DISCLOSURE – THIS ITEM WAS GIFTED TO THE REVIEWER FOR THE PURPOSES OF WRITING THE REVIEW. ALL THOUGHTS AND OPINIONS ARE THE REVIEWER’S OWN.
Reviewed by Lisa Harris
As a keen camper and soon to be caravaner, my partner and I were keen to see the AA Caravan and Camping guide 2024. Camping and caravanning has seen a huge surge in interest over recent years so the lookout for guidance for newbies is bound to be ever popular.
Billed as the best-selling UK camping and caravan guide it had much to live up to, now in its 56th edition our expectations were high that this would be an interesting and useful addition to our quickly growing reference collection!
Inside there are almost 600 campsites which have all been reviewed by AA inspectors, meaning they are reviews you can trust. Organised inside by region and containing a 24 page atlas at the back it made it easy to locate an area and campsite that would be suitable for your needs, be it a motorhome, tent, caravan or perhaps a bit of glamping.
The guide is clear overall and the sites outlined range from the cream of the crop to something more budget, so there is something for everyone with the facilities and available activities made clear as well as the opening season and prices.
If you’re looking for the top of the range then it is the platinum awarded sites to look out for, these are the ones that are highlighted as the premier parks.
It’s easy to see why this is such a popular and successful guide, as it really does offer up to date information organised in an easy to find and follow format. There is the “best of” recommendations from inspectors as well as the AA award winning campsites of the year.
Measuring 185 mm x 228 mm this is an ideal glove box addition and in paperback is a lightweight option for a rucksack too.
Each entry follows the same format to it is easy to compare or search for what you are looking for. This information includes:
Town / area – all listed alphabetically and in counties
Map reference – which means you can cross reference it to the atlas at the back or one of your own
Places to visit – best to keep in mind that it is prudent to check up to date opening times. I liked this section was in block grey so again this was easy to find as you flicked through.
Award winner banner if applicable
Park category – premier park / holiday centre / holiday home park / glamping only / platinum or gold pennants. Premier parks are in yellow, so it is easy to spot them as you flick through.
Site name and rating – AA parks are listed on a scale of 5, relating to their style and facilities. The bigger the pennant generally the higher quality and range of facilities. Sites also have a percentage score of between 50-100% which relates to the quality within that same category of pennant.
Directions – from somewhere easily recognisable or the nearest main road.
Description – this is information which was supplied by the AA inspector when they visited
Opening season, arrival and departure times – although listed, experience tells me it is still best to check before hand and the guide advises of this too
Pitches and prices – here shows the minimum nightly cost for a unit, this may vary according to the number of people staying although some do charge a fixed rate. It also outlines the sites that charge extra for shower facilities / electric hook ups which is always good to know in advance.
Symbols – representing Leisure facilities, pitches, and what is available within 3 miles it means you can be clear what is on hand or nearby
Additional information – This is where to find out if your pet is welcome, if you can park next to your tent / van, if your awning is allowed, the over all size of the site and so on. Most sites accept cards, but we are aware of some (smaller ones) that are still cash only, this is noted in this section, as is any other information it might be useful to know as a visitor.
Photograph – this is supplied by the site itself and not every listing has a picture
I liked at the bottom of the pages is a block which identifies all of the symbols so you don’t have to keep flicking back and forth to check what something means.
There is an initiative “The David Bellamy Blooming Marvellous Pledge for Nature” and many parks have signed up to this in a bid to help wildlife. Parks that do have pledged to:
Improve existing habitats for wildlife
Create new habitats where possible
Manage their green spaces in environmentally friendly ways
Involve staff and guests in conservation
Engage with local conservation projects.
Each park in the scheme must also start at least one big project to help nature. The pledge logo is on the parks that have signed up and it was really nice to learn that more than 460 parks have.
Another category to note is the “Best of British” which have been highlighted for outstanding customer service and are all privately owned.
Ease of use
We found this really easy to use and genuinely interesting. It was actually easier to use than one of the camping and caravan membership guides we receive and we liked the clarity of the rating system.
Quality, look and feel
The guide overall is simple to use, easy to understand and lightweight. As it is produced annually and prides on having up to date information then the longevity of it would probably be 12 months. That said, like other well written guides it could easily be used as a general reference for many years, if you check up to date information
At £12.79 currently, I’d say this was pretty good value for money. If you are hoping to plan a UK touring trip or simply looking for ideas for your next weekend away, then this guide has you covered.
There is brief information about each site, but enough to give you the basics of what you need and to answer your questions.
On a slight downside I found the adverts a distraction, there is an advert every few pages and being honest I would rather have not seen this and instead used the guide as intended without them.
I liked each county section began with an outline of the area, giving you a potted history of the area and an overview of what to expect, look out for or things to do.
The guide could be used by anyone who is planning a trip, and could be a great gift for anyone who has a passion for their van / mobile home / tent. Experienced as well as the novice would benefit from this as even after years of travelling around the UK there is always something more to discover or something else to be inspired by.
We grabbed a pen and began to highlight the ones that caught our eye and will no doubt add our own notes in the margins to the sites and areas we visit in the coming year.
I might have appreciated a slightly larger print. I liked the listed “best for” sections at the beginning which gave you the name and location of each park in that category. I liked the addition of the adult only park section, and the best for spectacular views section.
RRP: £14.99 currently on offer on amazon for £12.79
Buy it here.