How to get 2 weeks of sun for under £1200

Updated: Sep 26

Europe, pools, beaches, shows and activities over 2 weeks for under £1200…. Really… ???

YES! And that’s for a family of 4!

Camping is not only good for the soul but once you have personalised your equipment(for me the king sized bed) a two-week trip to warmer climates becomes affordable, even when we are all watching our outgoings. The school holidays can seem really daunting, especially when the weather in the UK can be so unreliable, so having a family break where you can plan pool and beach days, with very little additional expense, can help you budget for the summer holidays and give the family a holiday to remember.

Camping isn’t just about saving money, camping provides so many benefits to children including increased health benefits, basic survival skills, all whilst building self esteem and confidence. Being ‘unplugged’ from technology instantly allows families to reconnect and bond, whilst finding a new respect for nature.

Both of my children have grown in confidence over the years we have been campers, and they engage with other children better and have a greater understanding of nature. For example, last year we were having issues with flies in the tent where we didn’t zip it up. Off to Tesco we trot where Macklyn has a full melt down as I reach for the fly spray, screaming at the top of his voice that I was killing nature. We left, with no spray and a promise to do up the tent doors!

I, like everyone else in the UK, am worried about the rise in cost of living, so camping not only addresses the financial worries but we also soak up the social benefits.

Here is the plan...

Where to start…

Pitch up at a park… 14 Nights £550 (600 Euros)

Europe is full of holiday parks. If you think about it, Europe is one huge landmass, which means that it is fully accessible by car, or caravan, to our European neighbours, therefore there is a huge market for holiday parks. Over the years its facilities and services have grown considerably and parks have become competitive on price.

Start with picking a pitch: , and are brilliant operators with great search facilities on their websites helping you drill down to exactly what you want. For us, we like a combination of pool and sea. Both Macklyn and Maggie are good swimmers and love snorkelling so we can spend hours in the coves exploring for free!

Even the basic pitches in most European Parks will include power and water which will make life a little more comfortable for such a long trip. There will also be laundry facilities onsite, so you don’t need to pack your entire wardrobe! Also, when you book a park most activities will be included, as well as evening entertainment. This also helps keep the cost down; we tend to BBQ in the evening by the tent then pop out for a drink and a mini disco or the show.

When you are picking a site, just check out a couple of points.

1) Swim wear. Whilst us ladies are fine in our beach attire, some pools have stricter rules for males, whereby only the traditional speedo style budgie-smuggler is allowed. This might be a make or break moment for booking(!)

2) That BBQs are permitted, or you will be spending a lot more on eating out

Getting there…. Ferry £200

Whilst the Euro tunnel is by far the quickest way to travel to the continent, ferries are the cheaper way to get there and they will also give you the opportunity to take a break from the car if you have had to travel a considerable distance to get to Dover. If you time it in with mealtimes you can fill your time with a game of cards and a portion of fish and chips. DFDS ferries operate a full timetable out of Dover to either Calais or Dunkirk, but do arrive AT LEAST 90 MINS BEFORE and keep an eye on their Twitter site for service updates. If you are driving, check out our advice page on what to carry in your car (here).

Fuel and Tolls £300

Before any trip use an online calculator such as this will give you a good idea of what a trip will cost, and will keep you up-to-date with the current fuel prices. The estimate above is if you were to travel to the Spanish border, but this cost will reduce depending on your chosen location.

Overnight Stops… £100

If you are travelling more than 7 hours we recommend that you take an overnight stop. It doesn’t have to cost the earth, will give you the best and cheapest options for that stop, often with a pool to dip off in! The F1 group has a great reputation for that well-needed break with family rooms as low as 40 Euros. If you book breakfast you won’t have any surprises on your bill when you check out. Both Macklyn and Maggie love a hotel stay, and more to the point, the breakfast! They both fill their plates up to the brim! HOWEVER as you may know from my other posts Macklyn is prone to car sickness so ensure you get the travel sickness tablets in them before they fill their faces.

Final advice

Reducing your spending when you get there is also important, so by using a European money card, for example, you can transfer funds to the card and into Euros, avoiding any additional charges.

Another way to reduce cost is to think outside of the routine. By this I mean 3 meals a day! We learnt a lot on a recent trip to France about the appetite of a 6 and 7 year old. Whilst I was determined to feed them 3 times a day, and then have a running fight with Maggie as to why she hasn’t eaten dinner, it occurred to me that the timings for the lazy days had changed! As we were out later the kids were up later, we then would go and get croissants from the bakery. It's NOW 10.30am!!! By switching this meal to brunch, having a mid afternoon snack, which was a huge hunk of watermelon and some crisps, and a later bigger dinner on the BBQ, the kids were better balanced throughout the day.

Europe is accessible, it's just you that needs to take the leap!

Happy Travels!

Tested by Tots XX

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