A Guide to Unforgettable Family Adventures in Europe

Are you dreaming of embarking on an epic European adventure with your family? Whether you’re considering a campervan or camping trip, exploring Europe with your loved ones can be an incredible experience filled with joy and unforgettable moments. It may also challenge you and push you out of your comfort zone, but the rewards are well worth it. So, buckle up, because we’re about to take you on a journey through the highs and lows of traveling Europe with your family.

The Beginning of an Adventure

Two years ago, my family and I made the bold decision to sell our house in London, pack up our belongings, and hit the open road in a cozy VW campervan named Betty. Our destination? Europe. The months that followed were filled with excitement, awe, and a fair share of stress and challenges. But looking back, those moments are now some of the most cherished memories we have.

Living in a yurt in New Zealand today, I can confidently say that our time traveling around Europe was something truly special. It allowed us to connect with each other, nature, and ourselves in ways we never thought possible. And now, I want to share with you the practical tips and insights we learned along the way, so you too can turn your dream of exploring Europe with your family into a reality.

Things You Will Need to Travel Europe

Money

Let’s start with the obvious – money. It goes without saying that you’ll need to have a budget in place for your trip. But be prepared for the costs to add up quickly, especially if you plan on staying in campsites. We made the decision to free camp, which not only provided us with endless adventure but also saved us a significant amount of money. So, consider your options and plan accordingly.

Time

One thing we quickly realized during our journey was the importance of time. It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of trying to see everything in a short amount of time. But trust me, taking it slow and allowing yourself ample time to truly immerse yourself in each place will make the experience more enjoyable for everyone, especially the children.

WiFi and Food

While traveling, two things that may become a bit challenging are finding reliable WiFi and maintaining a strict food ethic. Throughout Europe, we discovered that free WiFi was scarce, except for a few places like McDonald’s. Yes, we succumbed to the lure of their free and fast WiFi, along with a side order of fries. Additionally, sticking to a strict organic and nutritious diet proved to be difficult while on the move. But remember, a little compromise is okay when you’re constantly on the go.

Fearlessness and an Open Heart

Traveling Europe with your family requires a certain level of fearlessness or exceptional organizational skills. You have to be prepared to embrace the unknown and be open to new experiences. Saying “yes” to random encounters and interactions with locals can lead to incredible memories and new friendships. And don’t be afraid to let go of some of your hygiene standards – a little bit of dirt won’t hurt!

Hobbies and Purposes

To truly savor your journey, consider engaging in a hobby or pursuing a purpose. Whether it’s sketching, writing poetry, or taking photographs, having a creative outlet will allow you to see each place through a different lens and pass the time while your children play. And don’t forget to seek out unique projects and places suggested by locals or fellow travelers – they can add a whole new dimension to your adventure.

Insurance and Baby Wipes

Two essential items that will contribute to your peace of mind during your trip are insurance and baby wipes. Having reliable insurance and breakdown cover will alleviate some of the fears that come with traveling long distances. And as for baby wipes, trust me, they have magical powers – they can clean pretty much anything!

Audiotapes or Mixtapes

Make your journey enjoyable by creating an atmosphere of fun and excitement. Ask your friends to make you audiotapes or mixtapes with stories and new music. These will come in handy, especially during long drives.

Be Prepared for the Emotional Rollercoaster

Traveling Europe with your family is bound to bring out a range of emotions – both from your children and yourself. From the highs of breathtaking scenery and quality family time to the lows of occasional meltdowns and frustrations, be prepared for the full spectrum of emotions. Embrace it all and learn to practice mindfulness to navigate through the ups and downs. Apps like Yoga Studio can be a saving grace in times of stress and tension.

A Whirlwind Tour of Europe

Let’s take a quick tour of the countries we traveled through and the camping situations we encountered along the way.

France

France was our introduction to wild camping, staying by lakes and rivers, and discovering the generosity of towns offering free motorhome car parks. It was a breeze, and we could have easily spent months exploring this beautiful country alone.

Switzerland

Switzerland mesmerized us with its stunning landscapes, clear lakes, and majestic mountains. While free camping opportunities were limited, the beauty of the country made up for it. Just be prepared for the cost of living, as it can be quite steep.

Germany

Germany offered us bits of free camping, but it was mainly protected in the Black Forest. We enjoyed our time here, immersing ourselves in the wildness of nature and making new friends. However, be prepared for the German elderly’s obsession with your baby staying warm – they will make sure to remind you constantly.

Italy

In Italy, we opted for campsites due to safety concerns, but we fell head over heels for the incredible pizzas and pasta that the country is famous for. The warmth and friendliness of the people, especially towards children, made our time here truly memorable.

Croatia

Croatia was a bit different from the other countries we visited. Free camping was strictly prohibited due to landmines, and the cost of living was surprisingly high. However, the breathtaking national parks and stunning shoreline made it all worthwhile.

Spain

Spain was a highlight of our journey. Free camping was abundant, and we felt a strong sense of community among fellow travelers. The love and appreciation for children in Spain were heartwarming, and we enjoyed every moment of our time there.

Handy Websites for Your European Adventure

When it comes to planning and navigating your European adventure, two websites were our go-to resources. The Wildcamping Forum provided invaluable advice for campervan travel, while TripAdvisor helped us find cozy accommodations and discover hidden gems along the way. These websites will be your allies in creating an unforgettable journey.

Travel Highlights of Europe

Amidst the ups and downs, there were countless highlights that enriched our European adventure.

  • The national parks in Croatia left us in awe, despite the crowds. The azure blue ocean and stunning islands were a sight to behold.
  • Seville in December stole our hearts with its vibrant culture, street art, and delicious late-night churros. Spain, in general, charmed us with its love for children and lively atmosphere.
  • The Black Forest in Germany offered us wild blueberry picking, smoked fish from local markets, and endless adventures in nature.
  • France amazed us with its abundance of river swimming spots and its largest children’s festival, Le Grand Bornand Bonheur des Mômes. We truly experienced joie de vivre during our time here.

FAQs – Your Burning Questions Answered

Q: How did your kids cope with the journey?

A: Overall, our children were enthralled by the sense of freedom and adventure. We made sure to prioritize their needs, plan around their sleep schedules, and find places where they could thrive. Being together as a family and having unstructured time brought us all closer.

Q: How did you manage with all the stuff you needed to bring?

A: We learned the hard way that we brought too much stuff. Take my advice and pack your bags, then remove half of what you originally packed. Additionally, having designated places for everything, like the family we traveled with, will help maintain some level of organization amidst the chaos.

Q: What about baby paraphernalia?

A: Surprisingly, we didn’t need as much as we initially thought. We coslept, used slings for Juno, and opted for a nappy-free approach. We even found a creative solution for nighttime – adult incontinence pads that we stumbled upon and repurposed.

Q: How did you manage your budget during the trip?

A: We approached our journey with a frugal mindset, cooking most of our meals and choosing free activities over pricey attractions. By living on less and making the most of nature’s offerings, we were able to stay within our budget.

Embrace the Adventure

As I reminisce about our European adventure, I can’t help but feel a flutter in my chest and an overwhelming desire to embrace the freedom and joy we experienced. Traveling Europe with your family is an opportunity to create lifelong memories, strengthen bonds, and discover the beauty of the world together. So, pack your bags, open your hearts, and embark on an adventure that will leave a lasting imprint on your souls.

For more inspiration and practical advice, be sure to check out my ebook, “30 Days of Rewilding,” available for download. And stay connected with our off-grid yurt living in New Zealand by following my YouTube channel.

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