How did I go from “you won’t ever catch me in a caravan”…to this??

(And by this I mean a van-loving-travel-obsessed-caravan-mummy!)

Sometimes I wonder how I ended up here! If you’d said to me eight years ago that I’d travel around in a caravan (let alone with two small children) I would have quoted Dave from The Castle… Tell him, he’s dreamin’! I was your quintessential five-star girl. I liked my pillows extra fluffy, my resorts with swim up bars and my holidays with all the trimmings…. So you might ask… What happened?   

The realisation that things had to change began after we had our first daughter.  Ashlee was nearly twelve months and we were staying in a hotel in Penrith NSW.  One small room on the 13th floor with a little person who had found her legs and wanted to explore… definitely not easy! The poor little thing practised her walking in the hallway and I remember thinking “This is ridiculous, we should be outside, this is crappy for her… It was a long, tricky stay and I could see that my family no longer fitted so easily in a traditional hotel.

ashlee walking in hotel penrith

Ashlee walking up and down the hotel hallway…

Our next little adventure saw us head to sunny Queensland for a conference and we were staying at the Treasure Island Resort.  Ashlee was now 18 months old and full of wonder and excitement.  This little getaway changed everything! We enjoyed an experience that was new to us, a holiday park! This stay brought so much happiness for us all.  Who would have thought it? Look at us, living it up in a caravan park! (And loving it!) The holiday-tides for our family had definitely changed.

ashlee on swings

Treasure Island Resort 2009  ashlee waterslide

Our love and respect for the holiday park industry was born on this trip and when we were away, holiday and caravan parks were to become our first point of call.  Before we got our caravan, we enjoyed staying in cabins and experiencing all the facilities parks had to offer clocking in several great trips. This confirmed what we already knew, a holiday park was a much more family-friendly environment.

Despite this knowledge, I was still not completely sold on getting a caravan when Wayne first suggested it.   Wayne and I were not ‘campers’; we didn’t grow up camping or caravanning as kids. Although I now find it amusing that one of my greatest memories of a holiday, as a child was our one trip to Inverloch when I was in primary school.  Coming from a single parent family, my two older sisters and I spent most of our holidays with my Auntie.  Amazingly fun times, but I only ever remember ‘going away’ a couple of times.  We had not been a ‘summer holiday every January’ kind of family.

I was never too sure why Inverloch was so memorable for this then eight-year-old but I am now convinced that it was the nature of this holiday.  The caravan park, the freedom, the new friends we made, the milk truck in the mornings, the annex where we slept, the sleeping bags, eating outside, late nights, showering…oh my, the list is long.  But on reflection maybe my romance with the Aussie holiday park was longer than I had realised. I now see this same enjoyment and excitement in our girls.  They love making new friends, scooting around the caravan park, cooking the BBQ, exploring and waking up to a new adventure each day.   Here are some photos my mum dug up from our holiday in Inverloch.  They warm my heart and make me laugh (circa mid 1980’s)

old caravan photo inverloch caravan park old old photo of caravan park old photo annex

This family time we share when we are away together is priceless and an element of family life that was missing is now reclaimed.  We lead busy lives, which just seemed to get busier and busier, to the point where we felt we were missing out! Missing out on experiences with our girls, quality time and shared experiences.  Wayne and I took a hard look at our way of life and recalled all the times when we were most happy and relaxed, the times when, as a family, we were the most connected.  These times were when we were away, enjoying the great outdoors in holiday parks across Australia.  “Let’s get a caravan!” Wayne suggested again.

Really? Ummmmm… I was still unsure.  Why was I hesitating? Would I enjoy it? Could we afford it? I like staying in cabins! Would we use it enough? Round, round and round I went.

Wayne was super keen and made so many good points: “When we are away we enjoy the girls and we are forced to relax…this is something we are not doing with our weekends.  If we get a van, we can get away as often as possible…nothing stopping us heading off for weekends…we don’t have to go far…there is so much to see and do within a few hours drive of home…”

WOW…I hated to admit it, but he was right.

Our journey of caravan ownership was about to begin! We looked at a heap of second hand vans and landed an amazing van…we had no idea what we were doing, but that was all part of the fun.  Our first adventure saw us head up the road 30 minutes and Wayne made about 5 trips to the local hardware store to pick up things we had no idea we even needed! (check out our article “A few handy items for your van” )Teething aside once we were set up and the sausages were cooked, we put our feet up and cracked a beer and…relaxed. It is impossible to articulate that feeling of sitting back in your camping chair after setting up…but that pure joy, happiness, relaxation…. Whatever it is, it is always there and we were hooked!  I was a caravan girl after all!

Fast forward to today:  I often think about that holiday to Inverloch and about where I am now and I couldn’t be happier with our switch from 5 star resorts to caravanning.  We are not big lappers, or long haul adventurers.  We are your average family who ‘found’ caravanning and it has changed our lives for the better.  Sometimes we will hear friends talk about how their weekends can be boring and chewed up with chores and catch-ups and that they don’t get ‘enough’ family time. Wayne and I chuckle and can’t help but say Have you thought about getting a van? It will change your life” and boy, we know this is the truth!

How did your journey as a caravan family begin? Do you know ‘that feeling’ of relaxation? If you don’t maybe its time you tried a van!

You might also enjoy these recent articles:  “Choosing a caravan that is right for your family” and “Meal Planning & Prepping”

Check out our Aussie made Travel Journals & Caravan Log Books here

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