Tips and advice for family road trips with children

Home away from home: Travelling with all the comforts.
Home away from home: Travelling with all the comforts. Photo: Supplied

"You're doing what…?"

This is the response I receive when I tell people I'm driving a motorhome from Sydney to Brisbane for the Christmas holidays – without hubby.

I'm not climbing Mount  Everest, swimming the English Channel, or chasing herds of wildebeest across the Serengeti.  

But it seems some think I'm in "cloud cuckoo land", as they say in the States.

Speaking of which, this is where we fell in love with Griswold family vacations.

Three years ago, through Elite Special Event Tours, we travelled in a modern-day wagon train of five RVs through California, Nevada, Arizona and Utah.

The five families ended up becoming the best of friends.

(Grace even found her first boyfriend, the son of a fellow traveller called Cody, who became known as "stitch-boy" after splitting his lip in a wild game of tip …)

The following year we hired a motorhome of our own to tour the Rocky Mountain states, Colorado, Wyoming and Idaho, including  the famed Potato Museum.

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We might well be trailertrash – but we love this kind of holiday.

This is why:

Flexibility. You can go where you want, when you want, if you want, staying in campgrounds, motorhome parks, or friends' property.   

Comfort. Modern motorhomes are well equipped with hot showers, air-conditioning, stainless steel appliances, a TV and DVD player. 

Affordability: Because your transport and accommodation is all in one, it's cheaper than a resort holiday.

Ease: There's no packing or unpacking. At night, you can pop a steak on the BBQ outside or use the cook top inside.

Fun: Kids love sleeping on the bunk bed above the driver's cabin, or on the converted kitchen table. They think it's a cubby-house on wheels.

They're also good for big families: Apollo's Euro-Slider has an expandable lounge-room that turns the vehicle into a mini-apartment.

Before embarking on our journey, the good folks at Apollo offer some sage advice:

*Bring linen, gas bottles, child seats and GPS. You can hire them from the company, but it's expensive.

*Do a thorough condition check. There's nothing worse than discovering an hour into your trip that the TV or DVD player doesn't work. Ask for a demonstration of everything. 

*Fill the fuel tank, and empty the grey water and toilette "cassettes", before returning the vehicle to avoid extra costs.

*Get the liability reduction cover. These babies cost around $100,000 apiece; even small repairs cost thousands of dollars.

*Keep motorhome rental company "Specials" URLs saved in your browser: sometimes they offer up to 55 per cent off normal rates.

There's more information on apollocamper.com/holiday.

Believe it or not, they are easier to drive than they look. Or so I'm told. I'm embarrassed to admit that hubby did all the driving the last two times.

And cleaned out the 'poo hole'.

This time, I plan to bribe the kids to do all of the disgusting jobs.

Tracey Spicer travelled through the United States courtesy of eliteset.com.au, elmonterv.com and rmi-realamerica.com.

tracey.spicer@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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