When you have three kids, going on a holiday can cost a fortune.
Flights for five people, even domestically, are really expensive and often you have to book adjoining hotel rooms to fit in your entire family which is yet another costly exercise.
And while camping is cheap, it's only fun when it's not raining or too hot which restricts travel dates. Also fitting the kids and all the camping gear into the car is pretty tricky.
But we love to explore and holidays are really important to our family so, we saved up and bought an old caravan. We hoped it would give us the freedom to travel more without the crazy costs.
We named her Audrey, because all caravans, especially vintage ones, need a name.
She's a little rough around the edges, but what she lacks in looks, she definitely makes up for in character.
She's brought us together in so many ways. She's given us the freedom we desired. She's been a blessing for our family.
And with every adventure, our family grows stronger. There's something about hitting the road to explore new places together that makes you a tighter unit. Shared experiences also mean more memories to cherish.
The other fantastic thing about Audrey is she doubles as a guest room for when friends' visit from interstate. She sits in our driveway and we can plug her into power so guests have a television, fridge, lights and a fan or heater when needed. We pop fresh sheets on the beds, put flowers into a vase and stock some yummy breakfast goods in the fridge – just like a B&B.
The kids also use her regularly to escape the rest of the family and watch movies or do craft. They host sleepovers in her with their friends and she provides them a sense of independence.
My husband and I use her as a home office sometimes or a spot to hide from the kids.
And sometimes we have driveway holidays and sleep in Audrey while she's parked in the driveway, when we're in need of that 'holiday' feeling.
But when we do have a weekend free we can just hook her on the back of the car and go.
It can be a last minute, spur of the moment decision, as she is stocked with everything you need for a 'night away', has power and the beds are already made ready to go.
We can simply go to a local caravan park and be all set up relaxing at the beach or Barossa Valley in under an hour. It's so much fun to pick the kids up from school with Audrey hooked on the back of the car and whisk them away on secret adventures.
While the initial cost could of paid for one decent holiday for our family, instead we've been able to afford dozens of holidays as a family, and we can even take our dog along for the ride. She's paid for herself over-and-over again.
Audrey's definitely an important part of our family and will forever be at the forefront of some of our most precious family memories.