Shopping. I reckon it causes almost as much marital stress in caravanning as reversing onto a tight site guided by your partner – and we all know how quickly that can turn marital bliss into marital blitz.
Yes, I’m talking about finding a parking spot in a strange, busy city (or even town) with a caravan in tow. You might just need a quick stop to stock the larder or there might be an attraction you’d like to see as you’re passing through. Whatever the reason, finding a parking space big enough for a vehicle and van can be tough and stressful.
When my wife and I did the big one many years ago I dreaded such days. We’d cruise the streets looking for somewhere to park the rig, with her pointing out possible (that should be “impossible”) parking spots with just two or three bays spare. I should have been flattered. She obviously had a much higher opinion of my caravan parking skills than I had. Anyway, it would inevitably end badly with cross words exchanged and the fridge still empty that night.
So we really appreciated those towns where the parking was hassle-free and easy.
In those days, few councils were smart enough to provide designated parking places for caravans within an easy walk of the main shopping centre. These days, especially in smaller towns, caravan parking areas are far more common and some councils even provide excellent rest areas or overnight camping close to town to encourage travellers to stop and spend.
The small North Queensland town of Home Hill is one such town, with its “Comfort Stop” located just behind the main street and boasting facilities such as showers, toilets and barbecues. Needless to say it’s packed every night during the winter tourist season, while other travellers use it as a handy lunch stop during the day, stocking up at local shops before continuing on their way. RVers and nearby businesses are benefiting, but it has to be acknowledged that local caravan park owners aren’t so happy.
RVers travelling the same route regularly develop favourite spots where they know the parking and shop access is easy. Shops right on the highway often enjoy good patronage from travellers. Often these spots are in the smaller country towns (for example, Cardwell in Far North Queensland has a number of supermarkets right on the highway, with heaps of parking out front on its wide streets) and while prices may be a little higher in these smaller centres, it is often money well-spent.
YOUR SAY: What’s your plan of attack when you shop on the road with a van in tow? What do you do to maintain marital harmony? And do you have any favourite towns that offer parking which is handy to shops and attractions?