Any tips for a first time family holiday in a campervan? (1 Viewer)

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TerrifiedFirstTimer

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Hi,

It looks like we're going to spend two weeks at easter in France in my parents campervan.
Two adults plus two kids (13 and 12).
Initial excitement has now given way to complete dread. :)
Can anyone point us in the direction of any resources for planning / surviving two weeks locked up together in a single room.
Any top tips?
Any gems that we should know _before_ we start out?
Here's some that I've already gathered by way of example from other's travelling with their family for extended periods (some of this might be heresy):

-- Don't forget that you can always just check into a budget hotel for a night or two if you need to break things up.
-- If a site isn't working, just move on.
-- Pick a route where you know you can get to larger sites with better facilities (bars, seating areas, pools) so you can spend some evenings 'out of the van'
etc.

-- Maybe for your first time, half and half it. Use the van to spend a few days getting somewhere, have a week in accommodation, then use the van to road trip back...

Any practical pointers would be greatly appreciated.
 
Mar 23, 2012
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I think your ideas are sound what type of van is it? Is it a camper van or motorhome (with more space and facilities) the kids might want to have the adventure of sleeping in a tent next to it etc etc. Look on it as an opportunity they cost a bomb to hire for a week.
 
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TerrifiedFirstTimer

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Hi, it's a Fiat based "Sharky motorhome".

re: opportunity
-- So many of these things are about how you look at the situation, so yes, I'll shift my mindset into how we can make the opportunity work for us.

re: kids
-- It has a bike rack on the back, so i think we should take their bikes?
-- We were thinking about a small tent for them if they wanted - are you allowed a small tent on the same pitch as the van or would you have to pay more?
 
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Lenny HB

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Don't really see any problem we always had caravans family holidays until the kids were well into their teens.
More important is your parents Motorhome suitable for a family of 4, if it is a 3500kg van you may be over the weight limit. If it is over 3500kg do you have a C1 licence?
 
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Head for somewhere like Puy du Fou. The kids should love it and spend days talking about it afterwards.
 
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Apr 27, 2008
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Weather can be iffy at Easter unless you go a long way south. If its warm you spend more time outside so less cramped.
Putting the kids in a tent or even two can be fun for them and reduce congestion at night. You may have to pay extra for a pup tent on the same pitch, varies from place to place. I used to pitch a tent under the rollout awning for extra shelter.
 
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TerrifiedFirstTimer

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re: size / weight

-- I don't have specifics to hand, I just know that it's under the limit for the driving license I have so I can drive it without any additional bits (I passed my test many years ago).
-- Just looked it up on the DVLA site, it has a 'revenue weight' of 3000kg, which I think means that the vehicle PLUS maximum load comes in under 3000kg
-- It's not massive, but the kids have been aware with grandparents in it, so it's possible.

re: puy de foy

-- that was on our list. :)
 
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Apr 22, 2018
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My advice would be, don’t take too much stuff. It just makes living in a small area hard work. Less is more as the saying goes. Part of the fun for kids camping is making things up/dealing with things as they happen.

I think there are two ways to go about traveling in a MoHo. Motorway and rush to get to a destination where you then setup camp and stay a while and investigate and area, or just plod a long the smaller roads and see what you find as you travel. I think a lot will depend on how your kids are travelling, and how interesting they find it.

Understanding the vehicle and it’s controls, (vehicle and accommodation parts) will make you holiday a lot more relaxing, so think about how the water, gas, drainage, heating, hot water systems operate. Get the vehicle sizes listed somewhere you can see them, sort out a navigation system that knows what size you are.

You have done the correct thing coming on here to find these things out.

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Apr 27, 2008
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Puy de fou is brilliant for kids and adults too. It needs more than one day though. It has an aire though if your vehicle is without a toilet etc there may not be facilities there. I haven't actually stayed there but someone will have first hand knowledge
 
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The best way to learn a language is living in the country of the language you want to learn. This is a huge educational opportunity. Take a 'Get-by-in-French' type language course - Lidl were doing them a week or two ago.

Get them to go on their bikes to the shop and buy bread, milk etc. My kids knew all the icecream flavours in French by the age of six. With luck they will make friends on the site and talk with them - but the French-speakers will be wanting to practice their English on them.
 
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We travel with two kids (14 & 10).

Means of charging devices - tablets, phones and so on. Perhaps make extra provision for mobile data for the kids to use?
Plenty of snacks - keeping them fed and watered makes for an easier journey.
Make lots of stops - stretching legs helps prevent irritability.

At Easter it could be freezing or at least very cold - be sure to take warm clothes, maybe fleece blankets too?
Not all camp-sites will be open, might be worth researching availability and have a vague plan....

As mine have gotten older, the big/lively campsites have less appeal for them, they generally find them boring after the initial explore..
The kids much prefer being outdoors 'doing something'.
The best days involve visiting attractions (not necessarily paid ones), sightseeing (even if just local village), walking, cycling, parks near water, forests and so on - they like to be stimulated, ice-cream and/or pizza always provide encouragement.
Good luck and have a wonderful trip (y)
 
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hilldweller

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I think means that the vehicle PLUS maximum load comes in under 3000kg

That is seriously low for 4 bodies. Just because they went away with their grandparents, when they were a bit smaller, does not mean they went away legally. Many vans travel over weight and get away with it, but if caught, it's a fine and lose some weight or you can't continue.

