With a special needs child who can’t fit in with crowds, we struggle with the regular family holidays where children were meant to fit in with groups of people. He was never made to be held in a small apartment, or to sit by a pool, or even to be able to join in with childrens’ clubs that are often a huge feature of mum and dad chilling by the pool and letting someone else look after teenies or tweenies.
The day we discovered caravanning was a total fluke. After a disastrous trip to Disneyland Paris, we took stock on the way home. Our trip began with a car breakdown in Glasgow while driving from Aberdeen to Paris. It didn’t get better while we were away, when middler struggled to cope with any and all queues in Disneyland.
The complex we stayed in was not special needs friendly, and unless you were willing to spend a fortune, there was nowhere to go and play. It was a disaster.
After a rotten few days, we decided to head for home early using the scenic route. We stopped off near Le Havre and as it was a lovely day, we settled on the beach for a few hours.
Middler had a whale of a time on the near empty beach and on going to a supermarket, we decided to buy a tent on the spur of the moment. With much trepidation, we found a local campsite close to the beach.
We pitched our tent. We had our car, a tent, and two blow up beds. Nothing to cook on, and nothing to eat off. All the kids were in seventh heaven and had a whale of a time. Nobody stared at middler when he did something silly or said something out-of-place. At the time, I put that down to being a different language and that they had no idea what he was actually saying or doing.
When we got home, I booked us a static caravan up at Grannie’s Heilan Hame to see if the caravan environment was for us. The man of the house was working, so I drove up from Aberdeen with the three kids and the dog. They all loved it.
The next week we got home, we decided to just go and “look” at caravans to see if we would prefer a touring caravan as I didn’t fancy going to the same place all the time.
That “look” at second-hand caravans saw us walk away with a van for that year, and the following year we went back for one with a better layout for us. We chose a triple bunk at the back. Yes, it’s messy back there at times with three children.
Thus began our adventures into Caravanning…..
People on caravan sites are just fabulous. I have rarely come across anyone who doesn’t show understanding for children with special needs. We book sites where the childrens’ park is close by, or overlooking where we are parked in the van. The boys always find someone to play with, and adventures are always on our doorstep.
I prefer quieter sites to the big commercial ones, and with the boys growing faster than I can believe, I know that we will need to visit more of the big facility sites in the next few years for variety. In 2012, we’d like to head down to France with the van, but that will depend on how the year goes.
There really is not that much to owning a caravan. After deciding you want one, it is just the simple mechanics of getting one that your car is able to tow and getting out there and having fun. My boys friends go on holiday once or twice a year, but we go away as often as we can, and in summer this year, we spent 5 out of the 6 weeks of school holidays on a site.
People buy caravans from upwards of a few hundred pounds, but you do have to try to find one that fits your family and isn’t damp. It can be done on a budget, or for a fortune.
I loved the camping lark, but I was determined to have my comforts to do it. If camping / caravanning was going to be our holiday future, I really couldn’t do without my hairdryer, kettle, cooker, bathroom or comfy bed.
Chilling Out Making Shadows on the Roof
Call me soft, but there is nothing better on a cold windy day than to be wrapped up warm and cosy inside the van listening to the rain pitter patter on the roof, and wondering how on earth those hardy campers in tents manage to do it.
We pondered over a motor home v a caravan. For us, the benefit of a caravan and being able to leave it on a site while we had fun touring in the car won over the prospect of having to pack everything away to take a motor home everywhere we went. Caravans also have less maintenance, and the prospect of cheap caravan insurance swung the decision for us.
We have had huge adventures in the last three years. I have shared lots of them on my blog, but I’ve gathered some of the pictures taken while we were away to show you here. We love the van If we every had to sell her, we would be devastated. It really is a second home for us. We prefer Caravan Club sites to the Independent ones as having the security of wardens appeals to me if I take the boys away on my own.
Our caravan is my own little corner of adventure. What’s yours?
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