Managing your time on the road when you have kids and how getting it right was a game changer for me.
A bit of a back story is probably required here…
Prior to kids I would have jumped in the van and headed off without a second thought about where I was going to park it that night. Same goes for when my husband is with us.
But, since I have started doing so many trips by myself with the kids the urge to have a game plan has really kicked in.
Mostly it’s a safety thing, I don’t want to end up somewhere dodgy where I don’t feel safe.
Tips for feeling safe when camping solo with kids has all my thoughts on the things you can do to be and feel safer when you’re out there solo.
My game plan up until this last trip has gone something like this…
Book accommodation ahead so I don’t get stuck somewhere with the kids with no place to park for the night.
Sorta end up rushing to my destination, purely because I have one, then getting the camp set up early so I wasn’t setting it up late because, well, I don’t know why.
Sit at camp and alternate between twiddling my thumbs and tearing my hair out while trying to keep the kids occupied until bedtime.
Wake up in the morning, check out everything within walking distance because the beds need to be packed away and carseats put back in before we can drive anywhere, then pack up and repeat.
This time I changed it up.
I called ahead to campgrounds and van parks all along the route and asked about my chances of getting a spot, any spot, to park the van if I rocked up anytime between Monday to Friday that week.
I’m aware this probably only worked so well this time as it wasn’t school holidays, but I’m going to run with it now and iron out any bumps as they happen!
I had confirmation that there were safe places for us to pull up at least every three hours all the way to our destination.
The panic merchant mama in me was satisfied, while the adventurer had the chance to meander along and discover all sorts of amazing places without the pressure to get anywhere by a certain time.
All of a sudden the focus was on the trip, the actual driving and the places we were driving through and not on the accomodation at the end of the day.
I would pack up early in the morning, head off and then adventure for the whole day. We took every tourist drive detour, stopped at every beautiful beach and wandered around the back roads when we found a place we liked.
I also bought a portable loo for the van. Best. Thing. Ever. I’ve been a bit anti carrying a toilet around and I’m so glad I got over it.
Here’s a photo of Pipi dog disguising it, it’s actually pretty unobtrusive. One of the biggies is we can now pull up at free camps that don’t have facilities and be totally fine.
All sorts of cool stuff followed on from that point;
We saved money on accomodation as it didn’t matter if it wasn’t a super beautiful spot, it just had to be functional and safe for an overnighter.
It also meant we had room to find free camps or cheap campsites along the way and we were able to check them out before committing.
There are so many apps and websites these days that make it super easy to find all kinds of different places to camp, check out handy apps for road tripping & camping, there are a bunch of different options in there.
This new version of doing things completely cancelled out the entertain the kids at camp problem as we were getting in as late as we could get away with and basically eating, showering and crashing out.
I also worked out that if I get the kids involved with the set up when we do get to camp they are pretty happy pottering around doing their jobs and leave me alone to do what I have to do.
Head over to jobs for the kids when you’re camping for some kid friendly things that will actually help you out.
We saw a lot more of the surrounding areas as we had the whole day to drive around checking it out and weren’t limited to places within walking distance of camp.
There were less long stretches of actual drive time as we were stopping constantly which was great for the kids.
And, no more rushing! I didn’t realise how inclined I am to want to rush to a destination when I have one.
Once there was no need to get anywhere at a particular time I felt completely different and there was this calm that kicked in, I was happy for everything to take longer.
We could decide to stay longer at a particular place if we loved it or move along earlier than planned if we weren’t that keen.
I guess my big take aways from this trip are;
- You can plan ahead without having to lock things in.
- Having a portable toilet completely changes things when it comes to being more flexible with camp sites.
- When I get over my inclination to rush everywhere, magic happens.
“The journey is more important than the destination”, we’ve all heard it a million times, but to be honest I don’t reckon it actually sunk in until now.
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