Ready for the summer?… a family fun camping road trip across Europe 2

Europe… here we go again!!! “Yeah… yuupeeee… wa-wow-weeeee!!!… Vamos por
ahí”!!! Our children get so excited every time we talk about our upcoming summer camping road trip that will take us, once again, to many magical places and will let us experience new cultures and fun things (for both kids and parents) throughout Europe.

#FreeElectrons.Family - camping road trip Europe, Spain.

2 young kids in t-shirts and shorts await to get on a fully packed Mazda 5 to start their family fun summer camping road trip across Europe.
All dressed up and ready to go. . . and get on our fully packed compact car to start our family fun camping road trip across Europe last summer.

We did not really plan on doing it again so soon. Although last summer we tried to do it on the cheap, the cost of being 6 weeks on the road and camping was still substantial. Yet, we have some paperwork to do in Poland. So, we might as well hit the road, learn new things, and be with friends and family at the same time. This time, with a stricter (lower) budget. We’ll focus on getting the cheapest camping sites and, maybe, even going all out wild camping on public lands. We’ll see.

Background. Last year, we came up with this crazy idea to take our then two-year-old and six-year-old kids for a 7000-kilometer road trip from southern Spain to Poland, and back, staying mostly in tents or cheaper places that we could find on the road, covering 11 countries and 26 cities! None of us really knew then how to pitch a tent or what equipment to bring! Yes, I will never forget how I tried obsessively to plug in the cable of our laptop directly to the outlet at our pitch spot in France! Hmm… Only then did Six and I learn that you do need a special adapter to be able to do that (big DUH!?!). At least I made our pitch neighbors laugh! Nice to make people happy, isn’t it? 🙂 But hey, it’s all good. After many, many… yes, many similar awkward situations, now we are indeed much better prepared to do this again. This time it is going to be even more fun!

#FreeElectrons.Family - camping road trip Europe, Quechua and Mazda, Germany.

Kids having fun at a camping site with rocky mountain peaks in the background.  Behind them are RVs, a silver Mazda MPV 5 with a black Thule Roofbox, and part of a Quechua tent.

Postcard-like text reads: Zugspitze, Germany with an opaque image of two hearts behind the text and
Karol and Kaj, going wild at Camping Resort Zugspitze in Grainau, Germany
Kids love the adventure!

It does not matter where you sleep, how long you drive (believe us!), or if you have to put their panties inside out because there are no clean ones left. As long as there is a pool or any body of water that you can swim in, nature, the wild, animals, parks, playgrounds, french fires (sometimes!), ice cream, sand, sun, rain, mud, boats, rocks, insects you can catch … they are in heaven-de-los-niños! It is the ultimate vacation! Don’t get us wrong. We did have many doubts before taking on this cross-European road trip last year. In the end, however, the kids still vividly recall the experiences, not the long drive and the absence comfort. They still happily remember parks and people we met, not the uncomfortable mattresses and stinky clothes. Why? Because it was an adventure–a fun and real, experience not watched on TV!

#FreeElectrons.Family - camping road trip Europe, Quechua tent, Austria.

A young boy at the entrance to a light blue Quechua tent talking to a younger boy standing outside.  They are in a small pitch lot surrounded by trees and bushes and flanked by a compact car with a black THULE roof box/luggage on top.  Clothes are drying on clothesline.

Text reads: Salzburg Austria (with 2 opaque interlocking hearts behind the text) and
Summer camping life in the city of salt and Mozart, Salzburg, Austria. The 2-second pop-up tent saved us a lot of time and sanity. The roof cargo freed a lot of space in our compact car.
Camping road trip tested. Lessons learned.

There are ways you can make it easier on yourselves though! Use the right equipment. Don’t be like my loving husband who broke a rubber mallet trying to hammer the tent’s stakes through a very rocky pitch atop the mountains of Switzerland! He borrowed that mallet from a British family–a mallet which head broke, flew out and hit a German! Entschuldi-funny-gung!

The 2-second pop-up tent was a godsend!!!!! It made such a difference! Not only was it easy to open. It was also quite comfortable and waterproof–this proven in Liechtenstein (which Karol and Kaj still call Frankenstein). Hey, if I was able to collapse that tent within a few minutes, you can do it, too!

