Packing for Peace of Mind: The Parents’ Caravan Holiday Survival Guide

Caravan holidays are full of character-building adventures for children of a young age – from enjoying a sense of freedom you don’t get with most holidays to exploring the great British countryside, there’s plenty to do and plenty of memories to be made.

That being said, there are a few things we can’t control when on holiday, and even fewer that are understood by young children. To avoid the disappointment of an unexpected spring monsoon, a sudden change of plans leaving you activity-less or a simple case of long journey boredom, we’ve asked the lodge and caravan experts at Pure Leisure for their best packing tips.

Take emergency games

While we’re sure you’ll want to spend the majority of your caravan trip in the great outdoors, there are some implications, like the weather, that can’t be stopped – especially in the UK. The weather can be tumultuous during spring, so make sure you bring some engaging board games and puzzles to play with the kids.

Jemima, Marketing Manager at Pure Leisure, had this to say about packing a game or two (or three!):

“Board games really do bring the whole family together, there’s a reason why they’re considered to be so festive! We always recommend packing at least two board games when staying away in your caravan, just in case it rains or if you want to turn off the telly in the evening,” she explains.

“The games you should bring really depend on the age of your children, but I’d avoid Monopoly – it’s a bit too long to keep young children engaged. Consider quick-fire card and board games like UNO, Frustration, Guess Who? or Bananagrams.”

Bring home comforts

If you’re bringing a child on their first trip away from home, they are likely to be very excited. However, did you know that surveys have shown almost half of children feel anxious about going on long car rides? You may find when they are on the road or when they arrive at the caravan site, homesickness sets in as the initial excitement subsides.

The best way to help an anxious child settle is to bring a little bit of home with you, packing something which brings your child comfort. This might be a blanket, teddy or even a toy to pre-occupy them before they fully settle into their home away from home.

“To prepare children for travel, you should also involve them in the packing process,” says Jemima. “Explain to them that you will be on the journey for a little while, so they should pick out a couple of toys to take with them. This will give your child a sense of control during the journey, ultimately making them more confident and allowing them to hold on to that excitement of going away on a caravan adventure.”

Don’t forget your wellies

Again, we never know when poor weather will strike. Forecasts do their best, but unpredictable weather should never get in the way of making the most out of your holiday.

Kids love the rain – it’s a sensory phenomenon for them and a trigger of excitement. Instead of dampening their mood and stopping them from playing in the rain, make sure you pack an emergency set of rain-proof clothing.

“Some of my best childhood holiday memories are jumping in big puddles!” Jemima explains. “It’s a stereotype for a reason – kids just love playing with water and getting outside, come rain or shine. Instead of cancelling your outdoor activities, pack appropriate waterproofs and join the kids in the childhood excitement of wet weather. It’ll be one of the many core memories they’ll look back on when they remember their childhood caravan holidays.”

Prepare for booboos

Headaches, tummy aches, bumps and bruises are as real a possibility on holiday as they are at home. 37% of children have been found to get poorly on holiday, so don’t forget to pack child-friendly medicines and plasters before you set off!

“Children love an outdoorsy holiday! Playing in nature, climbing trees and spending time with the dog are all incredibly enriching for children. Unfortunately, that doesn’t stop the possibility of a scraped knee here or a tummy ache there,” says Jemima.

“We’d always advise packing extra medicines and plasters to stock up your caravan with. Good child-friendly medicines to keep on stand-by are paracetamol and ibuprofen – both of which come in liquid versions. It’s also handy to keep some sting relief nearby, it’s easy to brush past a nettle when playing in nature.

“Also, if your child is playing in the sun for extended periods, you may find the heat can strain their head – causing a headache,” Jemima continues. “Liquid paracetamol is great for treating this, but also be sure to pack extra bottled water and caps to help prevent them from cropping up in the first place! Sunscreen is also important for skin protection, you can never be too careful when it comes to the sun.”

Make a plan

One of the best ways to pack accordingly for you and your child is by making an activity plan – involving your child in the process. This doesn’t have to be a rigid schedule, just an outline of all the local attractions you want to visit, activities you want to do and places you want to see!

“There’s nothing worse than getting to your holiday, finding a wonderful leisure centre, and then realising you didn’t pack any swimwear!” Jemima laughs. “A rough plan outlining what you want to do with your family is great for remembering the crucial items to pack, especially if you plan on swimming or long walks. Swimwear and proper walking boots are a must.”

Where are you heading for your next UK caravan adventure? Wherever your adventure takes you, we hope you have everything you need to make the most of your well-deserved time off.

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