SPOTLIGHT 

Caravan magazines

Problems with foreign travel and increased pressure on spending money mean it looks like staycations are, well, here to stay. Caravans and camping are a home away from home and, as Alan Geere finds out, magazines have every angle covered.

By Alan Geere

Caravan magazines
Photograph: Kevin Schmid on Unsplash.

Camping and Caravanning

What’s it about: ‘The Camping and Caravanning Club – the Club for all campers, however they choose to camp’ – explainer on Twitter.

Vital statistics: June 2022 issue: 100 pages of 275mm x 210mm. Matt paper, heavyweight gloss cover, perfect bound. ABC of 321,818 (Jan-Dec 2021), all membership copies. Published monthly by Camping and Caravanning Club in Coventry.

Cover: A wholesome-looking family looking at home in their caravan to illustrate the cover story ‘Make time for the family’, who turn out to be no less than multimedia manager Matt Smith en famille saving on modelling fees. Small picture of a Ford Cortina towing a caravan to herald ‘50 fabulous years’, three other coverlines and a cleverly crafted teaser quote on the spine.

Content: The contents spill across pages three and four taking in ‘Club & campers’, ‘Travel & lifestyle’, ‘Reviews & advice’ and a generous splurge pointing to their YouTube channel. Four pages of letters kick things off, which shows how important those readers are. Newsy ‘Pitch up’ and ‘Out & About’, diary dates, competition to win £2,000 worth of gear and some campsite cooking before the cover story kicks off with a piece penned by the club’s head of communications. That Cortina lover shares more love from down the years and a six-page dinosaur hunt themed piece is a treasure awaiting discovery.

Digital: Magazine has its own space on the club website at campingandcaravanningclub.co.uk/magazine with a packed offering of features, news, advice etc plus the opportunity for members to log in and see previous issues. Links to 123k likes on Facebook, 33.5k followers on Twitter.

What they say: “Moments away from the everyday are precious and the Club is here to help campers of all ages create memories and share some of life’s warmest moments together – that’s why we aim to entertain and inspire with our content.” – editor-in-chief Rob Ganley waxes lyrical as ‘Influencer of the Month’ on the Discover Ferries website.

Verdict: For Camping & Caravanning read Confident & Competent. For a ‘free’ magazine, this is put together with an assured touch.

Caravan

What’s it about: ‘The UK’s best caravanning magazine. We’re all about freedom, family, friends and fun’ – from ‘About’ on Facebook page.

Vital statistics: June 2022 issue: 80 pages of 295mm x 210mm. Quality gloss paper, heavyweight cover, stitched. £5.25 cover price. Published monthly by Warners in Bourne, Lincolnshire.

Cover: Big picture of ‘La belle France’, four other smaller pictures and eight coverlines promising everything from new model reviews to puzzles. Oh, and the lovely masthead carrying the page.

Content: A well-illustrated contents spread on pages 6-7, taking in mainly ‘travel & lifestyle’ plus ‘reviews and advice’. Turn the pages to visit Lincolnshire, the Isle of Wight, Yorkshire and France before a joyously crafted top 10 of family campsites. Info packed caravan reviews conclude with no-nonsense verdicts before some specialist technical advice and new products. Even room for some recipes and puzzles at the back.

Digital: The advertised website – outandaboutlive.co.uk/caravans – has news, reviews and caravans for sale plus links to 13.5k likes on Facebook and 14.6k followers on Twitter, which both still point to caravanmagazine.co.uk. Subscribers also get a fully searchable digital library of every issue of Caravan going back to February 2013.

What they say: “It’s interesting to see how many Caravan readers have now switched to the digital version of the magazine and how this move away from paper has accelerated over the last few months” – editor Clare Kelly shares the digital love with readers in her page four ‘Welcome’.

Verdict: Caravan magazine can trace its origins back to 1933 and joined the Warners ‘Out and about’ stable from IPC in 2010. Throughout all its various incarnations, Caravan has always championed the interests of owners (ie readers) and shows no sign of slowing down.

Caravan and Motorhome Club Magazine

What’s it about: ‘Packed with exclusive features to help you get away, your way’ – explainer on website.

Vital statistics: June 2022 issue: 116 pages of 270mm x 208mm. Gloss paper, heavyweight gloss cover, perfect bound. ABC of 367,796 (Jan-Dec 2021), all membership copies. Published monthly by the Caravan and Motorhome Club in East Grinstead.

Cover: A Getty image of ‘women eating fish and chips on the beach’ to herald the cover story, Summer’s Here! Three other coverlines plus three more come-ons engineered onto the spine.

Content: A welcome from one of the two editors before clearly designed ‘Inside this issue’ on page four – and the first sighting of a caravan. Newsy ‘Headlines’ up front with readers’ pictures and a competition before a 10-page what’s what on the South Downs. Travel to the Adriatic coast via the Outer Hebrides and then on to New Zealand and France. A ‘Green’ column, letters, ‘Country Matters’, caravan tests, events, products and even a pottery class complement the special content for club members.

Digital: The magazine has its own section on the main website at caravanclub.co.uk/blog/club-magazine with a tantalising glimpse of the content. Links to the club’s Facebook page with 132k likes and 18.4k followers on Twitter. Also on YouTube and Instagram.

What they say: “In response to your request to hear about unusual hobbies when out in our mobile homes, my partner and I take our ukuleles with us on our travels everywhere” – fair warning given by Linda in the lively letters pages.

