Family Travel, writing, yurt life

How to travel Europe with your family

18 May, 2015

So, you want to travel Europe with your family? Perhaps in a campervan? Or camping?

Good luck with that!

Hahaha. Oooh, I jest, I jest.

Two years ago we sold our house in London, and most of our possessions. We packed up our troubles in an old kitbag, and hooned off in a cool little VW campervan called Betty, to bury them beneath the sea. (Ideally the Adriatic sea… off the coast of Croatia.) After an agonising wait for our baby’s first passport and other hiccups, we were finally on the road. The woes of being very unorganised people. How we get through every day, let alone go on epic adventures, is QUITE a mystery.

These days we live in a yurt in New Zealand, where I write and we farm and go on adventures. For more inspiration about helping your family connect with their wild side please check out my little (*ahem* bestselling) book of daily readings, 30 Days of Rewilding.

I can hand on heart say that those months travelling around Europe with my husband, a three year old called Ramona and a baby called Juno held some of the most special, universe-exploding-with-joy moments I have ever encountered in my thirty years.Family Travel Camping Europe

(It also induced several poke-my-eyes-out-with-my-toothbrush moments of stress and agony too, but more about that later. Some troubles just won’t be buried.)

Our adventure sent us through France, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Croatia and Spain…. ending up in a flight to New Zealand to begin a different sort of life as farmers. (Yeah, weird eh. We actually bought a cow yesterday. I don’t so much do the farming as writing about it and eating the food that grows.)

I have been writing this post in my head since the day that trip ended. I wanted to put together something really useful, to help people take this dream of travelling around Europe with their family, and make it a reality. So this is pretty long, and pretty comprehensive. Here are practical tips, links to much more detail, websites we relied on, and our ultimate trip highlights.How to plan a family adventure around europe

So, you want to travel Europe with your family? This is for you.

Things you will need to travel Europe:

Money.
(yeah, I know. duh.) It says a lot that the cost of our first night camping in our campervan on our Great Journey blew our brains. £25! We tossed and turned all night wondering how one earth we were going to manage £25 everyday for accommodation for 5 months! How little research we did before we left! Laughable really. So, if you are going to camp in campsites, plan in a good wack for accommodation. And have masses of money. For us, we decided to free camp. And that decision led to almost entirely free accommodation for 5 months and lots of adventure.

Time.
We spent our first 3 weeks on a total mish- buzzing from place to place “Having An Adventure, Really, Arent We?!” and almost went insane. Aim to spend lots of time in places, meandering, getting to know little villages and rivers, and it will be a lot more pleasant for all of you! Especially for the children. Family Travel Camping Europe

Loose ethics (1) – wifi at Mcdonalds. We were so surprised that there wasn’t wifi all over Europe. You could get it at £25 a night campsites… but there was none free anywhere else. Apart from Mcdonalds. I had successfully avoided Maccas for two decades before we went to Europe. But when we discovered their free and fast wifi, we were sucked in. With a side order of fries. Once we got to Spain we managed to get our heads around buying a SIM card and having a special short term deal. We genuinely couldn’t work this out in the other places!

Loose ethics (2) – compromising on food ethics/ health. When we are settled we try and eat mostly organic. We found this really hard to do whilst we were travelling. In France they had good, obvious “bio” options, but we struggled to maintain our commitment to that, and also general awesome nutrition, over the five months. It could be done though, with much more effort put in to the food side of things. But we didn’t prioritise it. I do regret this a little, as I think Juno’s dental health was impacted by me mostly eating bread and foraged figs whilst breastfeeding. But I raise it in order to say that there are some things, whilst constantly on the move, that are tricky to work out. And there does need to be a little compromise, I think.

Fearlessness – or exceptional organizational skills. Our courage increased as we went. We became better and better at turning up at place expecting to find somewhere good to sleep. We tried hard to always arrive at a place in the daytime so we could suss everything out well once we were there. Alternatively, you could plan ahead. We are not good planners at the best of times, and when it required so much time in Old Macdonald using up there wifi, we basically stopped planning anything.

An open heart. The absolute best thing about travelling is the random things you end up doing. But you do need to have an open heart for this. I guess if you are planning a trip of this kind, then you have it. Say yes when an old granny offers you some cherries, invite another family on the campsite up to the café for chips, ask locals for the good swimming spots and ALWAYS skinny dip at the Playas Nudista. After taking a punt and asking another family out for dinner they became our fast and firm friends and we met up with them several times over our adventure- we celebrated two birthdays with them.

Suspended hygiene. The truth is, if you are doing a lot of swimming, you don’t need to shower. And if you are free camping, showering and doing laundry and all those things can be a bit tricky. RELISH the freedom of being a bit smelly and read up on all the reasons a bit of bacteria is so good for us. Hehe. Honestly though, we were probably swimming two times a day, for most of the trip. If you are not a big swimming family – you might need to suck it up and stay at camp sites more often. (But do also read this post: Do Children Need a Daily Bath- 8 Reasons To Stop Washing So Much.)

Family Travel Camping EuropeA hobby. Because travelling is best done at a snail’s pace it is really nice to have a little hobby to turn to. Sketching or writing poetry or taking photographs – these can help you see a place through a different lens. And they can pass the hours while your children bury each other endlessly in the sand. I learnt the ukulele while we were travelling around Europe and now I play and sing everyday.

