I renovated a retro caravan for less than £600 – it's made our holidays so much cheaper | The Sun

A MAN revealed how he spent just £600 converting an old caravan – and it has been a hit with both his family and other holidaymakers.

Lee Davey, 52, and his wife Helen, bought their retro caravan in 2017 for £400, and spent just over one year restoring the van to its former glory.

The couple were looking to make their camping holidays more comfortable by purchasing a caravan.

They went to the Caravan and Motorhome show where they spoke to several experts about all the different makes and models on the market.

After doing some research, Lee fell in love with a 1960s Bailey caravan that had spent 20 years languishing in a hedge just one mile away from the factory where it was originally made.

Lee from Shaftesbury, Dorset, said: "Not only had it been stuck in the hedge, but there was a tree branch sticking out of the roof too – we just knew it needed to be saved."

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"I'm OK with stuff like that [DIY], but I'd never converted a van before, so I watched YouTube tutorials and was given a user's manual by the Bailey factory to make sure I was renovating the van correctly.

"When we started looking at painting the body, we worried that it would need to be spray painted, which would cost thousands, but we were so relieved to find out it only needed a few coats of enamel paint because that's how it had been originally painted."

They then transformed the van – which they've fondly named Gladys – into the perfect getaway with two beds, a kitchen and a toilet.

The paint cost Lee £100 – the most expensive part of the refurb.

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Lee also snapped up a flexible solar panel for £60, floor and wallboards from a local builder's merchants, and Lee's daughter Poppy found funky lino offcuts and lampshades on eBay.

The family didn't give themselves a deadline for the renovation and just used "any spare time" they had doing it up as family.

Lee said: "I didn't want to add any time pressure onto the project, and fall out of love with the caravan and what we were doing as a family."

He added that the addition of solar panels was to help keep their future holidays cheap, citing the current cost of living crisis.

Charlie and Lee finished the conversion in 2018 and soon set off on a 500-mile round-trip to France to follow in their family's footsteps after being inspired by Charlie's history classes on WWII at school.

Their entire trip cost £500, including return tickets on the ferry, food, and activities.

Lee said: "It was just myself and Charlie on that trip, but we have been away as a family of four and the caravan can get quite cosy."

Not only did the family manage to renovate the caravan on a tight budget, but they've also saved cash on their holidays too.

Lee added: "Because our campervan is self-sufficient, we pay lower site fees and have been able to pitch up in the UK for as little as £8 a night for four people. You just can't beat that price."

They also save money by making meals in their caravan where they can dine with a view.

While the family has no firm holiday plans for next year, now they have Gladys their next adventure is just around the corner.

They aren't the first to save money by doing this – another couple converted an old DHL van into a mini home for just £2,000 using ping pong tables and climbing walls which is now worth £15,000.

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And a third couple spent lockdown converting a battered old van into a dream holiday home – with a full kitchen, laundry area and huge bed.

If you are interested in finding out more about touring around the UK and beyond in your own ‘van, and even purchasing your own vehicle, the Caravan, Motorhome & Holiday Show is taking place at Manchester Central, 12-15 January 2023. Tickets are free – all you have to do is pay a £1.95 booking fee. 

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