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Crickets chirping in the summer night, well heard through the fabric bellows of the pop-up roof. The drumming of raindrops on the roof shell accompanies you to sleep. Wind rattles the van while you sit comfortably in the warm. Camping is an adventure, especially for children. If you want to travel with children, a few tips will help to make your family vacation unforgettable. 

Always something going on: choose the right campsite

Nature campsites are certainly exciting for young and old, but the vacation will certainly be more relaxed for parents if you choose a child-friendly campsite that offers many leisure activities. Many campsites focus on playgrounds and outdoor or indoor swimming pool. Often there is also a miniature golf course, tennis and beach volleyball court or even animation offers such as a children's disco. Also helpful are baby changing facilities and child-friendly sanitary facilities and lower sinks and toilets, so that children can go independently to the washhouse. If there are many other families at the campsites, the children will also easily find playmates. 

As great as the appeal of spontaneity is when camping, those traveling with children would do better to select a campground and book a suitable site in advance. Often the already exhausting journey is delayed, for example, by traffic jams on the route. If you've already heard "When are we finally going to get there?" a hundred times, booking in advance will save your nerves in case the campsite you're heading for doesn't have a free pitch at the end and you have to move on to the next one and worry. 

Relaxed journey: Keep children occupied during the journey

Up to the age of 12, or a height of less than 150 centimeters, children in Germany and Europe are only allowed to drive in a car with a child seat - this also applies to traveling in a camper van, of course. Even if it seems tempting at first glance: Lying in bed or walking around unbuckled in the van while driving is dangerous and forbidden! Up to the age of 15 months, baby car seats and child seats must be placed and secured against the direction of travel - if they are placed on the passenger seat, the airbag must also be switched off, just like in a normal passenger car. If you don't secure your child adequately while driving, you can expect a fine - in any case, it's best to take enough time to select and secure your child's seat. 

Those who don't want to camp close to home often face a long journey to the desired campsite. Especially for children this can be very exhausting. Breaks are therefore to be planned absolutely. To give the little ones a bit of a break from the monotonous car ride, it is often helpful to take an extended break where you can stretch your legs, perhaps visit an interesting sight for children or play together. During the drive, audiobooks or games like "I see something you don't" are a great way to relieve kids' boredom. Reading, coloring or playing games on a tablet are usually less recommended because they easily lead to nausea for many during the car ride. Speaking of nausea, having bags handy just in case is always a good idea.

Highlight: Sleeping in the pop-up roof

High up in the pop-up roof: The unusual sleeping area with a view of the surrounding landscape is particularly exciting for children. However, to ensure that the access hatch does not become dangerous for them and they fall off while sleeping, it should be supplemented with a fall protection device. This is suitable for children 18 months and older. The grille is easy to install and remove and is opaque. This ensures a relaxed sleep for both young and old. 

Play fun indoors and outdoors

In addition to the campsite's animation program, there are many other ways to keep the children busy during their vacation together. Immediately after arrival, a campsite rally is worthwhile - this helps the children to quickly find their way around the new place. A night hike together can be exciting, for example - be sure to pack flashlights for this. You'll also need them when you make your way to the wash house in the dark - and you can use them wonderfully to stage a shadow play in the pop-up roof.  

Cooking together can also be an exciting event. With a grill or gas stove, preparing food is a change of pace for the kids. A highlight is a joint campfire, where you roast marshmallows, for example. But be careful: At the campsite, own fires are usually not allowed. As an alternative, however, many campsites offer appropriate facilities in designated and marked places.  

When it comes to toys, it's important to think space-saving. (Coloring) books and card games provide fun on rainy days. For outside time in the sunshine, shuttlecock, Frisbee, soccer ball or (extremely space-saving!) inflatable beach balls are good choices. Sand toys are a must for beach vacations. Normally, however, children are perfectly happy in nature without an extensive toy set, so you don't really need to worry about this and can easily pack less. On site, it is best to stow the toys in boxes instead of in the cupboard compartments of the mobile homes, which are often out of reach for the children: This way, they are quickly at hand and still easy to tidy up. 

It's cozy in the van even when it's raining. For bad-weather days, you can have card and board games ready or simply visit the sights in the next town; in a pinch, a movie theater or indoor pool will do just as well. But most children like to play outside when it rains: weatherproof clothing is therefore indispensable when camping. A windbreaker often does not keep the wetness out sufficiently, so you should have an additional oilskin jacket at hand. A hood or even better a rain hat protects the head and with rubber boots the little ones can also jump into all puddles - a dry change of clothes should be available in sufficient quantity. 

Equipped, even for the smallest

To meet the needs of the little ones, there are a few useful extras that make everyday life on vacation with baby easier. These include a changing mat for when you're on the road (not a disposable changing mat - you'll be glad of less waste when camping). A kettle helps to prepare the bottle of milk. A mosquito net over the stroller tub or travel cot secures baby's sleeping space from unwelcome mosquitoes. In addition to the potty, a wash tub is useful. A dismountable high chair is suitable for sitting. Crawling children like to play on a waterproof picnic blanket. A stroller, on the other hand, is only useful as a sleeping option - otherwise it's too bulky when camping and can't be used for beach walks or hiking. Better suited is a buggy or a baby carrier. A baby swim ring is also a nice extra.

Checklist

  • Choose a child-friendly campsite.
  • Book a pitch in good time.
  • Secure a child seat or infant carrier. 
  • Take audio games with you for the trip.
  • Plan enough breaks during the journey.
  • Provide fall protection in the pop-up roof.
  • Bring cushions for the camping chairs so your kids can eat comfortably at the table. 
  • Pack card games, sand toys and ball games.
  • Take a flashlight.
  • Pack rainproof clothing and a change of underwear.
  • Keep the van tidy with dust boxes. 

Checklist (babies)

  • Take enough baby food.
  • Take a changing mat.
  • Take a baby potty.
  • Take a wash tub.
  • Take a waterproof picnic blanket. 
  • Bring a collapsible high chair.
  • Bring a kettle.
  • Take a mosquito net.
  • Use a stroller or baby carrier instead of a stroller.