Cheap Holiday Park Deals And Caravan Holiday Breaks 2017: How To Find The Best In UK & Europe

UPDATED: 9th October 2017

Whether you’re after a cheap weekend break or a late holiday deal, a cheap holiday park is an affordable, flexible and – most-of-all – FUN holiday choice for families.

With accommodation ranging from static caravans and pre-pitched tents to lodges, apartments, wigwams and bungalows, there’s lots on offer. We’ve rounded up the best websites and expert tips so you can choose the best deal for YOUR family.

Including…


TOP RESOURCES YOU’LL NEED

UK holiday parks: Park Resorts | Park Holidays | Pontins | Haven | Butlins | John Fowler | Hoburne | Parkdean

UK camping and glamping: Center Parcs | Pure Leisure | Bluestone

European holiday parks: Hoseasons | Sunparks | Al Fresco | Breakfree Holidays

European camping and glamping: Eurocamp | Canvas Holidays

Daily deals and last minute breaks: Wowcher | Groupon | TravelBird | Teletext | lastminute.com

Reviews: TripAdvisor

Getting there: Cheap Flights | Cheap Travel Insurance | Cheap Car Hire


 

WHEN TO GO, WHY GO AND WHERE TO GO

The best time of year for a cheap holiday park break

cheap-holiday-parksBecause they’re cheap, easy to get to and offer both indoor AND outdoor activities or entertainment for the whole family, UK holiday parks are popular all year round.

While prices are obviously still affected by the school holidays – with busy half-term, Easter and Summer breaks seeing average prices rise 20-60% – the overall financial ‘damage’ is rarely as much as you’d suffer on a package holiday abroad during the school breaks.

What’s more, you can often find a bargain whether it’s term time or not. All the top parks we feature in this guide offer year-round deals for the key holiday periods. And if you’re up for a last-minute getaway, you could find a real bargain.

 

 

Snuffles says:

Bear in mind holiday parks are often more enjoyable during those busy periods. When parks are full the entertainment is usually better as performers are more energised. Kids get to meet lots of other kids and the bar and restaurant has a lively atmosphere. However, pick a quiet weekend and you’ll enjoy an empty swimming pool and get the jacuzzi to yourself.

Which type of holiday park is right for you?

There are hundreds of cheap holiday parks to choose from and, on the face of it, they all have a similar range of facilities. But the truth is their ‘brands’ are all quite different.

From cheap and cheerful to chic and pricey, from the loud and brash to the simple and serene, you need to check out what you’re in for and make sure it suits you.

And when you DO find the type of holiday park you like, you’ll probably fall in love.

  • When you’re looking at holiday parks, read the reviews. What did people like? What didn’t they appreciate? See if you can work out the common reasons people like a holiday park and whether they are also things you look for. TripAdvisor is great for this. You can filter results to just see those from families or couples or business people – there may be great differences between them. And you can click on users’ profiles and see what other places they like and dislike to see if this person shares your priorities;
  • Look at the entertainment on offer – it’s usually a good giveaway as to the kind of park you can expect. Big name parks like Butlins and Pontins go for TV talent acts like Sam and Marc from CBBC (appearing at Butlins in 2017) or Blazin Squad (appearing at Pontins in 2017). Expect big crowds and a big atmosphere. Center Parcs plays down it’s evening entertainment in favour of the adventure activities it offers during the day: climbing, fencing, craft-making and kayaking – expect a quieter crowd. Smaller caravan parks promote their signature characters that kids love, such as Sammy the Seahorse or Freddy Fox. These places are more intimate and less hectic than their bigger rivals;
  • Check the types of accommodation. The more variety there is, the more mixed the range of visitors. Some parks offer only caravans divided into bronze, silver and gold categories (or similar). The differences between their features is often minimal. Other holiday parks have caravans, lodges, tent pitches, apartments, yurts, wigwams and bungalows;
  • Where is the holiday park located? Is it a sunny seaside resort that attracts families looking for a bucket-and-spade holiday? Is it an urban park in a European city that attracts those looking for some local culture? Or is it a woodland park where the emphasis is on nature and adrenaline-fuelled activities?

