Looking for May half-term holiday ideas? With balmy weather and typically fewer crowds, it’s the perfect time to go on a family road trip. You could make do with your everyday vehicle and try to find last-minute accommodation – or hire a campervan and experience something new!
Demand is booming right now, with record numbers attending this year’s Caravan, Camping and Motorhome Show. It’s easy to see why; these vehicles offer the freedom to explore and get out in the great outdoors while travelling in your bubble, setting your own pace, and saving money on accommodation and food. Plus, campervan holidays are a great novelty for children!
The UK is packed with gems to discover too. Read about six great destinations to add to your itinerary this May half-term and beyond, as well as our tips for enjoying a smooth ride if you’re inexperienced at the wheel.
Top campervan holidays in the UK
The North York Moors National Park, Yorkshire, England
Affectionately known as God’s Own Country, Yorkshire is blessed with as many as three national parks. The Yorkshire Dales and the Peak District are well worth your attention, but we’ve gone with the North York Moors for its vibrant purple heather and stunning coastline.
You could start in the quaint market town of Pickering and follow a route to Thornton-le-Dale and Dalby Forest, with its 8,000 acres of woodland to get lost in. Next up is Goathland, home of the Hogsmeade Station in Harry Potter, then the iconic seaside spots of Robin Hood’s Bay, Whitby and Saltburn-by-the-Sea.
All that’s left is to take in the stunning views of rolling hills at Roseberry Topping!
The North Coast 500, Scotland
More a route than a destination, the North Coast 500 is ‘so much more than just a road’ and makes for the ultimate campervan holiday in Scotland. It’s a 500-plus-mile journey of discovery taking in stunning coastal scenery, sandy beaches, rugged mountains and more, covering six regions in total.
Do your best to spot a dolphin or call it a day and tuck into delicious food and drink in the Black Isle. Easter Ross is brimming with romance and history, while Sutherland is known as Europe’s ‘last great wilderness’. Inverness, meanwhile, is considered the capital of the Scottish Highlands and also marks the start and end of your adventure.
And the best part? Wild camping is totally legal and free in Scotland!
The Lake District, Cumbria, England
The Lake District can get packed in peak summer, so why not make it your May half-term family holiday instead? Regardless, this national park deserves its popularity. Boasting the kind of scenery you’d expect to find in the mountains of Austria, you’ll experience towering peaks and stunning waters, plus some quality pub lunches when you get hungry.
The Lakes are a great choice if your family likes to get active too. As well as the many miles of walks and climbs, there are opportunities to kayak, sail and bike too. You’ll be grateful for your bed when you retire to your campervan at the end of the day!
Kendal to Keswick is one scenic stretch worth covering, with Lake Thirlmere, Windermere and Grasmere all ticked off along the way.
Many of us have fond childhood memories of sun, sea and ice cream in Cornwall, and there are good reasons it’s affectionately known as the Cornish Riviera. It’s a surfing paradise for starters – and a great place to spot iconic campervans too! You should have plenty of space for wetsuits and boards if you need them, or just park up on a cliff and watch the pros tackle the waves instead.
If you somehow get bored of hitting the beach, why not enjoy a day out at the likes of St. Ives, Falmouth or Newquay? The impressive Eden Project is worth a visit too, especially if your gang is green-fingered or eco-conscious.
Tollymore Forest Park, County Down, Northern Ireland
Are there any Game of Thrones fans in your family? If so, they might recognise Tollymore Forest Park from the very first episode of the iconic series. But not to worry if you’re unfamiliar, as this wild spot of Northern Ireland is rich in places to park up, take a walk and admire the surrounding scenery regardless.
There are spooky buildings and caves to scope out, bridges to cross and waterfalls to explore, all over some 1,500 acres of land. Plus, it’s not too far to drive to must-see sights like the Giant’s Causeway and Dunluce Castle, as well as the bustling capital city of Belfast.
Snowdonia National Park, Gwynedd, Wales
There’s lots to love about Wales, such as the vast Brecon Beacons mountain range and the stunning Pembrokeshire coast. But Snowdonia National Park takes the cake for its array of mountains, rivers and lakes, plus the opportunities for extreme sports nearby.
Climbing Snowdon itself isn’t for the faint-hearted – though you could chicken out and take the mountain railway to the summit. There’s plenty of coastline to explore along the stunning Llŷn Peninsula too, while Adventure Parc Snowdonia offers surf lessons, zip line experiences and fun indoor activities if the weather isn’t on your side.
There are a handful of peaceful and well-reviewed campsites dotted around the area, so take your pick based on what attractions you want to be closest to.
First time driving a campervan or motorhome?
Deciding where to go is tricky, but you might feel more unsure about the driving part if you’re not used to a vehicle this size. After all, you’ll have your most prized possession in tow: your family. But campervan holidays can be easier than you might think if you remember a few key bits of advice.
5 tips for enjoying a smooth ride
1. Take it slow
Family life can be fast-paced and hectic, so your holidays should be anything but. This point applies to your driving style, of course, but also to your attitude towards the journey.
Instead of racing from sight to sight, the magic of campervan holidays in the UK is in what you experience along the way – so take a breath and try not to rush. Your schedule should be flexible enough to accommodate spontaneous stop-offs, as well as traffic jams and breakdowns!
2. Use your mirrors
All drivers should rely on their mirrors, but it’s even more important if your rear window is missing or obstructed. Make sure to set your mirrors up before you get on the road and realign them if you’re taking turns to drive.
Bear in mind you’ll have a bigger blind spot too, so a quick glance might not always be enough. And if you lack confidence with parking, ask one of your crew to get out and help guide you in.
3. Plan van-friendly routes where possible
We know we told you to take things easy and avoid over-planning a second ago – but that doesn’t mean abandoning foresight altogether. Where possible, it’s helpful to plan van-friendly routes that avoid potential obstacles like narrow country lanes and low bridges. You’ll save yourself time and stress, especially considering it might not be your vehicle to damage!
It helps to know your vehicle size for this one. You should find this info out when you book or it will be in the vehicle logbook.
4. Know the speed limit
Linking back to tip one, don’t be tempted to drive your campervan or motorhome over its recommended limit. That’s 60mph on dual carriageways for those weighing over 3.05 tonnes, for example – not 70mph.
Pushing it could easily land you with a speeding ticket or, worse still, make you lose control of the vehicle. Plus, remember part of the fun is in taking things slow!
5. Tie down luggage
If you’re used to cramming item after item into your family car, you’d be forgiven for getting excited by how much extra storage you’ll have in the back. You might even be tempted to take a few extras along for the ride – and that’s totally fine.
Just bear in mind that things will move around if they’re not in a snug spot, so think about how best to secure them and avoid any unexpected crashes and bangs when you set off.
Bonus tip: Get covered for your May half-term family holiday
If you do decide to hire a vehicle this May half-term, or at any other time of year, it’s a good idea to get covered for your trip. Whether it’s a day, a weekend or, if you’re lucky, a month, our temporary campervan and motorhome insurance will take the stress out of your family holiday and let you focus on the open road. Where will you visit first?