There’s nothing fairly like a campervan vacation. Throw the whole lot you want into the again and hit the highway, going wherever the wind takes you. The sensation of freedom that comes from following your nostril. The enjoyment of drifting between fairly bays and fairy-tale forests, with the power to drag over and make a cup of tea everytime you please.
If all of that sounds prefer it’s proper up your alley, you’re not alone. The demand for campervans has sky-rocketed for the reason that first lockdown eased, and that curiosity has solely strengthened in 2021. Campervan rental firm Bunk Campers (bunkcampers.com) says it noticed a stonking 236pc enhance in Irish internet visitors all through 2020 in comparison with 2019, as folks noticed the attraction of taking to the nation roads of their very personal roving lodging.
That’s to not say that each one hope is misplaced for this summer season. Regardless of the surge in curiosity, there may be nonetheless availability, even within the peak months of July and August. The Irish Volkswagen camper-hire enterprise Lazy Days (lazydays.ie) would ordinarily be absolutely booked for the season proper now, however have been solely about 75pc full as we went to press.
That’s largely all the way down to the hesitancy of Irish holidaymakers — folks have been reticent about finalising bookings with out readability on reopening dates. Nevertheless, as extra readability comes for summer season journey, they are going to be snapped up rapidly. “As quickly as there’s any definitive announcement, we will likely be bombarded,” says proprietor Susan Greatest.
Whereas bookings would normally be set in stone by now, this yr there additionally appears to be a whole lot of rescheduling and cancelling happening, so your possibilities of scoring a last-minute reserving are first rate. One operator I spoke to had taken a cancellation for July just some minutes earlier than we spoke, which might ordinarily by no means occur. When you can’t see any availability on-line, give the rental corporations a name — most can have a ready listing for the season forward, and will likely be solely too glad to maintain you within the loop.
The opposite large issue is the dearth of worldwide friends. In earlier years, summer season bookings have been dominated by the worldwide market, with prospects beholden to set flights and concrete journey plans. Previous to Covid final yr, Irish friends accounted for simply 8pc of the Eire bookings for Bunk Campers, for instance. Since March 2020, round 90pc of their new bookings are from Irish friends.
So, when you’ve managed to attain a camper for the summer season, it’s on to the second most necessary subject: the place do you go? As with every sort of home vacation, issues are going to be very crowded across the coast, and in common spots like Kerry and Connemara. If you wish to keep away from the lots (and discover ways to manoeuvre a campervan with out an viewers watching your each flip), then head inland, or to among the lesser-visited locations.
One bonus of reserving with a small Irish firm is the insider suggestions they’ll present on the place to go. Two suggestions from Lazy Days embody the Glen of Aherlow park (€28 per evening for 2 folks and electrical energy; tipperarycamping.com) with spectacular views out over the Galtees in Co Tipperary, as an example; and the Curraghchase Caravan Park (from €30 per evening, as above;
curraghchasecaravanpark.com) in Co Limerick.
In order for you the consolation of sure services (electrical energy hook-ups, spacious berths, playgrounds and the like) you then’ll need to go to a campsite. You normally pay a flat charge for the pitch, then a charge per particular person and an extra payment for electrical energy. Finances not less than €30 per evening for 2 adults, with youngsters charged at an extra decrease charge.
Whereas it does take away the bohemian sense of spontaneity related to a campervan journey, you’ll positively have to guide a spot this summer season. And be warned — as with tenting and caravaning, pitches are promoting up quick.
“We normally function on a primary come, first served foundation, so whereas bookings will not be required, they’re suggested,” says Kieran Farrell of the caravan parks in Sligo’s Strandhill and Rosses Level (sligocaravanandcamping.ie). “With Covid, now we have needed to rely extra on bookings this yr, in an effort to handle the quantity and frequency of individuals coming and going. In June and September, we usually tend to have availability, however July and August will guide up quick.”
Whereas we might all love the concept of pitching up on a good looking seaside and flinging open the van doorways to the sound of rolling surf come morning, sadly, you’ll be able to’t simply park the place you want. The legalities of this are complicated, and although campervan corporations instructed me parking up for the evening is extensively tolerated, it’s worthwhile to make sure it’s allowed within the space you select, not on personal land, and naturally, take heed to your security and safety.
That stated, you don’t need to be restricted to campsites each evening. The free Motorhome Parking Eire app (motorhomeparkingireland.com) is nice in the event you favor a center floor. There are over 1,400 areas listed throughout Eire, from absolutely serviced campsites to free in a single day parking spots, in addition to bars and eating places that welcome motorhomes. For the latter, a little bit of frequent decency applies — in the event you’re going to park up by a restaurant for the evening, go and eat your dinner there. Firing up the barbecue of their automobile park isn’t a very good look.
