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Anyone got a camper van and very young kids?

(54 Posts)
bohemianbint Sun 15-Jun-08 20:34:05

Am hoping to buy a VW this week, but the one I'm eyeing up has a very different layout to my old one. And last time I had one it was just me, but this time there's me, DH, DS1 who is 22 months old and am 31 weeks pregnant.

I'm just wondering where you physically put everyone; this van has a pop top but I don't think we could put DS up there just yet, would be terrified he'd fall out. The travel cot we have won't fit in with the rock and roll bed that's in there. He could sleep in between us, but

a) we'd have to all go to bed at the same time, and he's a 7pm kid, and

b) not sure how well that would work in practice.

Can you get teeny weeny travel cots? Any suggestions?

bohemianbint Sun 15-Jun-08 20:35:18

DH and I could sleep in the pop top and have DS downstairs, but he probably would spend all night wandering around the van, and we'd have to climb over him to get up there.

Am stumped!

Surfermum Sun 15-Jun-08 20:42:53

We're going to be getting a camper - dh converts T4's into campers, but at the moment we need the income more than we need the camper!

Anyway, our plan if we end up with one without a pop top is to take a pup tent or maybe an awning.

Surfermum Sun 15-Jun-08 20:43:43

Although ours are older - dsd is 12 and dd is 5.

bohemianbint Sun 15-Jun-08 20:49:19

Cheers surfermum - reckon we'll deffo need an awning/spare tent for all our crap! Have just sold a massive VW Glendale conversion, it was fabulous space-wise inside, but ridiculous overall. It would never have fitted into car parks and took up half the street. So it had to go as soon as it came, sadly. It's so difficult getting the space right!

PInkyminkyohnooo Sun 15-Jun-08 22:05:58

I know my inlaws had a VDUB when DH was little, they had it for a good few years but changed to a frame tent for more space eventually.I'll ask DH where he slept.

Chocolateteapot Mon 16-Jun-08 08:57:50

A friend of mine has one. They went last year when her DCs were 3 and the other was about 9 months.

I think she said they slept in the awning and put the children in the van.

They went away this year at Easter and because it was colder they didn't sleep in the awning. I think it went something along the lines of they slept in the rock and roll bed, the little one on the front seats some how(with maybe some kind of mattress ?) and the oldest one slept in a hammock some where. As you can see I am a little vague on the details but I know it did work somehow !

Fennel Mon 16-Jun-08 12:50:18

We had a VW camper until our dds were 4, 2 and 0. We used to sleep two of us on the main bed (converted from the seats). The van had two little hammocks but DP made an upper layer double bed where 2 or 3 could sleep. we used to sleep a couple of children up there, sometime with DP as well. And me and baby down below.

We did sometimes use an old fashioned sort of carry cot, as a cot, you could put it on the work surfaces, for a small baby. but more often I'd sleep with the baby cos we were co-sleeping a lot anyway.

Actually it was too squashed for us with 3 small children. Like being in a constantly moving tin of very noisy wriggly sardines. We had an awning but the dds at that age didn't like being sent out to play in it. They always wanted to be in the van. And it was a hassle with all the baby and toddler car seats being on top of the lockers where things were stored.

it was lovely pre-chidren or with just one baby, not too bad with two, but awful with 3.

moosemama Mon 16-Jun-08 16:13:34

We are on our 5th or actually maybe 6th VW Type 2 (I lose track!) and have had various configurations, with the current one having no interior when we bought it and we have fitted a full width Westy rock'n'roll bed and cab hammock.

DS1 (6) sleeps in the cab hammock, DS2 (4) sleeps on the bed with us and we have a Bluebird Customs awning for living space and storage.

Prior to having kids we restored a beautiful Westfalia and I honestly think with a full width bed, loads of storage and a self contained roof bed that can be closed off to prevent kids rolling out; plus a cab bunk if you want to fit one, they have the best use of space for family camping. We really regret selling ours now, but with 2 kids, one on the way and 3 dogs it would have been such a shame to see it full of dog hair, sand and food crumbs/drink spills from generally family use.

