“It was frightening” - How a simple family holiday journey turned into a 48-hour drama

Stephen Smith, who along with his wife and daughter, endured a near 48-hour trip home from Dorset af

Stephen Smith, who along with his wife and daughter, endured a near 48-hour trip home from Dorset after his VW Transporter broke down. - Credit: Archant

It should have been a simple journey home after an enjoyable summer holiday.

But a New Costessey family had to spend two consecutive nights on service station car parks after their beloved caravan and Volkswagen Transporter broke down.

Stephen Smith's Volkswagen Transporter which broke down in Weymouth. Picture: STEPHEN SMITH

Stephen Smith's Volkswagen Transporter which broke down in Weymouth. Picture: STEPHEN SMITH - Credit: STEPHEN SMITH

Instead of a journey of around six hours from West Bay Holiday Park in Dorset – the return leg for Stephen Smith and his family took nearly 48 hours.

Stephen Smith's caravan which he had to leave at a motorway services after the towing vehicle broke

Stephen Smith's caravan which he had to leave at a motorway services after the towing vehicle broke down. Picture: STEPHEN SMITH - Credit: STEPHEN SMITH

Mr Smith, 48, a mechanic, believed the RAC was going to tow his caravan and Volkswagen all the way home on Friday, after he took out full annual insurance worth £149 with the firm.

He and his wife and 13-year-old daughter arrived home around 8am on Sunday.


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The family did not stay in hotels offered by RAC because of fears their caravan and transporter would be vandalised.

To get home, Mr Smith paid £420 to a recovery firm to tow his Volkswagen and give him a lift home.

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His wife and daughter returned home a few hours earlier via a taxi paid for by the RAC.

Mr Smith, who works at Swiftfit garage on Salhouse Road, Norwich, said: 'We have gone on lots of family holidays in the caravan but this has put me off going out of Norfolk because I cannot trust the breakdown services.'

The Volkswagen, broke down on August 7 in Weymouth after a problem with the drive shaft- about 16 miles away from West Bay Holiday Park.

It was the first time anything like that had happened to the vehicle and the first time he had called for breakdown recovery support.

He added the RAC towed them to the park and promised they would take them all the way home on Friday.

Problems started after the family and their two vehicles were left at Fleet services on the M3 at Hampshire at 4pm that same day.

An RAC-provided recovery truck moved the family and vehicles to Clacket Lane services on the M25 in Surrey - where his caravan remains - the following morning. The family stayed there overnight on Saturday.

Mr Smith added: 'It was not a good experience. It was frightening. My daughter was panicking and upset. I feel exhausted. We feel the RAC just left us.'

The RAC was approached for a comment but did not respond.

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