Alan: the man behind the guides

Alan Rogers

You might think you know all about Alan Rogers, we're a travel company who sell market-leading camping and caravanning guides right? But we're not talking about us, we're talking about our founder who just so happens to have the same name as us! He founded the Alan Rogers Guides business over 50 years ago after becoming increasingly disappointed with the lack of trustworthy information available to campers.

And although over fifty years have passed since Alan Rogers published his first guide, his legacy remains, and we still work to his original principles.

Things are a little easier now, there was only one of him, there are over 20 of us, and since 2012 we've been part of a larger family - The Caravan and Motorhome Club. Alan inspected, selected, compiled, published and sold his first guides, nowadays we have a dedicated inspection team assessing sites across Europe during the summer months, a publishing team that plans, designs and compiles the guides and a network of sellers that sell our guides to international customers. You could say we've come a long way in 50 years.

Alan introduced his travel guide at a time when continental camping was in its infancy yet well established, and many other travel companies had launched their own guides to camping in Europe. In the first guide, Alan wrote:

"Why, it may be asked, do we need another guide to continental camping sites? This book has been designed to fill a gap in the existing guides rather than merely to add to them. My own past experience (which I know is shared by many others) has convinced me of the need for a much more selective guide listing only especially good sites and providing much fuller information about them, and the meets this need."

In the first guide, Alan wrote: "The sites have been most carefully selected. They have been chosen entirely on merit. No payment is made by any site for inclusion in this guide. All the camps have been very recently visited by the author and are recommended only when he and others who have stayed there consider them to be up to the necessary standard."

In the same guide, Rogers accurately predicted camping trends for the future. He pointed out that some overseas sites were providing mains electricity hook-ups and suggested that British caravanners and motorhome users should take advantage of this by having their units wired to take mains electricity. At the time British caravans were not fitted with mains electricity wiring.

He also talked about marked pitches of a minimum size, freely available hot water in the sanitary blocks, British style toilets on French campsites, the use of trees, bushes and shrubs to mark pitch boundaries and an end to the practice of over-crowding of sites during peak summer holiday times.

It is worth noting that the guide featured Camping le Pavillon Royal, a site located on the western coast of France close to the Spanish border which is still featured on our website today and, until 2016, it was included in every Europe guide.

Extract from Alan's obituary (January 2000)

Jazz, squash, tennis, bowls, foreign travel and caravanning, stocks and shares, these were some of Alan’s interests during a long and eventful life After he finished his education, Alan spent several years in the RAF during the war, and afterwards joined the Per Ardua RAF Motor Rally Club. He continued with the Per Ardua and also joined other clubs, principally the Mid Thames Car Club, where as organiser and competitions secretary he spent many happy years driving and participating in one way or another, and of course enjoyed the good social life at the club’s headquarters, which were near Kingston-on-Thames. He went abroad as often as possible and loved planning holidays in great detail, as he also loved just lying in the sun and sampling the local wines.

With all these activities, it was not surprising that he remained a confirmed bachelor until his late thirties, when he met Ruth at the tennis club dance, and they were married over 40 years ago. Soon after their marriage, they took up camping and caravanning, and Alan bought a little plot of land in the south of France and installed a caravan on it, in the meantime brushing up his French; later he would buy a small house in Spain for letting out and holidays, and in the process mastered the Spanish language. All these things - languages, driving, European travel and camping and caravanning - all blended together in the 1960’s and there came into being the idea of writing camping and caravanning guides to Continental Europe. These were not the usual sort of guide full of symbols and with huge numbers of sites to choose from, but the style he adopted was to select and visit the best camps, write about them as a personal visitor and stay at them all in turn to inspect them thoroughly and bring out their character in his reports. As he always insisted on doing this in full summer, this meant a lot of travelling and hard work. He continued with his guides, and brought out other titles until the late 1980’s. Indeed the guides are still flourishing today under Alan’s name, although of course he ceased to take an active part some time ago.

In retirement, his love of sport turned to bowls and swimming, and he set his mind to studying the stock market and playing bridge among other things. He took on some neighbourhood watch duties in Saltdean where the family lived for nearly 30 years, and on moving to Sussex Court in Hove six years ago, he served on the Board of Directors. Alan and Ruth’s long and happy marriage, their working partnership in the caravanning and publishing business and the neighbourhood watch work in Saltdean, all dovetailed well with bringing up their two beloved daughters, Juliet and Sue.

The following campsites all featured in the 1st Edition of the Alan Rogers 'Selected sites for caravanning & camping in Europe' Guide, published in 1968.