Single mum spent £50 doing up a £1,000 caravan to go on cheap holidays – and now it’s worth £4,000
SINGLE-MUM of two Hollie Hutchinson says she spent most of lockdown dreaming of holidays.
As coronavirus restrictions lifted the 36-year-old devised a plan to take super cheap mini-holidays with her family.
Hollie, who started her money-saving blog Thriftymum.com in 2016, lives in East Yorkshire with her two sons – James, five and Ted, four.
She works full-time as a project manager at East Riding Yorkshire Council but uses their flexible working scheme to take regular long weekends away with her children.
Hollie shared her tips with The Sun about how she manages to go on cheap holidays most weekends on a single parent budget.
I bought a caravan for £1,000 and it’s now worth £4,000
In February 2021, Hollie bought a secondhand caravan for £1,000 as she wanted to guarantee lots of family trips to make up for a year of lockdown.
She spent just £50 on paint, seat covers and accessories for the five berth Elddis Vogue caravan – and now it's valued at just over £4,000.
“I thought the caravan was a bargain when I spotted it and it really didn’t need much doing but I wanted to put my own stamp on it so it felt more homely,” Hollie told The Sun.
“Finding out that the value has risen so much has been amazing.
“I know there is more demand for caravans this year with foreign travel not not an option for most families but I really didn’t expect it to go up so much.”
How to keep costs low
By purchasing the caravan, Hollie doesn’t have to pay out much for accommodation.
The average cost for a night in a caravan varies, but is around £20 and you can get discounts through membership schemes such as The Camping and Caravanning Club.
The first couple of trips they went on were just five minutes up the road.
Hollie added: “I wanted to build up my confidence of towing the van and didn’t want to be too far away from home in case anything went wrong.
“The boys didn’t care that we hadn’t roamed far, they still felt like we’d had a ‘proper’ holiday even though we were just down the road!”
“To me it was about creating a sense of adventure for my boys and taking them more frequently to new places to explore.
“We love a free day out to the seaside or a local woodland walk but we had enough of those during lockdown!
“Now is the time to explore the rest of our country but doing it in a way that doesn’t require a credit card.”
Find free overnight parking to lengthen your stay
UK hotel rooms and bed and breakfasts are in high demand this summer, with many already sold out.
With confusion across the travel industry as to which countries are safe to travel to abroad, more and more families are choosing to have a staycation.
Hollie said: “Avoiding paying for accommodation is a great way to keep costs down on your trips.
"One way I’ve done this is to start car camping. All it required was an airbed inflated in the boot of my old VW Touran car, a pillow each and lots of blankets to create a cosy nest for us to bed down in.
"I also bought some solar powered fairy lights from Home Bargains to string around the open boot lid once parked up.”
“One app I use is called Park4night, it includes campsites, fields and lay-bys.
“When taking my boys on a microadventures, safety has to come first so sometimes we won’t stay overnight but instead just enjoy a long evening of making dens in the woods followed by storytime in the car, then a drive back home for bed.”
Hollie also purchased a coolbox from the middle aisle at Aldi which plugs directly into the car.
“Packing our own drinks and snacks saves so much money as it avoids me being tempted by a seaside fish and chip shop everytime we adventure out to the coast!”
Stretch out your weekend
Hollie tries to leave work early on a Friday to make the most of their weekends away.
She added: “Getting a head start before the rush hour traffic not only speeds up your travel but an off-peak journey will save you money too.
“Your break away feel so much longer and more relaxing.”
“I enjoy picking up my boys from school and getting straight off to our microadventure location.
“Sometimes this will be along the coast for a beach BBQ and watching the sunset.
“Other times we’ll go car-camping in the countryside to avoid the light of the city and do some star-gazing.
“Timing a night under the stars with a full-moon is perfect for my kids who are space obsessed at the moment!"
There’s some great free apps that you can download to your phone before you set off and just point it at the sky to see what constellations are above you.
We like the NASA app. It’s full of information I can read to the boys and you can even look back down at Earth from the International Space Station.
Hollie Hutchinson is a family finance writer at ThriftyMum.com and Consumer Expert for Steph’s Packed Lunch on Channel 4. You can follow her on Instagram.
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