Corona may force us to stay in our own country, and winter is on the doorstep, but that does not have to stand in the way of a holiday. Long live winter camping! With a luxury camper there is no question of renouncing, a beautiful experience all the more.
That‘s a warm welcome! Owner Janny Dekens is ready with homemade cake on a farmers’ fur cloth when I bump with my big camper on the terrain of camping place Vechtdal in Nieuwleusen. Manlief Luit Dekens meanwhile stokes the hot tub: four of the twelve motorhome pitches in the pasture have such a luxury.
Once in place and in the electricity, the camper turns on the fire pit. Because although the temperature for the time of year is soft, all the extra warmth is desired, including that of the jet heater in the camper. Two of the four seats in the garage that the camper has are folded out, the cap goes off the wine bottle: life is good. Especially when the second glass of red wine is consumed in the now 38 degrees ticking hot tub. Winter camping is not so crazy!
more campers notice that. Corona has many drawbacks, but the advantage is that we are increasingly discovering our own country and taking advantage of this kind of opportunity. After all, enough space, even in the spotless sanitary facilities that are allowed to remain open.
My camper is equipped with a surprisingly large shower with toilet. The two Volkswagen vans with a folding roof of my neighbors celebrating their girlfriends jubilee don‘t have that luxury. However, they are also allowed to use the Finnish sauna, which is tucked away on the grounds.
Earlier that day I picked up ‘De Bul‘: my motorhome that rents owner Gerrie van Wely via the sharing platform Goboony (see box). The day before I was able to prepare myself through two extensive instructional videos, although the owner will check all the points again when I come to pick up the quadricycle. The Bul lives up to its name. Quite a case to go on the road, knowing that the last time I was driving a camper was over 15 years ago. That was in the mountains of New Zealand, then should always be done on the Dutch highway?
Even if you have to realize that the handbrake is on the left and has to go all the way down, otherwise after a turn lights will light up and sound will go off. After the first two unfortunate turns the feeling is there and I can chug. Music on and the woman of the world feeling is complete: what a freedom to go with everything you need! Cooking is easy to do too: the camper has three spacious hobs.
The first test of winter camping is the night: although not very cold, but for a cold cold like yours truly, the temperature drops enough to add a winter duvet, woolen blanket and goat wool socks to put an extra duvet over me on one of the two Double beds. At night, the rain ticks comfortably close to my head: the bed, accessible with a sliding ladder, lies just under the roof.
In the morning, under the canopy a basket of bread is ready. One by one, the doors of the motorhomes are pushed open; half of the pitches are occupied. Striking and partly due to the coronacrisis: for example, the neighbours would have been in Spain differently, now in the steaming hot tub in the Vechtdal.
Full of nature in
Time to say goodbye to Janny and Luit who have taken care of me as an adopted daughter. The next campsite awaits: estate De Barendonk in Beers in Brabant, a more than one and a half hour drive away. Just before dusk I arrive, but nice not to have to drive with such a bakbeast in the dark.
The Barendonk is completely different: larger, surrounded by forests and meadows, and a certified nature campsite. A historic place: the reception, the local produce shop and the spotless facilities are located in a part of the mansion on a mound that dates back to 1484 and has its current shape since 1796. Since 1996, owners Liesbeth and Jan Hermanussen-Thijssen have renamed the family property into a recreational destination, in addition to the dairy farm that has been around for years. You don’t get the cheese much fresher.
Of the 30 places divided into four fields, only one is occupied. That will be busier in the coming weeks, shows the number of bookings. In coronatijd more and more people find their way to the campsite. A cozy fire pit can be placed at every place, which enhances the winter camping feeling.
The winter campers are different from the summer guests, so let me tell you. At least, at this campsite. More robust, more of the outdoor activities. They do not turn their hand over for sleep in a tent at sub-zero temperatures. Respect, because it‘s easy for me to talk in my luxury camper.
Meanwhilethe home front is stirring: on my own at such a dark campsite. Do you have to? With the curtains closed and the door locked, the camper could have been anywhere and thanks to everything I have at hand, I don’t have to go out anymore. The heating turns on again, as well as the tea light brought with you. Music on, laptop at hand, the goat wool socks back on, a simple meal prepared from the (gas) oven: this life is starting to fit me more and more.
Funny how quickly you get used to the things that make traveling with a camper easy. Before driving: check if everything is fixed, otherwise at the first turn the crockery will fly out of the cupboard, the caps on the drain of the sinks because otherwise the movement will create a not too fine smell and all doors (from among others garage and water supply) are locked properly because they open spontaneously while driving. Everything in a fixed place (and put it back there too) for the overview.
Once the curtains are closed there is your own world, including a cube of chives cheese, bought in the shop with local products that belongs to the campsite.
Make sure you have enough wine supply or drive past a supermarket before stabling the vehicle at the campsite, because once there is nothing to do with it. You brought your own tea, then. And the home front is that tomorrow morning I will respond immediately if I have not been dragged into the Brabant woods.
In the morning, I wake up with the rising sun from those woods. That is also nice about the camper: windows everywhere so you always wake up on one side with a beautiful view. The frost lies over the meadows, the fog gives a mystical image, something different than camping in the summer. Here, too, a bookable basket of breakfast awaits in the morning, again a corona development. The owners also noticed that, although campers have everything with them, they can appreciate a breakfast service as hotels have.
The third and last campsite awaits, to Noordwijk. Camping De Duinpan has many permanent pitches for large caravans. A stone‘s throw from a beautiful dune landscape and the beach. Twelve years, this location now also welcomes visitors in the winter. The winter season spots are increasingly booked because people prefer to pay €200 per year more than for storage. In this way, they can also use their place on wheels in winter, also because the winters become softer and therefore more attractive for a weekend.
It is some maneuvering to send the seven-metre-long hazard between the tight-cut hedges, but once in place I am welcomed in the evening by a group of bunnies who keep watch on the empty spot next to me curious and almost tame.
The clear night shows the stars (and sporadically arriving airplanes from Schiphol) clearly through the skylights of the camper. Such a bright night also provides a low temperature, both outside and in the camper. Early in the morning I put the supplied electric heater at the highest level. But a little refrain is right? After all, it remains winter camping.
Airbnb for motorhomes
The motorhome we rented through Goboony: a platform, founded five years ago, where motorhome owners can rent their vehicles for periods when they don’t use them themselves. A kind of Airbnb with a choice of over 4000 campers in all shapes and sizes. Pick up yourself is like picking up a rental car: fill out papers, check the condition of the camper and drive! Problems on the way A call or an app and help is there.
This year, 50,000 people have been travelling through this platform; doubling the number of bookings and the motorhome offer.