Family Summer Adventure Time: Explore Europe in a Van

You may think a campervan holiday with the kids is not for the faint-hearted, but don’t fret. With the freedom, (outdoor!) space and sense of adventure such a trip can offer – not to mention its cost-effectiveness, you should really consider packing up the car or renting a van and touring Europe with the family.

You can cover much more of countries, or even the continent, at a fraction of the price of driving and lodging, all with a heightened connection with nature and the unknown.

Which Wheels?

If you’re on a shoestring and your kids are younger (and don’t need much living space) you could deck out a van with a mattress and fashion beds for them. Don’t forget the essentials — a gas cooker, a cool box, first aid kit, some outdoor awnings, folding chairs and a table, and plenty to amuse the little ones.

However, it would be more comfortable and practical to either rent a campervan or even invest in one if this kind of trip is up your street. With sleeping quarters, a reasonable kitchen, proper storage and access to power facilities this may be an easier introduction to this exciting kind of holiday.

Top Tips for Packing

Less is more when you have to rummage through mountains of kids’ toys, miscellaneous items and assorted non-essentials to reach the cool box if someone is really hungry, so make sure to take only what you really need. Ensure you’ve got enough warm clothes for those less-than-balmy Mediterranean evenings, a torch, a deck of cards and a tablet for the kids to play on for when they inevitably tire of the idyllic country vistas…

If you are going to hire, double check that your hire company provides car seats. They don’t always come as standard and even if you bring your own make sure your vehicle has enough three-point harnesses for your children’s car seats. Again I feel it’s essential to stress you bring enough entertainment for the little ones – long drives and rainy evenings can be salvaged with the right DVDs, CDs, card games and imagination, so just make sure that you have a good stock pile.

To Plan or Not to Plan

Half the fun of these trips is rocking up to a campsite and settling in for the night – or a few nights if you fall in love with the surrounding countryside, the facilities or if the kids make best friends with the family in the van beside you. However, in high season you may find this laissez-faire approach less easy to execute. Booking a few days in advance allows you some degree of freedom to stay in certain areas if you find a particularly charming place, without the stress of driving around in the dark with two hungry kids in the back wondering where on earth you’ll sleep that night.