#FreeElectrons.Family - camping road trip Europe, UPPAbaby, kids chilling in Andorra.

Two young kids resting on an UPPAbaby VISTA stroller/pram at an empty plaza.  The older one 
is sitting on the piggyback ride along board, looking past the camera.  The other one in the rumble seat.  A building with a landscape painting that blends in the background of green-patched mountain and, above, blue skies with white patches of clouds.

Text reads: Andorra;
Chilling in Andorra. Our old reliable stroller makes exploring fun and less tiring because Karol can sit/stand on the piggyback ride along board, while Kaj sits/sleeps in the rumble seat. We covered a lot of miles/kilometers in the U.S. and Europe like this.
essential road trip camping gear

You can find much more info on the essential camping equipment and associated costs here: what to bring for your family camping road trip in the summer? Take a portable DVD with a few movies with you for the kiddos. Car trips become so much friendlier with it (we have a rule not to use phones for watching while on the road… double purpose: phone addiction withdrawal equals NO data roaming charges!). We did not think about this last part until we started getting pinged for roaming charges in Andorra (not the EU!) and, then again (DUH!?) in Frankenstein!

#FreeElectrons.Family - camping road trip Europe Poland, kids at play.

Two young boys in medieval soldier toy helmets and swords playing on castle grounds with lush gardens, under patch-cloudy blue skies.

Text reads: Zamek Czocha Poland (with 2 opaque interlocking hearts behind the text) and
Kaj and Karol charging the castle to save their damsels in distress inZamek Czocha, Poland.

Now, we are a bit more experienced, and surely with emptier pockets, but still so much more excited and looking forward to our second road trip! This time we have decided to hug the northern and western parts of the countries we will be passing by. We will be able to see the whole continent from Los Picos de Europa in northern Spain; taste the sweetest grapes in Europe (after Andalucia – pues, claro! 😉 in Bordeaux, France (or maybe just the ones processed into wine :); view Paris from the Eiffel Tower (hopefully); taste fresh mussels or maybe a vol-au-vent (what is that?!?) in Belgium; visit the retired Dutch biking couple we met in Jerez; and of course (!) have a Hefeweizen with a bratwurst and sauerkraut in Deutschland (Six wants to add: this is a sacrosanct act for healthy living)!!!! Keep it all on (or under?!) the budget! Yes we can do it lower than the costs of our first-time family camping road trip in Europe in the summer.

#FreeElectrons.Family - camping road trip Europe, Lake Geneva.

Two young kids at work, cutting cucumbers on a red toy table in front of a tent in a shaded camping site.

Text reads: Thonon-les-Bains France (with 2 opaque interlocking hearts behind the text) and
We gotta eat too! Kids at work, Lac Leman (Lake Geneva), Thonon-les-Bains, France.

There is of course so much more to it! Mainly, the nature! The view of the mountains fist thing in the morning, national parks filled with plants and animals that our children have never heard about, fresh air that heals the pains you may have (both physical and mental), smell of the sea, (smell of Six after 6 weeks on the road :), touch of the warm (I hope!) rain drops, conversations with newly met camping mates… pseudo vagabonds, new gypsies of the digital age. . . a fountain of beautiful memories, flowing out and forming roots!

#FreeElectrons.Family - camping road trip Europe, Barcelona, Catalonia. 

Two young kids enjoying the view of Barcelona from a viewpoint near the Gaudi House Museum.

Text reads: Barcelona and
Enjoying the view of Barcelona from a viewpoint near the Gaudi House Museum.

What’s Next? We will be publishing short posts of each of the places that we had visited, giving TIPS on what to see/do and pretty much how to keep your (parents’) sanity when spending the summer, not quite on the run, but on the road and at camping sites.

Samochodem przez Europę z małymi dziećmi. Szaleństwo, czy przygoda? A może szaleńcza przygoda? 🙂

In English: By car across Europe with small children. Madness or adventure? Maybe a crazy adventure? 🙂

share with us your camping road trip experience!

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The free electrons family logo, showing the acronym in small letters (fef) and a wide smile--both depicts a smiling face.

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