It’s not uncommon to dream of owning a campervan. If you’ve ever had to hire a caravan or travel long distances for a family holiday, the thought of the potential relief owning a camper might bring has probably crossed your mind. Perhaps you have already made the jump and have gone out and invested in one.
Whatever your situation, if you’re thinking of going on holiday in a campervan with your family there are some things you should know. As with every trip as a family, there are a number of pitfalls that can be avoided with a little forward-thinking and planning.
Don’t Bring the Family Pet
If you have a campervan that is designed to hold a pet, then it can definitely be tempting to consider bringing your faithful pooch along for the adventure. However, unless you have the patience of a saint and are incredibly organised, this probably isn’t a good idea.
From first-hand experience, your children might ask to bring it along, after all, it’s pretty much part of the family. But no matter how tempted you are and no matter how much your children beg, make sure you understand how much extra work it will bring to your getaway.
If you do decide to take your pet dog or any other creature with you, the first thing you need to ensure is that you have a route planned that completely accommodates for their needs. A campervan, despite being very different from a car, can become equally as dangerous in the heat for a pet dog if left alone. That means that anywhere you plan to travel must be pet-friendly and sadly that it isn’t always possible to find such destinations.
The underlying fact is, that once you take your pet, whether you like it or not, your entire trip will revolve around their needs. Combine that with the possibility of simultaneously watching over our children and things can get a bit stressful, even with the most well-behaved pet.
Get the Right Campervan
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of possible options out there when it comes to finding the right family campervan. The easiest way to work out which is the best campervan for you is to make an itinerary of everything you are going to need on a standard trip. If you have a large family, then ensuring that your campervan has all the necessary storage, accessories and space is essential.
There is a bucketload of potential things you might not realise you need until you’re already on the open road and it’s too late. Fortunately, there are hundreds of people who have gone before you and have written about their stories traveling Europe.
If you are buying a second-hand campervan, be especially careful. While many are safe and reliable, if you do have any problems, the stress of dealing with any mechanical issues can be amplified if you have young or restless children.
Also make sure that you purchase the right make and model, one of the most popular on the market right now is the Nissan nv200 camper van. However, while this is an ideal campervan for small families for 3 or 4, you would need probably require a custom conversion to fit any more people in.
The decision you will most likely have to make is if you are after a small camper with a rising roof or if you want a longer high-top panel van conversion.
Be Prepared for Anything
Dedicate one storage cupboard or cabinet to having something for every occasion. There are numerous ‘old school’ gadgets and tools that can come in handy in a pinch. Everything from swiss army knives, to a compass, duct tape, and matches.
If you’re going off the grid, it’s not a bad idea to have a ‘survival kit’. Sat Nav’s and mobile phones won’t always have a signal. Children have a tendency to break things you thought were previously indestructible. Jump leads pop up tents and spare batteries can also help you out in a tight pinch.
One of the best ways to fill such storage space is to either look at some of the complete essential guides for camping online or simply think about as many worse case scenarios as possible. It might seem pretty bleak and pessimistic, but if the worst does happen, you will be prepared and have equipment at the ready.
Finally, even though it might not seem essential, having on-board entertainment is a great get out of jail free card. For those moments when the children are restless or the weather is bad, having a board game or pack of cards to pass the time can be a lifesaver. It’s those precious moments where even though plans might have been postponed due to rain, a campervan holiday with your family can really come to life.
Plan Your Route & Learn Locations
Planning your route is an essential part of traveling with a family. Even if you aren’t bringing a pet, it’s still worth investing a reasonable amount of time into learning the different stops and locations along the way. Whether you are staying in the UK or traveling with your campervan across Europe, there will be a number of both paid camping sites and free ones.
Sometimes it’s worth forking out a small amount of money to stay on a paid site, other times there is a better option available that’s free. Having a map with all the routes and possible destinations is a priceless commodity. There are plenty of websites, apps, and forums online that can help you find the right camping destinations.
Be careful though that your campervan meets all of the site’s requirements. Sometimes there will be parking or height specifications that could potentially make you unable to stay. As a result, some families with larger campervans or a stronger sense of adventure choose to ‘camp rough’ or ‘free camp’. This means simply finding somewhere to stay the night that isn’t a designated camping spot.
Once you have settled on the places you want to spend the night, make sure to check the surrounding areas.
Settle on a Routine
Even though you are on holiday or on the adventure of a lifetime it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t implement some structure and routine into your day-to-day lives.
It is important that children, especially younger ones, maintain a set time to get up and go to bed. While there will certainly be exceptions, the habit of having bedtime at a specific time is very important and can help stop the little ones from burning out.
Having a structure to your day will also help you to correctly prepare for things. While it might seem like you have all the time in the world, there are often activities, events or deadlines that will need to be reached at certain times. Turning up to these unprepared because you overslept or were too tired to properly plan, can leave to some very awkward moments.
It’s important to be flexible and know when to break the routine but having a foundation to how the day should progress will provide you with a number of benefits.