Experiment: camping out of a Volkswagen t2 with 2 kids

For everyone who is looking at this picture thinking: ‘hey, their bus was in Costa Rica right? How can they be camping with it in Holland?‘ The bus on the pictures is a rental! And almost an exact copy of our own. When deciding how to spend our holidays this year, the choice was easily made. We have been talking about camping out of our own Volkswagen van ever since Vesper was born, about 1,5 years ago. Until now, we never took the opportunity to do so. To really understand what we were wishing for, we decided to rent a Volkswagen van in Holland and go on a camping holiday with friends.

This bus is an exact copy of our own van. We have the same amount of space, same amount of sleeping room and storage space. Which is limited. When Isa heard about the rental van, with the name Jessy, she right away understood where she’d sleep: ‘in the hammock of course!‘ Vesper would sleep in a tent right next to the van and we, mom and dad, would sleep inside. This worked out perfectly, although Vesper developed a new routine: waking up very early in the morning, around 5.30 to start his day. Even the morning breastfeed routine would not bring him back to sleep haha. But, nevertheless, the kids thrived in the van. They just loved playing in it and proudly showed their ‘bedrooms‘ to the kids of our friends. We stayed a week, really on holiday for the first time since maybe five years. We did not work and loved being in the van, missed driving our own van, although it is really strange to drive a van, exactly like yours’ which is NOT yours. Weird.


Lessons learned
This experiment taught us what works with four in the van and what not. The space is limited, yes, but it is doable. Especially in warm weather, it is fine. During the holiday we experienced cold, rainy weather (not nice in such a small space) and warm weather as well, which is fine. In Costa Rica, we’ll have really warm weather, which means the kids will be in bed much later in bed because of the heat than they did during the camping week in Holland. We need to take some toys and reading books that are lightweight and don’t take up too much space. Magnetic letters would be a good idea to put on the side of the van to play with. Vesper slept very well in his tent outside. Nevertheless, when we camp in Costa Rica, or other countries in Central America, I am not sure I would feel comfortable for my child to sleep in a tent outside, while I am asleep in the van. So, the easiest solution is when I sleep with him in the tent and Steven sleeps inside in the bed with Isa in the hammock.

We also have been looking at a rooftop tent. Something like on the picture left. It folds in and out and features a complete 2 personbed, including bedding material, even pillows and blankets. Which would be a dream come true: easy to set up camp, the two kids can share and because of the vents it is really nice and breezy to sleep in a tent like this. They will be safe high up the roof and we can access the rooftoptent via our own popup roof. Ideal! We even found a company in Holland that can deliver us the tent and the carrier to mount the tent on top of the van. For the upcoming trip it possibly is too much of a hassle to bring the entire outfitting all the way to Costa Rica, but certainly something to keep in mind when we decide to travel more with the kids in the van.

Storage space
Another challenge is going to be the storage space. With four persons, we need to be extra smart with packing and the type of bags to take. We all have a small backpack (10 kgs for the adults, 5 kgs for the kids) that must fit below the couch in the van when empty. But where do we put the clothes and stuff while living in the van?! Something to think about and find solutions for. Maybe just keep the clothes in the handluggage bags? Put Stevens bag and my bag on each front seat when camping? I have been thinking to bring foldable nets: one to put the kids’ clothes in and one for toys and hang them inside in the ceiling or outside the bus somewhere. Storing space really is a challenge in this van. Any tips from other travellers reading this post are very welcome!!

Enjoying Friesland
We rented this Volkswagen T2 van called Jessy in Drachten with Dreambus.frl and drove the van 50 kilometers to a small fisherman village called ‘Heeg‘, beautifully situated right at the water. Heeg sits in the middle of a remarkable Dutch province called Friesland. Wide stretches of land and water, lots of sailboats and lovely small villages to explore. We spend time here with friends and their kids and just loved doing so. One of our friends invited us to join and explore the waters in his rented sailboat. Isa and Vesper loved it. We went out on the bike to get some icecream with all the kids. Quite a sight: eight blonde little heads cruising the streets and sitting down for an icecream.

It has been a great holiday, enjoying the company of friends, having good talks and lots of laughs. Getting to know each others’ kids has been really nice too. We are often out of the country and it is such a nice experience to get together over the summer and catch up. Also, van-wise it has been a good preparation to understand what is waiting for us when we go camping with the kids in our own van in Central America. To be honest, I can’t wait to get back behind the wheel and show the kids all the beautiful things out there and spend time together in the van. We keep you posted!

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