Packing two adults and one or two (frequently noisy and messy) children into a box on wheels for a week away may sound like a crazy idea… but it definitely isn’t! It may be a learning curve, and there could be some slightly tense times, but the pros by far outweigh the cons. Just think of the freedom and the adventure! Children really can make the perfect camping companions – and they tend to love campervans! Sleeping in the roof, what could be more exciting? Campervan trips provide endless space to run around and the potential for so many new experiences and escapades. A fantastic way to teach your little ones about the great outdoors; times that none of you will forget.
Here are some of our lessons about van life with kids.
Plan activities for whilst on the road
Are we nearly there yet?! You are more in control of your own destiny when you are roadtripping with kids (rather than schlepping through airports and dealing with transfers), but hours on the road still can take their toll… So:
Keep the kids occupied and happy. Have snacks on hand. Plan different options so you can mix it up and move on when they are bored of one activity. Don’t take activities with lots of pieces that will fall out of reach on the floor or get lost. On the road, we allow a certain amount of tablet time where the children can play games or watch a downloaded show or movie. Or they use them to play an audiobook, borrowed from our local library. One of our daughters loves looking at the map, so sometimes she is navigator with her own map to follow. Traditional travel games can be great, such as I spy or ‘I’m going on a picnic’ (a great memory game – the first person says “I am going on a picnic and I’m going to bring (an item starting with A)”. The next person repeats what the last person said and adds an item beginning with the letter B. And so on until you get to Z. Or change the topics to animals, countries, etc). Here is a list of other car games including another favourite, car bingo!
Choose campsites that are good for the kids
Think about the type of campsite you think will suit your family; you might need to experiment a bit. Whether it’s a big campsite with a pool or a kids club, or a simple campsite in beautiful surroundings with a small playground and nature or a beach at your doorstep.
Less screen time, more sport time
Tablets and devices no doubt have improved our kids’ ability to deal with long car journeys and traffic delays and we do take them with us, but once we’re parked up, they’re stored away. Out come the football, boules, frisbee and drawing pads. Get out and go den building or fossil hunting.
Teamwork makes the dream work
When you’re camping working as a team is unavoidable. Everyone has a job. Unpacker of camping chairs. Person in charge of taking the washing-up to the washing station. (And helper to carry the washing up liquid.) Chief marshmallow toaster – and eater!
Sometimes to keep your sanity, send everyone else off to the supermarket whilst you do a little bit of planning or tidying – then pour yourself a gin and find your sunglasses and your book! (…it might be your turn to have the kids a while tomorrow!) It’s all about give and take –just make sure everyone has the opportunity to do their favourite things.
Time and space
For longer trips, plan for some downtime so that you are not constantly on the move or sightseeing. A day or two by the beach or pool is a great reviver! Try not to get the kids to bed too late so they aren’t over-tired (not always easy!)… and who knows, all that fresh air and running around might make them sleep longer than they do at home.
Find your sense of adventure
Our twenties and early thirties were filled with sleeping in huts in Mozambique, driving across various US states, and cycling through Shanghai. Then we started having kids and got a bit more cautious, staying a bit closer to home. Campervanning gives you your sense of adventure in a safe, comfy, easy way! Just get out and embrace nature. Go exploring, identify the trees and birds, go for walks or bike rides, go crabbing or hire a kayak or paddleboard. The kids can get a bit feral – what’s the point in washing them when they are imminently going to get muddy again?
Most of all… enjoy your time together
Spending time outdoors with your loved ones – what’s not to love! A great way to relax and spend quality time together. This is the stuff the best memories are made of!