Great reasons to choose a cheap holiday park break

There are some powerful reasons to pick a holiday park getaway. Here are a few:

  • Things to do whatever the weather
  • Kids make new friends
  • Free activities
  • Staff on hand to help you
  • Safe environments
  • Your own ‘home’ and garden to hang out in
  • Take bikes, footballs, tennis racquets etc
  • No expensive air fares
  • Often late availability
  • Can be less hassle – UK trips means no passports, currencies, car hire
  • Half the cost of a package holiday abroad
  • You can often take the dog
  • Low booking deposits offered by many parks
  • Cook for yourself or use the restaurants
  • Entertainment for all ages
  • Close to tourist attractions


The top holiday park websites

The choice of holiday park accommodation is huge. From the popular static caravan to the unusual treehouse, with lodges, chalets, tents, apartments and bungalows in between. Below we’ve listed the big holiday parks, the smaller outfits, European holiday parks and alternative options like campsites with static tents.

UK holiday park owners – the big five

park resorts cheapPark Resorts


Park Resorts has nearly 50 different holiday parks at seaside locations around the UK. Each one promises two swimming pools – indoor and outdoor – kids activities and evening family entertainment. You can take your dog with you for a £30-50 fee and, if you put down a small deposit, you can reserve your booking and pay the full balance up to eight weeks before you go. Park Resorts are great for kids of all ages, with adventure playgrounds, sports courts and soft play areas as well as water flumes in the pool. The parks are well secured. Their deals for 2017 include ‘Save up to £50 on off peak breaks’ or ‘Save up to £80 on lodge breaks’.

park holidays cheapPark Holidays


Not to be confused with Park Resorts, family-oriented Park Holidays has 28 different parks along the south coast of England. Most venues have a clubhouse with evening entertainment, a swimming pool with lifeguards in attendance and an on-site restaurant. The accommodation is split into Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum to meet different budgets and each higher level brings different comforts like bed-making, central heating and linen services. Current special offers include ‘Food and drink freebies worth £30 on mid-week breaks’ and ‘Last chance October half term holidays’.

pontins cheapPontins


Famous holiday camp brand Pontins with its Bluecoats and chalet accommodation has six locations now: Camber Sands (Sussex), Brean Sands (Somerset), Prestatyn Sands (Wales), Southport (Merseyside), Pakefield (Lowestoft) and Sand Bay (Somerset) which is an adult-only park. It’s invested significantly in making these six parks into distinctive, fun and modern holiday parks. At its family-friendly camps there are a huge variety of activities for free, from pottery painting to salsa lessons, football to circus skills. For a small additional fee you can also treat yourself to amazing, thrill-seeking experiences such as abseiling or quadbiking. Evening entertainment includes comedians, singers, tribute acts, bingo and karaoke. Check out its offers on short breaks, half-term and last-minute holidays.

cheap haven holidayHaven


Hugely popular Haven have 36 different UK holiday parks to choose from. All their packages include a full programme of activities, kids’ clubs and entertainment at no extra cost. They were finalists in the Travel Bulletin Star Awards 2017 and their parks have indoor and outdoor pool facilities as well as direct beach access. You can pay for your holiday by monthly payment plan. Their current offers on holidays include ‘Book early and save 25% on 2018 holidays’.

Stacey from Yorkshire says:

For Haven, buy the activity pass instead of paying for activities as you go as an activity pass saves money especially if you have a few children. Also if you buy the pass online whilst booking you get it even cheaper. Have food shopping delivered to eat in at times as eating on site can work out dear

butlins cheapButlin’s


With over 75 years in the holiday business and a nostalgic favourite for many parents and grandparents, Butlin’s is a household name. Set up originally to provide Britons with an affordable holiday, it still has that ethos with a huge range of entertainment and activities for children and adults. But these days Butlin’s is focussed on three UK resorts: Bognor Regis, Minehead and Skegness. Included in the price is access to a waterworld with flumes and wave pools, fairground rides, sports facilities, live cabaret, football coaching for kids, arts and crafts and soft play. Its 2017 offers include ‘Kids eat free on selected term time breaks‘ and ‘Extra 10% off‘.

UK and Europe holiday park owners – others

john fowler cheapJohn Fowler


John Fowler has 11 holiday parks in Devon, Somerset and Cornwall. Accommodation includes caravans, chalets and bungalows. Kids entertainment comes from Freddy Fox, and other things you’ll find at many of the parks include heated pools, tennis and sports courts, children’s play areas, crazy golf, soft play, free WiFi, saunas and fitness suites and water walking zorbs.

hoborne cheapHoburne


Extremely popular Hoburne have seven parks around the South-West of England. The facilities are well cared for and these camps have a nice, relaxed family atmosphere. All the usual things to do can be expected, from tennis to amusements, but some parks also have pedaloes and fishing. They have a 50% off October short breaks deal at the moment!

