The jolly season is upon us, and if the thought of slaving over a hot stove for a cast of thousands fills you with dread, it's a wonderful time to pack up and hit the road. If you've taken the plunge and bought yourself a caravan, then it's time to start the best job in the world- planning where you'll go for your Summer holiday. With the flexibility of caravanning, the world really is your oyster, so we thought we'd put together a list of handy hints to get you on your way to a holiday you will remember always. So escape the dishes and enjoy the tranquility of the great outdoors!
Remember, if it's solitude and a bit of peace and quiet you're after, so are many others at this time of year. So if you are wanting to beat the crowds, consider going off-road, somewhere off the beaten track where you might find what you are craving.
With the weather forecast looking mainly beautiful, let's start planning!
1. Book Ahead Where you Can
It's prime time for caravan parks, such a busy time in fact that some top parks (like Victoria's Wilsons Promontory and Cape Conran), have ballot systems in place that take place in June. If you've missed the boat on those ones, it's worth researching your desired location to understand maximum and minimum stays, fees and the booking process. Don't assume you can just turn up to a caravan site, as you might be left very disappointed.
2. Check What Supplies You'll Need
It's time to get organised and pack your caravan with everything you'll need for your trip. This means figuring out what facilities the caravan sites have, and what you'll need to bring along. Will there be a supermarket nearby? If not, best bring all your Christmas goodies along with you. Will you need to bring your own gas, bottled water, firewood? The weather forecast at this stage looks fine and sunny (sorry Perth!) but we all know how accurate the Bureau of Meteorology can be, so keep checking the forecast right up until you leave, and bring enough clothing for all possibilities. Of course remember sunscreen, first aid kits, mossie repellent and all other essentials.
3. Prepare for Crowds
One of the best things about caravanning is the like-minded people you meet along the way. You might make friends for life at the toilet block or the shared BBQ facilities. But of course, at peak seasons like Christmas, there will be a LOT of like-minded people around. This can be great- if you have kids there will always be friends for them to play with, if you like to socialise this will always be readily available. But prepare to be patient. There might be queues for the toilets, a booking system for the BBQs and challenges with getting in and out of the car park. Minor inconveniences in the scheme of things, so make sure you're prepared and go with the flow. It can be all part of the fun!
4. Vehicle Maintenance
Whether your trip is quick or a long winding journey, remember to check your car is road worthy. Get it serviced if it is due, check the tyres, oil, water. Ensure there are petrol stops along the way or plan a route that enables you to stop to refuel where needed. Caravan sites can be crowded places, and prangs are always possible, so make sure your insurance is up to date. Kids and cars don't mix well for extended periods, so ensure you have games or CDs/DVDs to entertain them, and plan rests on the way to keep everyone sane!
5. Remember how Lucky You Are
At Christmas it's easy to get caught up in the presents, the holidays, the food and trappings. We live in a beautiful country, so make sure you take the time to stop, breathe in the coastal/country/mountain air, and take in the wonder around you. Be thankful that you can share it with your loved ones and you can access these amazing places so easily, just you, your loved ones and your caravan.