We parents and our children have traveled a lot, so we could say that we are that strange family from a caravan. But for us, we are still Vita, Renata, Magdalenka and Viktorka Valka. Vita works as a freelance User Interface designer, and our journey has led me to the profession of a virtual assistant.
How it all started
We had the crazy idea of traveling with a caravan back in 2011. Me and Vita have traveled before we bought the caravan, first alone and later with the kids. It was those quick trips around Europe. For a week or two. Nothing spectacular. And because the appetite grows along with the food, our desire to travel/craving for traveling has grown.
One day, Víťa came with the idea of borrowing a caravan. Back then there was no problem with trying it out. I was on my maternity leave and Víťa worked as a freelancer, so there was no boss we’d have to ask for permission. So I agreed. With a loan. But it wouldn’t be my husband if he didn’t came up with something insane. So one evening he just told me, that he’d already bought one cheap used caravan. I’m pretty sure you can imagine how I reacted. We’re just completing the construction of our house and we’re low on money. Nevertheless, shortly after that we made plans for our first journey.
The first journey was in the Czech Republic, then Croatia
We were driving a caravan to the campsite in the Czech Republic, somewhere near Zlín. It was kind of a technical tryout for us and a test of whether we can fill in the water, turn on gas, plug in electricity in the campsite and many other things that are now everyday easy tasks for us, whenever we’re on the road.
The second, finally a true trip, was with three months old Viktorka and almost two-year-old Magdalena to Croatia. We spent a whole month at one place in the campsite. With the certainty and calm of the campsite’s background and our caravan. At the time, given the age of the children, we chose Croatia on purpose to have our home nearby.
We’ve visited many places in Europe ever since. We usually travel in the spring, for two to four months. We could say that we every other journey our trips become longer and longer. We rode with our caravan through Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, Turkey, Croatia, Greece and Morocco. We enjoy warm weather, so we’re driven mostly to the south. Maybe it’s also because we leave our home when it’s still really cold and snowy.
Spring on the road
On our way to the south we meet spring in every possible forms and temperatures. But still, I’m always little bit sad about missing the spring in our garden. I spend a lot of my time in our garden and I like to watch how everything grows and blossoms – so I miss seeing how it awakens. We return in the beginning of the summer and all summer we spend at home. Luckily my father is kind enough to plant the vegetable seedlings on our pre-arranged spot. He also looks after the house and feeds the cats.
If I should say, what suffers when we’re on the road, it’d definitely be meeting with our family, friends and my gardening desire. Sometimes I really feel like mowing the grass in the campsite or weed some flowerbed. My kids miss their school and kindergarten friends and all the toys they had to leave at home, because they didn’t fit into the caravan to travel along with us.
School and homeschooling
Over time Majda became a schoolgirl, and we thought that the traveling would end for us and we would have to return to short weekly trips. But we did not want to leave it. And so we started looking for a school where traveling would not be a problem. Majda now goes to an alternative school where she is very satisfied. When we are on the road, I teach her according to the weekly plans that come from school by email. And when we’re at home, girls go to school and kindergarten like all the other kids.
That way girls can meet their peers and learn how to behave in society. And when we are not at home, we sample everything that foreign landscapes offer. We enjoy our time together – we are glad to see each others all day long and to do anything that comes to our minds. It’s a beautiful counterbalance to time at home, which is a lot of work for both us and the girls. When we are at home, girls are at school and then they do their after-school activities and we then often meet as a family in the evening. And the evenings of weekdays are the same as with most of other children. They are more about dinner and preparation for the next day (so eating, cleaning your teeth and sleeping).
On the way there’s more freedom. And no routine
On the road, we often don’t even know what day it is and we don’t care about the time. When we want to sleep, we sleep, and when the sun is up, we wake up. Before the lunch we study, cook and in the afternoon we do whatever we feel like doing, but of course there are also some responsibilities. My husband works all day, although little bit less than at home. Some days are purely traveling days and we use them to relocation. These days we enjoy the landscape and nobody works or studies. To compensate, we sometimes study on Saturday or Sunday. Because we were just on the road on Wednesday and Thursday.
Whenever we’re traveling, we go a lot to the local restaurants and we taste all traditional meals. We try to eat healthy so we cook a lot from the local groceries bought at the local markets. We also go to the supermarket and sometimes we allow ourselves stuff like fries, ice-cream and sweats. But with the beginning of this year’s trip, I accepted the Paleo challenge, so I try to eat without sugar, bread and according to the rules of Paleo. It’s new for me, but it suits me. Most of the lunches I make are made how I need so our whole family eats healthy.
Traveling has brought us huge freedom. Rest and the never-ending meetings with new languages, customs, tastes, smells and colours. The greatest gift for me is not having to watch the time. You don’t rush, there’re no arranged appointments waiting for you, and all of that for the whole four months.
On the road we also meet with other travellers from the Czech Republic, but also from all around the world. Last week we just met with one Czech family from the camper van and it was a very pleasant encounter. We have a common path through Spain and Portugal, so we plan to cross our journeys one more time. Also we want to meet the Tatran family in Porto, they’re also known travellers with kids and we’re looking forward to meet them, We’ve read a lot about each other, but we’ve never met before. With such people, we build new friendships, exchange travel experiences and tips for trips.
Slowly and without hurrying
To everyone who likes to travel, their work allows it, and who is now to be swallowed by a stereotype, I would definitely recommend long-term, so-called slow travel. It’s a different kind of rest, going somewhere for months instead of a week or two. It’s no longer traveling, but it’s a lifestyle that will win you over and fill you up with balance and tranquility.
I keep my thumbs up for everyone who is thinking about thins kind of traveling, to make a right decision. Maybe we will meet somewhere on the road as we have done many times. I wish you all beautiful days!