How to book your campsite

Booking a campsite should be easy and give you the reassurance that you’ll be all set for the night ahead. But it can sometimes be more complicated than it seems!

They are imagining a large motor home, two people, their children, the family dog and a small gazebo.
Lots of people ask what is the best way to actually book a campsite when cycle camping? In fact, do you actually need to book at all? The answer to that question is sometimes not but mostly yes. If nothing else, it tells the owner you’re on your way and they can then expect you.

A lot of cycle camping will involve only booking for one night at a time (and sometimes at the last minute depending how your journey is going). You are travelling from one campsite to another across country, not setting up a gargantuan tent for a fortnight’s stay in one place. And that’s what makes cycle camping so amazing: your journey is often unplanned and fortuitous – a real adventure, travelling from one interesting place to another.

The problem is that most campsites are expecting a completely different kind of booking. They are imagining a large motor home, two people, their children, the family dog and a small gazebo - the sort of campers wanting an enormous pitch, electric hook up and a two week booking.

This means that booking on these sites has to be strict and complicated: space will be at a premium (and prices will be correspondingly high too). The cycle camper wants none of this: you just want a small pitch, nowhere to park your car and the cheapest possible rate.

So cyclecamp has selected campsites most likely to offer just that: a flexible booking system, a small but friendly pitch and a reasonable price for you, your tent and your bike, rather than regimented, fully serviced holiday pitches.

So this is what we recommend: get a rough idea of where you’re going and then check out cyclecamp campsites on Find-a-Campsite. Make sure you’ve got the details of the campsites you’re interested in (the cycle camp campsite pages fit neatly on half a sheet of A4 paper when you print them off) or have your smart phone with you.

You can either ring the campsite from home or use the booking form on their website if they have one – not all campsites do. There are few public telephones these days so even if you have the campsite details you will need to carry a mobile phone with you (even if it’s not a smart phone). With the details with you, you can ring them in the morning before you set off or while on your way.

Either when you telephone the campsite in the morning or when you book from home, it’s worthwhile checking the price (it’s a good time to negotiate rather than when you arrive) and whether the shower
is working! And finally whether they have remembered you’re coming if you had booked previously. The more advance notice the campsite has the better. You might even find out whether the site is open – some do close unexpectedly for a day or two. And you’ve got their phone number for emergencies.

Another problem with booking is that campsites can be unclear what they charge for cycle camping and whether they charge for one or two people sharing a tent. Sometimes you’ll be charged for just the tent. At other times you’ll be charged per person even if you’re sharing the tent.

And even that is complicated by the difference between low and high season prices. Cyclecamp is asking all its campsites not only to have a rate for cycle campers but to state that clearly on their website and at the campsite. When you telephone to make a booking it’s a good time to check with the campsite what the actual price is. You can say you only have a small tent and bike and suggest a discount even if they don’t offer that already!

Some campsites require a minimum of two nights over bank holidays so check with them. Because you take up less space, you may be able to persuade them to take a night’s booking. The alternative of course is to head to the next cyclecamp campsite. This usually only affects the bank holidays – the rest of the time you should be OK. Out of high season (late July and all of August) you stand a very good chance of getting on to all the cyclecamp campsites. Most campsites are closed for the winter. But even in the earlier months of spring and at the end of summer, it’s worth checking just to make sure they’re still open.

Good luck with your booking and remember we like to hear about your experiences. So don’t forget that you can post something on the forum!


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