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.
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!
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!
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!
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!
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.
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!
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.
share with us your camping road trip experience!
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