 

parkdean cheapParkdean


Now merged with Park Resorts, Parkdean has 24 holiday parks; fifteen in the South West of England, six in Scotland, two in South Wales and one in Norfolk. Accommodation includes caravan holiday homes, lodges, apartments and chalets, which are available for short breaks and longer holidays throughout the year. Also, caravan and camping pitches are offered at Most locations. Check out the latest offers for 2017/18 here.

sun parksSunparks


For something different abroad – without having to travel miles – how about Belgium with Sunparks’s fun holiday villages. They include access to Aqua Fun, a water theme park with water slides, whitewater course and a splash pool, and Kids World with its ball pits, trampolines and slides for kids up to 12. You will find some eye-catching last-minute deals with great savings.

Broker sites – UK and Europe

hoseasons cheapHoseasons


Hoseasons are owned by the huge US travel group Wyndham, which also owns James Villas and cottages.com as well as some big name hotel brands. That means you can expect good customer service and high standards. But they’re also good value, with a ‘lowest price guarantee’ offered if you find the same holiday cheaper. There are over 130 family-oriented parks across England, Wales and Scotland. What we like about Hoseasons’ listings is the include independent Reevoo ratings so you can see what other families thought. Check out their special offers.

breakfree holidays cheapBreakfree Holidays


While Breakfree Holidays have plenty of UK caravan parks featured in their listings, they also have a huge array of Europe-wide accommodation with 400 locations overall. If you’re keen on France or Italy, Breakfree Holidays is a good site to use as it aggregates offers from all the big (and little) parks on the Euro mainland. In the UK they partner with Park Resorts, Haven and Park Holidays. Check out their special offers for 2018 deals.

alfressco holidays cheapAl Fresco


European holiday park breaks are becoming an increasingly popular choice for Brits seeking sun. If you’re interested in a family trip to France, Italy, Spain, Holland or Croatia Al Fresco has dozens of parks to check out. Each one has Reevoo feedback! See their new deals.

Camping and glamping in Europe – pre-pitched tents with beds

eurocamp cheapEurocamp


Long time favourite Eurocamp have over 180 holiday locations across Europe, including places by the beach, in the mountains, lakesides and even in capital cities. They group them to help you find the one that’s matched to the type of holiday you want: Full on Fun, Action Adventure and Authentic Europe. Full on Fun means mega pool complexes and chance to try archery, quad biking or scuba diving. Kids can learn to ride bikes and learn to swim. They have bars and restaurants with live music at certain spots. Explore and Adventure are set in some of Europe’s most stunning natural spots with facilities like 5-aside football pitches, gyms and spas and activities including high ropes and abseiling. Authentic Europe is aimed at adults or older families. See their latest deals.

canvas holidays cheapCanvas Holidays


Canvas Holidays are a great option for affordable camping in pre-pitched tents across France, Italy and the rest of Europe. Their family holidays are helpfully broken down into those ideal for families with babies and toddlers, children aged 5-12 and teenagers. At each site you’ll find a swimming pool, waterslide, tennis courts and mini-golf, as well as a supermarket, bar and restaurant, and luxury spas. A good all-round choice. Check out their special offers right here.

Countryside, forest and eco holiday parks

center parcs cheapCenter Parcs


British favourite Center Parcs is famous for its sub-tropical swimming pool, a huge indoor water park full of exotic plants, wild rapids, flumes and bubble pools.There are five Center Parcs in the UK, each set in woodland with lodges, apartments, hotel rooms and also treehouses available to guests. All ages are catered for, with messy play sessions and swim-a-longs for under 3s, costume games and woodland adventures for under 7s, and climbing, quad bikes, kayaking and high ropes available to older children. Center Parcs fill up quickly – check out the latest offers for 2017/18.

pure leisure cheapPure Leisure


Pure Leisure have a interesting range of inland woodland retreats with camping pods, coastal holiday lodges and waterside tent and caravan parks. They offer weekend breaks, spa breaks, golfing holidays and fishing holidays but their Billing Aquadrome is heavily family-oriented. Check out their latest offers, with discounts often given on midweek bookings and fortnight bookings.

