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Advice: Kids and Caravanning

Published 27 Sep 2017 by Top Parks  | Last Updated: 13 Apr 2018

Advice: Kids and Caravanning

Children add a different, sometimes challenging dimension to caravanning. But there’s no better way to spend the school holidays than pulling up at a beachside camp. However, if that beachside spot is more than an hour down the road, you might be in for a world of pain.

Kids, naturally and excusably, don’t always travel well. If your children can spend two or more hours in the car without moaning or squabbling, you are one of the lucky ones.

For everyone else, a few tips and a little strategy can go a long way. Here are our top tips for back-seat peace during long hauls.

1. PLAN AHEAD

There is no doubt that travelling is all about freedom but cranky kids make cranky adults. Make sure you book your holiday before heading off on your travels to avoid disappointment and the inevitable cranky family, particularly in the busy school holiday periods. Go to Find a Park on the Top Parks website to research and book your next accommodation site in advance. Top Parks has the most parks all over Australia so you’re sure to find a destination to suit.

2. ENTERTAINMENT

This one is the most important. Never, ever attempt a trip without devising clever ways to entertain your little miracles. The most popular boredom buster is to download your kid’s favourite movies on to their devices before you leave or buy a portable DVD player. But here’s a tip based on bitter experience: don’t purchase a player that has two screens (each of which strap to the passenger and driver’s seat headrests) connecting to a common player. Unless your children are particularly in sync when it comes to movies, your attempt to keep them quiet will result in fights over which DVD to watch.

The best bet is to get each kid their own portable DVD player. They look like little laptops, with flip-up screens and their own earphones – so you don’t have to listen to their claptrap. What would you pay for at least 1.5 hours of peace and quite during a long drive? Individual portable DVD players are worth every cent. 

When the movie is done and boredom sets in, have some good old fashioned car games up your sleeve, such as eye spy or ‘spotto’ (pick the car type), that you can play with the kids on the trip.

3. KEEP MEDICATIONS HANDY

Let’s be honest, some kids just don’t travel well. If your child is prone to travel sickness, make sure you pack a child-friendly travel sickness tablet to reduce the risk of those unforeseen and emergency stops! In fact, make sure you have all the required medicines with you. Apart from prescribed medications, it’s always handy to pack basic medicines that will help you treat common illnesses such as fever and cold. It will also help you buy some time in case the illness becomes severe and the nearest healthcare facility is a distance away from your current position.

3. HIGH AND DRY

Never leave home or the van without towels and a change of clothes. I’m not sure why, but kids – especially mine – have a way of getting saturated. We could be in the middle of the outback, miles from the nearest spring, and they would find a way to get soggy.

Not so long ago, on a cold winter’s day, we pulled over to check out a beach. As we were not prepared for swimming, our little darlings were told to only play on the sand. Playtime inevitably led to them being ‘chased’ by the tide, which inevitably led to our three-year-old being caught by the tide. Of course, he tripped, fell, and was immediately soaked to the bone. We had to wrap him, naked and shivering, in Dad’s jacket, put him back in the car and blast the heater. What else do you do with a crying, wet, cold toddler when you don’t have a towel or a change of dry clothes?

Needless to say that spoiled our plans for the day. So always pack a towel. And extra clothes.

5. DIVIDE AND CONQUER

Our eldest son is able to sit in the front passenger seat. So when our other two kids are particularly restless, we’ll put him in the passenger chair with the official title of ‘navigator’, and either my wife or I will bunk with the younger ones in the back.

Sometimes, that little bit of separation, making it harder for them to squabble, is all that’s needed for them to lapse back into the beautifully-behaved kids they usually are. After 100km or so, we’ll revert to the original seating plan and the eldest’s absence will have made the hearts of the younger two grow fonder. They’ll play and talk nicely for the rest of the day. Usually.

Image courtesy Travelling with Kids