Vanlife: Our First Weekend

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We jumped in with both feet and bought an ‘82 Westfalia this weekend!!  We started dreaming about a Westfalia a while ago and confirmed our suspicions that we would love it when we rented one from westfaliacampers.ca in June (read about it here).  We have been keeping our eye out for one in good shape that’s been well cared for.  We stumbled upon one on Vancouver Island.  Our van was so well loved by it’s previous family that when we came to pick it up, they were taking pictures with the van and tearing up.

For this first weekend with our new van, we dropped off Theo at my mom’s (thanks Mom!) and drove 3 hours through a crazy wind storm where the highway was shut down right behind us!  We arrived at our destination with two new chips on the windshield but no major harm.  Luckily, we made it in time to have the best time at our friends’ beautiful winery wedding and danced late into the night (after the power came back on, luckily!).  Then we camped in the Westfalia and drove back the next day to pick up our boy.  Back in the ferry line-up Theo played in the back and practiced “driving”. He’s as excited about the van as we are.  The weekend was completely exhausting and wonderful all at once.

I am feeling very lucky and a bit overwhelmed by this decision to add a second getaway vehicle to our life. We hope it brings many adventures with our family and friends and moreover I hope it helps us slow down.  I think there will be lots of lessons to come, whether it’s on an adventure or fixing it up.  And I hope that our gut feeling is right about this van.  I have the same nervous/excited butterflies I had when we first bought our Wall Bed.  I can only hope this works out the same.

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Camping Shout Out

Reminiscing about our camping trip down the coast, I realized I forgot to thank a very important work horse that we almost didn’t take with us; our good old Pack and Play!  This bad boy has been with us to Mexico, Tofino, San Francisco and beyond.  In retrospect I wish we had invested in a lighter travel crib like the Phil & Ted’s Traveller (here) particularly for air travel, but we were gifted this pack and play from my mom and we have definitely got great use out of it.

For our camping trip, we threw it in at the last moment and I’m not sure we would have enjoyed ourselves as much without it.  It JUST fit in the Westfalia between our bed and the front seats.  This allowed us to put Theo safely to bed, even when he thought he should be staying up much later and we didn’t have to worry about him crawling out of bed and hurting himself or pulling apart the van.

He did manage to grab a bag of red grapes one night and mush them all into his bedding before kindly knocking on the van door to let us know he had made a big mess (such a considerate monkey).

So thank YOU Pack and Play for fireside grown up time while camping with a toddler!!

Toddler Camping Survival Kit

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Camping with a toddler is hilarious and tiring or at least it is with our busy guy. So on the last day I took stock of what we brought that was so valuable on a week long road trip living in a van.

1) Kiddie Laptop (source here) - This is our secret weapon.  We save it for meals out or long drives so it is a prized toy in our home.  This lap top plays music, the alphabet and animal games.  It kept him entertained for at least 3 hours of our 7+ hour drive. I owe it my sanity.

2) Lollacup - our favourite cup (here) made sure Theo was always hydrated

3) Ball - entertainment at the campsite and the beach, we couldn’t have survived without this ball. 

4) Run Bike - the family friendly campground we stayed at had lots of safe roads for run biking and the more rustic campsite made for great off-roading adventures (bike here).

5) Bubbles - enough said

6) Small Toys - We brought a couple of cars that kept him occupied and bought a rubbery dinosaur on the road that was a big hit mostly because it was new.  I would definitely recommend buying a small new toy on the road or saving one for half way through that they haven’t seen before.

7) Stickers  - Lifesavers! Seriously, we brought some stickers and ran out on the first trip down so we picked up this Melissa and Doug (here) pack of reusable stickers that got us through the rest of our trip.

We did it!

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6 days camping and over 1000km with an almost two year old, it was a bit ambitious for our first family camping trip but We Did It!.  We were so happy to get away and get outside and we fell a bit in love with the Westfalia van we rented.  I don’t know if I would recommend a 30 year old van for everyone, it has its squeaks and quirks but the bed was super comfy and kept us warm and dry.  I loved that it drove like my first car, an ‘83 Volkswagen Rabbit convertible (yes I was THAT girl).  We had to stop every 3 hours or so to let the van rest and cool down which was fine because that was usually when Theo needed to get out and run around.

Letting Theo run free on the beach and be outside aaaaall day was worth any of the trouble of packing or driving.  Plus after living out of a van for a week our 600sqft apartment feels like a palace :). 

Our friends joined us for a couple days and their super cute ‘69 dodge converted camper van.  Everyone in the campsite had van envy.

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Road Trip!!

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Recently I wrote about keeping a promise to ourselves to do one big plane trip before Theo turns two.  Well, life got in the way, I couldn’t get enough time off of work to make the long haul flight worth it.  We also realized that flying in high season to europe doesn’t really save us a lot of money even if Theo’s fare is free.

So we made a plan B and rented a VW Westfalia for a week and plan to road trip down the Coast to Oregon.  We have a campsite booked for the first few days and then we are going to wing it. 

While Trevor is an experienced camper (he once slept in an igloo overnight that he and his friends made! hardcore!), I am not. And neither of us is experienced in camping with a toddler so it will definitely be an adventure!  To be very honest, we have been having some power struggles with Theo lately, he is a very bright, energetic, strong-willed boy but that has led to some behaviour that we aren’t too pleased with (yelling and hitting).  We are hoping some time just the 3 of us on the beach and in the woods will be just what we need to reset and focus on Theo and his terrible two’s.  

We’ve also been considering swapping our small car for something that could double as a weekend getaway vehicle.  We are weighing the pros and cons of renting one a few times a year vs. owning one outright.  This trip will hopefully be a great way to test out van camping and see if it’s all we think it will be.

Hope you’ll follow along…

I’ll post our adventures oninstagramand share lessons learned back here.