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Road tripping and camping as a family in Europe

Guest post by Bethany Bassett
Note from the editor: Do you love to travel with your family? We love to go on road trips, camping and adventures.  Travel for us is a journey, not a destiny. I’m happy to discover other adventure families like us; Bethany’s family in Italy.

This past summer, my husband and I took our two young daughters on a month-long road trip around western Europe. It’s become our annual tradition since we moved to Italy four years ago, and as usual, we slept in the large popup tent we’ve affectionately dubbed our summer home. One night, however, after an especially long day of travel, we splurged on a hotel room. We didn’t feel like setting up camp, and the convenience of ready-made beds seemed worth the extra cost. Within a few minutes after checking in though, we realized it had been a mistake.

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The musical murmur of nature settling down for the night had been replaced by the endless growl of traffic. Instead of a richly colored sunset, we had harsh fluorescent lighting, and instead of the soft evening air, a malfunctioning air conditioner. The girls began jumping on the beds for lack of anything more engaging to do, and I joined them even though where I wanted to be—where we all wanted to be—was back out in the inconvenience and glory of nature.

My husband and I are far from expert outdoorsmen; in fact, Bear Grylls would probably cry if he saw how much difficulty we can have starting our camp stove with a lighter. Regardless, we’ve discovered that our family thrives on time spent in the great outdoors. Being surrounded by beauty and the always-possibility of adventure lets our souls breathe large, and we enjoy our family vacations all the more for it. Hotels and resorts may be more convenient, but they don’t bring us to life the way cooking under an open sky or falling asleep to the lilt of a river do.

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This might seem like an odd time of year to be writing about the joys of camping, but next spring and summer’s travel deals are already popping up, and airfare/accommodation packages can seem like the perfect solution for busy vacationing families. In our experience though, the true vacation is often in the accommodation itself—the kind which offers birdsong instead of cable and  starlight in place of a mini bar.

The other reason for bringing up camping in December: If you’re interested in more specific tips and stories on traveling Europe as a family without ever setting foot in a hotel, check out Apéritifs & Sippy Cups on Kickstarter! Every pledge helps in bringing this book to life, and pre-ordering will get you your own copy in plenty of time to map out a life-breathing family adventure next summer. No fluorescent bed-jumping sessions required.

Bethany Bassett is a Texas-born English nerd with a husband who teaches her pensive heart how to laugh, two small daughters who teach her sedate body how to twirl, and a European travel habit which teaches her fast-paced mind how to stop and smell the cappuccino.

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