Btw JustKampers sell a sort of safety net so that kids can sleep in the top without falling out, its not cheap but may well do the job and comes in two sizes:




We also loved our first VW which was a Dormobile with a 3/4 bed and 2 roof hammocks. Roof hammocks are surprisingly difficult to fall out of btw.

We are going away several times this summer and as my bump will be getting bigger I intend to invest in an inflatable sofa bed. My plan is that I can use to sit on in the awning while the kids sleep in the van (more comfy than normal camping chairs) and then if the bed feels too cramped, wriggly or noisy I can slope off into the awning for a decent nights sleep.

Hope this helps smile

Nelif Mon 16-Jun-08 16:50:19

Seen lots of people use the over cab hammocks and their kids look well snug! just Kampers sell one, I'll definitely be investing when our expected becomes a Vdubber!
If you search on Just Kampers chat forum, you will find pics people have posted of their kids using the hammocks.
We have a T2 Westy with a double bed also in pop-top so can use this once they outgrow the hammock.

Happy Camping

MuchLessTiredNow Mon 16-Jun-08 16:55:27

this is a bit off the point, but some friends have one, and they put their kids to bed in the van and then set off and drive through the night with their children in their beds - is this legal? (I've always wanted to ask, but been too 'British' blush)

Fennel Tue 17-Jun-08 09:57:46

I really would be very surprised if that was legal.

We used to drive through the night, DP driving, I used to sleep (not legally but comfortably) in the bed in the back but the dc were always properly strapped into their baby and toddler seats.

Quadrophenia Tue 17-Jun-08 10:06:47

Nelif did you go to busstopover last weekend?

Westfalia's are without doubt the best conversion, was in envy of some friends of ours who had one they slept five in theirs at the weekend, two in the roof, one on a cab bunk and themselves in the double bed.
Our van is a danbury amd whilst it has a full width bed it has a tin top so we are totally reliable on our awning.

bohemianbint Wed 18-Jun-08 09:19:44

Thanks for all the really useful info. Those barriers that stop kids falling out of the pop top look great...

Anyway, the good news is that I put a deposit down on a lovely Devon transporter yesterday and we're hoping to go away in it on Friday for a week, so will hopefully iron out all these things while we're away. Really excited - just hope the weather clears up!

Thanks again, will no doubt be back with more questions... grin

Swampwitch Wed 18-Jun-08 11:10:56

We have a T4 - and it was fine with dd when she was little. We slept her up top with a net which kept her safe & she loved it. Then we had Ds1 & slept him up top too - but they started waking each other up & it got silly. Now we had ds2 & it just got ridiculous - so we use the camper now as the kitchen / fridge / car chair store.. & we bought a tent which is fantastic as it has just one big open floor plan & goes up in 8 mins total almost as fast as popping up the old roof.

fullmoonfiend Wed 18-Jun-08 12:43:53

no VW here but we used to have children sleeping in van and we slept in awning. Getting Bongo next week, with pop-up roof, yay!

bohemianbint Wed 18-Jun-08 12:51:48

I'm getting really excited now - can anyone recommend good sites for doing up interiors and groovy accessories? grin

MadamePlatypus Wed 18-Jun-08 13:09:54

Interesting thread. How easy is it to install child seats/find somewhere to store them when you are parked up? Also - really stupid question probably - how many child seats can you fit into a standard camper?

peasholme Wed 18-Jun-08 13:13:02

Oh god I am feeling sick with excitement at the prospect of a summer of camping! swampwitch those tipis look amazing! Do sites charge them as if they were an awning?

I've just acquired (just bought - that makes it sound like it was stolen) a T25 with pop top and so far it's brilliant. DH is a teacher so we have to wait for the holidays to really enjoy it. I would be very interested in any information about Camper Van Cuisine as I think I am being over ambitious so far!

