Caravan rallies were how I was initiated into the world of caravanning. If you’re a caravanning beginner you may be totally unaware of this ‘other side’ to touring holidays. But if you want to stay in some brilliant locations and plush campsites on a budget, with the added bonus of a friendly community to greet you, then let me tell you all about the camping and caravan rally concept.
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What are camping and caravan rallies?
Rallies, ‘meets’ or social camping events are generally organised by a club or association, such as the Caravan Club, the Camping and Caravan Club, or a group connected to a manufacturer, like Lunar, Bailey or Swift.
The details of rallies are published in advance and members can plan where they want to go; much like they might any other holiday.
So, how does this differ from booking a campsite independently?
Reasons to try a camping or caravan rally
Here’s five reasons why I think you should give rallying a go:
1. Stay somewhere different
Caravan rallies can gain access to locations you couldn’t usually stay because they are group bookings with private land owners. They are a bit like pop-up sites.
2. Make friends
You can build up a network of friends both on and off the rally field
If you attend rallies organised by the same club you’ll often find people you’ve met before on site. It’s always nice to see a friendly face, especially when something doesn’t work or you’ve forgotten to pack the toilet rolls!
It’s also a massive bonus if you decide to tour abroad. Imagine how much more confidence you’d have towing or camping in mainland Europe if you knew there was a group of friends waiting for you when you arrived.
I’m still in touch with friends I made while rallying with my parents more than 30 years ago. Most have tried caravanning with their own families too.
3. A safe environment for kids
A rally is a great environment for children – there’s often activities and competitions laid on for especially for them.
It’s a brilliant way for them to meet new people and make friends. You might even get a bit of peace!
Every club has rules about not speeding on the rally field, so you know your kids are safe when they are out playing. And there’s nothing better than fresh air to tire them out!
Read my full guide to caravanning with kids.
4. Be entertained or relax
Whether you’re looking to be entertained or just chill out, there’s a rally for you.
We’ve been on rallies where the whole weekend has revolved around a theme, from cow boys to Christmas. Yes, I’ve spent Christmas Day and New Year on a rally field!
Some rallies are organised in conjunction with big events and festivals, while others are held to mark national commemorations.
At the other end of the spectrum, we’ve also enjoyed rallies where we’ve had the choice to chill out or explore the local area at our leisure.
5. Budget breaks in great locations
The caravan rallies are not run to generate a profit. This means they are a cheap, but very cheerful, alternative to staying on commercial sites independently.
However, that doesn’t mean you have to forgo stays at big holiday parks with all the facilities. Clubs holding rallies can negotiate excellent group rates fort staying at popular sites out of the main holiday season.
The nightly price of a caravan rally can be under a tenner, even at larger holiday parks. So if you’re looking for family fun on a budget, rallying could be for you.
How to book a rally
The first step is to join a club. This will give you access to calendars of events.
Be aware that different clubs accept different type of camping outfits.
For example, the Camping and Caravanning Club accepts campers with tents, camper vans, motorhomes and caravans.
The Caravan and Motorhome Club is aimed at campers with, you’ve guessed it, caravans and motorhomes. Some Club sites accept tents.
If you’re a beginner when it comes to camping and touring you might like to check out these guides:
You’ll find local divisions or centres linked to clubs around the country. You have the option to join any one of these or you can remain a general club member. Either way, you can book onto any rally within your club.
Top tip: being a member of a club division or centre is the best way to make the most of your rallying experience and the benefits I’ve mentioned above.
Each local division of the national club will have its own way they’d like you to book. You’ll have to get in touch with them to find out. More often now, bookings are taken online. You may be required to make a deposit to secure your place.
Find out more about rallying with different clubs here:
- Caravan and Motorhome Club rallies – this page covers major rallies but there’s a link at the bottom to find out about smaller, regional events too
- Social camping with the Camping and Caravanning Club
- Camping and Caravanning with the CSMA
Have you tried and camping or caravan rally? What was your experience?
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