I recently became the new owner of a rather eye catching 1998 VW T4 camper van called Walter. We had considered purchasing a caravan but we decided that a camper van fitted our lifestyle better and lent itself to more spontaneity, plus he looks awesome.
This new life in the world of VW campers has merged well with my life long love of caravanning, I'm told that I went away in the caravan to Caravan Club (or Caravan and Motorhome Club as they are now known) rallies as a new born baby some 11 times before I was a mere 16 weeks old!
Naturally the first thing I wanted to do once we welcomed our VW camper van into our lives was to take him away to a Caravan Club site. For those who don't know, or have not experienced a Caravan Club site, they are the pièce de résistance of campsites, they are often huge and very spacious, almost always nearly 100% hardstanding (no grassy fields to contend with) and very quiet and peaceful. To top it all off, they always have first class facilities, the toilet blocks are massive, as clean and as pleasant as your own bathroom at home, and always very warm. There isn't a campsite out there that comes close to matching the quality you get with a Caravan Club site.
Can VW camper vans join the Caravan Club?
This is the question I and many before me have had, and the answer is absolutely yes! There is a lot of misinformation online, much stemming from very old forum posts that suggests that a VW camper van is not welcome in the Caravan Club, this is just not the case. According to the club 60% of their members are motorhome owners not caravaners, this is the principle reason why they rebranded to the Caravan and Motorhome Club.
It is true that the Caravan Club rightly or wrong has a reputation for being a little bit snooty, and it's true that to some extent the caravan owners in a club site don't much like the motorhomes, and perhaps they all dislike to some extent the camper van as it represents a much younger and "hipster" demographic. But as a club they have no problem with camper vans; be they VW T5, T4, or any of the classics.
At a recent stay at the beautiful Conniston Park Coppice club site in the Lake District I had several people specifically seek me out to compliment me on Walter and talk about him! The wardens at the site had no problem whatsoever with the camper van, it was absolutely fine.
Are there requirements for camper vans?
There are some requirements, the club does not want their club sites cluttered up with battered old commercial vehicles with mattresses slung in the back. If you are driving a factory built VW California then no problem, if you're driving anything converted then they have some requirements for membership:
- Seats and table
- Sleeping accommodation which can be converted into seats
- Cooking facilities with adequate ventilation
- Storage facilities
Any quality conversion is going to have those installed anyway so it won't present a problem.
Some people have reported that wardens have on occasion enquired about electrical safety certificates and gas safety certificates. I couldn't verify if this was the case, but ultimately you should probably have these anyway. I wouldn't want to be cooking on an untested gas appliance in an enclosed space however well ventilated it may be. Likewise I wouldn't want dangerous electrics in a vehicle full of fuel and gas, not to mention myself so I'd get my electrics tested as well.
Should I the Caravan and Motorhome Club with my VW camper van?
Yes! I hope this has set the record straight, you can and definitely should join the Caravan and Motorhome Club, the fact you've even arrived at this blog suggests you're thinking about it, and now you know it's ok to join in your VW then you should definitely go and become a member right away. I couldn't recommend it enough.
The weekend rallies are a little trickier in a camper van as they have no toilet facilities at rallies generally, but for the club sites alone it's worth it and you'll make the membership fee back in member discounts with just a week stay somewhere.