I told people about my plans to go on a road trip whilst I was pregnant. “Oh, you’ll never do it,” they said. “It’s impossible to travel once you have a baby”. However, travel has always been a big part of my life and I was determined it wouldn’t change once I had a child. We had the van already and my husband carried out a basic conversion putting in a bed and storage. So off we set to live the #vanlife with a ten-month-old baby and travel around Spain for five weeks.
There are countless images on Instagram of people living the #vanlife dream. They are looking out on to beautiful bays wrapped in Navajo blankets and sheepskins. The truth is a van trip is exciting but it’s not without its stresses. Conditions are cramped and there is nowhere to escape to. We also had our fair share of worrying moments and made silly mistakes. However, the freedom it gives you though is so worth it. We saw places we would never have stumbled across and created beautiful memories with our son to last a lifetime.
How to enjoy the #vanlife with a baby (and still keep your sanity)
- Pack the basic essentials. We bought a travel cot based on sizing, which also doubles up as a mosquito net and beach shade. I think it’s absolutely brilliant and lightweight. Although there were some nights, our son found it difficult to settle so I co-slept with him. We took old clothes, washed them along the way and made do with what we had. I found it really liberating.
- Overpack the essentials such as food, water, petrol (gas). It’s easy to forget when you live in a 24-hour city in London that shops aren’t permanently open and there may not be a petrol station for several miles.
- Do have some sort of route in mind. We had one night where we couldn’t camp up anywhere and had to sleep in a car park. It wasn’t ideal but we survived.
- Be prepared for that route to change. We wanted to go further South but Spain was having a heatwave and so we felt it would just be too hot for our little man.
- Take time out each day for yourself. Go for a walk, have a beer, anything to have a little bit of space and stop any tensions from blowing up.
- Go with the flow. I had lots of ideas about cooking and my son eating delicious camp side meals. The reality was he ate a lot more bread than I’d planned but sometimes you have to be practical too. We all ate well, he had lots of fruit and vegetables and no one got sick. Perfect.
- Remember babies are very adaptable. There were moments when I questioned whether I was pursuing what I wanted to do over what was best for my son. However, he spent five weeks with both parents constantly around. There were fewer distractions of everyday life and more time to spend bonding and enjoying being with him.