10 essentials for caravanning with kids

I feel like every caravan post I write should come with a precursor: we are novices and we’re literally learning as we go.

Before we packed up our house/life and embarked on this journey, I had a very vague idea of what would be most useful on the road. But I suppose I never really considered that this is our new normal; it’s not a small holiday stint for holiday habits. Instead, we’ve taken 10 weeks to slowly but surely create an on-the-road-rhythm that I tweak when necessary.

Our everyday essentials are quality products that are, above anything else, practical. The kids are literally spending the whole day outside and they are rough and tough on their clothes and shoes, hats and drink bottles. As for everything else; they’re the little things that make each day safer and easier which ultimately makes van life more comfortable and enjoyable.

If you’re considering travelling with kids, don’t feel like you need to rush out and buy new things. Sure, there’s a product for every single travelling purpose but that doesn’t mean you need to buy them all. Use what you’ve got, buy pre-loved and, if you need to buy new, choose quality so it lasts. Here’s my top 10 essentials:

Poet wears the Lulu Hat from Acorn Kids and Jodhpur Boots from Bobux

Quality Shoes : Before we left home I searched for boots that the kids could easily get on and off themselves. I wanted something supportive, light and hard wearing. Enter the Jodhpur Boot by Bobux. I can’t recommend these boots enough, they really are everything you could want for your little explorers. On beach days we swap boots for Saltwater Sandals – the only sandals my kids wear and they literally last for years (once they’re outgrown, hand them down).

Xiaomi Sensor Night Light : Daniel found this online and it’s one of the best things we bought. It only turns on when one of the kids moves and turns itself off within a minute of stillness. Percy is particularly wakeful at night and this has really helped keep him in his own bed (which is important considering there’s no room in ours). As a bonus, it lasts a whole year on one set of AA batteries.

Baskets : I had to leave so many of my beloved baskets behind but I can confirm that the ones I brought with me are one of our most used items. My big, sturdy bolga basket is a washing basket, picnic basket, beach basket and storage basket. I’ve also got two small market baskets from Imprint House that hold my bread and fruit while we’re in the van and come with us in the car on travel days.

Hooks : The previous owner of our van loved hooks about as much as I love baskets. We use most of them (we took a few down) and they’re especially handy in the kids area as it’s easy for things (everything) to end up on the floor. And that’s one thing about small space living – if there’s stuff on the floor it makes the whole van look messy and cramped. I treat the wall opposite the bunks as our “entryway” where the hats, bags, jackets and dressing gowns live.

Water Bottles : I refuse to buy water (ever) so the kids know how important their water bottles are. They come with us everywhere hence they need to be hardwearing and good quality. And definitely not plastic! We’ve got a range of drink bottles but our preferred are Klean Kanteen and Montii. I use the Thermos Foogoo Sippy Cup for Marigold which doesn’t spill and keeps water cool.

Keep Cups :Sadly, I’ve hardly seen any reusable coffee cups on our travels. Daniel and I have a large Keep Cup and before we left home we get three little ones for the kids…so if it’s hot chocolate or milkshake day, they bring their cups to the cafe. They also make great drinking cups for in the van.

Bucket : the classic multi-use plastic bucket from BigW has been very handy as a baby bath, baby play area, baby distraction, baby calming solution…you get the drift. But it’s also great for holding wet towels when the rain has persisted, it holds all our shoes if need be, I soak really filthy clothes in it. Yes, you should probably get one.

All-weather clothes : I brought most of the clothes that the kids had back home and have slowly donated what we don’t need. That said, Marigold is really wearing her clothes through; crawling and bum-shuffling along the ground tears the fabric pretty quickly. Basically, this is what each of the kids has in their wardrobe;
– underwear, socks and singlets x 7
– long pants x 3
– shorts/skirts x 5 (dresses for Poet, too)
– hats – caps, wide-brimmed styles and beanies (a few of each)
– tees x 5
– raincoat (highly recommend this Boden style)
– jumper x 2
– jacket x 1

Scooters : The kids have been riding Globber Scooters for a few years and they’re so great for travelling because they’re light and they fold in half. I can’t tell you how many hours the kids have spent on their scooters since we started travelling; caravan parks and coastal towns boast some very enticing scooter tracks.

Bamboo Tableware : I invested in some Love Mae bamboo bowls, plates, serving platters and cups before we left home and they are all we use in the kitchen. They’re lightweight, they wash really well and they’re lovely to eat off.

Good Walking/Hiking Shoes : It’s hard to resist some of the amazing hiking trails on offer across Australia. Whilst we haven’t done any high intensity hikes, we have walked regularly and good shoes have been a priority. Globo Surf have a great guide if you’re looking for advice on hiking insoles.

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