5 Things You Need to Know About Van Life With Kids:
As soon as you have a child(ren) everything you do revolves around them. With good reason of course, but even things like taking an epic adVANture in your 30's becomes more complicated when you bring a tiny human into the equation.
Despite what social media would have you believe, van life is about simplicity. Allowing your little ones to learn about life through the experience of travel should not be as cluttered as we make it.
Having our son on this trip has been wonderful, but as to be expected it took some adjusting, and compromising as we settled into our new reality. We've learned a lot, and I'm sure there is more to come. Out of our many van life lessons, below are the 5 things you need to know about van life with kids:
1) They are going to get homesick - If they have a regular schedule at home then van life will be especially difficult for them at first. Pack a special blanket, or plan to prepare their favorite meal on the road. Also, create new traditions, something that makes them feel like they have a role in their new life. You may notice behavior changes during the first few weeks. Remember to stay calm, speak with a loving voice, and include quiet time time each day during the transition.
2) You definitely overpacked - Even with the messiest of children you don’t need all those clothes. Living in a small space means you'll have to do laundry more often so you only need about 5-7 pairs of bottoms and about 10 tops. This includes hot and cold clothes. Also, you only need a few toys. You’ll probably acquire new books and toys along the way so teach your child(ren) in advance how to let go and they'll have a rotating supply of fun throughout your journey. Also, you'd be suprised how creative you really are when you are away from all your daily conveniences. Sticks, rocks and water are pretty awesome!
3) Do a few practice runs before you leave - With children you always want to expect the unexpected. We slept in our van for 7 nights before we actully left on the road. This gave us the opportunity to change things around, or rethink our entire layout, without the stress of being on the road. You could probably get away with only 2-4 days, but we liked it and had fun practicing so we kept doing it up until the point we finally hit the road.
4) They eat a lot - It’s like summer break, but they only have one room to be in. All you’re going to hear on the road is, “I’m hungry.” Be prepared with lots of healthy snacks. How you feed your child(ren) can be the difference between an easy road trip or a nightmare. What a child eats affects their behavior, energy level, their health, and their bathroom habits. Grumpy, tired, sick and contipated are not fun road trip buddies. Our 3 year old eats lots of fruit (especially fruit with high water content, like grapes, melon, apples, and berries), avocados, fish (canned or jerky), oatmeal, nuts and green juice. We have a hard time getting him to eat veggies since we’re not cooking as often, but green juices have been a great.
5) What you do is NOT up to you - Once you have a child, your world is no longer about you. Every destination and attraction you visit during your trip needs to made with your child(ren) in mind. As much as I would love to check out all the trendy music spots in every town we visit, I find that our days are spent at the parks, libraries, natural resources (rivers, lakes oceans and mountains), and YMCA’s instead. A fun outcome to this, is you’ll really get to know the town you’re in. Even if your introverted, you’re bound to talk to someone, eventually. Overtime you may even find you like getting away from the “scene” and into the life that surrounds it.