Verdict: A compact and friendly club magazine that non-members can download for £3.49. The wide-ranging (literally) content gives it the feel of an adventurous travel mag while plenty of on-message display ads and a generous classified section add to the all-round appeal.

Caravan Industry & Park Operator magazine

What’s it about: ‘Celebrating 50 years as the independent trade magazine for the caravan and park industry’ – label on Twitter.

Vital statistics: Issue 38 (no date, but available in May; numbering started in 2015 when Euromedia acquired the title): 52 pages of 297mm x 210mm. Gloss paper, heavyweight cover, stitched. £2.20 cover price, although subscription is £30. Goes out to ‘over 2,500 park owners and operators’, according to website. Published six times a year by Euromedia Associates in Chorley, Lancashire.

Cover: Big picture of lakeside lodges to go with ‘Prepare your outdoors for spring’. Four other information-packed cross-refs and a natty ‘Celebrating 50 years in publication’ icon.

Content: Page three for ‘Hello all and welcome’ from an unnamed writer (with picture!) plus a straightforward ‘In this issue…’. Newslines has a topical political story followed by Park and Site News, New Opportunities, Products Showcase, Refurbishment is a good platform for display advertising, a neat case study in the ‘Renewables’ section about heat pumps and a comprehensive review of the first ‘in-person’ trade show for two years. Mostly one item per page so room for impactful headlines and pictures.

Digital: Website at caravanindustryandparkoperator.co.uk has news and features plus links to digital versions of complementary products. Plus some videos and even a wall planner to print out. Click through to Facebook with 332 likes and 1.4k followers on Twitter.

What they say: “Happy International Women's Day from an office full of women. I personally think that every day is Women's Day as there is no way this world would survive without us women sorting everything out” – post from the owner of the magazine’s LinkedIn page.

Verdict: A full-service trade magazine for the leisure industry that packs a great deal of valuable information on to every page. Latest issue freely available to view via 3D Issue in a user-friendly page-turner format.

Practical Caravan

What’s it about: ‘UK’s best-selling caravan magazine’ – proud claim on the cover.

Vital statistics: July 2022 issue: 124 pages of 300mm x 205mm. Matt paper, heavyweight gloss cover, perfect bound. £4.99 cover price. Last combined ABC reported of 15,604 (Jan-Dec 2019), though no longer ABC registered. Published monthly by Future in Paddington, London.

Cover: Big picture of a cove in Cornwall to illustrate ‘Plan your perfect escape!’. Small picture of a small caravan, two other cross-refs and a generous plug to the cut-out-and-keep 16-page guide to ‘Caravanning Cuisine’. No less than 20 beautifully crafted words on the spine.

Content: Page five for ‘everything you can look forward to in issue 453’ divided into Chat, Travel, New and Used vans, Tow cars, Skills school and that culinary supplement. Sumptuous destinations from the Cotswolds to Cornwall via the Norwegian fjords. Even the inside track on visiting Beaconsfield and Whitstable. Comprehensive reviews and buyers guide has all the facts and figures in one place. A run-down on site-booking websites and a section on touring technology demonstrate a commitment to a digital future.

Digital: Website at practicalcaravan.com with reviews, advice and news among the goodies. Links to Facebook (33.1k likes) and Twitter with 14.6k followers. Also has a section with 10,000 caravans for sale and an opportunity to sign up for a newsletter.

What they say: “A love of the great outdoors and a willingness to tow caravans and drive motorhomes” – requirements in the job ad for staff writer, along with all that pesky journalism.

Verdict: A no-nonsense read with an emphasis on the ‘Practical’. Has a real connection with readers, both in the magazine via letters and pictures, but especially online where the lively forums are the place to be for questions, answers, gripes and sounding off.

VW Camper & Bus

What’s it about: ‘The world’s best-selling VW Camper magazine’ – tagline under masthead.

Vital statistics: June 2022 issue: 100 pages of 275mm x 200mm. Matt paper, heavyweight gloss cover, stitched. £4.70 cover price. Published every four weeks by Kelsey Media in Yalding, Kent.

Cover: Big picture of a man sitting in his camper van (a ’71 Neptune blue bay, no less), three other pictures of vehicles, seven coverlines in total featuring one question mark, one exclamation mark and an arrow.

Content: A well-illustrated contents spread across pages four and five introduces a newsy start with Bus Stop. Seven pages for the Neptune refurbishment cover story plus similarly generous features on a German fire bus and a camper conversion. A bus road trip to the Orkney Islands, a camping trip to Arizona and exploring France add an international dimension. Illustrated ‘How To’ gives the lowdown on sorting out wiring and ‘Last Word’ shares pictures of ‘cool Camper bars’ – yes, it’s a thing!

Digital: Shares a website at volksworld.com but has its own well-populated Facebook page that is rewarded with 91k likes. Also ‘part of the classics world family’ that brings together the publisher’s motoring offer.

What they say: “This issue we’ve resurrected ‘Your Shout!’ in the news pages, so please write in with your thoughts, opinions, advice or general mutterings” – editor Ian Cushway introducing a new / old feature which also has feedback from the editor, making it more of ‘Our Shout!’.

Verdict: Tons of complementary display advertising, plus a free ads listing section, add to the overall completeness of a publication that no enthusiast can surely live without. Lots to read and look at including pull-out posters to display adoringly.


This article was first published in InPublishing magazine. If you would like to be added to the free mailing list to receive the magazine, please register here.