Family road trip in Europe: Preparations

How do you prepare for a long road trip with young babies? The choice of camper van is just one of many practical issues to figure out. Read Part 2 of Family Road Trip.

BABYBJÖRN Magazine for Parents – Dad Christian drives the camper van.
Christian and Juli checked out many camper vans before they found The One: a Volkswagen LT31 Florida from 1991.
Photo: Christian Göran
The story so far: Parents of twins Juli and Christian bought a camper van and set off on a road trip lasting several months with their six-month-old Supermagicalunicorntwins. They began their journey in Germany, and drove slowly but surely north through Denmark and Sweden. They are now in Norway. Read Part 1 here.
Wonder why they’re called Supermagicalunicorntwins? Read the info box at the end of the article to find out.

We bought a camper van

As Christian’s past exploits qualified him to be our camper van expert, he was put in charge of these preparations. He spent months searching online for a camper van that suited our needs and our budget. We went all over Germany checking out different options until we found The One – a Volkswagen LT31 Florida.

What we liked so much about this van is that it has a foldout loft bed. This gives us a nursery where the kids can sleep while we stay up a little longer. The loft bed also makes a great playpen for the twins when we’re parked.

More travelling families: Maternity leave in Brazil

BABYBJÖRN Magazine for Parents – Happy twins play in the camper van’s loft bed.
The camper van has a loft bed that doubles as a nursery for the twins.
Photo: Christian Göran

The camper van needed some TLC

Once we’d bought the camper van, we had a long to-do list:

  • Service. The camper van mainly needed a thorough service, including a change of oil, fan belt inspection, filter, spark plugs, battery, etc.
  • Roof box. We needed extra packing space so we bought a roof box. Two babies need an amazing amount of stuff and we soon realized there was no way we could manage without a roof box.
  • Car safety seats. We needed good car safety seats which work with the two-point seatbelts you find in ‘vintage’ vans.
  • Cleaning. The camper van needed a good clean, both inside and out. We scrubbed the water container thoroughly too.
  • Fire safety. We installed a fire extinguisher, a smoke alarm and a carbon monoxide alarm.
  • Mosquito net. A mosquito net is essential for keeping mosquitoes and creepy crawlies outside where they belong.

More on travelling with a baby: Petra’s trip to the Seychelles

BABYBJÖRN Magazine for Parents – Mom Juli with one of the babies outside the camper van.
After a lot of preparation, the camper van was ready for the road trip.
Photo: Christian Göran

Other things to fix and figure out

There were a lot of other things for us to fix and figure out. They included buying essentials for a safe journey: a first aid kit, a survival kit, extension cords, tools, matches, batteries, cleaning supplies, flashlights, power supply adapter to charge the laptop, electric radiator, etc.

The camper van slowly started taking shape as a home on wheels.

We also needed to buy blankets and sleeping bags. And figure out how to bring along a double buggy. Car insurance was another very important issue. We wanted the most comprehensive car insurance available. If the van suddenly broke down in the middle of the night in some lonely outpost of Europe, we wanted the kind of insurance where we could call a number and someone would come pick us up and the van would get fixed. And last but not least, we obviously needed to plan a detailed route and budget.

Read and laugh: “I was on the flight from hell”

In other words, we had a lot of things to figure out before it was time to hit the road. When the camper van was ready and it slowly started taking shape as a home on wheels, it was time to pack our belongings and prepare the family. We’ll be telling you more about that next time.

Don’t miss the next part of our roadtrip, when we’ll be taking a long, hard look at packing lists! :)
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 Twins.”