If you have ever attended a big event at the NEC in Birmingham then you will understand that it pays to be organised. So with the Motorhome and Caravan show 2019 just around the corner, I thought I’d share some of our best tips that we’ve picked up from several years of visiting.
Plan your day/s
When we were new to caravan exhibitions we naively just turned up, hoping to figure everything out as we went along. But we quickly realised that we could have saved a lot of time and hassle if we had been a bit more organised.
Firstly, you need to work out which day/s you want to go. A lot of this will be down to your own schedule but there are other things you should factor in too. Are there any particular talks you want to see in the live theatre? Any friends you want to meet up with while you’re there? We find it is always more relaxed and enjoyable to spread it out over a couple of days if possible. If you’re like us and prefer to avoid busy times, the days to stay away are generally on the first day of the show opening and at weekends. It’s usually quieter during the week and the halls tend to clear after 4pm, making it easier to roam around at a leisurely pace and really take things in.
Get the most out of your ticket
Although the shows are a fantastic opportunity to see all the shiny new caravans, motorhomes and accessories under one roof, there is a lot more to it than that. So why not take full advantage of the many other things on offer?
There are plenty of interesting talks held in the live theatre, whether it be from popular celebrities, industry experts or journalists (we take the stage at 3:30pm on Friday the 18th to talk about accessible travel)- these can be particularly useful if you are new to leisure vehicles or want some great inspiration for your next adventure. You can even book a free towing experience, motorhome manoeuvring course or camper van test drive organised by the clubs- this is great if you are considering purchasing a leisure vehicle, or just want to brush up on your skills. We have spoken to several people just after they have completed one of these sessions and they have all said how beneficial the experience was.
Amongst all of this there is an immense amount of advice on offer. Not only are there knowledgeable mechanics happy to help, but you can speak directly to the manufacturers that produce the components in your caravan or motorhome, allowing you to get to know the people behind the products while offering you an opportunity to troubleshoot any concerns you might have. Also very useful and available at the show is a free tow check service, this ensures that the car you have is suitable and safe for towing the caravan you have in mind. They can also advise on the driving licence categories you need for your leisure vehicle and any additional rules and driving regulations.
There really is so much to see and do for the whole family, its worth checking out the show guide to help plan your visit.
As a bit of an organisation freak, lists are my best friend. We find it really helpful to make one comprising of who/what you want to see, the hall and stand number they are situated at and any questions you might want to ask them. You can take a look at the floor plan for the upcoming Motorhome and Caravan show 2019 here to find out locations and start your list today!
If you are attending the show with the aim of purchasing a caravan or motorhome it may be beneficial to create a list of particular makes/models you are interested in and also a list of specifications you do not want to compromise on. Perhaps you are really keen to have an island bed? Or maybe you would like a larger fridge?
Wandering around the bustling halls all day you are bound to get peckish. The NEC is certainly not short of places to eat, however if you don’t want to pay a fortune it might be worth bringing a picnic. There are plenty of seating areas throughout the halls and main atrium, but we always like to combine lunch with getting some fresh air and head to the benches outside for sandwiches and a breather.
Wear suitable clothing
With the Caravan shows being held during February and October it may be tempting to dress up warm- but be prepared to peel back the layers as soon as you get inside, the halls are full of people and it can get pretty warm. If you want somewhere to keep these layers safe while you’re searching for your perfect adventure-mobile there are cloakrooms that will take care of your belongings for a small fee. Make sure what you wear is comfortable and practical, especially your shoes! You will easily clock up a few miles just exploring the halls.
Don’t make big decisions under pressure
Under the sparkling lights of the NEC it’s easy to get drawn to things, but don’t be tempted into making impulse buys! With small purchases this is less important, but if you’re considering buying a motorhome or caravan then make sure you are 100% sure it’s the right one for you. You can always step outside of the hustle and bustle for a while to mull it over, or another option is to sleep on it- the majority of manufacturers will offer you a free ticket to return to the show the following day if you are considering a purchase.
As you can imagine, the NEC is well equipped for people of all abilities. There is a good amount of disabled parking available for people with a blue badge, and if you don’t manage to park close enough to the entrance it’s only a short trip on the wheelchair accessible shuttle bus. If, like me, you have a carer who tags along with you, then they will get free entry to the show after filling in a small form at the Box Office. Dotted around the halls are plenty of accessible toilets, and if you need a little more than just a larger stall there is a Changing Places toilet located in the Hall 20 atrium. This includes an adult-sized changing bench and a hoist. To find out more about the accessibility of the show click here.
Our last but most important tip is just to enjoy yourself! It’s a great chance to take a look at the latest models, newest accessories, meet like minded people and more. Have fun!