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With so much to see, do and explore, it's worth doing a bit of pre-planning before hitting the road with the kids. Organising in advance can help ease the stress of travelling and allow you to make the most of all the opportunities ahead.
We've got 10 top tips from families who have been there and loved it. These ideas will help ensure you'll be well-equipped for all the adventures ahead.
1. Pick the right camper for your family
Before you book anything, start thinking about what you'll need from your campervan. Think about how many beds (berths) you'll need, then consider what your plans are around eating, bathrooms and entertainment:
- Will you want to eat out, make use of campsite kitchens or have an onboard kitchen?
- What about showering and toilet facilities? Do you need them on board, or are you happy using public toilets and campground showers?
- Do you need an onboard TV and DVD player?
Once you've decided on what's most important, consider how much space you'll want. Little people (and their stuff) can take up a lot of room, so look for a campervan that offers you plenty of space to spread out for activities and has the right amount of storage for hobby equipment. Don't forget to plan out some room for prams and other kid-related items if your family needs them.
Some campers are better suited for travelling with smaller kids, with configurations that keep them up near the front seats where you can keep a close eye on them. Other campers have passenger seats near the rear of the camper, perfect for travelling with older kids or teens who may want their own space.
2. Pack for your campervan trip well in advance
Start your break off right by avoiding a rush! Pre-pack your essentials, including favourite toys for the littlies, plus books, board games and other activities to keep the family busy during downtime. You may also want to pick up your campervan (sans kids) and do a grocery run before you hit the road with littlies in the back.
Your campervan will come with space to sleep and will include a tabletop and plenty of storage space. What you decide to bring with you will depend on what your family enjoys doing—planning on hitting the beach? Make sure you've packed swimmers, towels, sunblock and an esky. Heading to the big cities? Walking shoes and backpacks are a must. Bringing along a couple of cosy blankets and hiring some foldable chairs and an outdoor table can allow you to spread out and enjoy the space outside of your campervan too. Just park up and settle in for the afternoon or night!
When travelling with little ones, don't forget to check out the rules regarding child restraints. The kids may need booster seats depending on their age and size. These can be added to your campervan hire for a fee, or you can bring your own compatible car seat to install for your trip.
3. Bring plenty of onboard activities for the kids
Wondering what to pack when vacationing with kids? Australia has lots of long roads, so bringing along books, tablets, colouring books or crafts to keep the kids occupied is one way to keep the peace.
If your kids are a little older, think about some of the fun activities you might have played on family road trips when you were young. A good game of 'I spy' can keep everyone busy for hours at a time.
You’ll know that sometimes you need to burn off a bit of energy before bedtime! Consider packing a ball that they can kick around or something fun like elastics that they can play with at your campsite. You'll want to tire them out before bedtime so that you can carry on your wind-down habits from home and keep their sleep routine going.
Got a family pet who you're worried about leaving at home while you're gone? Why not bring them along too?
4. Pre-plan your travel route
One of the benefits of campervan travel is that you don't have to have too much locked in. You have the flexibility to stay at a place longer or move on as you wish. Being spontaneous with kids might be a little more complicated than when it was just you and your other half.
By pre-planning your route, you can avoid roads where there is nothing to do for long stretches and stick to paths where there are places for you to stop when the kids get grizzly or just need to get out and have a run around.
There are plenty of popular itineraries to take the hassle out of planning your family road trip. Taking some of these ideas can ensure you've accounted for extra stops to stretch and burn off some energy, and that you spend less time on your trip trying to navigate on the fly. Plus, you'll have good insight into the best places to stop along the way and maximise the flexibility of campervan travel while getting to have a bit of a holiday too.
5. Choose the right time of year for travel
Travelling Australia can be perfect for sunshine-seekers, but the Australian climate can get hot, which is hard for littlies. Check the forecast to ensure the kids will cope with the temperature depending on where you want to visit.
If you're looking to travel during the school holidays, be aware that there are plenty of families making use of campervans and holiday parks. That could be great news if your kids are social butterflies who love meeting new friends on the road. School holidays are often busy periods for holiday parks and campgrounds (along with the festive season and the middle of summer!) so booking your campervan adventure early is essential.
Want to escape the school holiday rush? Consider travelling during the shoulder seasons or mid-term instead. Attractions and holiday parks will often be a little less busy, making for a slower and more relaxed break.
Australia offers all sorts of festivals, events, and celebrations that might fit in nicely with your holiday plans. Check out what's on near where you're visiting and plan your itinerary to suit.
6. Decide on your must-see attractions
Australia offers up more things to see and do than any family could ever tick off on one trip alone. To make the most of your time away, and reduce any chances of stressed-out decision-making on the road, consider what you'll do and see while you're away.
Once you've decided where you're going to visit in Australia, start planning out your must-see Australian attractions. Getting the kids involved in making some of these decisions will give them something to look forward to and get excited about.
You may find that there are some non-negotiable attractions you want to visit. In that case, consider pre-booking those activities so no one misses out.
Considering your budget? There are plenty of affordable things to see and do to keep the family entertained. National Parks are great for exploring in nature or running around. Beach days can be lower-cost, and there are plenty of fun attractions and activities in the big cities that are pocket-friendly.
7. Stay at family-friendly caravan parks
Australia has been hosting families for years. You'll find heaps of great family-friendly campsites with amenities that will help you have a low-stress trip. On-site laundry facilities, TV rooms, playgrounds, BBQs and pools are often available. Plus, plenty of campsites offer advice on local attractions, booking services and things like bike hire.
Family-friendly campsites also often attract loads of other families. Your kids will get the chance to meet some other kids and burn off some of that energy while you get some downtime. You might even meet some other parents and make some friends too!
At powered campsites, you've got the chance to power up phones, tablets, speakers and anything else that needs a recharge once in a while.
8. Stock up on food and water
Looking forward to exploring the outback? Australia has some long roads where shops can be few and far between. It's essential to plan for these parts of your journey and stock up food and water to keep away a case of the hungries.
Ensure you have plenty of water and ice for cold drinks. Hydration is vital during long hot stints, even if you're on the road. You'll find a fridge on board, but you may also want to stock up an esky to keep everyone cool and refreshed.
Plus, it's the holidays! Pack plenty of snacks and a treat or two to keep the kids happy and their tummies full. Oh, you might as well pack a treat or two for yourself too... you've done all this planning after all.
9. Pack for the season
Australia can get very hot, but there are also vast rainforests and other climates at play. That means you may run into cooler weather, rain, thunder and lightning, even during the summer. It's always important to check the weather conditions beforehand and pack accordingly.
You'll want to bring along plenty of sunscreen, hats and sun protection for the whole family. Also, bring along a lightweight rain jacket, umbrella and a few pieces of clothing that you can layer in case the weather turns.
If you're planning on spending some time outdoors, remember to pack your outdoor gear too. Camping chairs, beach gear, an esky and maybe even bikes, tramping gear or anything else you'll need for days out and about.
10. Take your time
We're big advocates for having a rough plan. But, you'll find one of the best things about travelling with a campervan is the freedom and flexibility it offers.
While you're planning your trip, remember that you don't have to lock much in at all. You can get on the road at a time that suits you, stop at unexpected attractions along the way, and let the kids have a say in where you head to next and when. You can travel at your own pace, make plenty of stops along the way and really enjoy both the journey and the destination making this a fantastic family holiday option. You don’t need to cram your days full of activities either - give everyone the chance to relax and unwind.
Campervan trips offer an excellent opportunity to switch off and reconnect as a family without the distraction of work emails, social media pings and all of the chores that crop up at home. Spend time relaxing together, playing and making beautiful memories.