Wednesday, 13 June 2012

The End of a Camper Holiday! - Reflections

Well, the holiday is over. We have re-joined reality.

This holiday is our first proper break since the children were born. We need to do this more often!

This holiday has seen us travel by road for ten and a half days, covering 3812 kilometres.

Each and every meal we ate was prepared in the camper, except for dinner on Sunday night in Tamworth, and McDonald's for lunch on the way home. This was cheaper and healthier than eating out.

Using a motor-home camper was great. I have been camping in tents before and using a camper is pure luxury by comparison. I can get up, take two steps and have a hot shower. I can stand up and not worry about touching wet canvas walls. When we travel, we can pull in to a caravan park, camp ground, or even beside the road, and get straight into bed. Carrying a ready-to-go kitchen is also fabulous: it means that food can be cooked as quickly as if cooking at home, and we don't need to rely on take-away or restaurants.
Carrying the bedrooms with us reduces stress too: we don't need to worry too much about booking ahead - if we are ever 'stuck' it is possible to just pull up on the side of a road somewhere.

Being on holiday doesn't stop the kids fighting amongst themselves. But travelling in our home removes most of the stress: If the kids haven't dressed early enough for the day, we can go to where we need to go and then the kids can get changed when we get there. If they are arguing while we are travelling, there is a choice of five seats with seatbelts in which they can sit, so it means keeping the children together or apart is a trivial matter.

What would I do differently? Not too much - I might plan to do less: we settled in to a pattern of doing an activity in the morning, and then travelling in the evening which meant we would arrive at our destination and then go to sleep straight away. Breaking the travel and activities on separate days would have resulted in a more relaxed holiday - every second day could be a down day, with camp fires, lazy times reading books, going for walks and the like.

According to X, the best bits of the holiday are a tie between the wallaby rescue, and the rides at Warner Brothers Movie World. E's favourite is the wallaby rescue too. A has been able to shed her concerns on how difficult it might be travelling in a camper. She has been impressed with how easy it has been, as well as impressed with how cheaply we have lived.

The choice of Apollo for the motor home rental will certainly need to be reviewed before we rent again. Apollo lack the attention to detail which I expect, and their inefficient procedures in checking vehicles out mean that hours are wasted picking up a vehicle from the yard. Despite completing their pre-registration process before attending the vehicle pick up still took almost two hours. One or two problems might be expected with a rental vehicle, but the accumulation of many problems demonstrates that Apollo really need to revise how they do business. Kea, Britz, Maui and other brands will certainly be given greater consideration for next time. If we do go with Apollo for our next rental, I will certainly be scrutinising the vehicle very, very closely before accepting it.

We achieved an excellent balance spending some nights in caravan parks and some in national parks. A highlight for me was the Gold Coast Holiday Park - Q: what's better than a sausage sizzle? A: A FREE sausage sizzle! These people have a free sausage sizzle every Tuesday. How awesome is that?

What have I learned?
Taking a family holiday is an opportunity to strengthen the relationships in our family, and an opportunity to gain perspective on life.

.....and what's the most important thing about a holiday?

Taking one!

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