Ideas, Inspire Me

7 top tips for a Happy Campervan time


Campervan travel is heaven.  Freedom to go wherever you want, whenever you want, and with whoever you want (or, just you).  Camping on beaches, camping in the wild, gathering around a campfire, sleeping looking up at the stars, creative small space cooking, travel and adventure, life on the road.

Campervans are small and compact.  Small spaces can be challenging.  Even more so if you’re taking the whole family.

So how to make sure that your small and compact home-from-home holiday camper caters for all and keeps everyone happy.  Here are 7 top tips for a happy campervan time.


#1  Embrace minimalism

Compact, quirky, cosy, fun.  However you want to describe the interior of a camper, particularly vintage campers, let’s face it, they’re small.

Think creatively when you decide what to take on your campervan trip.  Decide on the clothes you want to take, then cut them by half.  Choose the essentials carefully – waterproof gear, footwear for wet ground, one warm jumper, a woolly hat, and definitely swimming things.

What else?  Torch, matches, first aid kit, maps, waterproof bags, plastic storage boxes, sun cream, and a basic tool kit for the camper.

Planning to cook on board?  Think about cooking equipment, washing up stuff, and food.  The less you take, the less time you’ll spend tidying up ready to move off.


#2   What to do if it rains?

If you’re a solo traveller then cosying up in the camper with a good book until it stops raining will likely be your idea of heaven.

If it’s two of you, head for the nearest village, town or city, park up and explore.  Hopefully there will at least be a pub to dive in to and at best an array of indoor places to visit.

If it’s the whole family, embrace the rain.  Kids don’t mind drizzle or a downpour.  If you’re near a beach, get on those waterproofs and take a wet walk, rock pools are way more exciting when there’s more water about.

Small children love these magical playhouses on wheels and will be happy getting cosy in the camper with cards, games, and books.  Story CDs, music and well-stocked MP3 players, and a portable DVD player can also come in handy.


#3  Stay at campsites whenever possible

Wild camping or camping on the beach is all very romantic.  And great for one or two nights a week.  But it won’t be long before you miss flushing loos and hot showers.

At campsites you can connect with fellow campervanners, and kids make friends so easily.

Visit the Cool Camping website for some amazing sites up and down the country.  You can search for dog-friendly campsites, woodland campsites, hidden campsites, glamping options, or search county by county.

And Pitch-Up makes it a doddle to book campsites in advance and has other helpful info thrown in such as local bike hire, walking routes, pubs nearby, and local events.


#4  If you’re with the kids, stagger the travelling and plan ahead

If it’s a family campervan break, choose your destination wisely and plan the actual travel days.  If you’ve travelled a long way to get to your destination you’ll want to kick back and settle in to your holiday without having to do long day trips every day.

Gen up on the areas you plan to visit and check out the activities that the kids will like, beaches, green areas, skate parks, cycle tracks.

You may decide to do the majority of the travelling on the first and last days so that you have a fixed place to stay for the duration.

Or you could plan a round trip where you travel every few days, pick a few favourite campsites, and get to see and stay in different locations.  The choice is yours.  Plan carefully.


#5  The things NOT to forget

  • A solar powered device charger for those rare times when you can’t hook up to electricity and the batteries have run out.  It can easily be charged by leaving it on the dashboard.
  • A GPS. Why?  Because everyone hates getting lost and sometimes the best campsites are often the ones that are hard to find.  Maps too, for back up.
  • Scissors.  Someone always needs them.  For opening something, for cooking, for cutting plasters, for no end of reasons.
  • Citronella candles.  Insects are the worst part of any camping trip.  No-one likes dealing with bites.
  • Disposable cleaning wipes, for all kinds of reasons. Personal hygiene, keeping the camper clean, wiping surfaces and glass, and mopping up spills.
  • First aid kit, tool kit, and waterproof lighter.  Everyone remembers to bring lighters and matches, however a waterproof lighter is a great back-up just in case the lighters or matches won’t work.
  • Water containers.  You can never have enough water on board.


#6  Be flexible

Ok, so you’ve done the planning, you’ve done the packing, routes are plotted, campsites are booked, and everyone’s on board.  The adventure has begun.  No plane to catch, hotel to get to, or organised outings to make.

Best thing to do as you set off?  Relax, take it easy, and be flexible with your itinerary.  Most campervans only go 60mph anyway.

If you’ve got a long travelling day ahead to the first campsite of your choice, check out some off-road picnic sites enroute, or stop-off at village cafe for a cream tea.

Even if you do get stuck in holiday traffic, so what?  You’re in the best place, sat up high in the camper, enjoying the open road, enjoying the views, with days of adventure ahead, and happy kids (hopefully!) in the back.

Be flexible, be adaptable.


#7  Slow down

Smaller living quarters will definitely bring family closer together.  So slow down, react less, help each other and truly work as a team.  The sense of adventure and discovery of a camper road trip will be like nothing you have experienced before.

Leave all worries behind and get ready for chilled out days filled with wandering and exploring outdoors followed by evenings snuggled up together playing games, reading and sleeping.

Don’t be too ambitious with a van you haven’t driven before and, if it’s your first time, keep the first stop close to home or your pick-up point.

Plan in some downtime too during the trip as driving and sightseeing can be tiring.  Need a nap? A quick sandwich?  A cup of tea?   Then pull over, take a break, and recharge the batteries.