The old cliché, “It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey”, still gets tossed around the 21st century Australia. We knowingly say it to each other with a bit more profundity than we ought to, especially considering the fact that most of us shun any form of travel that doesn’t involve some element of high-speed.
But who can blame us, really? When families try to coordinate a summer holiday, Mum and Dad both have to take off work, the kids need to be pulled from any extra-curricular summer programmes and the budget needs to be scrutinised to determine exactly how much we can afford to part with this year. Best case scenario: most of us can swing about two weeks of holiday time.
When that’s all you’re working with, it’s natural to focus on the place you’re going to visit. We settle all of our reservations and bookings ahead of time, plan the itinerary and probably have a good idea of which restaurants we’re going to eat in. We have decisively made it all about the destination. In fact, the moment we arrive, we start dreading the end.
Where’s the journey in this?
Family Journeys Can Be Fun
In a country like Australia, where you’ve got immense open spaces and a well-planned system of highways, a journey-based family holiday has serious potential. You can arrange campervan hire in Melbourne and then strike out on an in-depth tour of Western Australia. Likewise, you could plan a similar excursion on the opposite shore and connect the dots between the major state capitals. This is an epic journey, and in Australia, there’s a great deal to explore.
When you plan a holiday that capitalises on the journey, you’re definitely taking a risk. The kids get restless, the weather could turn on you, and there is such a thing as highway fatigue. But you’re also giving the family a memorable event that they’re going to keep with them for the rest of their lives.
That said, most families choose to fly to their ultimate destination and languish there for a week or so before heading home. Many travel advisors even recommend approaching a family holiday from this direction – plan it out, book early and eliminate the possibility of surprises. In short, make it as dull and mundane as possible.
Why Road Trips Trump Family Air Travel
For certain families, the road trip will always be the king of travel, and here’s why:
Travel as experience
When you’re in that campervan, every inch of pavement between home and the onward destination passes directly beneath you. The sights, smells – even the weather. Everything you pass is in its rightful context.
This is especially true for families with multiple people in tow. Petrol is probably going to be cheaper than airfare multiplied four or five times. Accommodation is more affordable; and there are no hidden baggage fees.
In a campervan, you’re actively engaged with each other the entire time you’re travelling. You can play games, eat together without falling under the watchful eyes of others, or – if necessary – purposefully ignore each other. Nothing’s passive. It’s just like being at home, but with fewer getaway options. Family bonding is practically a requirement.
Not everyone will agree with this one, but once you’ve planned a holiday down to the minute, any hope of spontaneity goes out the window. Half the fun of striking out in a campervan is the chance to stop by a waterfall you didn’t know existed, to enjoy lunch with an unexpected view or to hunker down in this park rather than that one, because, as it turns out, the brochures just weren’t doing it justice.