Family camping escapes: trailer tents versus caravans

Club Care Insurance

Whichever type of unit you decide on, you'll want to be sure that you have the right cover in place.  Find out more about Club Care's Caravan Insurance and Trailer Tent Insurance

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Take the ability to get up and go, mix it with that all-important sense of adventure, add a pinch of just the right level of home comfort, and you have the essential elements for a truly great family camping holiday.

So, which camping method is going to deliver all of this for you and your family? Touring caravans are of course a perennial favourite — and with good reason — but they are not the only option. Trailer tents can tick many boxes for families, too, particularly where ease of towing and cost are concerned. Comparing accommodation, ease of use, and insurance costs will help you decide which method is going to be the best fit for your family. With this in mind, we take a closer look at caravans and trailer tents side by side.

Accommodation options for families large and small

If each member of the family requires a ‘solid’ bed, caravans have a lot to recommend them. Let’s say you require four sleeping berths, for instance. A typical 4-berth layout involves a fixed double bed situated towards the rear of the unit and sectioned off to give mum and dad some privacy. In the front lounge, two rows of seating can convert into single beds — making them ideal for the children.

For a bigger family, larger 5 or 6-berth caravans obviously make more sense. With these, you’ll tend to find that additional sleeping space is provided by a combination of fixed beds, convertible lounge seating, as well as bunks that drop down from overhead. Of course, many families will want to bring along pets so they can enjoy the great outdoors as well. Club Care Insurance understands this, and includes £500 pet injury cover as standard with its Caravan Insurance policy. So if you’re worrying about where you can leave your dog for a couple of weeks, don’t worry: bring him along.

For many families, especially those with younger kids, the fun of camping comes with sleeping under canvas — what older generations might call “proper camping”. For the children, being able to sleep in a sleeping bag is all part of the adventure, whereas mum and dad might appreciate something a little more sturdy. Here, a trailer tent can be ideal as they convert into a surprisingly generous bed and sleeping area. Trailer tents often come with handy extra sections, too; which are ideal for adding extra living space or room for guests.

Ease of towing

Part of the appeal of trailer tents comes with their compact size and low weight. Before buying any unit, it’s always important to match it with your car’s towing limits. Happily, we have a beginners guide to towing that’s worth perusing. The great thing about trailer tents, though, is that they’re usually well within the towing limits of a typical family hatchback. It means that investing in a trailer tent rarely has to involve shelling out on a more powerful car — whether rented or purchased.

With a caravan, you obviously have a larger unit and more mass to tow, but this doesn’t have to put you off. Our Caravan Courses can help you get to grips with driving with your unit in tow, and completing the course can even earn you a discount on your insurance, so it’s worth looking into.

Setting up

With the family on board, you’re likely to be keen to get out and explore immediately on arrival, without too much hassle when it comes to setting up. A caravan allows you to do this with ease. Features such as lockable overhead units make it easy to stay organised, and once you are hooked up to the site’s power supply, you are ready to go.

With a trailer tent, there’s an element of ‘pegging out’ involved, but this need not be a complicated process. Modern trailer tents are designed with convenience in mind; take a closer look at the all-in-one opening system on Camp-let models, and Sunncamp’s inflatable trailer tent — you’ll realise just how easy it can be to operate and set up a trailer tent.

Home comforts

It’s worth thinking about how self-sufficient you intend to be on your family holiday, and the amenities that are going to be available on site factor into that. Our site finder facility is designed to make this easier for you, though.

If you prefer the convenience and comfort of your own shower and toilet, a caravan clearly would be the preferable. Likewise, if you are going to be camping in spring or autumn half term when the weather is a little cooler, a caravan’s heating system can be very welcome. When it comes to mod cons, the choices on offer across the caravan market are also impressive. From HD TVs and wireless speaker systems to keep older kids amused, through to Italian-style worktops, integrated cookers, and spacious fridge freezers — your choices are limited only by your budget.

A modern trailer tent can also deliver a comfortable and highly enjoyable family camping experience. Pay particular attention to the kitchen unit: these are designed to deliver an ideal blend of worktops, hob space and storage, and with some, you can even use them en-route. 

Cost and insurance

New 4-berth caravans tend to start at around £15,000. These are a big investment, but with ‘agreed value’ caravan cover, it’s possible to insure your unit for an agreed price, offering you certainty on how much you will receive if you need to claim. This can be invaluable to people who have a specific budget.

New trailer tents, however, start at around £2,500, making them a versatile and cost-effective camping option for families. Keeping your trailer tent safe can be easy too; with Club Care Insurance it’s possible to protect your trailer and equipment for as little as £50 a year.

So the choice really all comes down to what your budget is, but the fact of the matter is that both caravans and trailer tents can provide families with all you need for a truly memorable camping experience. Find out more about Caravan Insurance and Trailer Tent Insurance, including details of exclusive discounts available to Club members.