We’ve just completed our 30-day drive up the eastern coast of Australia in a campervan, driving more than 4,000 km from Sydney to Cairns with a few detours in between. We did and saw some amazing things, but I think it’s safe to say that we’re happy our camping days are behind us! I’m still not sure whether it was the best or worst decision we’ve ever made – there were moments where I nearly divorced my husband, disowned my children (only kidding, of course!) and swore I’d never return to Australia. BUT it was a really wonderful way to see the country, and the highlights of our trip were well worth the struggles — snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef was worth the journey alone! I think it all would have been much more enjoyable (and easy) if we didn’t have the kids, but the irony is that the kids LOVED the campervan and could carry on camping forever.
I’m sure in years to come we will look back at our camping trip with really fond memories but right now I’m happy to be sleeping on a mattress, eating good meals and staying put for more than three days at a time.
Anyway, now that I’m a ‘camping expert’ I’ve compiled a list of all the pros and cons of traveling in a campervan (with young kids).
•You never have to unpack your suitcases.
•You have everything you need with you at all times.
•You never have to worry about where you’ll be sleeping – you’re always ‘home’.
•It’s easy to stop for lunch whenever and wherever you like, as you always have your kitchen/food with you.
•You can enjoy a more spontaneous schedule – stay for however long you like in each place.
•There are loads of campsites in Australia, which means you always have a choice of where to stay.
•Many of the campsites have pools and other children’s activities which the kids LOVE. It’s also a good opportunity for your kids to make friends.
•Many campsites here in Australia have a separate bathroom for families with young children which usually includes a deep sink for bathing babies.
•Our campervan had a TV and DVD player which kept the kids entertained while we were driving.
•You see so much more of the country if you drive it – the good and the bad – so you get a better appreciation of the country and the people.
•The space is tiny and cramped, and it requires a lot of organization.
•You have to use public toilets/showers, some of which are crawling with bugs.
•It’s no fun when your 2-year-old has to use the toilet in the middle of the night and you have to walk across the campsite to the toilet (especially in the rain)!
•You have to set up your beds each night before going to sleep – a process which takes a minimum of 20 minutes… and loads of patience.
•When one person moves/coughs/cries/talks it wakes everyone else up.
•If it rains, everything gets wet. And it’s no fun sitting inside a campervan for long periods of time, especially with kids.
•Before setting off every morning you have to put everything away, lock every cupboard, dump your waste water, unplug your power cord, put car seats back in place, etc. This process takes at least an hour, which is a LONG time when you have tired/cranky kids.
•Check-in at the campsites is usually by 6pm and check-out in the morning is at 10am – not easy when it takes an hour just to set off.
•Internet is either non-existent on the campsites, or VERY expensive. I paid $20 an hour on several occasions only to have a very slow internet connection – frustrating!