We’ve seen many questions on the forums asking about ACSI, Camping Cheques and off peak camping, so thought it worthy as an article. All information here is accurate as far as I know, please let me know of any errors or omissions.
What and Why?
Campsites, mainly in Europe, are busy between July and August, but the rest of the time they aren’t full. To enocourage people to stay many offer off peak deals. Its to make it all a win-win really. For the price paid you should get a pitch for a night with electricity, 2 adults, showers for 2, and all normal facilities. You may have to pay additional tourist tax (20c to €1 max really) – depends on the local tax problems.
This is one of the most useful DVD we’ve ever bought and its worth buying every year. It contains a very basic route planner of Europe, but then it has full details of 8,600 (2010 version) campsites across Europe. It contains photos for 1000’s of them; all details on facilities, GPS details, when they are open, altitude, how far from the beach etc. I could go on – but in summary, if you use campsites frequently – its worth the tenner or so to buy. You can search, filter and show all cards accepting the ACSI discount card. It contains more campsites than you care to want and covers sites included in both the camping cheque schemes
DO NOT mix this up with the ACSI Discount card. This is JUST a very good DVD! If you want to take advantage of the discount schemes then you also need the ACSI discount card book (below)
All the DVD is – is a very useful DVD with 8,600+ campsites listed.
ACSI Discount card (Book)
The ACSI discount card is attached to the ACSI book. It is just a bit of paper really and is valid for a year. Sadly though, if you want to use it you need to show it, so you do need the book. If you have the DVD the book itself is never used. Without the DVD though, the book shows all campsites that offer discounts, when they offer it, and how much they charge. Depending on the site, you pay either €11, €13, or €15 per night. The campsites differ on their openning times and when they accept the card. The information is duplicated on the camping card site – http://www.campingcard.co.uk/gb/en – so you can do your research in advance.
The main benefits are that there is little investment up front and you can use it as often as you like. There are about 180o sites (all on the DVD and in the book) which accept the discount card so it is by far the biggest scheme.
We tend to favour the ACSI sites and have most definately saved a fortune with them!
You do need to buy the book every year…
Camping cheques are a form of pre-pay for site discount. Their website is http://www.campingcheque.co.uk/ which contains information on their sites and their scheme. These are bought in advance at £13.95 per night, and you use a cheque per night. You also get a good book similar to the ACSI book. There is a small admin charge which is waived if you book your ferry with them (we never have). You can also get a swipe card rather than a bit of paper. The paper cheques last the current year and next year. So if bought in November you get 14 months; February 23 months.
We have had some massive bargains with these – most notably Rome.
We bought a load in advance and will use them, but we tend not to use them as much as ASCI for some reason. There are only around 600 sites in the scheme and most of these do not conflict with ACSI, so you probably need to do both.
If you don’t use your camping cheques then they do expire and become worthless, however you can sell them on the motorhome forums (at a slight loss) as many people (me included!) pick them up cheap there.
A “what”? I hear you ask! Indeed! I only found out about these a few weeks ago. Full details here – http://www.vacansoleil.co.uk/soleil-cheques/ .
These appear similar to the camping cheques above, but are for a select number of Vacansoleil sites only – around 70. They are valid all of April, May, June and September which is a huge amount of time. They are pre-pay as per Camping Cheques, but only cost £9 each. In addition most of the sites do 7 nights for the price of 6, or 14 for the price of 10. So that makes it £45 per week on 4* and above sites! Amazing value. I will admit I’ve not used these yet but they look great. Some of the sites are on the ACSI DVD and look great (4* or 5*) and also Vacansoleil do a big (free) brochure you can request. The list of sites is on their website.
All the latest GPS points for both Camping Cheques and ACSI are available on line – and they are included in my multi download files which can be found here
If you have information about other off peak schemes, or extra information on the ones above them please post in the comments below and let me know. I’ll try and answer any questions I can, but hope this is a good starting point for everyone.