Over the years, we have found it is better for us to travel alone, even when we are not busy writing for Caravan World. What seems to happen quite often is that you meet up with new friends at various places on each trip simply because you are both travelling roughly the same route and at about the same speed. These serendipitous ‘re-meetings’ are often very enjoyable occasions, as you spend a happy hour or two discussing what you have seen and done since you last met.
We are early risers and like to be breakfasted and on the road about 7.30am on those days when we are travelling, and like an early start when we are exploring an area, too. This means that we travel in the cooler part of the day and are usually set up on our new site around lunch time. We have found that a daily journey of 250-300km suits us best, giving us plenty of time for a few stops along the way.
A few years ago, some friends of ours decided to buy a van and wanted to tag along with us on their first trip. We had known them for a number of years, and enjoyed their company, so thought this would work out well. However, it soon became obvious that our travelling styles were very different. One particular day when we had more than the usual distance to travel, we were becoming impatient when our friend was still dusting the interior of the van at 10am, the check-out time at most caravan parks. By this time, they knew the basics of hitching up, etc, so we decided to head our separate ways and drive at our own paces.
This angst could have perhaps been avoided with some deeper discussions before we departed, but it is not at all uncommon to hear of similar situations happening when caravanners are travelling with friends. Park managers have told us that double bookings are frequently accompanied by a request to be given sites as far apart as possible!
Apart from travelling style, budgets, shared meals, alcohol consumption, different interests (eg, museum visits versus bushwalks) and decision-making, are areas of potential conflict. Some caravanners who feel safer and more comfortable not travelling alone make looser arrangements and this seems to work well for some. Arranging a nightly or weekly get-together, without travelling in tandem all the time, seems a good alternative. Some of the newer mobile phone plans make it much more reasonable to keep in touch by phone, and UHF radios can be useful as well.
So do you prefer to go it alone or have you perfected the art of group travel? Tell us your thoughts.