A purpose
Before we left I did a bit of a shout out on my blog, asking for people’s suggestions of where to go. We decided to visit a few projects around the place that people had pointed us towards. Such as the Forest Kindegarten in Germany – read about their knives and stuff, if you like, and the Sunseed Eco Village in Spain (read about the hippy that laid a golden poo there.) We also did as much of the Wild Swimming France book as we could. This just adds a bit of a fun dynamic.

Amazing Insurance/ Breakdown Cover. Because if you have this, you CAN be a little bit fearless. And, you know, you might break down. Really seriously. Twice. *Ahem*Family Travel Camping Europe

Baby Wipes
They can clean ANYTHING! I’m not gonna lie to you, at least 3 times I did a day’s worth of dishes with a few baby wipes.

Audiotapes or mixtapes your friends make you for the journey. We tried to make the journeying quite pleasant, so rarely did more than 100 miles in a day. But you still clock up a lot of time on the road and having stories and new music from our friends was really cool.

Be prepared for:

All the emotions (1) – From your children
For the most part, our children were buzzing out on our own good vibes of freedom and happiness. However, our three year old did express a lot of emotion quite often. Sing goodbye as a ritual (we used to name each of the things we loved in each place, as I strummed away on the Uke) Give lots of time for goodbyes (oh- I have an AMAZING Guide to Helping Children Say Goodbye RIGHT HERE!) Find ways to incorporate your children’s wishes and aims – one of the families we travelled with had a family meeting every morning where everyone said what they wanted to do that day, and everyone’s ideas were respected equally. This could be quite a disempowering time for your little ones, unless you support a better alternative for them.

All the emotions (2) – From you
The highs! The lows! There is something about travelling that rips open your heart. At 4:30pm you’ll be sitting by a river with tears in your eyes because you are JUST SO HAPPY look at our angelic children and my dashing husband we are all perfectly content and we love each other so much! And then, inexplicably at 4:50pm, you’ll be like F*CK THIS SH*T WHAT ARE WE DOING LET’S GO HOME YOU B*STARDS

I think that having a lot of empty time makes you more attuned to your feelings. Emotions that you’ve perhaps tucked away neatly in order to carry out an orderly, systematic breakfast/work/mortgage/ dinner sort of life are suddenly given some space to pop out and yell BOO in your face.

Be prepared for it. And get good at mindfulness. Hehe. True though. We downloaded the app Yoga Studio and it SAVED THE DAY! (Tim and I aren’t naturally yoga-y, although we would like to be, we would rather eat chocolate and read Jack Reacher. But when you have lots of extra time it is quite do-able to fit in some mindfulness practice and did really help us.)

Country Guide
Here is a little whiz around the countries we went to, with particular reference to the camping situ….

France – France introduced us to wildcamping.  Staying by lakes and rivers, also almost every town has a free motorhome car park. We met lots of beautiful people doing this, all very respectful of the spots. France was such a breeze, a really wonderful intro to camping around Europe. In fact, we could easily spend three months in France alone.

Switzerland– the odd bit of free camping and absolute gobsmacking beauty. The stunning buildings and clear lakes and mountains. We fell in love with Bern all over again…. but pushed through quite quickly as everything was so dear and we did feel like we were chancing the free camping a lot. One night we accidentally stayed over in a Graveyard. We arrived in the dark thinking we had found a wonderful peaceful spot and in the morning realised it was a cemetery. OH! We zipped out of their pretty fast. Read more about our campervan bustling around France and Switzerland.

Germany– There was the odd bit of freecamping to be had in Germany, but not in the touristy spots – probably rightly so that the Black Forest should be protected by rangers. We did some cool things here in Germany and it is very easy to travel around with only your one pathetic language under your belt. Bit of a warning though, the German elderly are completely and utterly OBSESSED with your babies being cold. I am talking stopped-in-the-street-on-boiling-hot-days-every-single-day OBSESSED. Be prepared for them waking your baby by squeezing their bare feet and sternly saying KALT!KALT!

Italy – we stayed in campsites in Italy (mostly because we were broken down but also because we heard it was slightly unsafe) And we blew our budget somewhat on the incredible pizzas and pasta – this was absolutely the culinary highlight. It was an absolutely lovely place to be for the children – people literally call across the street “CIAO BELLA!” just to be kind and jolly to the children. If you do Venice- stay at the campsite over the water and get the boat in. Far cheaper and lovely way to do it. Read about how to do Italy and Venice hear. Also, another breakdown story. Eep.

Family Travel Camping Europe

Croatia– Be warned, there is NO FREE CAMPING there. As a result of landmines in the past, they are very strict about not wandering/driving off the beaten path. Croatia was surprisingly expensive, not the tuppence-a-day place people remember it as, and there was a sort of tourist-weariness amongst the people there, they are still quite clearly recovering from a very tragic conflict. It still made it into our highlights, though. (Read on.)

Spain – if a lover of France is a Francophille is a lover of Spain a Spancophille? Sounds totally wrong, if you ask me. But I am now one! The freecamping around Spain was PERFECT. A real community. Read all about campervanning around Spain with your family, and a surboad and a caterpillar here.

