There’s a unique and special thrill about going away for a family holiday in a campervan. It’s one of those times when your ordinary, day-to-day life gets left behind and, for a few precious weeks, your family life turns into something completely different.
Having said this, those of us that have been on family campervan holidays in the past will know that there are certain ‘tricks of the trade’. Although going on a campervan holiday can be one of the most incredible experiences to share with your family, there are some hints and tips you should read up on before you cram everything into the boot and hit the road.
No matter what the age of your family, the combination of adults and kids in a confined space for hours on end requires a certain amount of tact and patience. But we’ve also put together some other pointers to help you out too!
Are We Nearly There Yet?
Travelling with kids, regardless of how old they are, always creates a small sense of dread in the pit of any adults’ stomach. So, what do you do when you know you’ve got a long day of travelling ahead of you and you’re the one doing the driving?
First things first, you need to understand that there are things you can control and some things you just can’t. Those things you can control, plan and organise meticulously so you’re feeling confident. The things you can’t control, i.e. the children, just remember to stay calm and focus on what’s going well.
In terms of what you can control, the route and your destination is completely in your hands. Make sure you have that route absolutely nailed down, including where you’re going to stop and take breaks, where you’re going to get food from and so on. This doesn’t just mean programming the postcode of your campsite in the sat nav and setting off. Get yourself a physical roadmap too and understand your route, print off alternative routes that you can take if you need to and understand the difference in time these might mean.
Also, consider when you’re travelling as well. You might be starting your journey off at the beginning of a Half Term break and there’s a high chance that lots of other families will be doing the same thing! Make sure that you account for any extra time that may be needed on more popular routes where there’s a higher chance of congestion.
Finally, have a clear end-goal – the campsite. Where you’re spending the night is the destination for the day so plan your whole holiday and then break this down into well-researched stopping off points. These campsites will have their own guidelines and ‘rules’ so read up on these and any reviews you can find online to make sure you’re going to like where you’re laying your head that night!
I Forgot It…
The moment when you realise you’ve forgotten something important is always a horrible experience. Depending on how important it is, it can be heart-stopping! In order to avoid that sensation, advanced and organised packing is essential.
The key thing to remember when packing is you’re only going to need abut half the things you think you need. This particularly applies to clothes! Depending on where you’re travelling, pack as best as you can for the weather. This may mean wellies, raincoats, shorts and sun-cream if you’re in the UK! But layering items up can be a real life-saver rather than packing one outfit for a warm day and another for a cold one.
Another great things to pack is a kid’s activity box for the journey. If you’ve got more than one child coming with you then give them each a box or bag. Ask them to select a few items that they would like to have with them in the car. This might be a puzzle book, some crayons and a drawing pad or even a pack of cards. Help them with this process so they don’t panic and just grab the items closest to them at the time! Then agree a space in the campervan where these activity boxes are going to be kept so they can grab them at any point.
Have a Safe Trip!
As is common with a lot of family campervan holidays, you may be away for two or three weeks on the road, especially during the Summer Holiday period. When you think about it, that’s a lot of driving from place to place. Even if you stay in each campsite for three nights, the journey between them could take an entire day!
When going on a family campervan holiday, make sure you have a confident primary driver. If you can have more than one driver then this will also help. Taking breaks is one of the safest things you can do when going on a holiday that requires a lot of driving, so make sure you don’t’ over do it and push through when you’re feeling tired.
Other really important things to remember when driving a campervan and staying safe on the road is that everything takes much longer than it does in a car when you’re in a larger vehicle. Remember to break earlier when approaching a junction to come to a controlled stop and take corners wider to allow for the necessary space. When it comes to parking, try and find a space that doesn’t obstruct any other vehicle movement. Bear in mind that some car parks have height barriers so remember the height of your campervan! One great thing to do is write the dimensions of your vehicle on a sticker and add it to the dashboard so you can refer to is really easily.
Go With The Flow…
Sometimes, despite all our best efforts, things just don’t go to plan. The thing with campervan holidays when things don’t work out is not to let this cause any tension. Travelling when there’s a tension in the air is uncomfortable for everyone. This means that everyone needs to control their temper as best as they can for the good of the family!
There may well be an occasion when the campsite you’re spending the night at isn’t quite what you thought it would be. Or it may be full to the brim with other families during the school holidays. The thing to remember in that scenario is that it’s only for one night and, even if you had planned to spend three nights there, if you don’t like it then just move on. You’ve got everything you need with you in your campervan so just head off and find somewhere better suit to your family.
There’s also a high chance that rain will stop play, especially in the UK! You may have planned a gorgeous trip to the beach at Whitby and woken up to a torrential downpour. Don’t worry about it! Either find somewhere else to go that’s inside – maybe a local museum or kids play area? Or crack out a board game and wile away the afternoon with some good old-fashioned family fun!
This is a delicate balance between organisation and flexibility. It can be hard to get right, but remember always have a Plan A and, if that falls through, have a staple Plan B that you can easily divert to. Bear in mind that, despite everything, you’re on holiday with your family so make the most of it!
No matter whether this is going to be your first ever family campervan holiday or you’re basically and oldie at this, follow these hints and tips to help your family have the easiest and most enjoyable experience!
Produced in collaboration with Keith Michaels, a specialist car insurance provider.