But it hasn’t always been like that. Hardworking professionals from country Victoria, Adele and Wayne didn’t notice at first, when the busyness of life crept up on them. Weekends became filled with jobs, chores and work brought home from the office. Stressed, tired and rushed — their family life and happiness was suffering.
A family holiday to Adelaide (with their two young daughters Ashlee and Kate) was a real wake up call. Time away, the change of pace and space, along with engaged time spent in each others company was like a wellbeing shot in the arm. They realised that life was completely out of whack – and balance needed to be restored.
So, they purchased a caravan and well, it’s fair to say their lives changed forever. Since 2015 they have put their expertise into building an online community of passionate caravan and travelling families who look to Caravanning with Kids for news, advise and inspiration about life on the road.
Here are Adele’s top tips for surviving caravanning with kids.
1. Go with the Flow: Caravanning with Kids is an adventure with every trip being different. If your kids are anything like ours, their moods, likes and attitudes can often change from day to day. You will find what works best for your family as you go along.
2. Responsibility: Many kids respond well to having responsibilities — from passing Dad tent pegs, to attaching the hose, setting up camping chairs or helping to prepare lunch. Arriving at a camp site or caravan park is exciting for kids (and grown ups), so the sooner you set up the quicker you can all enjoy where you are. Giving our girls little jobs with set up has worked a treat. They know exactly what needs to be done, they get involved, feel responsible and enjoy the sense of achievement after set up is complete and then the fun for the whole family can begin.
3. Variety: Mix it up! Even in the most amazing places, kids can get bored. Try and mix up your days’ activities so they are not doing the same thing over and over again. “Not another gorge!” (giggle)
4. Less equals More: We learnt this early on with our adventures. Our first few holidays, we packed more toys and 'what if' items than anything else. And then came home to realise that we did not need most of what we took. It always reminds us of the first few Christmas mornings when our eldest daughter Ashlee was more interested in the wrapping paper than the toys and gifts. Since then, we’ve tested our theory of ‘Less equals More’, packing only the bare essentials, a couple of good books, activity sets (like the ones from Tiger Tribe) and a pencil case. Surprised and elated at the results, our girls explore, collect leaves, make up shows, investigate, sing, dance, meet the other van owners and it is such a JOY to watch.
5. Down time: Huge days of adventure can equal very tired and cranky little ones. Chill out or down time can help. Reading a book, colouring in, cuddles by the river or a nana nap can make the world of difference.
6. Balance: This is a no brainer, but we have made this boo boo a few times. Full days chocka-block with activities ending in overtired feral kids. Create some balance, maybe some physical adventures in the morning, followed by a relaxing picnic, down time and then more adventures.
7. Relax and Laugh: Caravanning with Kids throws up many challenges. On the road with the kids 24/7 will have its ‘moments’. But it will also create some amazing memories that will stay with your children for the rest of their lives.
8. Journal: Our Family Travel Journal was created after years of journaling our adventures with our girls, creating story books that we enjoy over and over again. At the end of the day, as a family, we record what we did during the day. Ashlee now practices her hand writing, while Kate adds a drawing. From weekends away, to sleepovers and long trips on the road, recording your travels will create a keepsake that will be cherished for many years to come.