Spending summers on the road is a way of life for the Alan Rogers campsite assessors. Travelling all over Europe, producing in-depth, independent reports on each campsite they visit.
The small team of Alan Rogers campsite assessors are responsible for ensuring that all the sites included in the guides meet our exacting criteria. Assessors come from all walks of life but share a common passion for camping, caravanning, or motor-homing.
Meet Paul Johnson
Paul bought his first caravan nearly 50 years ago. He was saving for a house with his late wife and thought living in a caravan would provide a cheap alternative to renting! His first caravan was a Sprite Major, which they lived in for six months while saving for their deposit. From that day on, he has remained a committed caravanner.
Since then, he's owned about a dozen different caravans, and he says he's had every make under the sun but has most fond memories of his 1982 Marden Silverstar, which was the bee's knees back in the day. However, "the 'champagne velour' interior might not be to everyone's taste in 2022."
Small but perfectly formed.
Scroll forward to 2022, and Paul is heading out for his first European assessment trip and his first overseas journey since the pandemic.
His current outfit is a BMW 525 towing a Going Go-Pod. You might have seen these attractive micro campers on a recent edition of Top Gear, and the staff at Alan Rogers HQ were intrigued to take a closer look.
Paul has had his Go-Pod fitted with a motor mover, and he's clearly delighted with it. "It's so easy to tow, and for a solo camper, that really makes a difference. You don't need to worry about parking it, and with the motor mover, you can control it remotely; kids seem to be particularly amazed, especially when it parks itself!"
An Inspector Calls
Paul has been an assessor for a little over three years and found the induction process easy. "I was sent up the road from my home in South Wales to do my trial assessment. The owners weren't there on the day, but I was shown around by the receptionist. As the campsite made it into the next guide, I must have done an alright job."
Over the last couple of years, he's managed about 20 site assessments a season, but in 2022 he's aiming to reach over 50 sites. He doesn't like to rush the evaluation and can manage three in a day at a pinch. On this trip, he will visit around 30 sites in Slovenia, Croatia, Italy, and France. "I have a little bit of trepidation about Slovenia and Croatia. So far, all my assessments have been in the UK, so I've never had any communication issues, but how will I get on in Europe? I'm not so sure."
[Editor's Note: Paul is back in the UK and had a great trip with no significant language issues!]
First impressions count
All our assessors take a slightly different approach to their visits, some like to fly under the radar, whilst others let the site know they are planning a visit a couple of days in advance.
"The first thing I do on arrival is to try to put the site owners at ease. I always arrive and say, I'm here to assess your campsite if you'll allow me and to take some photos for our website. That's how I open, then move on to the formal assessment.
I'm looking for safety issues like swimming pools being fenced, the cleanliness of the facilities, things like that.
I always arrive on-site with a clean car and pod because, in fairness, you can't judge somebody else's standards if you turn up and your car is filthy. I like to set a standard they can see. My pitch is always tidy. It's always checked before I leave, so I'm quite happy to judge somebody else's standards."
Paul’s 3 top tips for first timers
Take it slowly
"If you're new to caravanning, go slowly; take a second to review everything you're doing, whether you're driving, trying to park, or searching for a campsite. Don't try to hurry, and don't let yourself get hassled; take it very steady. As I get across to Europe, I will slow myself down by about 25%, giving me extra time to react and take in the beautiful scenery safely."
Take a good map
"Always carry a good road map; it makes for much easier planning than relying on a smartphone or GPS. A highlighter can be useful to mark any points of interest or overnight stops."
“A copy of the Caravan and Motorhome Club's Touring Europe Guide not only contains over 3000 campsite listings but has important travel information for each country, including the all-important speed limits.”
"You arrive on-site as a stranger and always leave as a friend" - I think that sums up why I love being an Alan Rogers assessor.
Alan Rogers Needs you!
To discover more about the role of an Alan Rogers assessor, visit the Assessors Portal
Editor - Alan Rogers Guides
Rob has been involved in the leisure industry since completing a BTEC in Travel & Tourism in 1993. Previous roles have included the promotion of tourism in Yorkshire and running a motorcycle touring company in the Australian Outback.
He is the General Manager at Alan Rogers Travel Group, responsible for the ongoing development of the Alan Rogers website and the publication of the Alan Rogers Guides and 'Destinations' magazine.
He regularly travels with his wife and young daughter in their Dethleffs 'Campy' caravan. A keen cycling fan, Rob can often be found in a field in Belgium during the 'Spring Classics' season or riding his Royal Enfield Himalayan motorcycle.
They’ve been around for about twenty years but one thing is unchanged in that time: having a motor mover for your caravan is all about convenience. Motor movers are remarkably powerful, making a lot of grunt work and effort disappear. Especially powerful models are recommended for the heaviest caravans and for parking up on a steep incline, be it your driveway at home or a pitch on holiday.