Lovely holidays, lovely days off…and we get to spend more time together, which for me is the most important thing to feel loved and to give love, not frustration, nerves, and all those negative things which I am sorry for afterwards. Living la vida loca for the weekend is just not something I can do, so we are giving our best to find adventure in every day scenarios. But these daily experiences can be as small as we might think: stop and admire a leaf or a cockroache, trying a new sport, having a walk to the kindergarten and notice the surroundings.
With all our efforts, unfortunately we are living for the weekends from the time spent together perspective… and I have seen that Horea, 5 years old, had already got the “living for the weekend” pattern from us. Couple of weeks ago he told me: “Mummy, I want to have a 1,000 days weekend, not only 2 days!” and yes, kiddo, I can hear you and I get it. That’s why I really admire our friends from The Happy Kid as they took the time off to travel the world with their amazing kid: Eric, who is 3 years old now. Can you imagine Eric’s joy and happiness spending ALL the time together with his parents??? You can read more about their own adventure on their blog: The Happy Kid.
Sometimes I feel that life is passing by, we are not present...and we are forgetting about those other 5 days and wanting to get only THE 2 amazing days off. But, we are doing our best to break the pattern and every time we have the occasion to escape the 9 to 6 days we are good to go, no regrets.
This is the main reason why we have started to think about the minivan adventure with a good pretext in mind (if we needed an excuse 😂). Read more about how we have decided to take this adventure in this post: 8 Reasons Why Travelling With a Minivan Camper is Top of The Class.
So, on our adventure to see the châteaux of the Loire Valley, France we had camped in 3 camping sites with our Fiat Ducato camper. When we are deciding where to camp we are having in mind 7 criteria to make our decision easier to take. Check it below.
1. Time spent on the road
As we have a child with us whenever we are travelling and taking new adventures, it is really important to keep in mind that the kid gets bored really quickly, so whenever possible we are trying to be on the road between 2-3 hours.
If it happens to travel during night and Horea can sleep or maybe when he needs a nap...in this case we will be on the road for longer.
Also, we are trying to be as flexible as possible and to give him credits when he needs a stop for a short play or a stretch..or when he is hungry, but also we are taking into account our emotions and feelings making sure our attitude is based on balanced emotions without frustrations and negative vibes. Whenever I feel I am on the wrong “chair” with my emotions I will ask for a break to get on the right “chair” ...because otherwise the volcano will erupt and I will be very sorry afterwards.
2. Is it open in this period of time?
Taking into account that we are travelling out of touristic season (March & April) , many campsites are still closed, so make sure you check first if the ones you are planning to camp in are open.
Make sure you have 2-3 options in the same area in case you will have a surprise and they are not going to be opened or you will reach too late at the campsite and there will be no one to help you enter in the location (been there, done that!)
3. The latest hour to reach the campsite
During our trip in France we had some challenges regarding entering one of the campsites during night. The schedule for low season is different and with the Les Acacias receptionist we had a misunderstanding. The lady has not told us that the entrance gate will close at 10 pm and we wouldn't be able to enter the campsite between 10 pm and 7 am.
We had reach at this campsite around 7:45 pm (lucky us because the receptionist was about to leave at 8 pm). We had chosen our pitch and we went to have dinner somewhere as we were really hungry.
Coming back at 10:30 pm we were unable to enter the campsite. The phone number listed on the gate in case of any emergencies (including medical ones) was not reachable…so, we have spent our first night with the minivan camper in the parking in front of the campsite.
Lesson learnt: ask for the specific rules. Most of the campsites will have a certain schedule when you are not allowed to move your cars/campers. The reason behind this: not to disturb the other guests.
4. To be child friendly
This is one of the most important things when choosing a campsite. Why? We all know that children get some times very hard to manage when they are bored, tired or do not have anything to explore.
So, we are interested to find campsites with play grounds, plants and trees, warm bathrooms, and if your kid is still a baby you might look at changing diapers facilities.
Also, what activities are available in or near the campsite: fishing, football court, renting bicycle if you haven’t have them with you.
5. To be pet friendly
Even if we do not have our dog with us, kids are really happy and easy to deal with when there are pets around.
Plus, we all know that people who are welcoming pets into their homes and garden are more likely to be nice and lovely...or at least this is my experience so far 😋.
6. The location of the campsite
The campsite should not be too far away from the next objectives to be visited. For us, not too far away is around 1 hour driving.
Make sure you do some research in advance and see how the traffic is during the high-season in that area. This is one of the reasons why we are choosing not to travel with a camper during high-seasons.
7. The facilities to be included
The facilities needed for campsites might differ from time to time.
Basically, we are staying off-camping or in campsites with minimum facilities as often as possible, but from time to time we need to choose campsites with hot-water showers, toilets, dedicated chemical toilet point, dedicated waste water drain, dedicated drink water tap, electricity, washing machine and dryer (so that we can wash our clothes as we are travelling light)...so that we can get our minivan (water at the kitchen and bathroom, toilet ready to be used, a clean and pleasant mobile home)..and ourselves ready for the coming adventures.
You will find also extra facilities like hair dryers in some campsites. Depending on what you need, all the information can be found online. Have a look at reviews from different people and you can also use some of the below websites and apps:
What I can tell you is that we love the freedom which comes with a camper. We are making our plans on the go and we have the flexibility to stay longer in a place if we like it. This flexibility might be lost when you are travelling in high-seasons, but it depends of the regions, I would say.
From your own experience, what else do you need to know when you are choosing your campsite?
With Love and Gratitude, Simina Serban