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The Traveller’s Christmas

Like many who enjoy caravanning, we like to spend time on-the-road when the weather is kind and the holiday parks uncrowded. This is not an easy combination to find at times!

Many southern travellers return from their northern winter ‘retreats’ around September. ‘Leave Mother’s day, back for Father’s day’ mantra. Not us, however, we find ourselves exploring the southern states through spring and into summer. A practice which often sees us on the road just before Christmas, making our way home before the school holiday traffic fills the roads and holiday parks.

West Wyalong, 2017

Enjoy the local festivities

Travelling during December has been a memorable experience. People are happy preparing for the holiday season; decorations adorn the streets of country towns, main roads are shut for town celebrations and the local Christmas markets begin. The mood is festive.

For the traveller, there is no better time to visit a country pub or club, enjoy a few lemonades, chat with the local folk and partake in the annual Christmas ham raffles. Who can resist buying a few tickets? You can’t help but feel relaxed, sitting in the ‘local’, soaking up the country atmosphere and enjoying the festivities. Walking back to the van with a ham is always a bonus!

Christmas markets

Find the ultimate Christmas present

Christmas is family time for us, so we like to arrive home in time to organise the tree, buy some seafood and prepare for our children, their partners and sometimes their friends, to join us for the festive season. Luckily, for them, we have been on-the-road tirelessly searching for the ‘ultimate’ present. Where do you go to find such a gift?

Markets, markets, any market! One of us loves going to the markets, especially Christmas markets when finding that special gift is a high priority. We have discovered country markets to be the best place to find unique, handmade gifts created by some amazingly creative people. No need to spend a bucket of money, there are some absolute bargains to be had. Just need to spend some time walking around, having a good look at the items on sale.

Hallidays Point markets, NSW

Making Christmas special

Great presents often have a story behind them. We chat with the stall owners, more than not, the creators of the merchandise on display. Listen to their story, how they made it, the materials used, it makes the purchase all that more exciting and the gift much more special. Our children have come to expect a range of unusual items in their Christmas stockings – from jewellery created by Tanami Tim (Alice Springs), homemade cakes from the CWA, the world’s hottest chilli peanuts, various jams and chutneys or beautifully crafted bowls made from Australian timber.

You never know what you will find, and I very much enjoy the looking process – much to my husband’s frustration., although he does enjoy looking for the world’s ‘most useless gift’ for his brother! A competition of sorts, which is hotly contested each year.

We enjoy giving treats to family and friends, especially locally made gifts, they’re special.

A country Christmas - Rylstone, NSW

Christmas gifts for the grey nomad

Buses stop on their way down the highway for passengers to take a dip before Sometimes the little things are best, especially when you are lucky enough to live on-the-road for a few months at a time. Our engineer daughter keeps reminding us to pack items which have multiple uses! The old, high utility, less space principle. We were previously applying the ‘Tetris’ principle!

Dish drying mat

The Magic Dish Drying Mat from House.com.au

Consequently, our daughter gave us a Dish Drying Mat for Christmas one year. These mats are made from a micro-fibre material (fully padded) and will absorb four times their weight in water. There is limited drying space in a van – especially for large items (pots and pans). Drying Mats are machine washable and fold up between uses making them easy to store.

I also find it very useful for padding during a trip – we don’t want the wine bottles to break, do we? Two uses, tick! I have found it so useful I have since purchased these drying mats for other family members who love to caravan. We even use the drying mats at home now. Three uses, awesome!

We like to give other caravanners gifts we found useful during our travels. Here are a few of our favourites:

Plastic tubs

Plastic tubs available in various sizes

We use these soft tubs to carry laundry, shoes, recycling and collect water. They are inexpensive, found in a number of outlets and have a vast range of uses when travelling. Being soft and pliable is a significant benefit. When we’re ‘on the move’, we place the tubs in the shower cubicle on non-slip matting which keeps the tubs from bouncing around. In the tubs we place larger items, like our coffee maker and SodaStream. Essential items, of course!

Sensor lights

Sensor lights from Bunnings

These sensor lights Velcro onto the side of the van, under the awning, and come on as someone approaches. Light is an excellent deterrent to those ‘less honest’ visitors and can be very helpful for those trying to find the door handle after an extended ‘happy hour’! Great for safety and security, powered by AAA batteries, we have been using these lights for years.

Seacured lock

See seacured.com.au

We keep a spare van key in this Seacured lock which we fit to the step of our van. Great if you return to the van without a key. Just saying! Available from http://www.seacured.com.au/ or most surf shops – around $60.

Shockloc

Shockloc from theoriginalshockloc.com.au

We found this ingenious cord at a market, of course. It has a multi-purpose quick lock and release cord system which can be operated with one hand. NO more stretchy cords with baubles, or ‘ocky’ straps flinging back in your face. We use the Shocklocs to secure our hose, drainage pipe and power cords. The Shockloc keeps them neat and tidy, ready for our next stopover.

Wine, of course!

We have not yet met a Grey Nomad who does not appreciate a good bottle of wine! We look forward to exploring more places in the New Year and hope you all have an enjoyable and relaxed time over the Christmas period. Stay safe and enjoy the break with your family and friends.

With thanks

Special thanks to BIG4 Holiday Parks. RvTrips, is a strategic partner of Regional Tourism Australia, helping and encouraging others to explore Australia. See the best Australia has to offer. For more photos and travel tips, you can catch us at www.rvtrips.com.au.

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