Some people ascribe the origins of caravanning to gypsy camps. It was Romani people, who spent most of their life on the road, with all their possessions packed in wagons, which often served them as houses. They were improving the wagons, by adding to them various things, such as stoves.
Nonetheless, it would be hard to say that Gypsies were traveling only for leisure.
The first caravan, which was used primarily for the pleasure of its owner was created in 1880 in the UK. 5-5 meter horse-drawn camping vehicle was developed by the Bristol Carriage Company, proposing a new form of recreation for representatives of high society.
Around this time, in the United States you could hear about a man undertaking a variety of professions (he was a miner, trader, and even a hairdresser). John "Jack" Anthony Porcella traveled the western states in a caravan built by himself.
House on wheels
Along with the development of automotive industry, both amateur and professional caravans began to appear. The first professional caravan was probably manufactured in the UK in 1912 by Bill Riley’s team. The caravan was pulled by a leather strap! Many years later it was replaced by hooks made by blacksmiths.
Various, sometimes even bizarre versions of this car started to appear in the U.S., where Ford T was dominating. Some looked just oddly - they really were little houses, with windows and roofs typical for buildings. There was even a version with a porch, and a car with a superstructure in the shape of a chapel.
Other, however, could be called motorhome ancestors. Some were perfect for picnics (tables and furniture was spread on the outside, at the rear), while others could be expanded during stopovers, by spreading tents integrated into the bodywork.
Fashion for caravanning, somehow independently, developed mainly in the USA and UK. As the time flew by, houses on wheels started to appear also in other European countries. For example, in France, you could see motorhomes (and sometimes entire houses) built on the base of Citroen 2CV.
Poland far behind
The caravan didn’t appear on polish roads until 1930 (at least officially), when it was presented during beauty pageant in Warsaw. But the first Polish caravans began to emerge in the 50’s, mainly as structures created by do-it-yourselves.
The first mention about the caravan created in Poland appeared in 1957, when “Motor” wrote about a marriage, who constructed such vehicle, with the intention of travelling in it around Europe. The caravan was built probably in 1956.
The first caravans Tramp from Niewiadow, where the most popular Polish manufacturer of caravans operates till this day, came out not before 1966. Production of the model N-126 (extremely popular in the communist era), which has contributed to the spread of caravanning in Poland, began in 1973.
Currently caravanning is very popular in most of the high developed countries. In the United States, luxury campers based on busses are especially popular. In Australia customers willingly opt for sport-utility motorhomes, while in Europe, there’s a fashion for small caravans and motorhomes based on delivery vehicles.
It’s would be hard to imagine that the fashion for caravanning may ever passed. New vehicles are more and more convenient and luxurious.