A Guide For Van-Adventure With a Baby
Written by Lisa Elena
We’ve just realized how wonderful van-tripping can be as a family.
It feels like a new chapter has begun: we’ve been playing around with the idea of accommodating small families and last week we had the chance to put it to the test.
Our dear friend from Copenhagen Katrine, her super-son Karl Villy and I had a magical re-connection experience going on a little adventure in Bertha.
We drove an hour out of the city and tested out all of the practical scenarios and situations you have traveling with a child.
We timed his naps with driving, tested some of our favorite beach- and camp-spots and are stoked to say; it friggin’ works!!
We returned to Lisbon with a list of golden nuggets that will make the experience as smooth as possible for parents.
We’ll update the list continuously, as we get more feedback from our new adventure-friends and their parents.
Here’s what we’ve got so far ...
Tips to have a good time:
- Unpack your luggage and organize the van-space with your things before you leave – you can do this in your own time in our little neighborhood when you check in.
- Buy food, nappies, baby-food and water for the first couple of days before you leave – this you can also do in our local supermarket just around the corner from where you check in
- Don’t plan to drive too far each day, it takes longer than you may think to set up ‘camp’/find the right spot. The good news: we can help you plan the perfect route before you go, so it matches up with you needs, your rhythms and what you wish to experience.
You really don’t need to drive more than 1 hour out of Lisbon to have amazing nature and perfect camp-spots, but we know many places all along the coast going south and some north of Lisbon as well.
Go easy, take your time, enjoy the views – it’s so breathtakingly beautiful here in Portugal almost anywhere you choose to go.
- Remember that the Portuguese sun is really strong and hot - lot’s of shade, stay hydrated and cool down during the warm hours.
There are numerous ways to do this.
The vans are quite cool inside during even the hottest hours so you can always take a sunbreak there. The vans are also equipped with a small inflatable pool for children, so they can keep cool in the shade. You’ll also be travelling with an umbrella-tent (beach-umbrella with attachable sides), so you can make shade and shelter from the wind anywhere.
An easy way to stay hydrated is simply to make sure you have a smaller water-bottle at hand at all times.
- Be more flexible with a baby/child carrier – it’ll be so much easier to go for a sunset-walk or a little hike/stroll/beach-walk.
- Plan easy meals a little ahead – perhaps you’re a shark in the kitchen; in this case you’ll be thrilled to find the variety of fresh produce here in Portugal. If not, you might be happy to hear that we’ve done our best to make it super easy to cook in the vans.
You’ll have a really good gas-stove with two burners, a pan, casseroles, a grating iron, a decent knife and a couple of glass-containers to store food in.
There’s room for storing food conveniently right next to where you’ll be cooking.
You’ll also be able to keep food and drinks cool in a fridge (in Lola) or in a cool-bag (in Bertha & Rita) – the cool-bag keeps cool for 1,5/2 days if you buy a block of something frozen (e.g. a soup) that you can eat after it’s done it’s duty.
The best part: it’s so cozy to cook in the vans.
- Consider the opportunity of staying a night at a camp-ground
Our friends Andreas and Louise took Bertha to a camp-ground one of the five nights they we're adventuring with Teo, their one-year old.
Even though we haven't tried this ourselves here in Portugal, it definite appears there are many cozy places to do this.
We'll try this out next time we're on a longer van-trip and will add more places as we come to know of them.
This is the place our friends stayed:
They parked amongst some trees, had warm showers, a playground, an amazing beach in walking distance.
For your baby/child:
- Sweaters, pants, socks, perhaps a little beanie if your child is a baby (It can get chilly at night, even when it’s warm and sunny during the day)
- Plenty of cotton-cloths if you use those during meals or to make shade
- Your favorite meal-time baby-spoons and bottles if your child is very young
- UV-swim-wear if you’re child is big enough to swim/play by the water.
- Thin body-stockings/blouse and tights to cover baby when you’re exploring during sunny hours
- Baby carrier/wrap to wear your child when you go explore in nature
- Your favorite toys/entertainment
- Nappies and wet wipes if you use these (you can buy these in a supermarket right around the corner from where you check in)
- High-factor sunscreen if you use this
- Clothes – light and thin for the summer, warm and wool for the winter and for the chilly summer nights
- Sandals and comfy shoes
- Toiletries + sunscreen/after-sun if you use it
- Chargers, electronics, camera etc
- Books/sketchbook/paint/yogamat: basically what you love doing on your vacay
We got these things covered:
- Detachable child bed with foam mattress and sheet – Max height of child: 130cm (see picture above)
- Children’s inflatable pool
- Children’s bucket, shovel, watering can and other things to play in sand
- Car seat for children
- Queen-size memory foam mattress - length 200cm
- Double duvet, sheets, covers and towels
- Fairy-lights and lamps
- Soap and dish soap along with gear to do dishes
- Toilet paper
- Waste container and plastic bags
- Camping shower
- Pull-out table and chairs
- Umbrella-tent (beach-umbrella with attachable sides)
- Blankets for the beach/picnic
- Storage space for your things; both cupboards on the sides and space under the bed that easily fits a large suitcase
- Knitted bags/nets hanging along the sides of the van for easy storage of things you need to have right at hand
- Electricity outlet with usb and a regular socket for charging computers, cameras and baby-monitors (won’t run out – it’s connected to an extra car-battery that charges everytime you drive)
Last tip is this cool local company: http://www.upababy.pt/en/
They rent out strollers and other baby-equipment, so if you don’t feel like bringing yours, you can easily order at stroller here and have it delivered to our address or to the airport when you arrive in Lisbon. We’ve tried it out and they’re so kind and service-minded, it’s great.
Traveling with a baby turned out to be such a thrilling and easy experience and because many of our friends are having babies, we’re beyond stoked that VIVA A VIDA can accommodate families on epic adventures too.
We can't wait to meet you guys and send you on your trip!
A special THANK YOU to Katrine and Andreas & Louise for being such awesome feedback-buddies!