Probably forget the bikes and stick with one spare pair of knickers.
 
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We travel with a 11year old just make sure thay can get on FB also just take it one day at a time Easter is in April this year so you might get lucky with the weather.
We never plan our motorhome holidays
Just one day at a time.
Eting out is a good idea let the kids tryout ther French.
Send them for the bred get them to help geting water another job thay can do
make them part of the holiday every day is a adventure
You never know what is round the corner.
Disnay land Paris is a expensive day out but fun.
Don't try to make a itinerary I am sure you will have a great time
Bill

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TerrifiedFirstTimer

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Don't worry, compromise is our middle name.

I'm pestering my dad as we speak for the exact figures - he showed me when I took the thing for a spin over Christmas, he had a nice sheet printed with LOTS of numbers on, but at the time they didn't mean much.

ps. We spent twelve years living in an uninsulated wooden house by the sea without a bedroom, so we're used to forgoing the luxuries. :)
 
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Don't worry, compromise is our middle name.

I'm pestering my dad as we speak for the exact figures - he showed me when I took the thing for a spin over Christmas, he had a nice sheet printed with LOTS of numbers on, but at the time they didn't mean much.

ps. We spent twelve years living in an uninsulated wooden house by the sea without a bedroom, so we're used to forgoing the luxuries. :)
You will have a grate time in a insulated box on weals
Bill
 
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hilldweller

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he had a nice sheet printed with LOTS of numbers on

We encourage people to just drive to the nearest weighbridge. No arguing there. Tiny piece of paper with one or two numbers on it.

Two numbers better, front axle and rear axle or front and total and do the sums. Best if you have a tank of fuel and all bodies on board then you know how much you have left for you holiday things.

Somewhere on the vehicle should be a small plate with front/rear/total weights.
 
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with a gvw of 3000kg and four traveling , you might be safer to consider it as a car rather than a motorhome , you really need to get the numbers from the weight plate !!

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Don't plan to do lots of miles with kids I can recommend Europe park which is just over the border with Germany better and cheaper than Disney with an site to stay on and if warm enough swimming lake
 
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Hollyberry

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You'll al be fine. Take fleece ( sweaters, blankets,) extra socks.
I'm sure the kids will love cooking outside ( many leisure lakes, country park type places in France , have bbqs to use)
You don't have to travel a huge distance, Charente Maritime, or the Loire will have choice of places to stay. Look for local markets- I used to have families stay at my house in France and the kids all seemed to enjoy going to local markets.
Definitely take bikes if weight allows, France is far more cycling friendly than UK.
Look online at a few areas and it should show you if facilities like canoe/kayak hire are open. In France, any tourist office or Mairie will point you in the direction of anything you want to know. You can get free maps showing cycling paths or Randonees ( walking routes) at any Mairie.
 
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WynandJean

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Head for somewhere like Puy du Fou. The kids should love it and spend days talking about it afterwards.
If you do decide to go to Puy Du Fou take the advice I was given by the Dutchman next to us on the aire. Allow at least 2 days to see it all. Never mind talking about it for days, I still am years after going! (y)

Wyn
 
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TerrifiedFirstTimer

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Thanks, my dad's out at the moment, but said he'll get it weighed for us ASAP.
ps. It's a SeA Sharky L2, which I think is on the light end of the scale, but obviously need actual weighing to determine exactly.
 
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WynandJean

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TFT - Just realised that you have used the five free post that you can use as a non-subscribed member. It costs £15 to subscribe but will allow you access to all the advice available, member discounts, access to other areas of the site as well as rallies and more. Well worth it.

Wyn

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Apr 27, 2008
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There's not much on t'web about the Sea shark l2.
It seems to be a 5-6 berth just over 6m, definitely a quart in a pint pot. Claimed payload of around 480kg so not a lot for stuff if full of people.
There seems to be some discussion on the dark side about some being built on a lighter chassis than they claim.
 
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An awning effectively creates more space as well as a tent. If the van doesn't have one you can get a free standing tarpaulin from Decathlon for £25. We strapped this to the side of our campervan and it worked well.

The Isle de Rey is good for cycling -south of the Loire is generally warmer. We went with our daughter last Easter and had a good time.
Plan to get electric hook up so you don't worry about charging all your various devices. Our daughter is happy on long drives if the DVD player is charged!
 
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Mar 23, 2012
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Just go and enjoy it. Looks very similar to the flash3 we started with. Don't complicate things too much.
 
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You'll soon learn to be tidy in a M/H and ALWAYS ! that is ALWAYS!
tell everyone in the group, that you are removing the Cassette to empty it.
A few quiet words prior, can prevent a very loud "I CAN'T BELIEVE IT!!!" later.
 
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