Handy Websites to travel Europe with:

There were two sites that we referred to on a weekly basis.
Wildcamping Forum – this was very important to us – so much good advice for travelling around the Uk and Europe in a campervan. Their Spain Forum was so helpful.

Trip Advisor – we had some lovely house-stays in Spain as a result of Trip Advisor. (Courtesy of our breakdown insurance….) If you stay 3+ nights in a place it can be super cheap. We relied on Trip Advisor a lot for restaurants and hotels and ideas for things to do. It has to be one of the most helpful sites for accomodation and activities to travel Europe with.Family Travel Camping Europe

Travel Highlights of Europe:

The national parks in Croatia were incredible, despite being very touristy. Well worth the visit. And the completely astonishing Croatian shoreline, azure ocean and islands. We didn’t really enjoy the vibe there (got to make your own fun, for the most part) or the food available to buy (don’t hate me, I am just being honest) but we loved foraging walnuts and figs all over the country and we fell head over heels with Dubrovnic and Split. In Love. Wouldn’t have missed them for the world. Read about flea markets in Split here.

Seville in December. What a wonderful place! We loved the cafes, the culture, the street art, the late night churros and hot chocolate, the general vibe. In fact- Spain. It is amazing! We LOVED how much they cherish children there, and how involved in all of life. We adooooooored being out on the town at midnight with all the children having fun!

The Black Forest, Germany. We were fortunate enough to make wonderful new friends in Frieberg and perhaps this tinted our time there. But we loved the wildness of the Black Forest, picking millions of tiny wild blueberries on walks to little lakes and buying smoked fish outside the Cathedral and chasing paper boats along the mini waterways.

Wild Swimming and the Children’s Festival in France. Some of the river swimming in the mountainous areas of France is out of this world. Shockingly cold but, injects YEARS of life into the weary bones of parents! We also went to Le Grand Bornand Bonheur des Mômes festival in the Alps –the biggest kids festival in Europe and what an inspiration! So much fun – an acre of wooden train set to build and a whole pasture filled with massive musical instruments made from random recycled rubbish – La Jardin Musicale.

Frequently asked questions about how to travel Europe:

How did the kids cope? Generally, I reckon if parents are happy, than kids are happy. We were all carried along in a spirit of nomadic freedom.  We prioritised their needs, planned travelling around sleeps and tried to park in places that they would thrive in. They LOVED having both parents around and the unstructured time.

What about stuff? We took waaaay too much stuff. Could have chucked half of it.  Pack your bags and then take half of it away! We also didn’t plan places for everything. The other family we roadtripped for a while with had a perfect place for everything. Do this, would you? It will help with the madness. 
Family Travel Camping Europe
What about baby paraphernalia? We didn’t have too much. We cosleep, so that was easy, and just had slings. And we are nappy free so Juno didn’t even have stacks of that. At night time she used to wear a Tena, hehehehehe… we rescued a massive stash of unused adult incontinence pads for the trip….

Argh, recalling everything is giving me a fluttering in my chest, and ants in my pants, and a desire to fling my clothes off and pretend my local seaside is a Playas Nudista.

What about your budget? When I say we were thrifty, I mean we were like, super cheapskate. We freecamped. We cooked almost EVERY MEAL apart from birthdays and special occasions with friends. (Well, apart from completely not resisting Italian carbs and Mcdonalds chips. Wifries.) A ferry trip, cover price to the Alhambra, and entry to Croatian national parks were probably the only activities that weren’t free. We chose walking and swimming and dossing over actual activities. We don’t feel we missed out at all- in my opinion theme parks look the same the world over. We lived on less than we lived on whilst in London, and made do on a mixture of savings and a tiny bit of income from my writing. Petrol and groceries were our two big costs.

Embrace the fear, race your kids along the shore, scrabble over the cliff to a waterfall, dig out your inner nomad and have a family adventure that will set your heart aflutter for a lifetime.

PS I hope that was helpful! If you have any other questions, please ask them in the comments and I imagine I will edit the extra questions and answers into this mahoosive post.Family Travel Camping Europe

And for more inspiration you probably need to download my ebook, 30 Days of Rewilding, The Telegraph called it “a manifesto for life lived in nature” – there is one with your name on it!

Keep in touch with our off grid yurt living here in NZ on my Youtube Channel:

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75 Comments

  • Reply How to rest (do you need to learn?) - Sacraparental 18 May, 2015 at 7:07 pm

    […] [If this appeals, check out Lucy’s brand new post on her family’s trip around Europe in a campervan!] […]

  • Reply ThaliaKR 18 May, 2015 at 7:18 pm

    I LOVE THIS POST!!!

    Wifries!

    Great idea to plan for hobby time.

    Love the ukulele goodbye song idea (goodbyes are the main downside in our nomadic life).

    Thanks!
    xx
    ThaliaKR recently posted…How to rest (do you need to learn?)My Profile

  • Reply Becky Brown 18 May, 2015 at 8:02 pm

    Amazing post! Since moving to France I am very aware that we have Europe on our doorstep and I long for a trip like this with the family. We are determined to get a campervan sometime in the next year and start our adventures. The kids summer holiday here is 2 months which would be perfect for a bit of a tour around Europe. Knowing me I’d plan like hell but I
    like the idea of ‘ going with the flow’!
    Becky Brown recently posted…Camping – The Alphabet AdventuresMy Profile

  • Reply Nicole 18 May, 2015 at 8:10 pm

    Amazing. Wonderful.
    We are Australian, living permanently on the road with our three wildlings, ages 7, 6 and 3. We have been talking about upping our adventurousness and backpacking/vanpacking around Europe…. but, my word, could we really do it??
    I think we can. Thankyou for the courage, inspiration and information.