 Canopy & Stars

Over 500 glamping spaces in the UK and Europe, from quirky treehouses to log cabins and yurts. If you’re looking for a glamping experience with a difference, this is the place to start. The latest offers can be found here.

bluestone cheapBluestone


A single holiday camp in Pembrokeshire, Wales – but a beautiful one. Nature lovers, outdoors-types and thrill-seekers will love this place with its balance of tranquil woodland and spectacular indoor waterpark. Families are offered “over 100 free range activities” to enjoy. See their prices.


SPECIAL OFFERS: WHERE TO FIND THEM

Almost all of the top holiday park websites we’ve included above have a special offers page. Here are some other places you will find holiday park deals for the UK and Europe.

Check the flash deal websites

Flash deal sites like Wowcher and Groupon usually have holiday park offers. Keep a close eye on them because new deals come in every day.

Wowcher
Click on ‘Travel Deals’ on Wowcher, and then choose ‘families’, and you should see some holiday park deals pop up. Wowcher deals are time limited and change daily. Make sure you read the fine print to see the conditions – dates are often restricted. We found this 3-4nt Parkdean Resorts Stay for 6 – 40+ UK Locations! Go to Wowcher offer, subject to availability.

Groupon
Choose ‘Getaways’ and then select ‘Families’ and you’re likely to finding some holiday park deals. Glamping is a very popular choice right now, with offers on wooden teepees, wigwams and cabins across the UK. We found this 1 or 2 nights glamping for two with breakfast- Go to Groupon deal.

Late getaway websites

Travel sites specialising in late holidays include Teletext, which has a whole section on UK breaks. See its worldwide late deals.

lastminute.com mostly finds flights and hotels but there is the occassional UK holiday park break. Deals are promoted on their homepage.

News-worthy? The truth about tabloid voucher deals

the sun holiday parks cheap dealsMany of the cheap holiday parks have got involved with eye-catching newspaper deals in recent years.

You’ve seen them on the front pages of newspapers like The Sun and the Daily Mail: collect a set of vouchers from the papers over a few weeks and qualify for a £9.50 holiday at dozens of different parks.

Are they too good to be true? Yes and no. Yes because it’s impossible to book any kind of break with them for a total basket price of £9.50. No because you can still get a heavily-discounted holiday bargain.

The Sun
The Sun periodically runs a holiday park voucher promotion. Typically you have to collect around seven tokens printed in the paper over a few weeks. The promotions usually run during the Autumn/Winter. You have to be quick once the final voucher is printed as these holidays fill up fast. Be aware that the price celebrated is per-person and you usually have to book at least four people to qualify – so a £9.50 holiday is actually £38. Be aware too that you’ll also face a ‘service charge’ levied by the holiday park of between £10-50 and there are booking fees with some cards. And when you get to the park there may be a host of extra charges for entertainment, linen etc. The bottom line is: work out all the extra costs and make sure the deal is worth the hassle.

The Daily Mail
The Mail’s promotion with Breakfree Holidays usually runs in the summer and offers £15 holidays. Again, that’s £15 per-person and the cost goes up depending what time of year you want to travel. There’s a ‘service charge’ from the holiday park and a number of extra costs you could face. Importantly, these newspaper deals are very rigid with no flexibility for cancellations and changes. So read the terms before you start collecting.

Sign up for newsletters

The first place you are likely to find out about new holiday park deals is through the park owner’s newsletter. If you want to be first to a good offer, sign up for all those you are interested in. You should find links on all the websites we’ve included above.

Also make sure you’re signed up for DayTripFinder’s own newsletter. We are constantly watching the market and send new deals out every week as we find them.


GETTING THERE

Remember to factor in the cost of getting to your destination. Journey Price has a great calculator for working out petrol costs. But think too about the experience of driving which, for some, can be stressful and tiring. There are alternatives.

Let the train take the strain

cheap-train-to-holiday-parkMany people drive to their holiday parks – even those abroad are often reachable within a few hours. But if you want to save some money and enjoy a stress-free journey, it’s worth checking out the train deals.

The key to finding cheap train tickets is looking early. Ideally start looking AT LEAST 12 weeks before you travel.

