Before our first "camping with kids" adventure, my wife and I had to listen to a lot of wisdom from our friends and relatives.
You know, things like....with kids? But they're only three months old? In a camper van? Do they have doctors down there? And so on ...
Oh, and have I mentioned our fairly large dog already?
Yes, our twins were barely three months old at the time
and yes, they have medical care down there. Down there was
only a six hour drive to one of our favorite islands in
the beautiful Adriatic Croatia, a great place to explore and relax for any kid or young family.
My wife and I are both keen travelers and campers. We both love and enjoy the Mediterranean and Adriatic sea and the easy going life style people enjoy in these parts of the world. And we were not giving it all up just because of a couple of babies and a dog.
So we packed up our Volkswagen camper van for the first time including a stroller and lots of baby-formula and headed down south.
It was a long and exhausting summer, not to mention the tremendous heat that struck our parts of Europe. It was nearly impossible to go outside the house during the day time and with a couple of newly born off-springs this wasn't exactly party time.
And we both needed a change of scenery and some fresh Mediterranean air.
To say the truth, I did had some second thoughts about our camping with kids adventure. Babies do cry and scream from time to time for a variety of reasons and I sure didn't want to spoil anybody's vacation. We had a hard time putting them to sleep sometimes...so, go imagine a couple of screaming babies in the middle of the night, when half of the camping site goes to sleep.
At times I was really a bit afraid that the whole thing would turn out to be a total fiasco...
Hey, when is the next time we're doing this?
But surprisingly nothing like that happened.
Apart from the first day, when my wife and I lost a night of sleep do to the fact that we drove during the night to avoid the daily heat-wave, camping with kids turned out to be a great vacation in fact.
Of course we adopted and prepared for the new camping with kids situation in advance. We agreed to stay in one place for the entire vacation and got a simple-to-erect drive away camper awning for some extra room on the camping ground.
Our VW pop-top camper has two double beds, one on the top and one on the bottom. So at night my daughter and my wife went up and my son and I occupied the lower bed. A winning formula if you want to get some quality sleep.
Breast-feeding or pre-mixed baby formula in a baby bottle requires no getting up this way, and besides feeding the babies if all goes well of course, you have nothing else to do.
Sure, we had some bad nights with cramps and gases, but in general we were far less tired in this manner and we even adopted the same system back home. We each took care of one baby throughout the hole night as for us this is the only way not to look like a couple of zombies the next day.
We were far less tired than at home, so we enjoyed this beautiful summer as much as we could. We had a nice shady pitch right on the beach, so my wife and I took turns in swimming in the exceptionally warm Adriatic sea.
It's only natural that we didn't move around much with twins that barely past the three months marker. After all, this "camping with kids" adventure was actually a tryout for us anyway, just to see how things work out for us.
Well with little babies, we got to rest and enjoy ourselves immersed between the olive and pine trees in between their meals. A good book at my hand hit the top marker.
Of course my daily favorite was preparing and enjoying a good Mediterranean style meal , usually with somebody joining us at our camping table ...
And we were both glad to take long walks with our dog, just to get away from it all for an hour or so!
Of course the twins got their share of enjoyment as well. They immediately noticed the change of scenery. The light winds coming from the sea that made the trees move, and the sounds of the sea and the seagulls was naturally all new to them.
Just sitting in our laps, absorbing the scenery and the sounds was a thrill of it's own for our babies. Being in the drive away camper awning was another adventure, specially if there was any wind present which made the awning and everything else inside move and make some noise.
And when nothing else would keep them busy, mom and dad kept them busy with whatever came to mind at the moment. I even used a simple pot lid and a fork as an instruments... believe me, the twins went absolutely crazy from the excitement!
Just gotta' get that rhythm right!
Having fun in the camper van
Altogether we spent a lot of time with them, they started smiling, laughing and screaming more often and became very communicative, specially when other people came around.
When the day was over and the kids finally went to sleep it was beer time for mom and dad. Do to the various activities and a lot of fresh air, the baby twins closed their eyes and little loud screaming mouths just after sundown, a whole two hours earlier than back home, and kept this rhythm up until now!
As you can see camping with kids turned out to be a great idea. The Mediterranean climate was and always is a pleasure for the body and the soul. And it was more than obvious that even three month old babies appreciate it.
So, should you take your babies camping? If you ask me, yes! I cannot describe how they see the whole thing, but seeing their behavior I'm sure they get more then you can imagine out of it...
I've been camping in Europe since I was a little boy. Back in the 1970's there was hardly any playgrounds for kids and god forbid, portable TV sets, computers and other electronic crap we get bombed with today.
We didn't need any of that back then. We were happy with what the nature had to offer, we played with other kids, even if we didn't even speak the same language and we were happy to got by the day without any cuts and bruises, which was rarely an option of course.
Camping with kids should be kept plain and simple like camping always was. Keep them busy in the great outdoors and not in the virtual world. Show them how to put up a tent, show them how to barbecue and show them how to start a fire. Handy scooters will also keep them busy for a while. Hopefully they'll thank you for that some day...
If you wish to learn more about camping and traveling with kids, check out MyLittleNomads, a website belonging to a young family traveling the world.
And if you need to trigger your stimulation just a little bit, watch this short video of a young American family with two very young boys, leaving it all behind and chasing their dreams from Seattle and all the way down to Panama in their VW camper van, just to reinforce your understanding, of what will power can do if you want...
Well if this doesn't get your camping with kids imagination going...
If you really enjoy camping and traveling with you kids, because you want to show them the great outdoors and the nature itself, I'd love to hear from you! Believe me, lot of people have a problem with this issue. The dirt, the bugs and the wild animals they say. So, please help me loosen up this parents and show them the beauty of it!