    • Reply Delaine Barker 20 March, 2016 at 9:15 pm

      Hi nicole. I’m very keen to roadtrip with my family through Europe. Only problem I think is which vehicle? I have 4 year old twins and a one year old… I feel like no vans safely seat three car seats would love to know how you have managed it. Thanks

    • Reply Catherine 29 June, 2017 at 12:22 pm

      Hi Nicole
      I have just finished reading ‘On the road with kids’ by John Ahern who is also an Australian. He, his wife and two children traveled around Europe in a campervan. Have a look at his website. His book touched on how to buy a campervan without being a European resident.

  • Reply Susana Anastácio 18 May, 2015 at 8:12 pm

    I still don’t have a family, but I dream about an adventure like this.
    It’s always good to know it’s possible.

    🙂 great post!

  • Reply Fiona 18 May, 2015 at 9:08 pm

    Wow, your experiences in Europe are really inspiring! I’d love to see more of Europe but the cost always seemed so intimidating. I have never heard of wild camping and will definitely be looking into it. Did you buy bottled water or all drink the river and lake water? I have tried doing that when camping in New Zealand but couldn’t get used to the silty taste (I am not very adventurous!).
    Fiona recently posted…Bringing a baby to the Algarve, PortugalMy Profile

  • Reply Paula 18 May, 2015 at 9:37 pm

    Such a Fantastic read, really down to earth and honest views. Sounds like you had a ‘hoot’! We travelled the Croatian coast and found Northern Croatia (Pula) much more ‘Croatian’ than the tourist filled south. Definitely saving this as a bookmark for when that time comes (kids…that is!). Very inspirational and insightful. Thanks!
    What do you guys do now?

  • Reply Katie 19 May, 2015 at 12:56 am

    I love this post, it’s really really inspired me! We have 3 year old twins and the idea of travelling in a camper scares the shit out of me, but also fills my soul with excitement!

  • Reply Madeleine 19 May, 2015 at 9:15 am

    I must say. This sounds awesome! I wanna do it. I travelled Western Europe ona bus as a teen. But I got Eastern Europe left. With my child ofc.
    Camping here in Sweden is legal everywhere for a short period of time (think it was a couple of days), just a tip for people going here.
    Madeleine recently posted…Vi skapar en fjärilsäng bland asfalt och betongMy Profile

  • Reply Steph 20 May, 2015 at 10:03 pm

    WIFRIES has made me laugh SO hard! Probably too hard. I need coffee.

    In all seriousness though, I remember you going off on your jaunt around the best continent ever, and I was so jel (in a happy for you way though.) I’d love to do this. LOVE. IT! This is a great post, and I’m going to share it heartily.
    Steph recently posted…Getting Over Jesse Franklin is HEREMy Profile

  • Reply Mum of One 21 May, 2015 at 12:11 am

    AMAZEBALLS! What brilliant post and you are now giving me ants in my pants too…BUT my OCD would probably not survive a trip like this. Gosh you have a seriously beautiful looking family. pooh and have you named the cow?
    Mum of One recently posted…Beach Baby BeautifulMy Profile

  • Reply Sarah Pylas (Grenglish) 21 May, 2015 at 6:01 am

    Haha WIFRIES! I love it. Your trip sounds amazing. I’d love to think I could cope with such an exciting adventure but I’m not sure I could be without my bed (or shower!) for so long. Such an incredible thing to do and I am in total awe.

  • Reply Emma 21 May, 2015 at 6:10 am

    I absolutely loved this post. What a fantastic experience. Travelling and living abroad really does make you see things in a completely different way. I can’t believe it’s been two years for you already! Your observations of German people and cold babies made me laugh out loud. God forbid if you should venture out with wet hair after a swim!! Here in Bavaria I think there’s a rule that you can camp pretty much anywhere. Well at least if there are any rules they all go out the window come Oktoberfest. People turn up in camper vans everywhere! Even had some at the end of our garden one year! 😀
    Emma recently posted…Cloud Busting – Paragliding BavariaMy Profile

  • Reply Sarah 21 May, 2015 at 6:41 am

    This is a great post, thank you! We’re off adventuring for a few months this autumn with our wee one (11 months when we leave). We’re heading to New Zealand and will be stopping at a few places on the way and on the way back. Super excited! We will take note of your tips. X

  • Reply Pinkoddy 21 May, 2015 at 9:38 am

    Oh sounds amazing. I want to buy a camper-van now! In fact this year we are driving the furthest into France we have been I shall remember the wifries
    Pinkoddy recently posted…Sensory Temperature Issues and Possible SolutionsMy Profile

  • Reply Mammasaurus 21 May, 2015 at 10:50 am

    I love your honesty Lucy. This i one of those things I would love to do but I know would never happen (being married to a very practically minded gentleman like I am). Fascinating reading how you have got on – and ‘Wifries’ ! Genius!
    Mammasaurus recently posted…Grower Spaces: Susan, Charente Maritime department, South West FranceMy Profile

