?Caravans are much more comfortable than they used to be. Photo: Pat Scala A caravanning holiday is all about enjoying the simple things, like barefoot fun in the sun and alfresco feasts fanned by sea breezes. Photo: Michele Mossop
First there was glamping (glamorous camping), now there is glamavanning.
If your idea of caravanning is all about grey nomads in long socks, sandals and daggy hats pottering about in dusty caravan parks think again: caravanning has undergone a renaissance, reinventing itself to become one of the coolest ways to travel.
Celebrities Jamie Oliver, Gwyneth Paltrow and Dame Helen Mirren are all reported to be caravanning converts, and who can blame them – a caravanning holiday is all about enjoying the simple things, like barefoot fun in the sun and alfresco feasts fanned by sea breezes, with all the freedom and adventure of the open road and the comforts of home thrown in.
Here’s 10 ways to glam up your next caravanning holiday.
Much more than a box on wheels
Caravans are much more comfortable than they used to be.
Almost all modern vans have hot water on tap, showers and chemical toilets built in which means that you no longer have to rely on the facilities offered by caravan parks.
Add to the mix TV, air-conditioning, decent-sized fridges, fully-equipped kitchens and a multitude of clever storage systems that can make even the smallest van feel like a Tardis – some even have slide out rooms – and it’s just like staying in a holiday apartment, except it’s portable.
Go back to the future
Retro is in, in a big way, with sales of restored vintage vans booming: who can the resist the charms of a cute classic tear-shaped caravan, complete with chintz curtains and old-school furniture – one look and you’re instantly transported back to childhood summer holidays that seemed to last forever.
The iconic American caravan, the sleek silver Airstream with jet-age curves inspired by aircraft design, is now available to buy new in Australia: the all-mod-cons and luxury fit-out inside make it a favourite with movie stars and presidents – Tom Hanks, Johnny Depp, Sean Penn, Brad Pitt, Sandra Bullock and Hugh Grant have all had one, Matthew McConaughey has three.
In 1969, Neil Armstrong and members of Apollo 11 were quarantined for three weeks in an Airstream after returning from the moon. Former First Lady, Laura Bush, travelled inside one that was strapped down inside the military cargo plane when she went to Afghanistan.
Get off the beaten track
The real secret to cool caravanning is not what you take but where you take it, particularly if you take your caravan to places no-one else goes to.
National parks are a great option if you want to get into the wild – these days many have sites that have been specifically designed to be caravan-friendly.
Websites like youcamp杭州夜网 (think Airbnb for campers) open up a world of places where you can park your van on private land for a small fee.
If you really want to escape the rat race and live on a deserted beach for a week you’ll need to be self-sufficient in power – forget about noisy, smelly diesel generators, new technology has made solar panels both more affordable and more efficient.
Bigger is not always better
To get to all the best bits of the country – the wonderful untamed places that are on everyone’s bucket lists, like the Kimberley, Cape York and Red Centre – you’ll need to negotiate a few dirt tracks.
The bigger and heavier your caravan, the less places you can take it, so go for an off-road spec van, the lighter and tougher the better.
Get the right set of wheels
We’ve all been stuck in a line of traffic snaking behind a crawling caravan-and-commodore combo, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
A 4WD or SUV such as the Ford Ranger or Everest takes the hard work out of towing and can take you anywhere you want to go, with or without the van, on bitumen or dirt.
Stay in control
AL-KO is an Australian company that has developed a world-first stability control system for caravans.
It’s available on many new vans and can also be retro-fitted to some models.
Just like the stability control system in a car, it automatically applies the caravan brakes to help control dangerous sway, which in a worst case scenario can turn into jack-knifing. alkoesc杭州夜网.au
There’s a raft of technology out there that makes caravanning much easier, with everything from GPS navigation systems to avoid getting lost, reversing cameras to help you get hitched, portable wi-fi modems to keep in touch and access streaming TV on your iPod or laptop and even smartphone apps that you can use to check the water level in your tanks, whether your batteries need recharging or even if your fridge door has come open on a bumpy road.
Learn how to tow
Spending half an hour trying to reverse park your van into a tight space while your partner screams unhelpful directions at you is no-one’s idea of holiday fun (although it is highly entertaining for your neighbours).
If you’ve never towed anything before, sign up for a one-day course at a towing training school.
Not only do you get plenty of time, and traffic-free space, to learn how to manoeuvre and reverse park your vehicle with a caravan in tow, you’ll also pick up lots of technical and safety information and handy tips. tow-ed杭州夜网.au.
If you’ve not been to a caravan park lately you’re in for a big surprise.
These days most are called holiday parks because as the name implies it’s about holidays rather than just somewhere to park the caravan or pitch the tent.
With all the facilities of a luxury resort, like restaurants and bars, swimming pools, kids’ clubs and playgrounds, tennis courts, golf courses, spas, free wi-fi and organised activities and tours, but at half the price − plus a drop-dead gorgeous location and plenty of opportunities to meet and mix with fellow like-minded travellers – it definitely puts the glam into caravanning.
This article is brought to you by Ford.