Caravan parks and kids; they rip you off
As a general rule, we don’t really like staying at Caravan Parks. Sure, some are amazing and completely worth it, but for the most part we avoid them. However, on our lap of Australia we’ve stayed at a couple, and very shortly our youngest child turns 4, which means we roll into a new pricing bracket for camping at a caravan park, and its really got me wound up.
Charging for kids in a caravan park
If you have no idea what I’m talking about, most Caravan Parks have a nightly fee that covers two adults. It might be $25, or $30, or a lot more depending on where you are, the time of year and how much demand there is. However, on top of this nominal fee you pay for kids too, but it gets interesting here.
Most caravan parks charge for kids 4 and over, but we’ve come across some that charge for kids over 2 years old, or even for infants.
Up until now, Cooper has been mostly free as he’s only 3 years old, but from January that changes, and we’ll get charged for two kids.
How much do caravan parks charge for kids?
This is where things get interesting, and I draw a hard line in the sand. If your child is under the age cut off (under 4 mostly, but sometimes under 3 or 2) they are free, which is awesome. If they are over the age cut off though, cheaper caravan parks charge $3 – $5 per child per night extra, and some charge $7 to $10, or even $15 per night per child.
If you have two kids, that means your $30 night in a caravan park suddenly becomes $40, or even $50. In the case of the latter figure, that’s a 66% increase in price, and when you are doing a lap of Australia it adds up to a ridiculous amount of money.
If you have 3 or 4 kids, you can be paying an incredible amount extra, and that’s without some rules where you can only have a limited number of people on a site; we’ve heard of families having to book two sites to cover their large family!
Why is it so expensive for kids?
I’m not sure how Caravan Parks can justify charging huge rates for children, especially when they are very young. They barely (if at all) use the toilets and showers, and are often contained.
We’ve been charged for a baby camping with us at a Caravan Park before; how on earth can you justify that?
I can completely understand that there are plenty of kids that do damage, or cause expensive maintenance to take place and perhaps this is part of the reason, but it baffles me that you can pay nearly double the price to stay at a caravan park with your kids than you would if you went alone. Surely this is not justifiable?
I won’t pay it
This might upset and divide a few people. I’m sorry if it does, but we’ve always been honest, and blunt if it needs to be. We were heading south from Parara Campground on the Yorke Peninsula a little while ago, and called in to catch up with some old family friends at Port Vincent for the afternoon.
We figured we’d just pull into a caravan park somewhere further down the coast (as there was limited free or low cost camping options), and I rang a couple of Caravan Parks, who charged a reasonable amount for a normal, unpowered site.
Several of the caravan parks that we rang were charging $7 extra for children, but it was for 2 and older, which meant Cooper was included. That means we go from paying $25 a night to $39 a night, (or $35 to $49) and I’m sorry, but I won’t pay it.
There are exceptions to this, but if we can move on elsewhere and not pay the extra money we will. Until I can justify the cost of having kids at a caravan park (which will probably be never), we’ll just move onto something else. As it was, we drove down to Point Turton and stayed at Burners Beach for $20 for the night, and the caravan parks missed out on some business.
My gripe is simple; I don’t feel that the extra charge is justifiable, and whilst we could pay it, over a year or two on the road the cost would be astronomical, and we’d rather put that money to better use.
The reprieve then, is that you can sign up for a discount arrangement known as TAWK, or Travelling Australia With Kids. This normally allows you two nights stay with kids being free, but it only applies to caravan parks that have signed up to the deal (which there aren’t thousands of), and it can’t be used in conjunction with any other discounts.
Caravan parks who have signed up for this get the benefit of lots of travelling families coming through, and the families get cheaper stays. The cost of the membership is a one off $40 fee, which pays for itself very quickly.
We have gotten this, and whilst we’ve forgotten to use it a couple of times, its 100% worth buying.
Does this do your head in too?
Surely I’m not the only one who gets mad about the prices of Caravan Parks with kids. We’ve just done the Great Ocean Road, and some caravan parks wanted $65 a night for an unpowered site, and that’s without the cost of kids as well. You have to be joking, and we just moved on (probably to better camp sites anyway, that were free, or much less expensive).
Do you get annoyed at the prices caravan parks charge for kids?