  • Reply Cass@frugalfamily 21 May, 2015 at 7:45 pm

    You really are an inspiration – I would love to be brave enough to do this but I know I’m not. Maybe a couple of weeks I could manage 😉
    Cass@frugalfamily recently posted…Wednesday’s Wardrobe – Master Frugal’s Favourite Shirt….My Profile

  • Reply Emma 21 May, 2015 at 8:15 pm

    Just wow I couldn’t be that free but I envy that can.
    Emma recently posted…Wednesdays Wardrobe – the sporty editionMy Profile

  • Reply Jess @ Along Came Cherry 25 May, 2015 at 5:53 pm

    Ahhh I so want to do this at the moment! Just pack up and run away, such a helpful post and one day we will do it!! x
    Jess @ Along Came Cherry recently posted…Swimming With KonfidenceMy Profile

  • Reply hannah 26 May, 2015 at 7:30 pm

    I LOVE THIS! read it yesterday and its had me buzzing for the last few hours! OUR main draw back is being able to afford the van or campervan… any suggestions on what kind is suitable? Whilst i’m happy to do up an old transit and convert it I don’t feel whole heartedly confident about its reliability. help?!

    • Lucy
      Reply Lucy 1 June, 2015 at 12:37 pm

      Ah cool! Yes, it is tricky. We got what should have been a reliable one and it failed two times, majorly!
      I would go for a toyota, a more recent one. Forget about the cool style, you know?!
      Also, we went halves with my parents. That made it SO much more affordable. Anyone you could come to an arrangement with? Even a time share campervan! With a bunch of mates!

  • Reply Kimmy 4 June, 2015 at 12:37 pm

    I’m so inspired to do this with our kidlets next year! They’ll be 5 and 2. How long was your trip in total?

  • Reply Shed 6 June, 2015 at 7:46 am

    Great post. Especially appreciate the tips for France. I have to say though, I laughed out loud at the German Omas worrying about your children’s feet. This is SO true. I’ve been living in Germany for 15 years and have three sons, I have breastfed them here, there and everywhere and nobody bats an eyelid but woe betide you leave the house with barefoot babies. I have a bit of a local reputation for underdressing my children meanwhile.
    (BTW My two eldest are Waldkinder (went to forest kindergarten) and both have knives (!) And we too love Freiburg)

    • Lucy
      Reply Lucy 8 June, 2015 at 9:25 am

      Heheheh! So glad it is a universal experience!

  • Reply Emma 13 June, 2015 at 9:36 am

    You know you did the Happy Hair book? You should totally turn this into a similar book. Even if it had the same info on as this post, I would totes 100% buy it, and I bet loads of others would too.
    Emma recently posted…We’re On The Changing MatMy Profile

  • Reply Natalie @ Little Jam Pot Life Blog 24 June, 2015 at 9:13 am

    We would love to do this one day with our little three! I just worry about the whole giving up work for my partner.. I could hopefully work on the road blogging/photography/web etc but its the whole uncertainty of work for him… and yes to campervan, we’re (slowly) saving!! x
    Natalie @ Little Jam Pot Life Blog recently posted…Birth stories – All different but equally worth itMy Profile

  • Reply Amanda bess 1 July, 2015 at 1:01 am

    We are planning on doing this with our 8 and 6year olds for 6 months, so this is really useful. When you talk of free camping for camper vans – does this also apply to caravans? We are taking our caravan – TIA

  • Reply Jasmine Daniel 9 July, 2015 at 11:24 pm

    That’s the best way to spend your free time. Me and my husband love traveling and since I’m pregnant I was worried things will change a little, but I’m definitely not planning to quit traveling and it’s encouraging to hear that it’s as easy to travel with a child as to travel only with your husband. I imagine it and hope it will be even better, right 🙂 Thank you for sharing your experience.

  • Reply Planning Our 10 Year Anniversary 22 July, 2015 at 8:37 am

    […] browsing the internet on a lazy Sunday morning I came across the blog of Lulastic. A blog written by a lady who took her family free camping across Europe before settling in New […]

  • Reply Tips for travelling with children | Hopkins on Tour 11 August, 2015 at 8:00 pm

    […] Because travelling is best done at a snail’s pace it is really nice to have a little hobby to turn to. Sketching or writing poetry or taking photographs – these can help you see a place through a different lens. And they can pass the hours while your children bury each other endlessly in the sand. (source: Lulastic) […]

  • Reply Kelly McManus 16 August, 2015 at 11:03 am

    I want to do this sooooo bad. My children are 8, 6 and 4. For those of you who ‘live on the road’ or do a lot of travelling with kids, how do you go about taking them out of school? Or do you home school? Would love to know as this is such a dream of mine! X

    • Lucy
      Reply Lucy 18 August, 2015 at 3:18 am

      We Unschool 🙂 children will learn in such a rich environment!!

