Are you planning on caravanning around Australia, a big lap perhaps? A trip down the coast to a remote beach somewhere or a family-friendly caravan park? No matter what trip you’re planning, you need to think carefully about how to manage the politics and logistics of living shoulder to shoulder with your nearest and dearest for an extended period. Because no matter how near and how dear, they will start annoying you, a lot, at some stage. This is guaranteed. How catastrophic this annoyance is to your adventure depends on how well you plan, and how you manage these tricky situations. Here are some tips to come back from your trip happy and full of enthusiasm and fond memories, rather than booking your appointment with the divorce or adoption agency- and they just might save you thousands in therapy!

Buy the right caravan

There are a number of questions you should be asking yourself before purchasing a caravan. It’s a big investment, and you want it to be something that brings you years of happy memories and bonding moments with your loved ones. Here are some things to consider (again get everyone’s input on this to get them excited and feeling positive about the whole thing):

  • What mod cons are essential, vs nice to have?
  • Will I want something that’s quick and easy to set up (good for short says) or more elaborate (fine if you’re staying put for a while)
  • How many people will it need to accommodate?
  • What kind of tow vehicle do I need?
  • How self-sufficient can I be?
  • What power requirements will I need?

Make sure you do your research, talk to some experts and purchase a caravan that meets all your ‘must have’ needs and as many of your ‘nice to have’ needs as possible.

Plan together

Whether you’re ambivalent about your itinerary or feel very strongly about how you should fill your days, get everyone involved in the planning process. Including the kids. Sit everyone down over a nice meal, and have a relaxed chat about what everyone would like to do on your adventure. Being involved in the planning will get everyone invested in the holiday and if they’re invested it will matter more to them that you all have a great time. Plus who doesn’t love to plan a trip! Sometimes it can be more fun than the trip itself!

Ensure you have reliable phone coverage

Apart from that fact that you’ll need mobile reception in case of an emergency, when you’re living in close quarters with people you’re going to need an outlet. Make sure you have a good phone plan with reliable coverage (check coverage on your route and at your destination before setting out) for those times when you need to vent. We all do it, it will help keep you sane. It’s amazing how much better it can feel to tell someone not involved just how utterly impossible <insert loved one’s name here> is being. Get it out, calm down and move on. It’s better than having continuous confrontations over the small stuff.

Know your triggers

Do some self-reflection before you head off, and work out what sets you off. Do you get hangry (angry when hungry)? Tend to snap at people if you don’t get a solid 8 hours sleep? Maybe the heat makes you cranky? Whatever it is, we all have them and it’s completely human to get annoyed sometimes. The trick is to understand what might make you this way and try to head it off at the pass. Pack snacks so you can keep your blood sugar levels up. Ensure your caravan has reliable air conditioning or some good fans to circulate the air. Make sure your sleeping arrangements are comfortable and the noise is kept to a minimum at night, where possible. Keeping everyone rested, cool and fed will make a world of difference to everyone’s mood.

Make friends

Waking up, eating, socialising, going to bed and repeat with the same people can get old. In your ‘normal’ life you have the opportunity, generally, to get a change of scenery- even if it’s going to work, to shake things up a bit and keep you out of a rut. The good news is you are sitting on a gold mine of potential new buddies at any caravan or camping site. People with shared interests, probably the same stressors, and likely many looking for a new friendly face to give them a break from the same people they’ve been living in a confined space with for days/weeks on end. There is an etiquette at caravan sites, generally, where people’s space and privacy is respected. If you don’t look like you want to chat, people will likely leave you alone. If you’re keen to make friends outside your travelling group, try smiling at people you pass at the site, have a chat over the BBQ or at the toilet block. If you’re open to making friends and send the right signals to let people know, some great mates can be made while caravanning. These new mates might have kids who can entertain yours, the possibilities are endless.

Travelling with people can be tricky. Add to that the pressure of living with others in a confined space while caravanning around Australia, and you could be looking at a very short trip or stressful atmosphere on your great adventure- no one wants that. Sit down and do some planning before setting off, think about yourself, your travel companions and how you can facilitate a comfortable trip and manage the stress levels as best you can – control what you can control. You will always have surprises along the way- that’s part of the magic of caravanning, but a bit of planning and self-reflection will give you a wonderful chance to have a trip of a life time. Which is what it’s all about, really.