Is a holiday really a ‘holiday’ with a toddler? Part 2 – The truth.

Just before I left for our New Zealand campervan trip in October, I wrote Part 1 to this post, sharing my concerns about if our holiday was really going to be a a holiday with an almost 2 year old. Well I’m back to tell you the truth about doing the campervan thing with a toddler. This was the first time we’d gone on a plane and on a proper travel holiday with Elliott.

Our holiday started off wonderfully, Elliott was an angel on the plane, he slept for a while, he sat and sucked on his lollipops or a while or happily watched the iPad, we didn’t hear a noise from him. Our first night was in a hotel near the airport and all was good, we had the creature comforts we needed and space for Elliott to ‘let loose’. The next day, we picked up the campervan and this is when we’d get a real taste for what it was going to be like.

This was our itinerary (we were going to do Milford Sound, but due to bad weather the roads were closed. Good for us, it was defintely too long a drive for Elliott).

Day 1 – Overnight in Christchuch
Day 2 – Christchurch to Lake Tekapo
Day 3 – Lake Tekapo to Arrowtown
Day 4 – Arrowtown to Queenstown
Day 5 – Queenstown
Day 6 – Queenstown to Wanaka
Day 7 – Wanaka to Geraldine
Day 8 – Geraldine to Christchurch and Fly Home

The scenery was amazing, I didn’t realise there would be as much snow on the mountains as there was because the last time we visited it was winter. It was lovely to reminisce about our holiday there back in 2007, well before Elliott came along. We visited some of the same places and got photos in the same spots except this time, we have a lovely little addition. 🙂

Lake Pukaki on our way to Arrowtown & Queenstown
The first time Elliott has seen snow. We took him to Coronet Peak where we skied last time, luckily there was a little bit of snow left.

Some of the experiences with Elliott were wonderful and I’m very glad we will have them to look back on.  But…would I ever do a campervan trip with a toddler again? No, I probably wouldn’t.

For Mr. G and I as adults, it was very easy to drive long stretches and look at the beautiful snow capped mountains, the sheep, the trees, the rivers…but for Elliott, well he just can’t do that like we do and we were well aware of that fact. What we didn’t know is how long he’d last on each stretch. If he wasn’t asleep, he could really only last 45mins to an hour at a time without having a meltdown because he wanted to get out and run around or play with something. Most of our stretches were around the 3 hour to 3.5 hour mark. We would make pit stops every now and then, but couldn’t stop long otherwise we wouldn’t reach our destination in time. In hindsight, perhaps it may have helped to have a longer trip but the budget wouldn’t really allow for many more extra days.

Most of the time I found myself sitting in the back of the van, continually picking up the toys Elliott would drop throw onto the ground in frustration or I would be holding the iPad for him and going from one video to another, sometimes repeating the same Peppa Pig episode 3 times in one drive.  Have I mentioned how much we began to hate the sound of Peppa Pig? As usual, Elliott had so much pent up energy but he couldn’t use it and on the days it was raining, it was so hard!  We knew it was going to be like this, but we wanted to give it a shot and have no regrets.

Up on the mountain in Queenstown while waiting for Mr. G to do the luge, Elliott just wanted to keep running off down the hill, gee I got so much exercise that day! I remember at the Arrowtown holiday park, Elliott was fascinated by this huge Winnebago parked up on the hill, not overly close to our van. Multiple times a day, he’d run off over to this Winnebago and so we would have to keep going running after him. Being at a holiday park means that sometimes there are vans and other vehicles driving in and out, so we couldn’t turn a blind eye.  I don’t blame Elliott though, he was just sick of sitting in the van only to be transferred into a pram to walk through the town.  He wanted to walk around and discover because that’s what he loves to do! I did bring along a little backpack which had a parent handle attached, but Mr. G was a bit apprehensive about using it for some reason .We haven’t used it before, perhaps that’s why. Anyway, I think you get it, there were few chances to sit down, relax, enjoy and take in the surroundings, this usually only happened during sleep time.

But, as I finish up this post about the holiday experience, I look at the photo of Elliott and I in the snow and I definitely don’t regret it, no matter how hard and frustrating it was at times. We’ve learnt from the experience, we know what works and what doesn’t on a holiday and what stimulants Elliott needs in those situations and best of all, we have the good memories and moments in time to look back on. No, I wouldn’t do a campervan holiday with a toddler again, but I’m glad we did it and I would recommend trying it at least once because you’ll not only look back on the memories, but look back and think ‘Wow, we did that with a toddler? We can handle any type of holiday now.’

What have your experiences been like traveling with a toddler? Would you do it again?

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Eva Lewis (The Multitasking Woman)

Eva Lewis (The Multitasking Woman)

Eva is the Editor and Owner of The Multitasking Woman. She always has her fingers in many different pies but wouldn't have it any other way. Eva is a freelance writer, a social media manager, a Mum to her six-year-old son, one-year-old daughter, six chickens and Benny the dog and wife to Mr G. They all live happily in their little worker's cottage in Ipswich, Queensland, Australia.
Eva Lewis (The Multitasking Woman)

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  1. Maggie Schafer
    November 7, 2013 / 11:15 pm

    Good on you for giving it a go. Matt and I had our honeymoon driving around NZ and we had a ball. But I can’t imagine trying to bring our babies – they just don’t appreciate scenery the way we do! When Molly was 1, we drove to Canberra for a wedding. We spread it over two days each way but boy was it exhausting! Molly, like Elliott, just didn’t want to sit still in the car for that long. But we couldn’t keep stopping as it was already such a long drive. At the end of each day we were all completely over it! Actually our trip to America last year was much easier!!! Molly was only 8 months old and not crawling yet, so we didn’t have to worry about her running off. She was small enough to carry in the BabyBjorn (a lifesaver at airports and for sightseeing). Also we spread 5 cities over 3 weeks so the daily travel time was less. We did overnight flights for the long hauls, so she slept a lot. And the other thing that made things much easier was that my mum came too. It freed Matt and me up to do things with each other and actually relax. I’m not sure when our next proper holiday will be, but with 2 kids now I think we’ll probably just go to a holiday resort with a kids club. Still got a lot of destinations on my wish list but they’ll have to wait till the kids are much older (either so they can appreciate the travel or stay behind with the grandparents!).

  2. November 8, 2013 / 11:41 am

    It’s great that you share your experiences with other parents. When my kids were little we lived about 3.5 hours from the capital city where our parents were. We did quite a few trips with them at various ages, but I agree that it is almost a bit too long and it’s hard for them. When they got older we could sing and play games and so on, but when they are toddlers, it’s a lot for them.

  3. November 18, 2013 / 10:29 am

    When we first started caravanning we had a just turned 1 and just turned 3 year old. It got a bit exhausting during the days but it was great at night as we would go to bed when they went to bed, getting a good 10 hours + a night!