposal, it’s easier than you may think, even during peak periods like the school summer holidays. These new tools have also made us more adventurous, as adapting to a change in other people’s holiday habits has changed my mindset.

Instead of staying at a specific site or within a few miles of a pre-agreed location, these new tools have enlarged our search area. Leisure vehicles are designed for touring, and deciding on nothing but a vague direction in which to travel is surprisingly liberating, especially if you like to discover new sites. For example, Hunters Moon was a recent suggestion for a last-minute trip, but a full site meant we cast a net over southern England. We found a CL a few minutes later, a quiet 5-unit site that backed onto a ribbon of mountain bike trails.

Using some or all of the search tools below, we’ve yet to miss out on a last-minute break as, so far, something has always been available. The list of search tools below is by no means exhaustive as it’s based purely on our previous trips. Should you have a few last-minute booking gems of your own, feel free to share them with us.

Late availability

Both of the UK’s major clubs have a late ability search function on their respective websites. The functionality is slightly different, although both will allow you to search for last-minute holidays.

The Caravan and Motorhome Club:

  1. Select your travel date.
  2. Select the region.
  3. Results are displayed per week, up to eight weeks in advance.
  4. Results can be filtered by a specific site, county, or pitch type. Pitch types are incredibly comprehensive and include serviced, non-serviced, grass, with/without awning, non-electric, etc. During peak periods, I tend to include all pitch types in my search and refine them once I have the complete list.

The Camping and Caravanning Club:

The search function is split into three sections:

  1. Where are you going? This drop-down box allows you to select a region – i.e., Southeast, Wales, etc. Or this function can check availability at a particular site.
  2. When are you going? Select your check-in and check-out dates.
  3. How will you camp? Whether you explore by caravan, campervan, motorhome, tent, or trailer tent, this search function allows you to input your leisure vehicle type and dimensions.
View from the Bailey Phoenix 650. Site cost just £8 per night

CL Sites and the CL Booking website/App

CL and CS sites are small, privately-owned locations that can accommodate a maximum of five units per night. Certified Locations (CL) are for Caravan and Motorhome Club Members, while Certified Sites (CS) are for Camping and Caravanning Club members.

These sites may have fewer pitches, but with thousands of CL and CS sites across the UK (and if my maths is correct), theoretical site nights per year are measured in the millions.

However, in a world that increasingly revolves around the internet, checking availability could only be conducted by phone. Each site would be contacted individually, and messages left on numerous answering machines if CL owners were otherwise engaged, until now.

A CL owner set up the CL Booking website and app, and, at the time of writing, it lists 231 separate CL sites from The Caravan & Motorhome Club network. It allows users to search by region or site and, importantly, enables you to input desired dates to check availability. With a suitable site found, final confirmation must be made by the CL owner, although this could be an email by return that confirms your booking. New sites join the CL booking system each week, saving time searching for somewhere to stay. CL Booking is only for CL sites on The Caravan & Motorhome Club network.

Pop-up/temporary campsites

Temporary campsites spring up around the UK, with many easing increased pitch demand during the busier months.

In 2022, The Caravan and Motorhome Club are hosting pop-up sites at Beaulieu (Hampshire) and Holkham Hall (Norfolk).

The Camping and Caravanning Club’s District Associations, or DA, organise temporary camping events. These can vary from a few days (classed as a ‘meet’) to twenty-eight days (or a Temporary Holiday site).

Just £8 per night at a CL with views across the River Camel and Padstow

Rallies

If you haven’t attended a rally, now could be the time. You may be thinking of The Caravan and Motorhome Club’s National (now ClubFest) or The Camping and Caravanning Club’s NFOL, but rallies are incredibly diverse and can cater for owners of a specific brand of caravan and motorhome (The Bailey Owner’s Club are one example), folks who share a similar interest such as photography or visiting a panto, or people who want to see a different part of the UK or Europe. We’ve attended several rallies and have always been made to feel incredibly welcome. There’s no pressure to participate in any activities that may or may not be planned, and many people use the temporary site as a base from which to visit the area. Best of all, prices per night are incredibly cost-effective.

Caravan and Motorhome Club events can be found by clicking here.

Camping and Caravanning Club events can be found by clicking here.

Independent sites

Of course, not all sites are on UK club networks. Many are independently owned and boast fantastic facilities, including bars, cafes, restaurants, and entertainment areas. The Pitch Up website has a campsite and holiday park search function on its homepage, allowing you to input dates and search for available pitches. Sites can be narrowed by name or location or left blank if you want to go wherever the wind blows.

No electricity? No problem!

When searching for a site at the eleventh hour, I often look for pitches without an electric hook-up. Recently, I was trying to book a pitch at Trewethett Farm Caravan & Motorhome Club site without success. Recently appearing on TV and boasting cliff-top views across the Atlantic Ocean, bookings were at a premium. I then searched for a non-electric grass pitch and was rewarded with a fantastic weekend at the site. Best of all, I saved a few quid on the pitch fees. The same applies to CL or CS sites that don’t have electricity, as many caravanners and motorhomers automatically search for pitches with electric hook-ups.

Bailey caravans and motorhomes are designed to work with or without 230v, keeping appliances working on a combination of gas and 12v leisure battery if a mains supply isn’t available. This includes heating, hot water, lights, 12v sockets, etc. Charge your battery, check your gas bottle before leaving home, and enjoy access to even more sites while saving money.

Bailey Phoenix 650 on a non-electric pitch at Trewethett Farm

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