There are more RV accommodation options on the road now than ever before, from traditional fuss-free caravan parks to premium facilities with all the accessories. Here’s how to find the perfect one for you, whatever your needs.
Any long-time RV owner could name their favourite caravan park. A place where they’ve made cherished memories of long relaxing days, beautiful views and friendly fellow travellers.
The trouble is finding the experience that’s right for you, in a field packed with options. Campsites can range from nothing but a patch of flat ground up to resort-style parks with Wi-Fi, swimming pool, coffee shop and entertainment for the kids.
Let’s look at some of what’s out there, to help you find the perfect park for the experience you’re looking for.
Most parks now have their own websites, but beginning there could be daunting task, with more than 1600 of them in Australia. Happily, there are booking and information sites like Planner.hemax.com that try to include all of these locations and their features in one place. This allows you to search camp sites by map, town or nearby points of interest, and filter them so you only see those that match your needs.
Many caravan park chains have similar searchable websites that cover their range of facilities.
THE SIMPLE LIFE
If it’s simplicity you’re looking for then look for parks that are listed only as caravan parks and don’t use terms like ‘resort’ or ‘family’ in their description. These are your traditional parks, perfect for those nostalgic for the caravan parks of the past.
These parks are much friendlier for the travellers on a budget. Remember to be friendly and greet your fellow campers, and to keep your site clean by cleaning as you go. The little courtesies like these make the experience better for everyone.
KEEPING IT IN THE FAMILY
Families often need just a little more in terms of amenities. The right facilities to keep the kids entertained will help you create a holiday your family will look back on fondly for years.
The key when searching for a family-friendly park is to look for the little extras like a camp kitchen, basic children’s playground, games room, picnic area and pool or perhaps a wading pool for younger kids.
Young families should concentrate on the park or attractions nearby, so you don’t need to take too many toys, but don’t forget a few favourites to keep them happy.
You might like to go a little low-tech and bring some books along. Consider bringing torches to go possum spotting at night. These cost very little but can pay off with hours of fun. Similarly take a few pencils and paper or drawing books to stimulate growing minds. For older children, consider having them record their thoughts or ideas about the trip in a diary.
It’s important that kids always understand the rules of each park you stay in, and remember you are all sharing with a lot of other travellers. That means being mindful of noise, especially at night.
FIVE STAR LUXURY
More recent, resort-style parks come with a wide range of pricier luxuries, from tennis courts and woodfired pizza ovens to fancy swimming pools, on-site restaurants and more.
The drawback is that you pay for the facilities, whether you use them or not. If this is what you’re looking for, no problem, but if you’re happier roughing it a little then it’s wasted money. It can pay to check out online reviews, or talk to caravan club members to decide if a premium park that you’re considering is worth the added cost.
As with any caravan park, it’s important to be mindful of other campers. Top-notch facilities also mean top-notch cleanliness, so leave them as you found them or better.
The restaurant or cafe at the luxury park might be superb treats, but there’s still much enjoyment to gain from an inexpensive cook-up in the camp kitchen or around the BBQ areas — and you’ll save some cash, too.
WHAT ABOUT THE REST OF THE FAMILY?
Finding the perfect park is that it is not the end of the problem if your family is bringing pets — and they are part of the family, after all! Pets can really enhance the family camping experience, but they do come with added challenges.
If you spend a little time hunting online before you leave home, you and your pets are more likely to have a successful holiday.
Among these resources is sites like Planner.hemax.com, mentioned earlier. Filter your search with the word ‘pet’ and you get a long list of pet-friendly parks. Narrow the list a little further with the areas you intend to travel through and any other needs, and you should have a manageable list to choose from.
You will also improve your chances of a great travelling experience with a quick phone call to your chosen park. That’s because some parks have pet policies in place about pet and owner behaviour. If you aren’t prepared to meet these requirements, your pet-friendly holiday could be off to a poor start.
Remember not all parks have the same rules — whatever might be allowed in one park may not be permitted in another. Rules might include keeping your dog on a lead and cleaning up after them, or being required to take them with you when you’re away from the park.
There are more caravan park options available to travellers in Australia today than ever before. That gives you wonderful scope, but it can be baffling to the unprepared. Whatever kind of experience you and your family are looking for, with just a little research and planning you can be sure you’ll creating memories to last a lifetime.
MEET THE AUTHOR
David Gilchrist is a Brisbane based journalist, author, radio presenter/producer and documentary filmmaker. As a filmmaker, David has worked with ABC Landline, ABC Compass and ABC Open. In radio he has worked in community radio as a presenter, a 4EB producer and ABC local radio as a community correspondent. David has produced on-line video content for ABC and several magazine and content providers. Beyond video production for his business 4G Production, he has written for a variety of publications including The Independent in London, Australian Geographic, Outthere and The Australian Newspaper, The West Australian and The New Zealand Herald, Caravan World and Camper Trailer Australia. The Queensland Hotels Association published David’s first book Raising the Bar and Penguin Random House published his second book Life in the Saddle which became a best seller in its genre.