Campsites are becoming popular again with more and more people wanting to explore the outdoors, see more of the countryside and have more afforadable weekend breaks. But something that can change that viewpoint is the price of a pitch per night.
Campsites can be expensive for a number of reasons varying from time of the year, quality of the campsite itself, location and availability. The most common factor for campsites to be higher in price is down to peak prices during summer as that is the most popular time to go away.
In this article we are going to be talking about why campsites can be so expensive, what you can do to save money and things you should be looking for in a campsite.
What Makes Campsites So Expensive?
Campsites are becoming more and more popular with more and more people looking to explore their home country and see more of what nature has to offer. This is becoming more and more popular with families who are looking to have a long weekend getaway with fun, culture and something that is easily accessible from their own home.
With that in mind many campsites have been more and more popular, putting up their prices in peak holidays and updating their facilties, providing WIFI and more.
Let’s look at the main reasons campsites are so expensive.
Location is a big factor when it comes to campsite prices, this can be location as broad as within regions such as Wales, Scotland and South of England or much more pinpointed to popular towns and areas. Camping in places such as the Lake District which provides stunning views, camping in Cornwall or Devon can equally be as expensive as it is a very sought after holiday destination.
This, in turn, can make certain pinpoints more expensive, the more people looking to go to that area the more demand in pitches and so the more campsites can charge.
View & Surroundings
Much like location can affect the price of a campsite so can the view and surroundings. Those campsites which are closest to the town or local landmark or tourist attraction can be muc higher than those further out. As many people when camping like to be able to walk from point to point, those that are closer are at an advantage.
A good example is a campsite which is close to a river, waterfall, landmarks such as a beach or castle. There are a number of different examples but this is something to keep in mind when looking for a campsite. If you wish to be closer to that specific place or attraction you may find yourself paying more.
Quality Of Facilities
Many campsites have majourly updated their facilities with camping, caravanning and motorhoming in recent years. This has significantly altered how people camp and prices along with it.
While we appreciate higher standard of camping facilities, if you are camping solo or don’t want to be somewhere crowded and don’t mind just a toilet block in the middle of a field then you are more likely to be able to pay less for your pitch and everything included.
Campsites which offer more such as higher quality of facilities, games rooms, WIFI, evening entertainment and even on site shops or on site restaurants. These are facilities that come with added costs for staff, ingredients and supplies along with the initial start up costs.
As some of these things will be free to use for those on site the price per pitch is likely to be higher compared to camp sites without these facilities. This is something to take into account but if you are travelling as a family with children these are great additional things to keep little hands busy.
Pitches & Availability
Most campsites allow caravans, motorhomes and campers along with tents, there are of course motorhome and caravan speciality sites which are more expensive and some even require a membership.
Campsites that offer a range of pitches may be cheaper as they can use the hardstanding pitches for both caravans, campers and motorhomes. Where as tent only campsites are limited to just people wanting to camp in tents which can cause the price to be lower, especially in the end of the season.
Also, campsites which have hard standing pictches for vehicles can afford to stay open for longer as the weather doesn’t directly impact the pitches and more people are likely to go away in their caravan in the colder months than people wanting to camp in a tent.
Prices can surge in peak times, these are usually from spring through summer up until September, as these are the main times people like to go away and camp along with many families having holidays due to school holidays being in August.
What Is The Average Cost Per Night
The table below is a breakdown of the average cost for campsites in each region, in the peak and off-peak seasons. Please note that there are significant regional variances, such as whether the campsite is near a landmark, coastline, or national park. A lot of campsites offer seasonal pitches as well, charging for the whole year or particular season rather than for individual nights.
You will absolutely be able to find campsites both far cheaper and far more expensive than the averages in this table, but it makes for a good starting yardstick.
|Region||Peak Average Tent Pitch||Off-Peak Average Tent Pitch||Peak Average Caravan Pitch||Off-Peak Average Caravan Pitch|
Are Campsites More Expensive In Certain Regions?
