It’s a new year, and the great outdoors is beckoning. One of the best ways to experience it is via a family road trip. A lot of planning comes with tips of this type; fortunately, the experts at Indie Campers are on hand to point you in the right direction.
For holidays that involve a real sense of adventure, the opportunity to connect with nature and a chance to experience various countries and cultures at your own pace, a campervan road trip is a great way to travel as a family.
On a more practical level, it means creating your own itinerary and offers the freedom to take along favourite toys and other items that might not travel well on plane journeys, all while staying safely in your own ‘bubble’.
Irrespective of where you’re planning to go, the tips and tricks from the experts at Indie Campers will help to ensure you have a stress-free road trip with family or friends.
1. Choose your own adventure
Both the UK and Europe are full of fascinating destinations that children of all ages will enjoy. There is so much to explore, from medieval castles to breathtaking landscapes, wild beaches, and enchanting cities. And when your holiday home moves around with you, it’s an easy opportunity to take in more than one region or country on the same trip.
From the wild coast of Cornwall to the fairytale castles of Germany or the medieval towns of Switzerland, Indie Campers has an extensive range of ready-made road trip itineraries complete with information on travelling times, campsite and restaurant recommendations.
2. Finding the right vehicle for a road trip
From the compact but well-equipped FIAT Sporty campervan to the versatile VW California with a pop-up roof tent or the luxurious Mercedes Marco Polo, Indie Campers offers various vehicles suitable for all group sizes and budgets. When choosing a camper, it is useful to consider space, facilities, and the terrain and climate of regions through which the route will pass. Parents taking their children camping for the first time might want to consider a ‘trial run’ of sleeping in a tent before choosing their vehicle.
3. What to pack for a family road trip?
Before you start packing, write a list to help ensure nothing crucial gets left behind. It helps to break it down into sections, with one for each person and a general section that includes games, electronics, and a first aid kit. When it comes to clothing, layers are key. It’s worth thinking about what activities you’re likely to be doing too – from swimming to hiking so that you have the necessary kit.
Card games or audio plays are a great way to keep the kids entertained during more extended periods of driving – and don’t forget the snacks! Indie Campers vehicles come equipped with a cleaning kit and bedding kit included, but you’ll need towels and toiletries. For younger children especially, taking their special toy or favourite pillow can be a lifesaver in ensuring peaceful nights.
4. Safe camping practices
Before heading out on a road trip with older children, it’s a good idea for families to sit down for a pre-trip briefing. This can be turned into a fun experience that builds excitement for the holiday ahead, but the safety messages are important. Laying out some basic rules can prevent injuries or worse. Children should know to never be out of earshot and to let an adult know before leaving the campsite. Camping website Camping with Gus also suggests that children should be asked to keep their shoes on at all times around the site to keep their feet protected.
Kids should also be made aware that it’s not safe to drink water from rivers or streams, which may be contaminated, and to ask an adult before drinking from water sources on the campsite. Bottled water is the safest option, but parents could also consider bringing iodine tablets or water filters as a backup.
5. Dealing with insects
Insect repellent is a must when camping. Apart from being annoying, the pesky bugs can carry the West Nile Virus as well as Zika, so it’s best to keep yourself covered up. Hats, long trousers and long-sleeved shirts will keep campers protected. Ticks are another common occurrence, especially in hiking areas, and keeping covered up with clothes is the first step to prevent being bitten. Additionally, families should make sure to check each other over after a day spent in the great outdoors, not forgetting ‘hidden’ areas such as behind the ears or underarms.
If a tick is found, a helpful trick is to suffocate it by covering it in cooking oil, so it releases its grip. To remove it, it’s best to pull the tick out upward with a pair of tweezers. Avoid attracting bees or wasps by leaving patterned and bright clothes at home and covering food and drinks. Calamine lotion and antihistamine tablets are useful additions to the first aid kit in case a child gets stung. In the worst case, if someone gets stung and has trouble breathing or develops a rash, it’s important to seek medical attention right away.
6. Fun and games
What would a road trip be without classic car games such as ‘I spy’ or ‘I packed my bag’? Not only does it keep everyone entertained on long journeys, but it is also great brain training for young and old. Stash the tablets and smartphones away for a while and bond over these all-time family favourites. For a list of other fun games that can easily be played on the road, check out Indie Camper’s dedicated blog on the topic here.
7. Learn along the way
From visiting a medieval castle to stopping at a working farm with animals or a museum, there will be ample opportunities along the way to have fun and learn something new. Seeing some of the things they would usually encounter on TV or in the movies come to life in front of them is a fascinating experience for children. Parents could book some guided tours, sports activities such as horseback riding, cycling or kayaking, or visit a local food producer to bring the classroom into the real world.
8. What to do on a road trip when it starts raining
Unfortunately, sometimes bad weather is unavoidable. When the showers begin, a great option to keep children entertained on a road trip is to host a movie night in the van! Snuggling up with pillows and blankets inside the van and enjoying a box set binge or film marathon is a cosy way to keep warm and dry. The best way to enjoy a movie is on the big screen, so investing in a portable projector is worthwhile.
Many modern projectors can now be connected to laptops, mobile devices, or streaming sticks. Portable canvases in various sizes are also offered cheaply online, but white sheets offer a suitable alternative. And if the sound of a laptop is not enough, Bluetooth speakers can provide a real cinema feel. Add some hot chocolate, popcorn, and fairy lights – and you have the perfect setting for a night that the whole family will enjoy.
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