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SMART CONSUMER: 'We get away twice a month'


Camperfan: Michelle O'Leary from Cork

Camperfan: Michelle O'Leary from Cork

Camperfan: Michelle O'Leary from Cork

Michelle O'Leary (29), from Macroom in Co Cork, always liked the idea of camping and caravanning -- and a year ago she took the plunge.

"When the downturn hit, holidays abroad just weren't as feasible. My partner Brendan and I had always talked about buying a campervan and as we had just got a dog it seemed like the ideal option."

It was a big investment at a time when other people were cutting back, but Michelle says it has already earned its cost.

"We get away nearly every second weekend -- and definitely on a bank holiday -- even if its just as far as a nearby beach for a barbecue."

She does admit that the weather sometimes puts a dampener on the holiday.

"We've been to the Cliffs of Moher three times and have yet to actually see the cliffs. But the beauty of the campervan is that we don't feel we wasted a fortune.

"We went to Achill and expected it to be desolate -- but there was a great buzz about the place. We took a 4x4 tour around the island with a local man, which was wonderful to get some local insight."

Michelle budgets about ¿160-¿180 per trip -- including cost of the campsite and electricity, food, alcohol and diesel.

"We pack to perfection now. We bring most of our food, and have learned that one-pot wonders, like stir-fries or fajitas, are the best option, as well as the obligatory fry-up. We use the Irish Caravan and Camping Council website to look for special offers, and I always check the sites on TripAdvisor."