Meet Hertfordshire’s ‘Van-treprenuer’: preparing for a record year

Alfie Brown

As COVID restrictions begin to ease and widespread foreign holidays remain unlikely this summer, Camplify, the UK’s fastest-growing campervan and motorhome sharing community, is predicting a record year for rentals.

One man who welcomes this news is Sean Norris from Watford, who started hiring his family campervan out with Camplify in 2019 when he wasn’t using it on road trips and hiking expeditions. Now the owner of three campervans, Sean runs his own rental business: Carefree Campers, with help from his daughters.

“We have always had campervans and caravans as a family. We converted a campervan a few years ago and soon realised we weren’t using the van as much as we thought, so we offered it to friends and family to use. That gave us the idea to try renting the van out. Last year the rental income covered the cost of running the campervan” said Sean.

“It’s a real familiar affair – my ten and 14-year-old daughters helped me with the design of our vans and company logo, and occasionally even help to clean the vans when they return from our hirers. Since listing our campervan with Camplify, we’ve received a steady stream of bookings, with many young families and couples in London seeking a break from the hustle and bustle, as well as festival goers searching for a more comfortable camping experience – Blue Peter’s Peter Duncan previously took one of our vans to Glastonbury.” Sean continued.

The UK Government’s lockdown roadmap pointing towards a ‘Summer of Staycations’ as Brits look forward to a well-deserved holiday. This desire is also reflected in data, with Camplify (established in the UK in 2018) recording a 367% booking request increase in February. This follows on from a 1000% increase in booking requests last June as the first lockdown was lifted.

Before the pandemic, over 11.94 million Brits were enjoying caravan holidays each year. Currently, it is estimated that there are over 780,000 caravans and motorhomes in use*. These factors, in combination with a predicted exponential increase in domestic tourism this summer, mean demand for campervans and motorhomes has never been higher.

Speaking about his experience with Camplify, Sean said: I’m extremely passionate about the great outdoors, and I’m constantly chasing adventure -whether it be volunteering as a Woodcraft Folk and Mountain Leader or embarking on roadtrips and hiking expeditions. With busy work and family commitments meaning our campervan was sat on the driveway for 60% of the year, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to build a business helping others to experience the freedom and joys of camping holidays.”

When asked what the most enjoyable thing about hiring his campervans, Sean said:

Because we love camping and road trips, it’s lovely to hear what people have got up to when they get back.”

Sean has also recently launched ‘The Campervan Race to the Arctic’, a fundraising challenge to buy and convert a campervan for under £500 that is then raced to the Arctic and back with fellow van enthusiasts. The proceeds raised during the campervan will be donated to the Woodcraft Folk, a local youth group Sean works with.