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Campervan & Touring with a Dog: A Taster, in London!

This post is part of a paid partnership with the - very dog-friendly - Caravan and Motorhome Club (CAMC). All opinions are our own.

We've travelled for years before Marcel joined our family and, when he did, quickly realised that we did not want to compromise between our love for exploring and the delight of his presence, with his welfare being our top priority. This is why we adapted the way we travel and destinations we travel to. Leaving him in kennels we found stressful for him (and us) and expensive, finding someone of trust and able to look after him for more than a few hours not easy, and we'd end up shortening our holidays and worrying about him.

One point became clear during our road trip in the USA (late 2019) and more recently (with the lack of availability of dog-friendly places to stay due to a staycation boom and an increasing number of people owning pets): changing accommodation almost every night, even with the most chilled and well travelled dog, is not ideal.

I began to think that a campervan could be a great alternative, especially as we plan more road trips, within the UK and abroad.

In late Winter 2020, a few weeks before the first lockdown, the opportunity to try one in the form of the Caravan and Motorhome Club inviting us (and by "us" I mean Marcel of course) to try one of their brand new campervan hires in a location of our choice, as part of their Paws of Approval program. As we were unfamiliar with driving one of these (it turns out to be very easy) and curious to have found out some of their campsites were within London, we opted for somewhere close to home: Crystal Palace in South London.

The Benefits of Campervanning with a Dog:

Dogs are creatures of habit and constant hotel or accommodation changes can be unsettling for them. They can also be incredibly impractical and costly for their well behaved humans, having to pack and unpack every day, worry about check in and check out times, pay a new pet fee for every new place that charges one, and reducing the options when it comes to eating out (or in).

A campervan offers the flexibility and convenience of a car, bed, bathroom and kitchen in one vehicle. It makes it easier to change places and stop on the way and park easily, which are key elements of a road trip. It provides dogs (and cats) with just the one constant place and reference to travel and sleep in: no more worrying about if and when the humans might leave and more time to do what they do most of the day: nap and rest.

It also means not having to chose between eating out and leaving your pup alone in a room when the accommodation is not offering a dog-friendly dining option and there are none near. The kitchen not only means that owners can cook (which also saves on budget) it also means that, in the case of people like us feeding their companions a raw (or wet) diet, there is a fridge too to keep their food fresh.

We've worked with and used the Club for years and have had the chance to enjoy several of their campsites at different seasons, from a motorhome stay in Dorset for Christmas to a glamping stay in a pod in the Cotswolds. They are all well situated, often within walking distance of villages, dog-friendly pubs and places of interest!

Dogs are part of the family and the Club understands the importance for many - including us - of keeping pups close by to experience holidays together whilst recognising that not everyone is a dog lover (therefore all campsites have guidelines to ensure that dog lovers and non-dog lovers alike can holiday in harmony together).

There are 160 dog-friendly CAMC campsites in total where dogs stay free of charge, and every one of their UK campsites are dog friendly.

Some even have specific dog walks or well maintained, often fenced off dog exercising area with bins, dog wash areas (sorry mucky pups) and dog-friendly pubs nearby.

Those facilities have recently improved and the Club has its own “Paws of Approval” rating system, where campsites are rated for their dog friendliness and facilities and over 93% of members have rated campsites excellent, very or good.

There is a dedicated search and book tool for owners to find the campsite most suitable.

The Campervan

The Caravan and Motorhome Club offers campervan and motorhome hire through Spaceships Rentals. The campervan we did get to try for a few nights was superbly furnished, packed with features and easy to drive, even for someone used to a regular car (and paralysed at the idea of it). It is compact yet providing largely enough space for two with a dog (or several depending on sleeping accommodation) and for tall people to stand up.

It has electricity if hooked to it on site (something the site manager kindly helped numpty us to figure, we've always been welcome and helped by staff and fellow members of the Club). We had a large double bed, compact bathroom with toilet and shower, a kitchenette with fridge to keep Marcel's food (and ours) fresh, sink, water tank, hobs (on which Pierre cooked a delicious brunch using produce from local shops and the market), a comfortable double bed, plenty of lights but also blinds to provide with darkness and privacy, several charging plugs for electronic devices, plenty of storage, and even a table area that doubles as seats for four when driving.

This makes their campervans and motorhomes ideal for holidays, short breaks, touring, road trips, visiting friends and family or going to festivals and events and of course taking fluffy family members!

The Campsite: Camping & Caravanning in South London!

Sadly the specific campsite we stayed at - Crystal Palace in South London - will close to be replaced by housing at the end of 2021. If you do get a chance to book before this then it is a fantastic way to be in London without spending too much on hotels, whilst being right by a fantastic dog-friendly park and area (more on this in the next paragraph) and within minutes of public transports to take you into the heart of the Capital: the best of all worlds!

The campsite is welcoming, simple but clean and well equipped with showers, pot washing facilities and toilets. It has a small enclosed dog run, big enough to exercise or play with furiends.

There is another - more central - Caravan and Mortorhome Club campsite in South London: Abbey Wood, which is ideal for dogs, motorhome and has glamping pods.

The Location: Crystal Palace

Crystal Palace is an area we love, with many activities for dogs and owners inside and just outside the park, woods and grass areas to exercise and explore, plenty of walks nearby (including part of the Green Chain Walk) and stunning views across the London skyline.

Our highlights of the Crystal Palace Park, all within walking distance of the Caravan and Motorhome Club's campsite, include the super dog-welcoming Brown & Green Life café, the woodlands, maze, remaining structure of the exhibition hall (moved from Hyde Park to Sydenham Hill after the Great Exhibition of 1851 - which sadly then burnt down in 1936) and sphynx statures, and recently renovated Victorian dinosaur park (which is free to visit).

We give the Caravan and Motorhome Club's site and experience all paws up and cannot wait to try another campsite now we can explore a bit more!

Click HERE for the club's current members' offer in partnership with Spaceships Rentals, for a 5% discount on rental, bundle worth £50 (and pets go free saving you an additional £10 a day)!

Have you ever gone camping or touring or glamping with a dog? What made you decide to? Or do you think about trying it one day? As usual, if you have any question please do not hesitate to comment, email us or send a message on our Instagram :)

Aurélie xx

NB:The photographs were taken before the pandemic: since then the appropriate safety and hygiene steps were taken (see COVID Secure Commitment).

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