Camping & caravan holidays: Expert shares ‘hidden gem’ just an hour from London

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The nation let out a sigh of relief on Monday when Prime Minister Boris Johnson unveiled his roadmap to unlocking the third national lockdown in the UK. However, with the news staycations will return has come a surge in bookings according to experts.

Already holiday providers across the nation are reporting an uptick in demand for enquires and bookings.

Campsite booking platform Pitchup, for example, saw traffic and bookings boosted by five times what they were prior to the Prime Minister’s announcement.

This is particularly true for popular holiday regions, such as Cornwall and the Lake District.

However, Geoff Barnes marketing director for Park Holidays shared some exclusive tips with on how holidaymakers can save money and beat the crowds.

The key to this is flexibility, and thinking outside of the box when it comes to location.

According to Mr Barnes, there is one particular “hidden gem” just over an hour from London’s bustling metropolis which may come as something of a surprise to Britons.

“The county of Essex isn’t widely known for its popularity as a holiday destination but the combination of great beaches, seaside attractions, piers, theme parks and historic places of interest, it really does have something to offer all tastes,” Mr Barnes said.

“Add to that the fact that Essex is one of the driest counties in the UK and its resorts are easily accessible only increases its popularity.”

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The border of Essex is situated just 48 minutes outside of London by car but is also ideal for urban dwellers who do not have a vehicle due to its excellent transport links.

Furthermore, the region is home to a number of beaches including Frinton-on-Sea, Mersea Island and Brightlingsea.

The county is also home to a number of areas of outstanding natural beauty.

Among them are the tree-lined Dedham Vale, the lush green Knighton Wood and John Weston Nature Reserve home to a vast array of wild plants, foliage and plenty of local wildlife.

“We think Essex is a great destination that’s hidden in plain sight,” added Mr Barnes.

However, even for lesser travelled patches, Mr Barnes thinks prices will “absolutely” rise in line with demand.

“The hassle, cost and even fear of travelling overseas, even in a post-pandemic climate will help demand for domestic tourism,” he said.

“More awareness of climate change and the UK’s newfound appreciation and love of the British coast and countryside will ensure that demand is set to continue.

“We should also remember that holiday park operators such as ourselves have been steadily investing in high-quality accommodation and facilities in recent years which has been a pleasant surprise to those guests that have tried us for the first time in 2020 and now want to return again.”

Luckily, that doesn’t mean there won’t still be bargains to be had.

“Prices do fluctuate with demand so if you are able to take say a four-night Monday to Friday break outside of school holidays, you can often grab a bargain,” he pointed out.

“The most popular hotspots, attractions and beaches will also be less busy at these times so you’ll get a more relaxed holiday and a great deal at the same time.”

Holidaymakers are advised to do their research ahead of planning, to scope out just how busy an area may be.

Furthermore, some holiday parks, such as Park Holidays, are able to provide guests with special discounts for local attractions upon request.

“We always recommend researching on the location or region before your holiday starts,” he said.

“There are some wonderful attractions, destinations and places of interest that are nearby to our parks and our customers are given lots of ideas on days out and places to visit prior to their arrival – often with discounts we have been able to secure for our guests.”

For Britons eager to get away on a staycation this summer, Mr Barnes suggests getting something in the diary as soon as possible.

“We can see in real-time that demand has started to grow which suggests that people are realising there may be more demand for holidays than there are holidays available so I would encourage anyone wanting a holiday with us this year to book now and avoid missing out,” the Park Holidays expert concluded.

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