Re. keeping kids in bed, would those normal bedside clip on bits do the trick? I can't remember what they are called but they are probably cheaper than specialist dealers. fullmoonfiend look forward to hearing about your Bongo! They look good.

Watching with interest re. accessories recommendations. I have so far used having a van as an excuse to buy loads of china tat from charity shops!

Paddlechick666 Wed 18-Jun-08 14:48:06

we're off to Glasto next week in H's t25 bay window pop top which I had first experience of a couple of weeks ago.

dd is 2.5yrs and by the time we come home from a few days at the beach followed by the festival i am sure she will be sleeping just fine in the roof.

her first trip out she was very excited about going up there but didn't actually manage the sleeping part LOL. she ended up on the rock n roll bed in the middle and everyone slept well.

i like the look of the cab hammock tho, will suggest it to H for future use.

tbh, on camping trips kids always go to bed later and parents earlier so we probably had less than an hour between dd dropping off and us crashing out too.

we have a portable gas bbq and i intend to cook pretty basic mince & pasta/spuds type dishes when we're fed up with sausages.

i so cannot wait till Monday!

bohemianbint Wed 18-Jun-08 21:16:41

Just wondering, my child seat says it can be fastened just with a lap band, and there's 2 in the back, but I've never done used it like that and I worry it wouldn't be as secure. Anyone else just use a lap belt? Is it ok, or is there anything you can do to make it safer? I think our car seat is a Britax something or other...

ponto Wed 18-Jun-08 22:05:11

We are just selling our Renault Trafic camper because we have dc3 on the way and there are only 4 seatbelts. The 2 in the back are lap straps and we fitted our Britax toddler car seat with no problems - it felt very secure.

We used it last summer with dd1 who was 4 and dd2 who was 20 months. Dd1 slept on the top bunk with a wooden cot-side which we screwed in and dd2 slept in the bottom bed with us. Might have tried to get them both up the top this year if I wasn't pg and unable to contemplate sleeping in anything other than a very comfortable double bed, but don't think there would be much sleeping going on.

It was good fun when we just had dd1, but even though at home she used to go to bed at 7 every night, when we were in the camper she would just not sleep until 11 or 12 at night, and only then if she came in bed with us for a cuddle and prolonged singing /soothing. I used to wait until she finally dropped off then hoist her up into the top bunk for the night. I think camping was just too exciting for her to cope with - after 2 weeks of this she slept 14 hours a night for the week after coming home! So don't count on having your evenings to yourself.

Feeling very now about getting rid of the van having rememberd all the good times we had - might have to get a tent instead.

Nelif Thu 19-Jun-08 09:01:12

Quadrophenia - Hi yes we were at bus Stop over, love that show, great value for money and bands are good.

Yeah the Westy is a good conversion use of space is excellent. We've just got hold of a garage to rent in Northampton that is high enough for her so she'll be near by soon.

Love your van, very tidy great colour!

Fennel Thu 19-Jun-08 09:54:51

Our VW didn't have any seat belts in the back but DP fitted them - 3 point ones on two seats and a lap belt on the middle seat. You can buy kits to do it.

Ponto, we bought a tent after getting rid of the van wiht 3 small children. It's been a lot easier really, for this stage. We still go camping quite a lot. One day we will have a van again... But for the moment the tent has a lot more room in it for 5 of us than a VW van. We're not all constantly on top of each other.

peacelily Thu 19-Jun-08 12:34:26

I.m very intersted in this thread, we're borrowing my parents camper to go to campbestival soon. I'ts one double/2 singles only. dd is 21m (usually a good sleeper). Don't fancy sharing the double with her as we won't get any sleep (she's little wriggler and if she did wake up she'd be too thrilled by being with us to go back to sleep!).

Can you put those hammock things in any van? Or could we put her on a matress in between the 2 singles (not much cosiness for me and dh though)?

Am intrigued....

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