      • Reply Kelly McManus 18 August, 2015 at 4:40 am

        Thanks for your reply, your life looks amazing! 🙂 xx

  • Reply Penny 24 August, 2015 at 9:04 am

    Hi there Lucy, we are planning to do Europe for 5 mths in May next year, we have three kids, 14, 11,7. What is a realistic geographical area to cover in 5 mths? We don’t want to rush, but we want to see EVERYTHING!! any other tips would be amazing! Cheers Penny

    • Lucy
      Reply Lucy 24 August, 2015 at 4:37 pm

      How exciting!! Really so cool 🙂 well, we went from UK to croatia and then the whole of Spain in about that… It was probably a little too much! However it does make sense to head farther East because it is cheaper living. If I was to do it again I would head to the Czech Republic I think… A bit of time in each country along the way, but less in the expensive countries! Play around with putting destinations in your map app, then you can figure out how many hours of driving that will be and whether you want to do it 🙂 your kids are older too so will probably drive much happier. When I was a kid we used to hoon over to Hungary in our VW just for three weeks… Hope that helps! Xx

  • Reply Gladis 29 August, 2015 at 9:07 pm

    This is one of the areas of classroom management that can make you or break you as a teacher, and the same as true of a traveling family. Preparing kids ahead of time about where they will sit on the plane and where they will sleep in the hotel eliminates the need for fusses and fights.

    • Reply Catherine 29 June, 2017 at 12:37 pm

      I found my children weren’t so worried about where on the plane they were going to sit rather who they were going to sit next to. For nearly all our flights I had our youngest two on either side of me and our eldest sat next to my husband. Thankfully I don’t remember ever having to deal with having a child sit next to a stranger as that would have added another layer to who sits where discussions.
      There was so many things where we just didn’t have all the information before hand to answer their questions so I just had to reassure them that we were together and could deal with anything that came up. A few times that meant having two separate hotel rooms with one adult in each with children. That required working out not only who went in which room but who got the only single bed and who shared with who. We found deciding when we got there worked as it allowed us to figure out in the moment what everyone’s needs were which constantly changed, so what worked in one location might not be best solution at the next.

  • Reply Jewels 31 January, 2016 at 9:11 pm

    Love it Thank-yooooouu! We are 3 months in on the northern Spanish coast! X

    • Reply Jewels 31 January, 2016 at 9:11 pm

      Weeks!!! Weeks!3 weeks in!

    • Lucy
      Reply Lucy 2 February, 2016 at 9:01 am

      Omg awesome!!!!!

  • Reply Anaïs 12 February, 2016 at 10:03 am

    Hi Lucy, thank you for this inspiring post! Which van did you use? I am considering buying one for our great escape.

  • Reply MOnika 18 February, 2016 at 11:12 pm

    well I love it too!
    We are planning to do’ that’ this September ME ,MY partner (yaaaky word) and our three children 10, 8 and 3 wish us good luck as we are not great at savings from time to time we like to splash and mostly on good food X

  • Reply Sarah Lawlor 28 February, 2016 at 8:59 am

    Thank you for this! My husband and I are hoping to take our children away around Europe later in the year, though we have 3 children who will be 11, 8 and 3 when/if we go. I have The Fear of everything but I really think we need to do this (we home ed) and you’ve helped shed a little bit of light to lessen The Fear. Husband wants to do wwoofing but I’d love to just bugger off and see things for a while 🙂
    I’ll show him this post for sure.

  • Reply Ferris Felder 5 April, 2016 at 11:45 am

    Hi there.
    We are heading over for 5 weeks with our 7/8 month old and plan on hiring a camper. Do you know what European rules are around kids seats in campers? Can you put a child seat in the front seat?

    • Lucy
      Reply Lucy 5 April, 2016 at 2:06 pm

      Hi Ferris
      We didn’t research this- we just presumed it was the same as the UK. So our three year old was in the front seat, in her car seat and the baby was in the back in her car seat. I can only assume it was okay 😀 😀

  • Reply Amy G 10 May, 2016 at 3:46 am

    Hi Lucy, great blog. We are going to be driving from the north of the UK to the South of Spain next year – not quite as epic as your adventure!! We are first time parents and baby will be 6 months ish when were travel (not even born yet) – how old was your baby on your travels – does age matter? Really don’t know what to expect but excited about the challenge!!

    • Lucy
      Reply Lucy 17 May, 2016 at 8:38 am

      Juno was six months 🙂 no perfect age, pros and cons to all! Have a great trip!

  • Reply Anissa Connor 12 May, 2016 at 10:04 pm

    This is an amazing post. My second baby is due in July (I have a 2.5 year old little lady) and my husband and I discussed doing exactly this last night when the baby is 6 months. This has really inspired me to make this happen for us. We’re both super unrisky and this would be very out of character so fingers crossed we’ll follow through!

    • Lucy
      Reply Lucy 17 May, 2016 at 8:39 am

      Ah cool!

  • Reply Sara 20 June, 2016 at 5:36 am

    Love your post! We are embarking on a mini-adventure in August – just 3 weeks in France and Spain in our ancient-but-recently-purchased VW camper van – but feel inspired to do longer in 2017. I work for myself so am planning on using much wi-fi on our trip and your info was very helpful. Now feeling totally giddy about many journeys in the future with our boys (aged 4 and 9). Thanks for all your super-helpful tips, and you made me laugh loads!

