But as I pull into my caravan park on the Isle of Wight, I can’t help but feel a smidgen cool. Truth be told, I feel like The Fonz.

A Kombi van does funny things to a man.

I’ve arrived on the Isle of Wight, off Britain’s South Coast, for a few days to check out the beaches and basically just chill out (there’s that pathetic urge to be cool again).

And if you want to have a holiday like the credit crunch-hit English, it doesn’t get more laid-back than a break in a caravan park.

With fellow park guests drawn to the Kombi like Kiwis to a haka, any self-delusion is quickly shattered when someone, with way too much time on their hands, asks me: “So what model is it?”

Game up, I confess I’m just here to check out the island and it’s only the Kombi that’s cool, not me.

But with a fantastic vehicle at my disposal, I figure that nobody outside the caravan park realises I know nothing about Kombis.

So with my window wound down and my elbow perched firmly on the door, I set off to explore – looking cool.

Get on the beach

Apparently the island is the sunniest place in England (that’s what the locals say anyway), so there’s no shortage of holiday-makers looking to turn a bright shade of red.

While there’s obviously plenty of beaches to choose from (it is an island after all), if you want to avoid the arcades and the crowds head to Whitecliff Bay.

If people-watching is your thing, roll out a towel at Shanklin.

Eat with a view

While dodgy fish and chips abound there are some solid pubs with great views.

The pick of them is the Crab and Lobster in Bembridge. Situated on a cliff, it has wonderful views to take in while enjoying a beer and mussels.

Learn to sail

If there’s one thing the locals love, it’s getting on the water.

If you’re not keen to commit to a ‘learn to sail weekend’ with one of the many schools ready and willing to teach you the difference between a jib and a sheet, take a ‘Try Sailing’ session during Cowes Week in August – the biggest yachting regatta in the world.

See a castle

Reckon a UK holiday isn’t complete without a castle? Pay a visit to Carisbrooke Castle, where King Charles I was imprisoned in the 17th century, during the English Civil War. 

» Krysten Booth travelled with Red Funnel (0844 844 9988). Return crossings from Southampton to East Cowes start from £32. Short breaks start from £48 for a car and up to six people.


Festival guide

Visiting the Isle of Wight doesn’t have to be all about lounging around. For its size it’s quite a festival haven. Here are a few of the best.


Isle of Wight Walking Festival May 9-24

The UK’s biggest walking festival has something for everyone including speed-dating walks, ghost walks and pub walks.

See isleofwightwalkingfestival.co.uk


Isle of Wight Festival Jun 12-14

This is one of the UK’s biggest music festivals, and this year includes Stereophonics, The Charlatans and Razorlight. See isleofwightfestival.com.


Bestival Sep 4-6

A bit of a newcomer on the scene, Bestival prides itself on being a little eccentric. See bestival.net.

Isle of Wight Cycling Festival Sep 12-20

For bike enthusiasts of all abilities. See sunseaandcycling.com