Campsites do tend to vary in price by region when taken as an average, however region isn’t necessarily the biggest factor is determining price. Each region has more and less desirable locations within them, and each region has campsites of varying quality and services.
Most campsites in Wales are slightly more expensive than their equivalent in the Midlands, as Wales is seen as a desirable camping location.
Without meaning to insult the location or its people, you are very unlikely to hear of many people planning a camping trip to a Midlands city like Coventry or Birmingham, whereas most people understand that a camping trip to most parts of Wales can seem like an attractive or romantic idea.
However, the Midlands also encompasses a wide variety of places, such as the northern parts of the Cotswolds and parts of the East coast of England. With that in mind, you will come across a wide variety of prices across the Midlands due to its varying locales.
Similarly in Scotland, you should expect to pay through the nose for campsites with facilities in or near the Cairngorms, the northern Islands (Hebrides, Orkney, etc), and other tourist-attracting areas. However, you wouldn’t expect to pay a similar amount for a site near to a city and far from any tourist attractions.
A key difference between England and Scotland is that wild camping is legal in almost all areas of Scotland. This doesn’t mean that you can simply pitch a caravan on a farmer’s field, but pitching a small tent is unlikely to cause offence. This has resulted in there being less dedicated campsites in Scotland, as demand is slightly less than it is in other beauty spots.
For centuries people have been captivated by the idea of camping in Wales. A tent campsite makes a great base for mountain walks, trips through the Valleys, coastal trips, and the like.
In short Wales is an outdoors lover and tourists dream. As a result tourism is one of the major income streams in Wales, and campsites are priced accordingly.
That said you can still find bargains in good locations in Wales, as campsite owners wish to attract tourists to put money in local economies that depend on the income.
With the anticipated relaxing of pandemic restrictions, you can expect some campsites to either reduce prices to attract a larger ‘staycation’ market, whereas others could increase prices to attempt to recoup losses from missed seasons. The former is more likely.
To summarise, there are small variances in the cost of campsites between the different regions, but the differences within the regions are greater. You can expect to pay more for location, luxury, amenities, desirability, and the popularity of the area.
Alternatively, you can expect to pay much less to stay in a farmer’s field close to an industrial city, or indeed nothing for wild camping in Scotland.
How To Save Money On Campsites
There is no getting around the fact that campsites, like almost everything else in modern life, are priced based on supply and demand. Consequently, the most popular locations and swankiest sites are going to command the highest prices, whereas a basic farmers field will end up costing a comparative pittance.
Location is one of the greatest drivers of pricing. This presents an opportunity for those who simply want to get out there and camp in their tents and caravans and don’t particularly mind where they stay. On the other hand the vast majority of campers choose their campsite based on a desire to visit a location or landmark.
If you wish to enjoy a camping beach holiday, for example, it doesn’t make sense to camp far inland to save a few pounds each night. Similarly, if you wish to visit the Cairngorm mountain range, the Peak District, the Lake District, or Snowdonia then you should definitely prioritise location over cost, within reason.
The good news is that most popular locations have a wide range of campsite options, catering for different budgets. It is easy to make a booking based on the first professional looking website you stumble across, but beware that this could end up being a costly option.
If money is your main concern, look for sites further away from your primary destination but within walking or cycling distance.
You could also look for smaller campsites run by local landowners rather than large scale dedicated sites. There is always the semi-wild camping option of paying a landowner (or asking nicely for permission) to camp on their land, however, this is only recommended if you know what you are doing.
Another way to save money is to scrimp on services. Most campsites charge a premium for providing services such as electricity hook-ups, water lines, on-site toilets and showers, laundry facilities, and even television hook-ups. If you are taking a caravan that has a lot of features then you really don’t need all of these.
Water and electricity are almost always essential of course, but if your caravan has solar panels then you could always take the chance in the summer, or if you have an electricity generator (and are willing to face the glares that other campers reserve for anti-social noise makers) then you don’t need a hook-up.