  • Reply World Schooling is the New Home Schooling 12 July, 2016 at 9:01 pm

    […] from school. It was a good job really, as I was only just forming my natural learning apologetics. Traveling Europe with our young children was a crash course in alternative living and education. I spent almost the whole time reading books […]

  • Reply Vinny 21 August, 2016 at 9:20 pm

    Hi lucy. I dont know if i have missed it in the article, but do you have a rough estimation of what kind of money you spent in five months. I am hoping to do this within the next few years with a 9 and 1 year old. Hopefully with a well equipped camper! Thanks a million

    • Lucy
      Reply Lucy 22 August, 2016 at 1:54 pm

      Eeek… I am so sorry… I can’t even add up. We didn’t pay for camping and we didn’t pay for attractions. But we did pay some toll fees and we found food more expensive than we imagined! We also spent a lot on petrol! I imagine you could work it out for miles planned and average food costs and things. Good luck and sorry not to be more helpful.

  • Reply Jennifer Constant 26 August, 2016 at 1:33 am

    Hey, love this blog post. What an inspiration! Can I ask what camper you used? Must have had a big bed for you all the cosleep?

    thanks!

    • Lucy
      Reply Lucy 26 August, 2016 at 8:34 am

      It was a 4 berth VW westfalia – I slept upstairs with baby and tim downstairs with toddler 🙂

  • Reply Allie 15 September, 2016 at 7:36 am

    Hi Lucy,
    I loved reading this story. We are New Zealanders, currently planning on taking our three children away from there comfortable Auckland life for a year and traveling Europe in a Motorhome.
    We have read a million blogs and done a lot of research and are feeling very excited about all the amazing (and challenging) experiences we will embark on.
    Our goal is to do it on a very tight budget, and wild camp most of the way – but I would live to get your advice on how best to skimp, and where NOT to skimp. Also – where are so great places to wild camp, and NOT wild camp.. and then, anything else you have that might add value?! I would greatly apreciate your help as we embark on this exciting (and a little scary) journey!
    Thank you so much for your time
    Allie
    x

    • Lucy
      Reply Lucy 17 September, 2016 at 10:57 am

      Hello!
      In all our experience of wild camping we haven’t had one sketchy event. Having said that, if we don’t get a good vibe than we skip a location and drive until we find one that feels better. We also keep the front seat clear and keys easily accesbile so we can scoot off if we start to feel uncomfortable. Think you have to follow your gut on that one. We REALLY like it when there are other campers around us, which is often the case.

      We would pay to camp in a place when we need to do laundry! So we can use their facilities, if we were feeling a bit grubby etc.

      Once you get going you will so quickly get your head and feels around it. You are gonna have SUCH an adventure.

  • Reply Jen 2 October, 2016 at 10:27 pm

    Hello 🙂

    I’m the person that commented on Facebook 🙂 I actually read a part of your blog ages ago and bought your no poo book. By chance, you popped up in my Facebook feed and I explored your blog further 🙂

    I’m also British and live in Melbourne with my Aussie husband and our two young children (almost 4 and 15 months). I’m into attachment parenting and would like to be into EC/nappy free but haven’t quite been brave enough!

    The more I read about school starting ages, the more strongly I feel about giving our son a “gap year”. He turns 5 at the start of 2018 and legally, without registering for homeschooling, can keep him home until he turns 6. He’s really into nature and being outside (in a way that I’m not quite!). My daughter would start 3 year old (play based) kindergarten in 2019 so giving him a gap year doesn’t affect her.

    My husband and I are thinking of travelling around Europe. Six months would be amazing, but our budget may only allow for less. I had been thinking about camping rather than a campervan as (a) I’m terrified of the idea of driving on the “wrong” side of the road and (b) I’m terrified of the idea of driving on the “wrong” side of the road in a truck! That’s not even counting (c) my parking abilities 😉

    I’m now intrigued about free camping. Is it safe? Is it legal? How did you decide where to park? We are thinking of driving through France and Germany then flying to Finland.

    Did you do any working family holiday stints at any farms?

    When you broke down, did you have insurance from the UK? Given my husband and I will have Australian driving licences, do you know if that affects getting insurance (or were you still uk based at the time)? When you broke down, did your (English speaking?) insurance company organise the local repairs in the local language? My French is ok, but my German is limited to swear words!! 😀

    How did you all cope with living on top of one another for six months/no extended family to help out?

    What did you do if any of you got sick?

    I’m also interested in blogging our experience and am interested in how to generate an income (however modest) from that.

    I have a million questions, but I’ll stop there for now!

    • Lucy
      Reply Lucy 3 October, 2016 at 2:10 pm

      Hello! It sounds like a super fun plan! I recommend reading everything out there, all the forums, and joining the Worldschoolers group on Facebook! Gonna answer these quickly>

      I’m now intrigued about free camping. Is it safe? Different opinions- we felt completely sae at all times and if we ever felt even slightly unsure we would go to a campsite. Is it legal? In France they have particular spots you can park at in almost every town, so great. Spain is differnt from region to region. How did you decide where to park? I used the forums mentioned above. We are thinking of driving through France and Germany then flying to Finland.

      Did you do any working family holiday stints at any farms? We stayed in one eco community but that was it. We signed up to the Working At A Famr thing but everyone rejected us! They didn’t want kids.