On that notice, everyone knows how costly issues can get in the event you’re consuming out for each meal (particularly as a household). So top off the camper with cereals, pasta, or something that may be whipped up on a small gasoline hob. However don’t get too carried away — space for storing is normally pretty restricted, and it makes extra sense to purchase as you go. In spite of everything, except you’re parking deep within the wilds of Donegal, you’ll by no means be too removed from a store. Eire’s takeaways, meals vehicles and meal-kit tradition have taken an enormous step up throughout Covid, too.
When you’re a seafood fan, get chatting to the fishermen hauling of their catch — there’s nothing fairly like scoring contemporary lobster or crab proper from the fishing nets. A number of the finest meals of my life have began with a chat with the fishermen by Garretstown Seashore in Kinsale, and ended with gleaming mackerel flashed on the pan with nothing however butter and a wedge of lemon.
For the love of all that’s good and holy, make certain your rental consists of enough insurance coverage. The overwhelming majority do, however double test precisely what this consists of (normally it’s just one driver) and improve the coverage if wants be. I lately heard a horror story that concerned a campervan, a novice driver and a low bridge, culminating within the phrases “and the roof peeled off like a tin of sardines”.
When you really feel extra assured in a smaller automobile, there are some cool options accessible. Corporations like Buckled Wheel (buckledwheel.ie), which launched in December, supply journey trailers and roof tents that you just tow behind your automobile, which are perfect for these cautious about driving a big scale motorhome. Our Fab 50 listing of the most effective locations to remain in Eire this yr additionally included Burren Rover Camper trailers from the Burren Farm Expertise
(burrenfarmexperience.ie), and the West Clare Explorer, a transformed campervan being designed by the Armada Lodge in Spanish Level, Co Clare (armadahotel.com).
It’s necessary to actually take into consideration what dimension you’ll want from an inside perspective, too. A six-berth camper could be advantageous in case your youngsters are little and glad to sleep in bunks or overhead compartments, however placing six adults in could also be a little bit of a squash, relying on the automobile. When you’re travelling with teenagers or older youngsters, take into account bringing an extra tent to pitch up subsequent to the van.
If you’re testing the campervans on supply, it’s simple to get seduced by the jazzier fashions. However whilst you could be wooed by all the frilly bells and whistles, you actually don’t want a flat-screen TV or swish speaker system. The posh that’s value contemplating for 2021, nevertheless, is a van with a bathroom and a bathe — and never simply to stop these pyjama-clad sprints to the bathroom block at 2am. In response to Covid, some campsites are limiting entry to their public washrooms, and a few are solely permitting campervans which have their very own services inside.
No matter van you select, it’s necessary to test precisely what you’re getting — most leases will embody crockery and cookware, for instance, however not mattress linen, the typical value for which is round €30 per set. If there are three beds on board, that price can add up, so save a bit of money by bringing your individual.
With regards to packing, deliver the naked minimal. Belief me, you’ll seemingly find yourself sporting the identical hoodie and shorts every single day anyway. Don’t overlook to deliver heat layers for the night, in addition to wet-weather gear, as a result of… effectively, everyone knows the realities of an Irish summer season. And don’t even take into consideration bringing suitcases — allocate everybody a backpack every, which they’ll fill with all the garments they want. These skinny gymnasium or Turkish towels are available in actually useful, too — they dry additional quick and take up far much less area within the van. Bear in mind, most campsites have laundry services, so you’ll be able to chuck a load of washing on midway via your journey.
Most significantly, whenever you’re driving round probably the most stunning spots in Eire, you wish to make sure that you’re doing all of your finest to maintain them that manner. The most effective campervan corporations will educate you on the ideas of Depart No Hint, however an important parts are pretty apparent. Be conscious of your waste and the native atmosphere, and go away your tenting space precisely as you discovered it. That manner, your dream vacation spot will likely be simply as heavenly for the subsequent campervan that pulls up.
5 to strive
1. The Wicklow primarily based Lazy Days presently has availability in a VW camper for July and August, from €1,085 for every week; lazydays.ie
2. Costs for the journey trailers from Buckled Wheel begin from €76 per evening in July and August; buckledwheel.ie
3. Per week-long break in a six-berth campervan begins at €1,500 with McRent, choosing up from Dublin or Newcastle West in Co Limerick; mcrent.ie
4. Bunk Campers has seven nights in a Nomad or Ranger VW Camper (sleeping 4), from €1,015 in July or August; bunkcampers.com
5. There’s nonetheless some availability in June for the smaller vans from Eire West Motorhomes, primarily based in Castlebar, from €150 per evening; iwmotorhomes.ie
NB: All costs topic to alter/availability. At all times test T&Cs and Covid-related flexibility earlier than reserving, in case journey restrictions change.