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The Brit Stops Blog.

Giving motorhome tourists an authentic taste of Britain

Here i’ll be discussing various topics on motorhoming in Britain, giving some perspective from behind the scenes of Brit Stops and sharing some useful tips for making the most of your Brit Stops travels!

How to get the most out of Brit Stops

Brit Stops isn’t just about saving money; it’s about exploring new places, meeting the locals, finding excellent food and getting out into the countryside. I’ve actually seen people use Brit Stops just as a “great places to visit” book – they didn’t even own a motorhome! So here’s my 5 tips on getting the most bang for your buck:

1. Say hello!

One thing that’s always fed back to us is just how much the hosts love meeting Brit Stoppers and hearing about their travels. Going in and having a chat is a great way to meet new people and get an idea of what’s going on in the local area – You never know what events you might catch! Saying hi before you settle down for the night can also prevent late night annoyances such as having to move your van because you parked in the wrong place.

2. Explore the local area

It’s not just chatting with hosts that can give you ideas for what to do nearby, the locals themselves will know a fair bit about what’s going on and are usually keen to give you the low-down on any points of interest in the surrounding area. Sometimes googling only gets you so far.

3. Take mini-holidays

Sometimes we only have the weekend to get away, thankfully Brit Stops is perfect for a short adventure nearby. Heading to a pub a few hours away is the perfect start to the weekend, plus you can have a drink and not worry about driving home! Or if you’re more of a sea lover, weekend beach getaways are fairly cheap when you don’t have to pay for somewhere to stay overnight.

4. Don’t avoid campsites

I know it’s seems odd for me to be recommending a campsite, but if you’re travelling for more than a few days it can be worth it. We often stay at two or three Brit Stops in a row, then do one night at a site just to get our waste emptied and top up on water.

5. Send us your photos

For those of you that don’t know, we run a photo competition where winners are awarded a free Brit Stops membership for next year – however you do have to be a current member to enter it. Send us a photo of you and your van in whichever Brit Stops you’re staying in and you could be a winner!

6. Don’t get bogged down in reviews

It’s tempting to spend ages researching places before you go anywhere, but for me that just takes some of the fun out of motorhoming. I love being able to pick up sticks whenever I want and head off to somewhere new! Spontaneity and adventure are at the core of Brit Stops, so take a chance every now and then, you never know what might come of it.

7 Unusual Motorhomes You Won’t Find at a Brit Stop.

Hi Britstoppers!

Today we’re going to look at something a bit less Brit Stops focused and a bit wackier, we’ve searched for the most unusual (and generally speaking most inconvenient) motorhomes we could find and put them in one place just for you. Enjoy!

The VW Monster Camper

Not enough room in the old veedub camper?

Don’t worry, there’s a simple solution; just attach a monster truck with slide out to the chassis…

I’m assuming the pop-top is needed as the camper section is actually the top floor, or maybe the whole van comes off like a Thunderbirds craft?

 

 

The epitome of class – The Beetlevan

Here we have another variation on the classic VW campervan, though this one’s a little less OTT and a tad more British.

However if the engine is in the back is like normal it’s going to be a pretty cramped living space! It’s also not the best looking of vehicles, would a number 53 on the side help?

 

 

 

 

I’m not sure Airstream actually made this

In case it isn’t clear, this is another classic, the American Airstream caravan, cobbled onto the back of a saloon car.

They’ve certainly tried to keep things authentic by spraying the car the same colour as the Airstream, but it looks like a real pain to drive – especially on some of the smaller rural roads!

 

What the future looked like in the past

This looks like something straight out of the 60s TV show “The Prisoner”, or maybe the kind of motorhome a Dalek would buy? Either way, it actually looks more like an Airstream than the one above!

In fact it was built by cinematographer Roy Hunt in 1937. This is the Star, and there was another called the Turtle.

 

 

Now that’s what I call a roofbox!

Why put everything you need for a holiday in the boot and the roof box when you can use that space for a motorhome and even take your bed with you!

These additions are made by Toppola specifically for Saabs. You remove the rear hatch door and slot in the motorhome conversion unit. Simply replace the hatch and pop the motorhome unit away till next time.

 

 

And the award for the most fuel-efficient motorhome goes to…

Who needs turbo-diesel? This is cheaper, and it keeps you fit! Notice the chap in the background with a flatbed version, looking on enviously.

 

 

 

Hell’s Motorhomers

Even biker gangs need their home comforts, though this is probably on the louder side when it comes to motorhomes.

We’ve got more of these in store, but that’s for another day. If anyone has any wacky motorhome conversions feel free to send them our way and we can put them on the next post!

 

All about FEFI.

I’m sure many of you have noticed the FEFI symbol on our books these past few editions, I’m going to explain a bit more about what FEFI is, and how it all started. 

It was actually set up a few years ago in 2015, the abbreviation stands for Fédération Européenne de la Formule Invitations. The short story is that it’s a body of schemes similar to Brit Stops that all share information and good practice, as well as cross promoting each other.

Right now there are six schemes taking part;

  • France Passion
  • Brit Stops
  • Landvergnügen (Germany)
  • España Discovery (Spain)
  • Swiss Terroir (Switzerland)

The benefits of FEFI go beyond just the sharing of information, it also actively encourages people to travel between neighbouring countries and experience other cultures – all from the comfort of your motorhome! It even helps to support the local economy, and brings smaller shops such as vineyards or farm shops (that might be rural and a bit out of the way) some customers that they wouldn’t usually get.

