There’s something truly magical about a campervan holiday. Whether it’s the freedom of the open road, escape from the daily grind or all that fresh air, it just sounds so idyllic. And when you find the perfect beach-site camping spot it can feel like you’ve hit the campervan holiday jackpot.
And then you add kids into the equation. Suddenly that picture becomes overtaken by squabbles on the backseat and mini meltdowns.
You can do everything in your power to plan the perfect campervan holiday – great campsites, idyllic locations, and sorting all the paperwork like campervan insurance well in advance – but no amount of planning can avoid over-tired kids and irritable parents.
Let’s be honest, a campervan holiday is an affordable option for a family getaway – and kids can’t get enough of the open spaces, family time and sense of adventure. When it’s good, a campervan holiday is really, really good.
But when it’s bad, it can be a nightmare. The secret is to learn from your mistakes, or even better, other peoples’ mistakes.
Here are 10 tips to help you ensure the next time you take to the open road on a campervan holiday, it’s all laughter and no tears.
1 Choose destinations with family members in mind
Chances are, each family member will want to do something different on holiday.
Museums and quaint villages for mum and dad, water parks and letting off steam for the kids. It’s all about compromise.
Take it in turns to plan your perfect day – and throw in a few beaches and mountains for good measure.
The good thing about being in a campervan is that you can move around at will and find something for everyone.
2 Pack with precision
Packing a campervan can be great fun. It can also be highly stressful.
Decide whether you really need to take all those clothes. Will the kids want to play football, badminton, cricket and archery?
And could you hire bikes once you are there rather than taking your own? The more stuff you pack, the more of a headache you give yourself.
Pack minimally, because if you forget anything vital, you’ll be able to buy or hire it.
3 Be ready for travel days
Ask kids to pack their own bags full of things to do for days spent on the road.
Games, books, toys, audio books and gadgets are all great ways to pass the time and help make long journeys less dull.
Give kids an idea of what to expect from these journeys – how long until the next stop and what to expect at the other end (ideally, ice cream or a swim). Snacks are a must.
As are fully charged devices.
4 Plan ahead
When you’re going on a week-long holiday, you have to be organised.
Everything needs a place in the campervan so you can find the kids’ pyjamas at night and the coffee in the morning.
Planning ahead also involves knowing where you’re going.
Make sure you have a sat nav that’s suited for motorhomes or campervans – you don’t want to get stuck on a super-steep or super-narrow country lane!
Have a hunt around to see if you can get any discounts and check TripAdvisor to find out what nearby restaurants or cafes get good reviews.
5 Have enough downtime
There’s always a temptation to pack as much into a holiday as possible. After all, there’s a lot to see and do out there.
But when travelling with kids, it’s important not to fill every day with sightseeing and activities.
Kids (and adults) need time to relax, and a bit of boredom often leads to creativity.
Older children might want time to write a holiday diary or take photos to document their trip.
While kids of all ages will want to swim, read, and watch TV from time to time.
Try to stay at least three nights in each place, using the location as a base from which to explore and relax.
6 Have a game plan for living in such close proximity
Spending time in a campervan as a family is amazing. But at times it’s completely exhausting.
What do you do if the kids start bickering? Or you get a couple of rainy days in a row? Or you just need a break from one another? You need a solution.
Here are some ideas:
- Don’t feel you have to do everything together all the time – split into pairs for some activities.
- Give everyone space and time to do their favourite things.
- Encourage the kids to introduce themselves to other kids on the campsite. They might feel shy to begin with, but it won’t last long and they might make friends for life.
7 Choose campsites with kids in mind
There are literally thousands of campsites to choose from in Europe.
Make sure you pick ones suited to you and your family.
While you may feel drawn to campsites with kids’ clubs, these aren’t always in the most inspiring locations, can be very noisy and are often pricey.
Free camping might make good financial sense, but may not be as much fun for children.
Choose a campsite that has something for everyone – other children, beautiful setting, and lots to do within walking distance.
8 Forget about usual bedtimes
On holiday in Europe, normal bedtime rules simply don’t apply.
If it’s still light and other kids are playing noisily outside the van, your brood might take some convincing to be in bed by 8pm.
It’s best to go to bed as a family when it gets dark – and wake up together in the morning. At least, that’s the idea…
9 Be flexible
Even with the best planning, holidays don’t always go according to plan.
A few days of rain on the trot might dampen spirits, so why not treat yourself to a night in a hotel or B&B?
It’ll give you the chance to dry out and lift those spirits again.
Equally, if the campsite isn’t what you were expecting, leave and go somewhere else.
10 Don’t waste food
A campervan fridge isn’t going to store everything you need for a week or more so when it comes to groceries, pack light and pick up supplies along the way.
That way you can support local economies as you travel around, too!
Protect your home on wheels with campervan insurance
If you’re planning to take the kids on a campervan holiday, you’re sure to have a fantastic time.
Especially if you plan ahead. Getting campervan insurance is part of the planning process and can include unlimited EU cover so your adventure is one to remember.
At Motorhome Protect, we offer campervan insurance that covers the van and your family throughout your trip. Get in touch today to find out more.