The living history of touring and tenting
Who runs this website?
We are Sonja and Mark a married couple with 2 teenage girls. We live in Southend-on-Sea in Essex and have caravanned off and on since 1992. Sonja is a self employed finance officer, Mark is a building surveyor.
Both of us have a passion for this website and apart from being a full time hobby, we have a vision for it, which if things turn out you will see develop on this "living history" page.
How it started
We got a computer online and found very few camping websites we liked. The Caravanning Site being the exception.
Sonja joined an MSN website called Campinglife of which there were 2 members, Sonja and the owner Steve Anderson (a current member here) After a very short time Sonja became assistant manager of campinglife, meanwhile Mark became joint administrator of the caravanning site.
Campinglife held one rally which Sonja organised and met Correen a then member of campinglife. After a short time it became apparent that Steve did not want Campinglife to grow in the same way they did and soon after the 1st rally Steve closed Campinglife.
Both of us, Sonja and Mark, wanted our own website and after a lot of thought, the name Touring and Tenting was born. The idea behind the name was to try and encompass all spectrums of camping eg: Touring caravans, motorhomes, tents etc. (It is very interesting that campsites are now using the term "touring and tenting" for their pitches)
One of the early problems was Sonja and Mark's lack of knowledge in respect to understanding how a website works. This is where Correen came in. Sonja formed the MSN site Touring and Tenting with Correen and Mark. Correen's knowledge of MSN was a boon and the help she gave them is very much appreciated. The MSN site formed in October 2002 and is still in operation and remains managed by Sonja, Correen and Mark. A special thanks also to Albert who owns and runs The Caravanning Site for all his help and advice
The MSN site took off really well with a lucky break in the form of an advert in the Caravanning Club magazine, but still it was an MSN Website and had limitations, the main one being MSN's control over it's layout and their choice of advertising. (It's MSN's trainset)
While all this was going on, Sonja and Mark were learning and researching website building and programmes with a view to doing what we had always wanted to do:
Have an independent community website that was easy to navigate, fun and packed full of information with interactive things for members and visitors to do.
Many, many different versions were tried and scrapped for one reason or another, until we finally had what we thought was a good community website.
In February 2003 we started to construct the .com site, purchased the domains, .com and .co.uk, the server and started to load up the site.
Touring and Tenting .com http://www.touringandntenting.com went live in March 2003 and we launched onto the World Wide Web on the 14th March 2003.
Rallies have always formed a big part of Touring and Tenting from the early days of msn we have encouraged members to come along and join in. One campsite in the early days couldn't grasp the fact that we did not know each other apart from having "chatted on the web" Campsite and members were all a bit unsure but it soon turned out that we were all just ordinary people who shared a common interest. The fact that our only initial contact had been through the web soon didn't matter at all.
Now it seems a totally normal way of communication and people are a lot less wary.
Touring and Tenting rallies have grown over the years, the biggest restriction we have is in the number of outfits campsites can take and with the growth of caravanning and camping generally it is getting harder and harder to find suitable locations. The fact that we are National organisation gives an added problem of making sure we rally in all parts of the country.
A surprising off shoot of our rallies has been the emergence of the LMU "Lets Meet Up" which are smaller less formal gatherings and are increasingly popular and give a means for members to meet up more often with less travel.
From the beginning we have aimed to make rallies relaxed and fun for everyone, members join in or not as it suits them. Where possible and time permits we organise outings and trips that are entirely optional. If members want to stay onsite and chill that's fine with us. Evenings tend to be the time when we all get together and in 2006 we purchased 2 party tents which we hope give a central place for members to meet. Members kindly made donations to make this possible.
On longer "holiday rallies" we organise outings to various places of interest, hold competitions and other activities, again members are free to join in or not.
Mini Tourers are our youth section for want of a better description. Some of the original Mini Tourers are now teenagers or young adults and it is great to see that they still keep in touch even if they no longer meet up or meet up rarely.
In general we hold between 6-8 rallies a year including a New Years Eve rally.
The 2 big clubs
We would like to thank the 2 big clubs the Caravan Club and the Camping and Caravanning Club. The CC for having faith and advertising with us and the CCC for all the support we have had from them generally.
