Many of us recall childhood holidays in the humble caravan park. I remember hundreds of caravan and tent sites, some pretty basic concrete communal bathroom blocks and a front office where you might be lucky to get an icy pole.
But we all loved them because they usually occupied a pretty unreal location (in most of my experiences, just a short walk to a beach), they were full of other kids all riding their bikes, the air was always heady with the scent of barbecued sausages and Aeroguard, and bright orange and yellow streamers flapped in everyone caravan doors to keep the flies out.
We made friends with everyone and our parents did the same. By the end of each holiday, we had all formed extended families and we would say goodbye with the promise of doing the same thing again next year.
But with the rise of resort accommodation, the growth of airline routes and the price drop in flights, some of us might have stepped away from these kinds of holidays. Perhaps grown a little more accustomed to room service, pricy restaurants, massages and kids clubs, leaving the caravan park behind.
But some of you might not know that the little old caravan park has caught up with us. Now called a ‘Holiday Park’, I think it offers most things a hotel can, and more.
Does your hotel offer a jumping pillow? A water park? A playground? Barbecue facilities?
Thought not. Holiday Parks are paradise for families. These days, many have jumping pillows (for the uninformed, a jumping pillow is a huge bouncy air pillow like a giant trampoline/jumping castle).
They also generally have plenty of green grass to run and kick a ball on, playgrounds, and some have incredible water parks with water slides that need to be seen to be believed (check out this one on the Gold Coast). There are indoor and outdoor resort pools, massage studios, billabongs and more. How does your hotel compare to that?
Holiday Parks have a huge range of accommodation from budget to luxury.
Hotels have the basic range of suites, mostly ranging from expensive to super expensive. Holiday Parks still cater to campers and caravanners and get this, many of them now have ensuite sites – meaning there is no trek to the bathrooms (that’s my kind of camping!),
BUT, holiday parks these days also offer basic cabins, ensuite cabins, luxury and family cabins (1-4 bedrooms!), and even luxury safari tents. Spa’s, full kitchens, balconies, air conditioning, bunks for the kids, cable televisions and wifi are all available, plus I love how you can step straight outside into the great outdoors and watch the sun go down from your balcony.
So there is literally something for everyone, regardless of budget.
You make friends.
How often do you stay in a hotel and make friends with the family in the room next door? And the family in the room next to them? Or the family at the table next to you in the hotel restaurant? Rarely I would guess.
But at holiday parks, you are never short of company. People naturally welcome each other and strike up a conversation. Bonds are made over the barbeque and kids instantly become mates riding their bikes around the park or sharing the great pedal carts that so many parks have these days.
There is no distinction between campers or cabin dwellers (everyone fits in). We’ve made friends with fellow campers while sharing a weekly pancake breakfast that the holiday park owners ran.
And you can grab a coffee with a new friend at the coffee cart that might visit daily. Nowhere is there a more communal and egalitarian atmosphere than at a Holiday Park. That’s the one thing that has never changed.
You can bring you car, park right next to where you sleep, and take along all the comforts of home.
Fancy hotel stays usually involve flights. Flights generally involve limited luggage. Limited luggage means that when you get there, you are sans all of those things that can make holidays great. If you have kids, that means toys, beach gear, bikes, scooters and more. As an adult, it can also mean your bike, your surfboard, your golf clubs, equipment for beach cricket or just those ten books you desperately want to read.
Driving holidays and holiday parks mean you can take whatever you can fit into your car. So load up and let the fun begin (oh, and no lugging it all to your hotel room miles away from the car park, holiday parks let you park right next to where you sleep!).
Cook your own meals
Bond over the barbeque, save money on costly restaurant meals and grab a snack whenever you feel like it.
With sophisticated camp kitchens (some with pizza ovens!), full cabin kitchens and BBQ’s, eating becomes a lot easier and cheaper in a holiday park!
Holiday Parks cater to everyone
Whether you are a family, an elderly couple, a first time caravanner, have a dog that you won’t leave at home, or are a disabled traveller, holiday parks have so many options for everyone.
We have seen a million different reasons why people stay at holiday parks. Many have been going to the same one for decades. Many love being on the open road and holiday parks cater to driving holidays perfectly. And many love a pet-friendly holiday.
So whatever your reason…. Maybe its time you started having some holiday park adventures too?
Do you prefer a holiday park? We would love you to share your own experiences in the comments!