Exploring Australia in a caravan is a great adventure for families – whether it’s a quick weekend away or a 'Big Lap' adventure.
But what age is the right age to go caravanning with the kids or the grandkids? The answer is any age. Your caravan adventure can be adapted easily to suit kids of all ages. There’s no need to wait until your children are ‘old enough’ or to stop touring once they hit the terrible teens.
Here’s how to get the most out of caravanning with your kids at any age.
As a home away from home, caravans are ideal for young families. They come with plenty of storage for nappies and bottles and are easy to keep warm (or cool) for those day-time naps.
The best time for young families to travel is off-peak. Not only is it quieter, with older families in school, but it’s also cheaper. You’re also likely to find other families with similar aged children travelling at this time too.
While it’s nice to be able to use your caravan’s kitchen, especially for those early morning starts, make sure you take advantage of the communal kitchen facilities at your campground. Kitchens are like the waterholes of campgrounds. It’s a great way to connect with other families and swap tips with parents in similar situations.
As you'll likely know, routine is everything with young kids. Caravanning makes it easy to stick to that routine and avoid over-tired babies and over-it parents. Sticking to your sleep schedule is as easy as closing the curtains to keep the van dark and shutting the door.
On the flipside, travelling around gives you opportunity to tweak your child's schedule to expose them to the wider world and new experiences. If you have an early riser, strap them into a Baby Bjorn or child carrier and take them out for a hike to see the birds wake. Then after breakfast a trip to the beach, followed by a nap (for everyone), a walk to see some local sights, and then say goodnight to the birds again.
To keep small children entertained, bring along a set of rubber floor mats to lay out under the awning. These ‘jigsaw’ pieces create a nice clean area outside for your baby or toddler to play on. Plus they pack away easily in your van for travel.
This is a seriously fun age to go caravanning with. The kids love sleeping in bunk beds and you’ll find it hard to tear them away from their indoor pirate ship adventures. During school holidays, they’ll almost always find a gang of similar aged kids to make friends with. Don’t be surprised if you don’t see the kids for a few hours while they ride their bikes around, play footy or spend hours and hours and hours on the jumping pillow.
At night, pop on a movie for the kids. They’ll love lounging on Mum and Dad’s big bed while you hang out outside, watching the stars.
For those rainy days, the caravan’s storage means there’s plenty of space for toys, drawing, and craft materials. Make sure you invest in a couple of new items to keep them entertained.
The teenage years don’t have to mean the end of caravan adventures. In fact, this family time away can be fulfilling for adults and teens alike with a few simple survival tips.
Allow kids to be involved in the planning of the trip and the choosing of the destination. If they’re engaged then you’re off to a great start. Choose a campground with lots of activities like biking, fishing, and kayaking. Teenagers are unlikely to be satisfied with hanging out at the beach all day.
Don’t ban devices while you’re away – everyone needs some down time in their own way – but come up with a limited-use agreement. Perhaps breakfast and before dinner – so they can stay in touch with the outside world but your family still gets their full attention. At least some of the time!
Also consider the privacy needs of your teen. The privacy curtains on the bunk beds mean they have their own indoor space. Choose a campground with bathroom facilities. Even if you have a shower and toilet in your caravan, the odds are they’ll prefer somewhere away from the family.
And finally, get them to bring a friend! The great thing about caravans is the space. There’s always room for one more.
No matter the size or shape of your family, caravans are a fantastic way to explore this amazing country and build lasting memories.
What are your experiences with caravanning with children? Do you have any tips to add? We’d love your thoughts, so please leave a comment below.
Isn’t it time you enjoyed a break? Book your next BIG4 holiday now.
Story provided by Roma Caravans.