      When you broke down, did you have insurance from the UK? YES- recommend full shebang insurance wise but can’t give you any ideas abot insiurance.
      Given my husband and I will have Australian driving licences, do you know if that affects getting insurance (or were you still uk based at the time)? When you broke down, did your (English speaking?) insurance company organise the local repairs in the local language? My French is ok, but my German is limited to swear words!!

      Yes, this was immensely difficult and very stressful, to be honest.

      How did you all cope with living on top of one another for six months/no extended family to help out? It was fine! We loved it. Got mad, but got through it!

      What did you do if any of you got sick? We would have holed up at a campsite where we could be clean and warm and watch things on the internet! Didn’t happen though, but we did that sometimes to stay a bit sane!

      Hope that helps. Good luck with it all, sounds awesome!

      • Reply Jen 3 October, 2016 at 2:31 pm

        Thank you so much for your replies 🙂 Can I clarify that your insurance company organised the local repairs and that you didn’t have to act out why the car didn’t work? 😀

        I’ll check out the links that you mentioned. I’m so excited to find an article from someone who did it for so long too!

        • Lucy
          Reply Lucy 6 October, 2016 at 10:52 am

          We had to do work to figure out mechanics and a tow – our insurance company didn’t and it was hard, but we did it despite having not a single words of anything European language other than ordering yummy food! ha

  • Reply Jen 2 October, 2016 at 10:28 pm

    Omg I should clarify my husband and I *would take the kids with us* when we travel around Europe for six months!!!

  • Reply James 13 December, 2016 at 4:56 am

    Hi – can I ask what brand those glasses are that your husband is wearing in the Photo with Ramona? I have been looking for a pair like that for some time! Thanks.

    • Lucy
      Reply Lucy 14 December, 2016 at 8:34 am

      They are from Specsavers! But it was about three years ago and they don’t do them any more- they were his faves and he needed a replacement. Bummer aye.

  • Reply andrew gray 23 February, 2017 at 11:28 pm

    Hi,
    I stumbled across your article when researching our potential trip. We are exploring the possibility of buying a camper, and heading to France, Spain, and Portugal for a year….with our toddler. And then perhaps write a book about it! Currently selling our house and keen on big adventures before our little girl get to school age. We know it will be no cake-walk, but we feel the challenges will make the journey even more rewarding. And we figure if we get to a point where we really, really need a break from the challenges, we can rent a holiday let for a week or so, or even fly back home to Scotland for a week or two. We would be keen to avoid long drives and our trip would be a meander with plenty of long, lazy stops (I think I would drive to France in the first instance and my partner and daughter would fly and I would pick them up).

    Did you find it difficult and spend a lot of energy searching out locations to “free camp”? We have a vision of meandering around in the van and pitching up in nature reserves, country parks, beside beaches, and in villages and whiling a way a few days without a care. We know that we will need to book into sites or rent a house for a week occasionally to regroup, but want to keep that to a minimum.

    Cheers,
    Andrew

    Thanks for posting you – I am always further inspired when I read the tales of like-minded folks.

    Cheers,
    Andrew

    • Lucy
      Reply Lucy 24 February, 2017 at 2:28 pm

      hi, great to hear form you 😀 I like the sound of your plan!

      Honestly, YES, the planning can take a long while! It is partly why we stopped rushing and did Spain in a super cruisey way, spending one-two weeks in locations at a time. However, I don’t think it is limited to free camping, but rather finding any nice camping spot, so whether you free camp or not that is the most time consuming bit 😀

  • Reply Dora 19 April, 2017 at 8:45 am

    Hi Lucy, I am so happy to have stumbled upon your blog. I was researching stuff about unschooling and found this post. I am from Croatia and I am very sorry you had experience like you had, because I would say that there are free camping spots, but I guess you have to have a lot more time on your hand, and to dare to go off the beaten path to find them. This is the way i travel my country 🙂
    and there is not so much fear and fuss about mined areas(there are very little of them, and totally marked along the way.
    Nevertheless, the tips for free camping along the Europe are superuseful, and me and my growing family will definitely take them into consideration when the time for our travel comes. Kudos to you!

    • Lucy
      Reply Lucy 21 April, 2017 at 9:32 am

      Thank you for your comment! So good to hear there isnt much to be afraid of wild camping there 😀

  • Reply Ailsa 1 September, 2017 at 9:26 am

    Would love to do this. I have my camper and the wanderlust so I’m halfway there! I’m a single mum of 2 though so I’m thinking 3 weeks rather than 3 months might be a good start… thank you for sharing the info!! x

  • Reply Vicki 27 October, 2017 at 10:39 pm

    Lucy,

    Thanks you So much for this blog. We have just released money from the mortgage so we can buy our first ever van in the new year to begin our adventures! We ***should*** get proper carpets and fix the falling down bit of the house but we want our kids to see the world and we love wild camping, so far we use national trust car parks round the UK with four of us in a fiesta!!!

    Our first big trip in the van will be this coming summer and you’ve reignited the fire in me to start planning.

    Every Blessing on you and your tribe 🙂

    Vicki x

    • Lucy
      Reply Lucy 29 October, 2017 at 10:14 am

      Oh my goodness! How exciting Vicki! Argh. I am buzzing for you guys 😀 😀 😀

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