The Reality of Campervan Travel: Challenges and Rewards

When I share with my non-camping friends that we’re doing some campervan travel with our toddler, their response is usually, “Oh, how relaxing! Have a wonderful holiday!” But is it truly as relaxing as it sounds? Well, yes and no.

An Unconventional Holiday Experience

Certainly, there are moments of relaxation, but the reality is far from a typical holiday. It’s akin to backpacking or even a stopover in a random city. It’s an experience, an embodiment of travel’s essence. However, constant relaxation isn’t the norm.

The Struggles and Rewards

Transitioning into the rhythm of campervan travel takes time. It usually takes me about a week to switch gears mentally, moving from the clock-bound, get-things-done mindset to one where time stretches out, and tasks take longer, and that’s perfectly fine. Eventually, I find myself walking more leisurely, discarding shoes, and reading whatever I can lay my hands on, purely for the sake of something to do.

Everyday Challenges

True, the campervan lifestyle grants more time—time for beach lounging, book reading, and genuine conversations (thanks to the absence of a TV). These are the picturesque moments that find their place on our Facebook profiles. However, the initial challenges arise from everything taking longer in a campervan.

Dishes and Delays

Consider the simple task of washing dishes. If you’re at a campground, you must transport your dishes to the camp kitchen, wash them at a snail’s pace (all the while pining for your trusty dishwasher at home), dry them, and then cart them back to your van without mishaps. And that’s if you’re lucky enough to have a camp kitchen. Imagine tackling day-old dishes in 40-degree heat, using a tiny sink with only cold water. Plus, water needs rationing when your tank levels are dwindling—no extravagance here!

Parenting and Practicalities

If you’re a parent with a baby, toddler, or a young child, the scenario becomes even more intricate. Dealing with unexpected mishaps that require immediate washing while camping is a new challenge altogether.

European Laundry Adventures

If you’ve travelled in Europe, you’re familiar with the laundry struggle. A kilometre walk to reception for a laundry token, deciphering foreign instructions, and then, inevitably, the rain begins just as you’re done hanging clothes to dry. The comforts of home become cherished memories.

The Real Tests

And these are just the tip of the iceberg. Unfavourable weather, health issues, and even camping neighbours who can’t quite grasp the concept of peace and quiet—these are the real tests of patience.

Embracing the Challenges for the Rewards

So, why do I embrace this lifestyle? Why do I find myself selling and building campervans during work hours, living in them on weekends and vacations, and even watching campervan movies at night? Because those who believe it’s all about relaxation have no inkling of the truth.

Moments of Bliss

They’ve never experienced the exhilaration of stumbling upon a pristine, deserted beach on a perfect summer’s day. Their mornings haven’t begun with gratitude for sleeping in a rainforest or atop a breathtaking cliff. They haven’t savoured tea and boiled eggs while seated in camping chairs, overlooking a clifftop, watching the sunrise in splendid isolation.

The Freedom of the Road

Sure, it’s tough in the beginning. But it’s these very challenges that make the rewards so much sweeter. The freedom, the breathtaking views, and the indescribable feeling of home that moves with you—these are the reasons I wouldn’t trade my campervan life for anything.

A New Way of Living

In essence, guiding someone into their first campervan experience is much like advising a new parent. Yes, it can be tough, but the rewards make it all worthwhile. It’s a new way of living—one that, once embraced, is impossible to leave behind. And even amid moments of frustration (cue blaring music at 4 a.m.), the sheer greatness of the experience ensures the journey is one that’s never wished to end.

For more insights into the world of campervan travel, explore our other related blogs.