Companies within the industry
Over the last few years we have noticed a growth in companies that both watch and participate in our forums, for the most part this has been very popular and helpfull. Companies have started to see that it is not necessarily in their interest to "demand" a thread (message) is removed and that often they join and participate, giving their side of the story. In most cases the companies have come out of it in a very good light. The first of which was the likes of Towsure and Alan Rogers who we would like to thank. Many more now take an active part or monitor our forums, giving assistance sometimes behind the scenes.
So what are the plans for the future?
Touring and Tenting currently has a large specialist directory of campsites and this will continue to grow with the development of a database to compliment it.
We will continue to develop and expand our community resources, but a lot of that is up to T&T members and visitors, we have open minds and listen to suggestions and the more contributions the more the website grows.
We will continue to expand our rally programmes and encourage the growth of our LMU's
We will strive to continue to grow in whatever direction the market conditions and members move us.Please see below
Dates of interest
- February 2002 joined MSN Campinglife
- October 2002 MSN Touring and Tenting
- December 2002 Started research and building
- February 2003 purchased domain names etc
- February-March Uploaded website and forums
- March 2003 Launched Touring and Tenting .com
- March 2003 added chat room
- April 2003 Gallery added
- April 2003 Historical specialist campsite directory added
- April 2003 European campsite directory added
- June 2003 Insurance directory added
- June 2003 Online Megastore opened
- July 2003 Rally directory added
- July 2003 Motime blogger (T & T Times) added
- September 2003 Forum shop added
- January 2004 changed forum layout and 3rd upgrade.
- September 2004 journalists trip to Lake Trasimeno
- November 2004 attended Camping Cheque congress
- June 2005 opened online shop
- September 2005 invited to the National Feast of Lanterns by the CCC
- December 2005 started designing the new management system
- January 2006 Launched the "nights away" thread on the forums
- March 2006 changed to our UK based hosts and re-launched
- June 2006 First rally abroad France
- September 2006 Purchased the .eu .org etc domain names
- November 2006 Caravan and camping search engine launched
- Launched the new caravanning and camping purchases thread to monitor new purchases by members
- January 2007 Relaunched the new nights away thread now sponsored by Towsure
- Mid 2007 Launched the caravanning and camping search engine
- April 2008 Moved server to new dedicated server at Bythouse
- April 2008 Introduced the sub domain news.touringandtenting.com expaning the news and directory to its own domain
- May 2008 Obtained caravan and camping exemption certificates
- May 2008 Moved the caravanning and camping search engine to it new home
- July 2008 Launched My Crowd a social newtworking area for caravanners and campers
- Oct 2008 Opened the rally photographs gallery to a new server and a new domain touringandtenting.co.uk
- Jan 2009 Migrated the old MSN site to multiply
- August 2009 Reopened the campsite directory on its own website, which is continually being updated
- Jan 2010 Major overhaul of Touring and Tenting forums
- Feb 2010 Our server went down and we found it to be EDF energy had gone through a cable. It took 4 days and a lot of work by our hosts and us to get the site back online
- March 2010 Introduced "Showroon" this is an area for members to post photos and descriptions about their caravans, motorohomes, tents and tow cars
- Nov 2010 We went green literally. Touring and Tenting is now green instead of blue. We also introduced a new News area which is a part of the forums to hopefully give people a better chance to interact.
- Dec 2010 Created a new Review Center for caravanning and camping reviews
- Jan 2010 Created Trade services area
- 2011 Switched back to blue for the main colour
- Oct 2011 Moved to a new server, pleased to say with the same host bytehouse
- Nov 2011 Added TapaTalk to the forums
- Dec 2011 Created a new rally area and rally videos within the new Media section
- Jan 2012 created new links and review areas.
- Feb 2012 Introduced SiteSee a whole new venture finding the best tourist attractions to visit while caravanning and camping
- March 2012 Published 1st online magazine for SiteSee
- Sep 2015 Major update of the whole site
We would like to thank all who visit and contribute to our website. It makes it all worth while. Our aim is for this website to be around for a long, long time so please keep supporting us. We are always open to suggestions and comments about our website, so please feel free to contact us.
Mark and Sonja
You can see more screen shots of Touring and Tenting from 2003 at Archive.org