We first wrote this blogpost in 2021 when there was a flurry of excitable news reports about the demand for UK staycations. A lot of the cheapest grade of caravans and lodges were getting booked up quicker, meaning prices went higher than in previous years.
We hoped it would help people who had written off getting a good deal at a UK caravan holiday park or UK lodge park.
We've updated it for 2024 holiday as there are plenty of tips, tricks and loopholes to save yourself hundreds of pounds on a holiday park.
1. Book a holiday park in the last week in August
Most people avoid holidays during the last week of the school summer holidays because they want to buy a new pencil case and sew names into their jumpers.
That means that there’s a big drop off in demand for the last week in August/first few days of September - and much better prices. We looked at Haven's Perran Sands in Cornwall and found a difference of about £600 between the first and last week in August for a family holiday.
The downside is darker evenings and a slightly reduced chance of good weather.
2. Head North for the cheapest holiday parks
In our price comparisons, Yorkshire, Northumberland and Scotland’s holiday parks are generally cheaper for something similar in Cornwall and Dorset. The saving during the peak season can be pretty significant – in some cases similar parks run by the same company cost nearly twice as much in Cornwall as they do in Scotland.
For example, the three cheapest Haven holiday parks in our top 10 guide were all in the north of England or in Scotland.
Highly rated Haven holiday parks in the north of England and Scotland include:
It's a similar story with Parkdean Resorts.
We did a price comparison of a week's holiday at all 66 Parkdean Resorts and found that five of the ten cheapest Parkdean Resorts are in Scotland. Overall, prices for a holiday in August ranged from £599 to £1689 (based on the cheapest accommodation available when we searched).
Resorts in Northumberland, Yorkshire and Lancashire were also good value. There were no Westcountry holiday parks in the top 20 cheapest Parkdean Resorts.
The cheapest Parkdean Resorts include:
If you live in southern England and want a cheap Parkdean Resorts then take a look at:
3. Fill up a caravan
You could save yourself hundreds of pounds by sharing an eight-person caravan with friends or relatives.
In some cases, we’ve found it is more than £1000 cheaper than hiring two caravans for four people. It’s certainly cosy in a caravan’s kitchen but you’ll be able to afford to eat out more often.
4. Arrive on a Friday or Monday
Lots of holiday parks let you choose which day you arrive and bump up prices for Saturday to Saturday holidays.
A Monday to Monday or Friday to Friday holiday during the summer holidays is often about £100 cheaper with the big name holiday park companies.
Policies vary - Away Resorts let you arrive on any day of the week whilst Haven and Park Holidays both offer arrivals on Monday, Friday and Saturday.
If you've got your heart set on Center Parcs then you can expect to pay a serious whack during the school summer holidays.
However, you might like to look at Center Parcs in France, Germany and the Netherlands. They are run as a separate company but have a lot in common with the UK resorts, such as excellent swimming pools/waterparks and lots of onsite activities.
There's also a neat trick where you can save an extra few pounds by booking via the French version of the Center Parcs website rather than 'CenterParcs.eu'. For some reason, the prices vary depending on which site you use, even though the holiday is the same.
The quality of Center Parcs in Europe is inconsistent, so do some research such as reading our guides to the best Centers Parcs in France, Germany, Netherlands and Belgium.
To get you started, check out these four Center Parcs in Europe which score well with customers:
6. Check the holiday park offers pages and last minute deals pages
Most big holiday park chains have an offers page where they have some last minute bargains and other discount codes to entice you in.
Check out the offers pages for:
7. Discover hidden holiday homes
So, you've decided which holiday park you want to stay at and your dates are fixed thanks to the August school holidays and other inconveniences. Unfortunately, the cheapest caravan left is showing as £2000, even though it's just a 'standard' caravan rather than anything fancy.
Before weeping in a corner or selling the children's toys, try this trick.
First, go onto Airbnb and search for the nearest town to the holiday park. You can't search for the exact holiday park, but if I was searching for Haven's very popular and highly rated Devon Cliffs holiday park I would search for Exmouth which is the nearest town.
Second, choose the 'map' option on Airbnb and move it over the area of Devon Cliffs. You might need to do a bit of detective work to find smaller resorts but big holiday parks are quite obvious from above.
You'll find that there are several caravans and lodges available for hire which aren't listed on the official websites (click here to see what I mean, or see the screenshot below)
These are caravans and lodges which have been sold off to private owners who then rent them out. At a big holiday park there will be several to choose from and owners set their own prices so it’s often much cheaper than going through the official website.
You can also see the exact location of the caravan you are booking as well as photos and reviews.
In some cases, I've seen privately owned caravans available for hundreds of pounds less than those on the 'official' website. Of course, you are booking with an individual rather than a big company so read the smallprint carefully.
8. Don’t pay for facilities you won’t use
Some holiday parks are jam packed with facilities such as swimming pools, sports courts, fishing lakes and even ski slopes. But others just offer cheap accommodation and a small shop for buying your cornflakes. If you just want a base for exploring or won’t use shared facilities (which will probably have restricted numbers this summer) then look for the more basic resorts and head down the beach.
Meanwhile, Haven give you the choose of a simple 'Haven Hideaway' holiday if you just want accommodation or a 'Haven' holiday if you want to use all the facilities.
Check out our guide to the cheapest caravan holiday parks in the UK for starters.
9. Read your cancellation rights
Finally, I feel I should include something about cancellation policies as it's hardly a bargain if you end losing your money.
You might assume that every holiday park works to the same rules and cancellations. Unfortunately that's not the case, so read the small print to find out what happens if can't make your holiday.
To give you an idea of what some of the bigger holiday parks are offering, have a look at Haven's Holiday Protection and Park Holidays' Cancellation Protection Plan.
Images are from Haven, Away Resorts and Center Parcs Europe
Holiday Park Guru Blog
Occasional thoughts on holidays in England, Wales, Scotland and further afield, including the latest deals, discounts and last minute offers.
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© COPYRIGHT 2023. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
© COPYRIGHT 2023. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.