For every parent summer vacation at school is a time of big headache. In Italy, the summer school break lasts from 7th of June till the 15th of September, while vacation for working parents is only 3 weeks’ time. If you are working, you need to find child care for 3 months which is not easy and not cheap. Even if I work from home, I always need to find a solution to be able to dedicate my time to focused work, and when all three of my little darlings are home, it is simply impossible. From the year my first child was born we started to spend summer vacations camping, and in 2 years from the first “glamping” vacation, it became our summer vacation solution, that till now works best for us.
When you hear camping, you probably imagine campfire, tent, and boy scouts.
In my imagination, camping was all this when I’ve heard about it, but when I entered in camping village for the first time, I discovered a completely another world! Modern camping is so much more than just tents and wildlife – it offers more comfort and options that I could ever imagine. You don’t need to poses a camper, caravan, or tent to stay there. There are so many other options: bungalow and mobile houses of different kinds. Every camping village is different, but all of the ones we stayed in had shower rooms, WC rooms, restaurants, small supermarkets, kids’ playgrounds, and most of the time swimming pool. In Italy, most of the campings have an animation team and mini club that does sports and entertaining activities for all ages and evening shows.
Basically, it is the same as staying in the hotel but with a “free life” twist. We have chosen camping as a summer solution because:
- It is the most budget-friendly solution – the cost of the camping and beach for the whole season (from April to October) for us would be the same as we would pay for the summer child care, but instead of staying in the hot small town, we spend it at the seaside.
- Three months of barefoot and swimsuit life means you have to buy just a few clothes. When you have to dress up three children every season, you spend a significant amount of money every three months on clothing and shoes!
- We can go every weekend to the sea even before summer vacay. Last two months of school, kids are tired of studying and wish to stay more time outside under the sun. What can be a better way to recharge on the weekend than days of fun at the sea?!
- It’s a more flexible and free life. You cook what you want; you eat when you want, you wear flip flops and swimsuit most of the time.
- Great company. We met so many lovely people from Italy and from around the Globe during summers at Riccione. Some of them became our dear friends and like a part of the family. There are kids my children practically grew up with. Our big dinners together were one of the brightest memories of summers. It is an incredible experience to cook together, set up tables for 40 -50 people, and eat together celebrating birthdays, anniversaries, and graduations at the same time.
- Wildlife for kids. Sandy bare feet and salty hair, freedom to play, and go on a bike ride with friends in the neighborhood all by yourself (without mom and dad company required). Inside the camping village, everyone knows our children, and the security would never allow them to go outside without having permission from us. This kind of freedom and safety, unfortunately, is not possible at home.
- Possibility to do things you aren’t able to do at home. Do you think I would speak about swimming, sailing, hiking, etc.? Nope, the funniest and most loved family camping activity for us is what we called a” Fusion cuisine.” Literary EVERYONE in our family becomes a chef and cooks meals when inspired. Luckily our “kitchen commander” – grandma – has the patience of an angel to cope with all our cooking experiments.
- Diversity experience and education in a natural way. For both – kids and adults- it’s a great opportunity to meet people of different cultures, religions, countries. It is such a rich life experience to be able to interact at a very informal level! For example, my daughter learned how to play with a ball thanks to our camping neighbor from Germany – this old lady did not speak a word of Italian or English and had her own 3 grandchildren to take care of, but anyway she was a great help to me. I was 6 months pregnant with twins, had a huge belly, and could not play much with my little baby girl who was 18 months old, so she would babysit my girl playing with her and letting walk a dog. We did not speak the same language but managed to have such a great time together, that years later I still remember those moments with warmth in my heart.
Camper vs Caravan
When it was time to choose whether to stay in the bungalow, buy camper or caravan we made a list of pros and cons and have chosen caravan. The caravan has the same “living” solution but without a “car” part on the front.
These are the main reasons why we have chosen caravan, not camper.
- It is much more affordable and costs less to maintain and park. We like “traditional” ways of travel (aka staying in the hotel, village, resort or apartment) as well, so we needed a simple and efficient solution. It is also our “Plan B” in case of an Earthquake.
- We do not have much time to travel a lot during the year. It just did not make sense to have a camper for three trips a year.
- More freedom to move around – you park the caravan and then can move around by car. Having a car allows us to stay in one location and then visit different nearby cities, beaches, etc. every day.
- Easier for grocery shopping and daily needs as you can go by car at any time and any place you want.
Wild and free
Benefits of camping life for kids are countless.
I askd my littles what they love most about our summer “glamping” and they replied:
- food and cooking altogether
- inflatable mattresses
- all the things we do
- being so long at the sea
- the swimming pool at the beach and inside the camping
- great company and making new friends
- wear nothing else but a swimsuit
- gardening ( yes, each of them have a pot and liberty to grow there whatever they want)
In the end, spending summer in the camping village for years was working great for us, parents + grandparents, and for kids. I don’t know if in the future we will continue spending our summers this way or will travel more / less. For now, it works fine, and considering the Pandemic times we are living at the moment, I can be only grateful for having this opportunity.
What about you? How do you spend summer with kids home from school? If you want to share some tips, please feel free to do so in the comments below.