The original Brit Stops

My spiffing France Passion headgear

All these schemes took inspiration from France Passion and set up the same system in their own country. Thanks to the wealth of vineyards in France, it was the perfect place to set it up. The abundance of aires also makes France one of the easier countries in which to find a stopover.

For those of you who don’t know; aires are sites set up specifically for motorhomes to stop at over night, they often offer the basics such as hook up and water dump and are usually in walking distance of a town or popular tourist spot. The combination of an abundance of aires and the popularity of France Passion amongst local businesses keeps France ahead of the curve when it comes to motorhome travel in Europe – I highly recommend taking a trip over there if you haven’t already!

Where it all started

France Passion was actually the idea of a wine magazine editor who realised that many of the motorhomers coming to visit France didn’t have anywhere safe to stay in more rural areas. In 1993 (which also happens to be the year I was born by the way) he planned to unite vineyard owners across the country and encourage motorhomers to stay on their premises. Now France Passion has almost 2000 hosts and is still growing every year!

A night out on the town

Ok so maybe it’s more of a day out, but the founders of FEFI have been meeting up once a year to try produce from their own hosts and show each other around their home country. Last year the FEFI team were the guests of us at Brit Stops and explored Cambridge, this gave us the opportunity of plying them with plenty of real ale and some pimms while punting on the river!

Punting ahoy!

As always, if anyone has any questions about FEFI or Brit Stops just leave a comment and if you haven’t taken a look at the FEFI website yet, here’s a link. Cheers everyone!

Five Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Brit Stops.

Hi Britstoppers!

Having been around since the very beginning of the Brit Stops empire I’ve seen the business grow and change over time, and seen Mandy and Steve drink a LOT of coffee. I’m hoping to share some things you didn’t know about Brit Stops and give some perspective from behind-the-scenes.

1. That eureka moment

The idea for Brit Stops came from our travels through France using a similar book called France Passion, we loved it so much that we wanted to do the same in the UK. However, with aires all but non-existent (bar a few in Wales) the idea had never really taken off here. We decided to take the plunge and created Brit Stops using France Passion as our reference point. Eight years later and we’ve actually set up a federation called FEFI (Fédération Européenne de la Formule Invitations) with France Passion and some of the other similar schemes in Europe with the aim of sharing information and good practice, as well as to promote each other.

2. The hardest part

Anyone who has been in a band will tell you – it’s surprisingly difficult to agree on a name! After much deliberation on what to call the scheme, Brit Stops was the final choice. It’s actually a mixture of “British Stopovers” and “Pit Stops” – clever, right?

3. Starting from scratch

The first ever Brit Stops book only had 75 hosts and was actually the most difficult book to put together! We had nothing to show potential hosts apart from the mock ups of the book and the plan for how it would work, obviously this made it a bit harder to convince them to join. Nowadays we can easily show new hosts the current book and have eight years of publications to demonstrate its growth – not only that, but Britstoppers are bringing us new suggestions for hosts all the time.

The first book (in green) to the current book (in yellow).

4. More space than you might think

One of the common questions we get from newcomers to Brit Stops is “Will we be able to find spaces easily?” We took the time to tally up the total number of spaces across all the hosts in the 2018 book and it came to a whopping 3172 – so don’t be too concerned! Of course if you’re heading to a stop in high summer or on a Bank Holiday you might find it a tad busy.

5. Someone’s got to do it

In order to make sure the 2018 book was completely up to date, Mandy phoned all the hosts to check if any changes were needed to their entry and to have a chat with them about how the scheme has been going for them, resulting in over 600 amendments. A lot of them actually said that their favourite thing about Brit Stops is getting to know all the Britstoppers and meeting people from different walks of life. Some have even made long-lasting friends and one of our hosts visited a Dutch couple he’d met at his farm shop!

Hopefully you learned something new about Brit Stops from reading this, and as always if you have any questions please leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you.

Cheers

Tom

Introductions and the NEC.

Hi Britstoppers!

I’m Tom, Steve and Mandy’s oldest son.

Some of you might have met me at one of the motorhome shows I’ve worked over the past few years, most recently the February 2018 NEC. However, my involvement with Brit Stops hasn’t just been limited to shows, I’ve also been part of the proof reading, spelling and grammar team (along with my mum) and worked on the 2016 and 2017 books extensively.

Joining Brit Stops Towers

So far my work with Brit Stops has only ever been temporary, but I’m now pleased to say that I’m taking up a permanent position in the company. I’ll be working on blog content, social media and general editorial work while still attending various shows throughout the year.

My aim for this blog is to discuss various topics that we’ve talked about but never had a platform to extensively write about (such as FEFI and what it’s like using Brit Stops from another country). I hope to support the already great community that Brit Stops has fostered and to provide an insight into the lifestyle and behind-the-scenes thinking that goes into every book.

Here’s us looking ready to go at the NEC this year.
(We were knackered!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Motorhomes and Travel

Back before Brit Stops even existed I travelled from the North to the South of France in a motorhome with the Brit Stops family using France Passion and All the Aires France. Later I moved to Scotland for university and even more recently I went backpacking through South-East Asia. I’ve been fortunate enough to explore some amazing places which is one of the things I love about Brit Stops – it’s an excellent way to get off the beaten track and meet like-minded people!

This years NEC was very busy, but it was also a great opportunity to chat with Britstoppers and get to know everyone. Hopefully I’ll see you all at some shows soon, until then be sure to check out the new blog regularly and get involved with the conversation on social media. If you want to get in touch with me or ask any questions about the blog feel free to comment below.

I look forward to chatting with you all!

Tom

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