I have more than a few fond memories of caravan holidays as a child. I was regularly taken back to nature by my grandparents as we endured seven nights of being rocked to sleep by the wind and seven mornings of trudging off to the shower blocks in our pyjamas. They may not have been the most hi-tech and luxurious of holidays but they were entertaining nonetheless and left me far from feeling adversely about the humble caravan.
However, many other people have strong opinions based on the opposite point of view. For years now the caravan has been the butt of many jokes and dubbed outdated and ugly by so many who would put the idea of a camping holiday right at the bottom of their list of favourite ways to spend their summer.
The Box Is Back
After a decade or so in the wilderness though, the caravan has come back in out of the cold. The industry is alive again and caravan sites all over the country are experiencing a rise in holidaymakers who have rediscovered the joys of spending time in, what many people describe as, 'a box on wheels'. Caravans themselves have received somewhat of a makeover since the late nineties too, as the cramped compartments and rugged edges have been replaced by more spacious living quarters and sleek exteriors.
I luckily got to find all this out for myself recently when I jumped at the chance to spend a weekend in one of the caravanning holiday's renaissance front-runners; the Airstream. Styled like an American trailer, this new-age accommodation was a rather big step up from any 'box on wheels' that I have ever stayed in before. The electrics and water levels were all regulated from a central control panel that wouldn't look out of place on a ship from a galaxy far, far away, the fridge-freezer was big enough to store supplies for an entire house party, there was not one but two flat screen HD TVs and there was plenty of room in both the sitting area and the bedroom to swing multiple cats. There was even enough power in the shower to enable a full wash as opposed to the light sprinkling effect that was such a common occurrence in the past.
This modern day upgrade is not just confined to the Airstream style caravans though. Other campers seemed to be enjoying the luxuries that the 21st century camping experience has to offer too. Bigger, better looking boxes appeared to be placed more sturdily on top of shinier wheels; making for a much more enjoyable adventure all round.
It's Not All Good News
Granted, many of the things that the people who have an aversion to caravanning don't like about the experience are still a big part of it. There is still a need to regularly refill the water tank whilst rationing it well enough so that you don't run out half-way through a shower. There is also still a requirement to empty one's own toilet every time it threatens to over flow. And, despite the recent addition of a few mod-cons, there is still a commitment to be made to a life without much of the technology that we have all become far too familiar with these days. However, I personally feel that this is part and parcel of caravanning and that there is a certain amount of pride that can be taken from being about as self-sufficient as it's realistically possible to be in the western world in this day and age.
So long-term fans of caravanning may be delighted or dismayed to here that the whole experience has taken a turn for the better in recent years but either way it's clearly a good thing that the UK caravan and camping industry is back on the rise.
And as for those who still feel they want nothing to do with heading back to basics and being closer to nature for a bit, even after this mini revolution; perhaps it's worth giving it another chance.