Family road trip in Europe: Camper van routines

Four people in just six square meters – talk about compact living! Read Part 4, in which our road trip family tells us about the challenges of tidiness and routines in a camper van.

BABYBJÖRN Magazine for Parents - Mom Juli with one of the babies in her lap in the camper van.
A place for everything and everything in its place – essential when you have a tiny living space.
Photo: Christian Göran
The story so far: After a difficult and uncertain pregnancy, Juli and Christian wanted to spend as much time as possible with their Supermagicalunicorntwins. So they swapped their apartment in Berlin for a camper van and set off on a road trip lasting several months.
They started in Germany and have slowly but surely driven through Denmark, Sweden and Norway. Now they’re somewhere in Germany. Read Part 1Part 2 and Part 3 here.
Wonder why they’re called Supermagicalunicorntwins? Read the info box at the end of the article to find out.

The importance of tidiness and routines

Life in a camper van can be challenging at first. Imagine the usual chaos the arrival of one new baby causes in any home. Then imagine two babies in just six square meters, with a standing height of two meters… The space is extremely limited and you unavoidably get in each other’s way.

You forget where you decided to keep the lighter and just put it on the table instead; it’s soon joined by a pair of stray socks and, before you know it, your tiny home is a complete mess.

The space is extremely limited and you unavoidably get in each other’s way.

So it was a huge challenge before we found good routines for our day-to-day camper van life. But we finally figured it out. We agreed on where to keep soothers, flashlights, pens, coffee mugs, etc.

And when we knew exactly what and how things needed to be done, and in what order so as not get in each other’s way, then life started running smoothly.

BABYBJÖRN Magazine for Parents – One of the twin girls inside the camper van.
“We are both always there for them to crawl on and around us, and they love that.”
Photo: Christian Göran

And we’re under no illusions that life would have been any less challenging if we’d stayed in our apartment. Life is probably just as exhausting and hard work for parents of one baby as it is for parents of twins.

But when we’re ready, and can just open the door and go for a walk with the babies, we have the freedom to go anywhere we like and the four of us share such an incredible closeness. We are both always there for them to crawl on and around, and they love that.

You have to go with the flow and be flexible.

Here are our two different schedules, depending on whether it’s a travel or relaxation day for us. We start the day around 7-8 a.m. depending on when the babies wake up. But we always go with the flow and adapt to the babies’ needs.

Anything can happen to make us suddenly need to rethink our entire day. We also have to tweak our routines as the babies grow. You have to be flexible.

A typical relaxation day looks something like this:

8–9 a.m. Babies eat breakfast.

9–10 a.m. We eat breakfast.

10.30 a.m.–1 p.m. We take a walk with the stroller so the babies can enjoy their morning nap.

1–2 p.m. Lunch for us and the babies.

2–5 p.m. Anything can happen in the afternoon! We may take a hike, with the girls in baby carriers, or we may try to do a little work, with the babies crawling all over us. Sometimes one of us will take a walk with the stroller so the other can sleep.

5–6 p.m. We eat dinner first, so we don’t make too much noise after the babies are fed and ready for bed.

6–9 p.m. The babies get dinner; we put them in their pajamas and put them to bed with good bedtime routines. This is usually around 8 p.m. and then it takes about an hour before they’re asleep.

9 p.m. Party time!

BABYBJÖRN Magazine for Parents – Dad Christian waits in the camper van with the twins.
When it’s time to shop for groceries, one parent stays in the camper van with the twins.
Photo: Christian Göran

A typical travel day looks like this:

Travel days are also the days we shop for groceries and run other errands. Sometimes we only drive for one hour, sometimes we drive for longer. When we stop to buy groceries, one of us stays in the van with the babies, who get some crawling and kicking time, while the other runs errands.

8–9 a.m. Babies eat breakfast.

9–10 a.m. We eat breakfast.

10-10.30 a.m. We prepare the camper van, rearrange stuff, strap the car seats back in place, etc. We try to get on the road before nap time for the babies, so they fall asleep while we drive.

12.30–2 p.m. Lunch and playtime.

5 p.m. Deadline for finding somewhere to stop for the night. This gives us plenty of time for our evening routines and chilling out.

Don’t miss the next part about good food for road trips – tips and recipes!
Photo: Christian Göran

Follow Supermagicalunicorntwins on Instagram

Follow Juli and Christian and their twin daughters Lovisa and Matilda on their road trip: @supermagicalunicorntwins and @christiangoran

Why “Supermagicalunicorntwins”?

These are Juli’s and Christian’s words:

“Early in the pregnancy, in week 12, we got devastating news from our doctor. Our twins were suffering from TTTS (Twin-to-Twin Transfusion Syndrome). In short, this means that blood from the placenta does not get evenly distributed between the twins. Depending on how TTTS develops during pregnancy, the babies might die inside the uterus or survive with a high risk of fetal damage.

In week 18 we got the next shocking news. One of the babies had a lung cyst which shifted her heart to the left. Every week during the pregnancy, we went to the hospital to check up on both TTTS and the development of the lung cyst. This was a tough and scary period with lots of worrying, but we did our best to stay positive and keep our spirits up.

Family and friends supported us during these difficult times. One day, a close friend of ours told us that she was convinced our babies were super magical unicorn twins and started to sing about them. We burst out laughing, and it felt so wonderfully liberating! We’ll never forget that joyful and reassuring moment.

This short jingle stayed with us through the rest of the pregnancy, and helped us stay positive and believe that everything would turn out right. And it did.

That’s why we call our daughters the Supermagicalunicorntwins or Smuts. To us they really are our Super magical unicorn baby twins.”