I almost always take the passenger seat when we go away as a family in the campervan. Hubby doesn’t stake his claim on the driver’s chair because it’s ‘his domain as the man of the house’ any more than I take the passenger seat because I’m not confident driving a huge yellow monster.
The truth of the matter is we both make the same gamble every time we strap in – the kids. The other half doesn’t risk it – if you are the driver you have a legitimate reason to ignore the shouting from the back. You can’t dish out the snacks, sort out the iPads, pick up the teddy that fell on the floor or prop up a head that is lolling around at a freakish angle as they sleep (how is that comfy?!). It’s over to your co-pilot.
If you are the co-pilot, you regularly have to unbuckle, wobble towards the back of the campervan and sort out the issues. This usually results in getting shouted at for doing something wrong and getting covered in various spillages and sticky stuff because lids were not on bottles, apple cores and banana skins are stuck to chairs and when we went round a bend they ‘forgot’ that stuff might roll off the table and now there are crisps everywhere and bottles rattling around. It’s not a relaxing time.
As a driver, this point of chaos is a perfect time to set your driving arena. While your co-pilot is busy timing 60 second intervals so that a one-position clip on fan can be moved between each overheating child, the radio can be set to your listening pleasure. For him this means the cricket – even better, he can put it on headphones because I don’t like to listen to it, further drowning out the kids.
But wait, a traffic jam.
This is about the time the gamble pays off. Children cooled, tablets on and some kind of snack successfully launched at their mouths, it’s time to sit down and justifiably, relax. There is no foot ache by pressing up and down on the brake every few seconds, just coffee, a podcast and, because you are in a van and higher than most other cars, some nice views. There are usually even some snacks that you accidentally forgot to give the kids still in your hand.
Of course we can’t always rely on our devices to alleviate the boredom of the road. Here’s a poem I wrote about the campervan whilst stuck on some particularly long and dull toll roads in France. Take that driver – you just got to the look at the concrete.