Not everyone will understand the deep satisfaction of a carefully packed family car just before you slam it shut for the big drive.
Full medical kit suitable for a British Army deployment? Check. Battery of equipment to explore the great outdoors? Check again. Indoor games for if the weather turns? Well, duh.
But successfully fitting in enough supplies for a small village gymkhana is for amateurs. The true test of a professional is inserting it all in the right order.
Chris and his family stayed at La Rive campsite near Biscarrosse, about an hour from Bordeaux
It’s no use having an amazing pack-up of snacks and drinks if it’s immovably wedged under a mound of salt-encrusted wetsuits and scrunched-up inflatables.
And no-one wants to hear a cry for an urgently required but not obviously available toy, book or substitute husband while plummeting down an autoroute.
For me, the big pack-up is the signature event of any car-based family holiday, but for those who find it daunting – travelling with Eurocamp goes some way to ease the load.
The Cheshire-based family holiday company has come a long way since it started out in 1973 offering basic holidays to Brittany.
Happy holidays: Chris said a highlight of the trip was a visit to the nearby weekly market
Now its network has spread to more than 900 camps of all shapes and sizes across some of the most sought-after corners of Europe.
You can travel safe in the knowledge that all the essentials will be provided in a modern mobile home with a friendly courier on hand to point to the nearest bar.
In our case, we headed for La Rive campsite near Biscarrosse, about an hour south-west of Bordeaux. But we chose to take the journey itself slowly, with an overnight ferry out of Portsmouth bound for Saint-Malo.
‘The waterpark has multiple slides, lazy river and a huge tipping bucket to catch the unwary,’ writes Chris
Chris’s children tuck into some delicious desserts
This isn’t the cheapest or quickest option from Brittany Ferries but it is great fun, with a lively cabaret and basic but comfortable cabins to bunk down in.
You roll off again first thing in a great position to bomb down the relatively sparsely populated west coast, avoiding the Paris traffic, if you choose.
Instead, we took our time, forcing the children into their first live-fire French with a café breakfast in Saint-Malo before wandering its boutique-lined streets.
We then headed south to Saintes for an overnight hotel stay via a packed lunch with compulsory baguettes in idyllic Clisson.
Our final destination is a cracking corner of France, packed full of holidaying French families during the peak season, surely a good sign.
The campsite itself is located on Lake Cazaux and is relatively isolated, with the towns of Biscarrosse (plus its sister coastal resort) and Sanguinet a short drive away.
It’s great to arrive and know that everything will be in order and you merely need to decant the contents of the family workhorse into their respective drawers and wardrobes.
Or in our case, throw it all through the door and bomb over to the enormous waterpark that dominates La Rive.
This is almost akin to a Center Parcs complex, complete with multiple slides, lazy river and a huge tipping bucket to catch the unwary – including our six-year-old.
It is a tightly-run, five-star camping resort that really does have it all, from watersports on the private beach, to cycle hire, wine tasting and a nightly cabaret.
You cannot get bored.
There is an onsite kids club run by an enthusiastic and bilingual team. It didn’t quite work for us as there was so much else to do.
We found ourselves getting away and enjoyed a day trip to the Dune du Pilat, sampling the Atlantic surf and hanging out on the small sandy lake beaches.
One highlight was a weekly market with farmers, smallholders, dairies and vineyard owners piling trestle tables high with sun-drenched local produce.
Frankly this was irresistible. The challenge was trying to find a way to fit it all in the car for the drive home.
Chris and his family were hosted by Eurocamp and Brittany Ferries.
They stayed at La Rive, near Biscarrosse, about an hour’s drive south west of Bordeaux (www.eurocamp.co.uk or 01606 787125).
Eurocamp offers self-catering holidays at more than 190 sites across Europe, including popular regions like the Dordogne, Holland and central Italy.
From July 27, 2019, a seven-night stay at La Rive in a two-bedroom Esprit mobile home starts at £1,443.
A Brittany Ferries return crossing from Portsmouth to Saint-Malo including overnight cabin for a family of four and a car starts at £857.