The best value way to ‘staycation’ in the UK without splashing out

With the cost of staycations rocketing and the restrictions on jetting abroad this summer, savvy car owners are taking holidaying to a whole new level and camping in their vehicles.

The #carcamping trend is sweeping across the internet, with TikTok users in particular detailing their cheap-as-chips exploits, generating more than 79m views.

If the thought of sleeping in the cramped confines of your Corsa really doesn’t appeal, enthusiasts of car camping might help change your mind, saying how it combines the fun of tent sleeping with some of the comforts of home.

Read more: All the big events back on in East Yorkshire as restrictions lift

And best of all, car experts Peter Vardy have found that camping in your car comes in at over £1,500 cheaper than the average staycation right now.

Teacher Laurie Alyce is an avid car camper who has travelled to all corners of the UK in her car and has documented her journeys on TikTok.

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Laurie in her Fiat Punto nicknamed Hank
Laurie in her Fiat Punto nicknamed Hank

The 26-year-old’s Fiat Punto became her accommodation of choice during her 2020 travels to explore historical landmarks across the country and she gained 118,000 followers on TikTok as she filmed her experiences.

Now busy writing her first route and car camping guide to help newbies to the trend, Laurie revealed to Peter Vardy why she chose a car to holiday in.

“When choosing between a hotel and sleeping in your car, it’s easy to see why many people would consider the latter the least desirable option,” said Laurie, who lives in Devon.

“As a solo traveller, car camping has provided me with flexible, affordable and secure accommodation.

“Car camping allows me to travel for only the cost of petrol, food and access to attractions meaning I can afford to see and do more for longer. Car camping also offers more flexibility in itinerary for road trip holidays – ahead of schedule or running late? No worries – find somewhere new to park up.”

Before setting out, Laurie documented the transformation of her Punto in a TikTok video, folding down the back seats and creating a makeshift wooden bed frame from four timber beams, plywood and a camping mattress.

Laurie plans to embark on more trips this summer, using her school holidays to camp in her car, which has now been upgraded to a Fiat 500.



Laurie got to visit some historical landmarks while car camping
Laurie got to visit some historical landmarks while car camping

Laurie’s tips on getting your car camping ready for less than £150.

1 Bed Frame – £35

Whether you’re enjoying a close-to-home road trip or sleeping near a historical landmark, spending the night in your car should still be comfortable. Before embarking on her first trip, Laurie transformed the back of her Punto with a DIY bedframe made from timber and plywood for just £35.

2 Car Mattress – £35

“My number one essential has got to be my blow-up car mattress,” Laurie told Peter Vardy. “It was the single most expensive item when preparing my car camper, clocking in at £35, but I used my own bedding and pillows from home.”



Laurie Alyce has offered tips on what to pack for a car camping adventure
Laurie Alyce has offered tips on what to pack for a car camping adventure

3 Kitchen camping essentials – £15

“I bring a camp stove and kettle; it’s amazing how many different foods you can make just by adding boiling water. Using just a kettle saves lots of space and washing up.

“Having the option to make food rather than always eating out keeps car camping affordable to any budget.”

Laurie takes a camping stove and kettle from home, but a butane stove can be purchased for £10 to £15 and a kettle can be sourced for between £5 and £10.



Laurie Alyce is planning some summer car camping with her new Fiat 500, called Oliver
Laurie Alyce is planning some summer car camping with her new Fiat 500, called Oliver

4 DIY window privacy covers – £18

When camping in your car, you’re going to want privacy while you sleep. Laurie explained her solution: “I made my window covers from flooring insulation, which cost me £18 from B&Q.”

5 Travel towels – £15

Without a bathroom on-board, how do you keep yourself fresh and clean?

“All UK services have showers. I have two travel towels, which were a brilliant investment as they fold down super small and dry very quickly, meaning stopping for a shower can be as quick or as long as you like.”



'Pitched up' and kettle on
‘Pitched up’ and kettle on

Emma Stack, digital marketing manager at Peter Vardy said: “Utilising your car as a camping utensil is a truly remarkable solution for seeing more of Britain this summer.

“In the current climate, we expect to see many more motorists take road trips as international travel remains so turbulent.

“Car camping is a versatile, cost-effective solution for rising staycation prices – and you get to see more of our beautiful country, too.”