Most caravans have a built in water tank, so keep it topped up using on-site water points rather than a dedicated pipe.
If you are camping in a tent and are really money conscious you could always forgo all of these services (wet-wipes make for an almost effective personal hygiene solution) and really wild camp it out, although perhaps not if you are camping for more than a few days!
Top tip: if you are staying near to a leisure facility consider paying to go swimming and use their facilities.
When it comes to saving money on campsites the best advice is to be sensible. If you are determined to stay in a much sought-after location with all modern amenities then you should expect to pay accordingly for the privilege. If, however, you are willing to make compromises, either big or small, and look around for different prices, then you are sure to find an option that meets your needs.
You can also obtain discounts from some campsites through memberships of camping groups, such as the Caravan Club.
A final tip for saving money is to camp in a group. Most sites charge per pitch rather than per person, making a larger group size the value for money option. Take the whole family or friends, and as long as you don’t mind sharing the pitch with each other you will be able to split the value or cost per person to make for an exceptionally good value holiday or trip.
Are Campsites Worth Visiting Over Renting a Static Caravan?
Let’s get one of the major differences out of the way first. Renting a static caravan is far more expensive than renting a campsite pitch, whether for a caravan or a tent. But these costs need to be taken in context especially in relation to caravans. A caravan has a fairly high up front cost, as well as ongoing maintenance and MOT costs.
A complicated but valuable exercise to try is to add together your projected total cost of a caravan and ongoing annual costs and divide the figure by the number of years you hope to own the caravan for. Divide that figure by the number of nights you hope to camp each year and you have your per night cost of owning a caravan.
Once you’ve done this, compare it to the per night cost of renting a static caravan (don’t forget to add the campsite cost to your caravan per night cost), and see which one works out best for you.
The main reason that visiting a campsite might be better for you is if you like variety. If you want to explore as much of the country, and even have the possibility of taking your holiday home-on-wheels abroad, then a caravan or tent on a campsite is the best option.
During the holiday season (your own, not necessarily those dictated by season and campsites) having the option of staying in multiple different campsites provides so much flexibility that you are almost spoiled for choice.
You can wake up at home, decide you fancy a change of scenery, pick up the phone to book a campsite for a night or two and make your way at your leisure. Booking a static caravan, by comparison, tends to be a more formal affair with necessary booking lead times.
Not only that, most static caravan hirers tend to charge for fixed periods (usually a week or 3-4 days), which takes away a lot of the flexibility and the possibility to camp on impulse.
On top of these advantages of visiting a campsite over renting a static caravan is the fact that camping somehow feels completely different in a caravan or tent than in a static caravan. For some reason pitching your own accommodation for the night feels more expeditionary than simply opening the door to a static caravan.
In some ways staying in a static caravan or holiday home feels slightly more like staying in a hotel than camping. Even pitching your caravan on a campsite with every amenity, plugin in your satellite television, and playing with all of the modern gadgets in a caravan feels more adventurous than stepping into a static caravan.
There are some advantages to staying in a static caravan over visiting a campsite, although these are normally dependent on circumstance. As an example if the best place to stay close to your intended destination is a static caravan site then it makes complete sense to stay in one over a campsite.
Similarly, if you have difficulties with mobility then the large size and ease of effort required to stay in a static caravan make them a better option. Another circumstance that can improve the prospects of a static caravan over a campsite is that they tend to have superior facilities.
Static caravan sites tend to have clubhouses, chip shops, and all kinds of interesting amenities on site, particularly in popular areas, which mean that you only have to leave the site if you want to.
A final situation whereby a static caravan is a better option is if you don’t intend to camp often; a one-off cost for a static caravan will be far better economically than buying a caravan for a few trips.
In most circumstances, it is better to visit a campsite than to stay in a static caravan, due to the flexibility and sense of freedom tents and caravans provide. If you plan to explore, camp at will, and keep as many options open to you as possible then it makes far more sense to visit campsites rather than rent a static caravan.