Camping trips can take you to some of the most amazing locations in the UK, and with good preparation, you can ensure that you get there without any problems.
The most important part of your preparation is deciding how to get there. If you’re planning on taking your car on your camping trip, it’s important to make sure that it’s suitable for the journey.
On the other hand, if you don’t own a car suited for camping, you may want to rent a vehicle that can handle road conditions at your destination and living arrangements (if required).
These are our top picks for the best cars for camping trips in the UK:
Small Saloons and Hatchbacks
Cars like the Ford Focus, Nissan Micra and Renault Clio are all good options that are easy to drive but have enough interior space to accommodate luggage for a weekend away.
These small, easy-to-park vehicles are ideal if you’re using your vehicle as transportation rather than a dedicated campervan. As they tend to be smaller in stature, these three-door models will also handle narrow country lanes more easily than larger models with four doors.
The downside is that their compact size means they don’t offer much in terms of sleeping arrangements or storage capacity. They may also not be suitable for taller drivers (over 6 feet) who won’t fit comfortably behind the wheel.
Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs)
While SUVs were once derided as gas-guzzling behemoths, they’ve recently made a comeback with environmentalists—and it’s easy to see why.
Their big tires provide better traction on slippery or uneven surfaces, and their high ground clearance keeps them from getting hung up on bumps or rocks in a field.
However, because of their higher body and longer wheelbase, SUVs also have more blind spots than other cars and tend to be bigger targets for thieves. If you’re going off-road, check your car insurance policy to make sure your SUV is covered for driving off public roads.
If you’re planning a trip that involves hauling lots of equipment or supplies, look no further than compact SUVs. Roomy, comfortable, and powerful on-road, these vehicles offer impressive load capacity and off-road agility for dirt roads.
Our pick: the Nissan Juke. You can get a fully loaded all-wheel drive model for less than £22,000. And it has plenty of storage space behind its rear seats (for backpacking tents) as well as under its floorboards (for sleeping bags).
It also has enough power to tow up to 2,500 pounds when properly equipped. Plus, at just over 16 feet long, it fits easily into most campsites—and parking spaces in big cities.
If you’re looking to get a Nissan Juke, consider Carplus. It’s well-reputed, and you can pay as you go with PAYG finance.
If you’re planning on taking your kids or a group of friends on a camping trip, then you should consider investing in a full-size van like Nissan’s NV. A full-size van offers more interior space than any other vehicle and even can handle off-road terrain thanks to its raised ride height.
The biggest drawback of using a full-size van is that it costs more than nearly any other option on our list. On average, you can expect to pay at least £30,000 if you’re buying a used model.
It’s also important to note that most full-size vans are not designed with camping in mind. So, while they may be able to handle some rough roads, they might not be ideal if you plan on sleeping in your car.
Small Pickup Trucks
The Toyota Hilux/Nissan Navara or Mitsubishi L200 are good, tough vehicles that will serve you well. Small pickup trucks are easy to load and unload while offering great visibility and lots of power.
If it’s more capacity than you need, look at mid-size SUVs. They offer more interior space but retain SUV off-road capability. Remember to check your insurance policy; some providers may charge extra to cover off-road driving.
Also, if you have a caravan or trailer, make sure your vehicle has enough power to tow it. And always make sure your vehicle is roadworthy before setting out on a long trip.
Large Pickup Trucks
For those who love to get out into nature and head off on adventures, picking up a large pickup truck is essential. These vehicles can hold plenty of supplies and equipment, letting you take anything you might need along with you when you go hiking or mountaineering.
They’re also perfect for carrying gear in or out when making campsite preparations. Large pickups are available in both rear-wheel drive and four-wheel drive configurations, so finding one that suits your needs should be easy.
If you plan on taking your vehicle through rugged terrain, opting for 4WD may make sense. Just keep in mind that these types of trucks tend to cost more than their 2WD counterparts—but if getting there is half the fun, then it’s worth it!
Finding a Camping Site
While picking up the right vehicle for your trip is important, what is even more critical for a perfect trip is a great camping site. If you’re a car lover, you can opt for Formula 1 campgrounds for a 2-in-1 experience.
The campsite includes modern tents that are set up prior to your visits, roomy campgrounds, live entertainment, and celebrity speakers, among other attractions.
Apart from spending your time at the trackside, you can unwind in the state-of-the-art Formula-One-themed hospitality pavilion, which is fully carpeted and furnished with chairs.
The majority of Camping F1 locations have a licenced bar, big TVs for sporting reruns, and live entertainment, making them great for family holidays or trips with friends.
In general, we would recommend either a 4×4 or SUV for camping. However, the ideal car for your trip depends solely on your needs.
That is why this guide breaks down the pros and cons of each vehicle that you can take. Consider those that fit into your budget, and then make your decision based on the car that offers the most comfortable and well-suited ride to your destination.