We’ve got a huge guide to buying train tickets with over 30 expert tips, but if you want to get an idea a good place to start is Virgin Trains who sell tickets for all UK destinations. They don’t charge a booking fee and their site is easy to use.

Consider taking the coach

If you get travel sick or hate longer journeys then the coach may not be an appealing alternative – but if you love saving money then it’s worth a look.

National Express makes an effort these days to be family friendly, with booster seats for kids, power sockets for tablets, air con and wifi on many coaches.

Coach travel generally takes longer than rail, but if you’ve left it late to buy tickets then it can be a very economical option.

We compared train versus coach for a journey from Manchester to London, travelling at 9.30 am on a Friday in a fortnight’s time (with no family discount cards).

On the National Express a family of two adults and two children would pay £57.60. The journey time is 4 hr 50 m. The Megabus is even cheaper at £30 for the whole family and a journey time of 5 hr 50.

Meanwhile the equivalent journey with Virgin Trains would cost £125 (Off Peak Single) and take 2h 08 m.

Do you need to hire a car?

If you don’t have a car or you don’t trust it to make the journey, you may be thinking about cheap car hire.

While our guide to cheap car hire is largely written for holidaymakers going abroad, you can still use it to find some national car deals and avoid expensive insurance.

A quick check with Skyscanner for instance shows that three days car hire in Manchester could cost as little as £32 with Green Motion. Fuel for the single journey would cost around £36 according to Journey Price.

Snuffles says:

If you’re looking at holiday parks in southern Europe, check out our guide to cheap flights. A good starting point to get an idea of costs is Skyscanner..


 

OTHER MONEY-SAVING TIPS

Is it cheaper on Booking.com?

booking holiday parkWe’re big fans of the global accommodation finder Booking.com. As well its honest customer reviews and 10% member discount, it often finds the cheapest prices.

So once you know the holiday park you’re interested in, it’s worth typing its name into Booking.com. If yours isn’t listed they will show you others in the same area (choose ‘ holiday parks’ from the filters).

Beware the food at some sites + other tips from our members

Your holiday park might be isolated and you may be some way from big supermarkets, which means you could be reliant on on-site shops and restaurants. Three DayTripFinder members share their wisdom. Not all parks are the same.

Lynsey from Powys says:

Take loads more money because apart from swimming if you’re lucky enough to have a pool, everything else costs a small fortune. Food on site is very much of the expensive fast food variety and you’ll return home craving food with colour, fruit and vegetables.

Hannah from Norfolk says:

Haven entertainment starts early – bingo starts at something like 5:30! So it may be better having big lunches and a quick tea. Always ask for your preferred area when booking as we were a 20 minutes walk away from the centre and it was horrendous trekking the kids back and forth. On site food is very expensive

Kirsty from London says:

Haven in Perran Sands is fantastic. Request a premier chalet and go out of school holidays. Book a year in advance and pay monthly and it works out really inexpensive. Bring the essentials like tea bags and cereal as the shop on-site is expensive.

Take a few days out of term-time – if the school won’t fine

The situation with unapproved school absences in the UK is messy.

Some schools are inflexible on ANY absence (one Kent schoolchild was recently refused authorised leave to go to her grandfather’s funeral). Others are more relaxed, particularly primary schools.

They are all choosing their own interpretations of guidance laid down by county councils.

You can save money on your holiday if you do travel during term time. You may feel that a few days out of school is worth it given the other benefits your child will experience. If so, speak to your school well ahead of your holiday and ask their position.

If your holiday is not authorised you’ll face a fine of £60 per child, per parent, for each week. But it may be that the school won’t report a few days tagged on to half term – especially if the trip offers some educational benefit.

Go in a group – split the costs

Holiday parks often have big chalets and caravans that cater for up to 12 people. Since you usually only pay for the accommodation and not the number of people, you can save money by splitting costs if you go as a group.

Note that many holiday parks prevent bookings of more than one unit of accommodation online. To maintain the family environment of the parks they restrict groups of young adults and single sex parties.

So if you are a few families going on holiday together but looking to book separate caravans, you may need to call.

 


 

Snuffles says:

While some holidaymakers only care about the weather, dedicated holiday park fans rave about the fun they have at holiday parks with so much to do. If you’ve never considered a family holiday like this before, hopefully you’re now inspired to make the plunge! Get an eye on our Facebook page where we sometimes post new holiday park offers.

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