How to Find the Best Campsite for You.

Part of the fun of a holiday is in the planning but it can be stressful if you are scrolling through websites trying to get the vibe of a camping destination through photographs which much the time have been taken very  badly or conversely, very carefully, and sometimes end up giving a false impression of the place.

I recall my friends who chose what looked like a gorgeous campsite in beautiful English countryside. What the pictures didn't show was the huge power station looming over the site, ruining the view. Luckily she found it amusing and still had a lovely time but maybe some more in depth research would have prepared her for the reality and allowed her to make an informed decision.

So what's the best way to ensure you end up at the campsite of your dreams?

Illuminated tent under starry sky with campfire:Photo by Jonathan Forage on Unsplash

Make a Wishlist

Unless you have a specific reason to go to a particular region it can be hard to just pluck potential destinations out of thin air. Making a wishlist can help focus your search. For instance I knew I wanted to take our caravan away in August but because of ongoing overseas. travel restrictions I knew that the more obvious holiday spots like those in coastal areas would almost certainly be fully booked.

I decided how far I was willing to drive (up to 2 hours), listed some inland cities I fancied visiting and then check out sites in those regions. We've ended up booking a site in between Cambridge and Ely and I'm looking forward to exploring both historic cities and maybe even going punting on the river.

Think about your personality and expectations. If you like a lively nightlife, lots of facilities and organised activities and maybe the opportunity for you and your family to make friends consider looking at the larger more commercial sites. 

If you crave peace and quiet and prefer to be mostly self sufficient check out  smaller sites. We like farm based "certificated sites" listed on the The Camping and Caravanning Club website (membership gifted) which are usually quite quiet and basic but suit our needs. They are usually pretty cheap so that suits us too!

Little Bramshot Farm campsite, Fleet - The Camping and Caravanning Club CL site


So you've found a campsite you like, maybe on a membership directory like the one key by The Camping and Caravanning Club. Even if you intend to book via the platform (to get discounts or low deposits for example) check to see if the site is listed anywhere else so you can build a better picture. Try doing an image search as you may find visitor pictures which often give a more realistic view of the site.

Ask friends for recommendations but take their personality into account before making a decision based on their advice alone. I have friends who love sites with lively bars and entertainment which is my idea of hell. Having said that, we have booked a static caravan weekend break on a Hoseasons site with swimming pools and a Burger King but sometimes you have to make sacrifices for the sake of the children - mine are going to love it!

Read the reviews. 

Now I'd advise caution with this step but it's still a useful thing to do as long as you take them with a pinch of salt. Some people only leave negative reviews and never bother to leave positive ones which may give a skewed impression of the product, venue or service you are reading reviews for. 

Some people have their own agenda or a distorted view of what's reasonable. For example I read a review on one campsite near Twigworth in Gloucestershire which complained about road noise. The site information noted the proximity to the motorway with the positive message that the location was ideal for a stop off on the way to or from Devon and Cornwall. 

A thorough look at the reviews showed some people mentioning noise but adding that it wasn't an issue. A quick glance of the map should have been a warning for people who really wanted to avoid road noise. We stayed and despite the fact that we live in a rural village, I would describe the site as very quiet and the traffic noise didn't bother us at all.

campsite with caravan, Twigworth, Gloucester

To be on the safe side look at the 5 star and 1 star reviews and then check out a couple of the 3 and 4 star reviews to see if there's a recurring theme. Then think about how bothered you are. We recently stayed on a site where lots of people mentioned it was a long walk to get water and to the Elsan point. When we got there it was literally a two minute walk - closer than the facilities at a big woodland site we stayed at earlier this year. It's all about expectation.

Make Contact

If there's something that would be a real deal breaker for you, or if there's a particular facility or feature you cannot do without call, text or email the site owners/managers and ask questions. Maybe you need to know if the site is wheelchair friendly, quiet or if there's a bus service nearby. Is something is really important to you it's worth taking the time to check you won't be disappointed.

Be Open Minded

We've been wowed multiple times by sites which we chose for their proximity to someone or somewhere we needed to be near. The sites might have looked like nothing special online but we love driving in and realising we've found another heavenly location too pitch up for a while.

Sometimes the landowners are just not that great at capturing the essence of their place so sometimes it's worth taking a chance and being open minded. You might be pleasantly surprised.