For a low-cost holiday abroad, caravanning with your family is a brilliant option. Here, Alison shares her top tips on how to get the most from your trip…
Next week, I’m heading off to a campsite called Duinrell in the Netherlands – we’re renting a static caravan while we’re there, but plenty others will be pitching their tent or arriving with their caravan. Caravanning in Europe can be be such a great idea, when you’ve got kids. Most of us have a budget to stick to, and if you’ve got school-age kids, holidays can suddenly seem totally unaffordable. But caravanning or camping can be much cheaper than booking a villa or hotel.
How to prepare
When you’re looking for somewhere to book, choose carefully – camping and caravan parks vary hugely, in terms of facilities and how many family-friendly activities there are nearby. Joining the Camping And Caravanning Club is a great way to have access to great quality sites across Europe.
Remember to book holiday insurance! Accidents happen, and I’ve lost count of the number of friends I have who have had to pay A&E a visit while they’re abroad. Holiday insurance will give you peace of mind.
Know what you need in your car. By law, you need to have certain pieces of equipment in your car, when driving in European countries. If you’re stopped and you don’t have them, you risk a fine. Check what you need in your car, where, in this handy guide. You can buy ready made kits with everything you need, which will save you a lot of shopping time!
What to take
You may already have your caravan well-stocked with essentials, but if not, I love this useful printable checklist over on Mari’s World.
Depending on where you’re driving from and to, you might need to pack things to entertain the kids in the car. I’m a fan of playing cards, magazines, notebooks and pencils, and even the trusty iPad with kids’ headphones (remember to download some TV programmes from BBC iPlayer before you go, for free on-the-go viewing!)
Take your little ones’ scooters and bikes – they’re great if you want to go for a walk.
Remember the first aid kit, for any bumps or grazes (when they fall off their scooter or bike!)
How to enjoy the holiday
Plan ahead and if you can, ask for a pitch near the children’s play area. If they can wander there, to play, and still be in full view of you, while you sit by the caravan, well, that’s a holiday dream, right there!
Try to be near a toilet block too – no one wants a long walk when they need the loo.
If your kids are tired and bored after the long journey, take them off to do something fun while one of you sets up the caravan and awning.
My daughter wakes up super early every morning, so we’ll be taking a travel black-out blind with us next week, to make her room as dark as possible. If your kids sleep longer in the morning, you’ll ALL have more energy for fun during the day!
Places to go
Duinrell in the Netherlands is right by the beach, has its own waterpark and amusement park plus restaurants. It’s ideal for a family break.
Saint Avit Loisirs in the Dordogne region of France has a brilliant pool complex and is oodles of fun for kids.
Gavín is set in the Ordesa National Park, in the Pyrenees – if you’re looking for a Spanish caravan site, this one is for you. With an outdoor play area and an indoor soft play area, there’s plenty for your kids to do.
This post has been commissioned by the Camping And Caravanning Club – all views are our own. Image of children in caravan: Shutterstock.