There are certain questions which we can guarantee will crop up over and over again. “What’s the best insurance company to use”? “Do I need towing mirrors”? and; “What can I tow on my current driving licence”? One of the most commonly asked questions is; “Is it worth joining either the Caravan Club or the Camping & Caravanning Club, and what are the benefits”? So, I thought it was time we took a look at this, in a little more detail.
One of the most obvious benefits of either club, is access to member only camp sites and facilities, but the clubs have a lot more to offer than this. Whether it will be worth it to us will depend upon our own individual circumstances and requirements.
The Caravan Club is the largest organisation of its kind in Europe, and has always, traditionally, restricted its members to those who own caravans and motor homes, however, it has, always, classified folding campers in the same way as folding caravans, so membership has never been an issue. Whilst this remains the case, a very small number of club sites are starting to allow tent campers, and similar, alongside the traditional units.
So. What is it that the Caravan Club has to offer? According to their web site, member benefits include:
- A saving of £12 per night on pitch fees
- Access to over 200 Club sites and 2,500 independent sites
- Access to over 250 Club approved overseas sites
- ‘Market leading’ caravan insurance, available to members only
- ‘Huge’ savings on family days out and attractions
- Free monthly magazine, ‘worth £40′ (Bless ’em)
- Free car and caravan matching service
Of course, that list doesn’t include what, for me, is one of the single best reasons for joining the Caravan Club; their Mayday breakdown recovery service, and the equally well received (although many would argue a little on the expensive side) Red Pennant European travel insurance cover.
Other benefits include preferential deals on ferry and European travel packages as well as a variety of partner discounts, including 4% off your Sainsburys shopping, 15% off Go Outdoors and 20% at Road Chef, to name but a few.
Membership of the Caravan Club, currently, costs £48 per year, and, as they are quick to point out, you will save this in just four days, on one of their sites, bearing in mind the £12 per night saving, mentioned above.
Camping & Caravanning Club
The Camping & Caravanning Club is not as large as the Caravan club, with a little under half the amount of Club sites. It is, also, slightly cheaper to join, at just £37 per year for online membership, and £43 for paper membership. It has, traditionally, always, accommodated a broader spectrum of member units, from the smallest of tents, to the largest of caravans and motor homes. The key benefits listed on their web site include:
- 108 ‘award winning’ Club sites, plus 1,600 member exclusive certified sites
- Up to 30% off Club site fees (with additional 25% for over 60’s)
- Free technical advice
- Up to 10% off ferry crossings
- Access to a further 150 camp sites, in 13 European countries
- 2,500 weekend meets
- Discounted tailor-made insurance products
- Specialist breakdown cover, Arrival, via the RAC
- free technical advice, including unit matching service
- ‘Award winning’ magazine (apparently)
- Additional discounts, via business partners
Making The Choice
As mentioned above, an element of the decision making process will, inevitably, depend on personal preference. Everyone has their own opinion as to which sites are better. Opinions are varied as to quality of facilities, application of rules and regulations, cleanliness of sites, etc etc. They are so varied, and opinion is so subjective, that the only really safe advice, is to give them a try and see how they suit your own, personal, requirements. This is crucial, because one of the key advantages of both clubs is the discount on club sites. As, already, stated, four nights spent on a Caravan club site, at £12 a night discount, will pay for your Caravan Club membership, however, if you prefer not to be too restricted to CC sites, then you will not be able to appreciate this benefit to such a significant extent.
So. Is it worth it? Of course, there is no right or wrong answer, but, from a personal perspective, I would say, for many of us, it’s a no brainer. In our recent article; What Breakdown Cover do we Need When Towing? we looked at the best breakdown policies around, and CC’s Mayday and C&CC’s Arrival, came first and second, respectively, offering facilities that aren’t available anywhere else. Add that to the fact that just one week away can more than pay for the entire year’s membership fees, and you are, already, on to a winner, without any of the additional benefits.
For me, membership of a least one of these organisations will more than pay for itself, in a very short period of time. Whether you chose to try both, and compare, is entirely up to you, but I, personally, am considering it, for the breakdown cover, alone. Anything over and above that will be, for me, a bonus.
Of course, this is just a very quick summary of the potential benefits of each club. For more details, Feel free to take a look at the following: