The Camping Way

Camping Langenwald, Freudenstadt Germany

Beautiful Black Forest campground – Camping Langenwald, Freudenstadt

Years ago, in exasperation at having to pack up camp and move on yet again, our eldest daughter muttered, “What is this, the Montes Family Traveling Circus?”  Frustration quickly turned into laughter and the name stuck.  This year the Montes Family Traveling Circus World Domination Tour was live on 3 continents at once, as 3 of us visited Germany, Switzerland and France, while Daughter #1 returned to Egypt for a year and Daughter #2 spent the summer in Kyoto.

The European Contingent traveled in camping mode, a.k.a. “Hotel Room in a Bag.”  Baggage restrictions make this a challenge, but we have pared down to lighter equipment and bare essentials.  This is the fourth time that we have experienced family Eurocamping and each time the process becomes more refined.  It’s not as easy as getting on and off the tour bus, but the time invested means that you shape and own the experience.

Here’s the process:

  • Initiate and commit:  Stop resisting and book a flight and a rental car.  Look for a car with decent trunk space or a station wagon-type that has a cargo cover.  GPS is a must.
  • Map the itinerary:  You have a ticket and a car, and know the place and time of your arrival and departure.  The rest is up to you. Chart a circuit and try to minimize driving hours and campsite changes at first to minimize exhaustion and conflict and maximize time for exploration and fun.  Check out sites like VirtualTourist.com or TripAdvisor.com for ideas and list interesting destinations in the places you plan to visit.  Your itinerary can change on the go, but a list is a good starting place.
  • Research:  Time consuming, but it can be fun.  Think of it as extending the mental voyage.  Investigate your local library for current travel guides and mine the internet.  If you’re interested in camping, there are many good sites with campground listings complete with gps coordinates, a full list of amenities and customer reviews.
  • Gear up:  Research and buy the basics – tent, sleeping bag and pad, small camping stove compatible with locally-available fuel like Campingaz, lightweight cooking and eating gear and utensils.  Decide what to bring and buy at your destination.
  • Pack:  Leave plenty of time to pack and decide what to leave at home.  Work with your baggage limitations.
  • Documentation:  Make sure your passport is up to date and valid for 6 months after your trip.
  • Travel:  Air travel isn’t much fun, but relax.
  • Explore:  Be receptive and open to new experiences.  Know when to be an observer and when to jump in and interact.  It’s revitalizing to wake up knowing that the day is full of possibilities.
  • Memories:  Take lots of pictures, blog, journal, sketch – you’ll appreciate it later.  Laugh at the hardships – they make great stories.
Camping Breakfast

Breakfast spread

This year’s journey was different because we were not all together for the first time.  A little sad sometimes, but exciting knowing that each person was somewhere interesting, learning and growing.  The Montes Family Traveling Circus 2.0 – alive and kicking!

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. The Edmonton Tourist
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 03:13:21

    That looks like The camping platz I stayed in outside of Freudianstat! If I could, I would be traveling every month to a new destination! I like a well planned trip with a spontaneous find. Vimy ridge and Bacharat we two of the very best finds I every stumbled upon! Best rule ever, keep your passport valid!

    Reply

  2. kimmontes
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 07:12:17

    You’re right! Camping Langenwald is right outside of Freudenstadt and it was a real gem. All the amenities, friendly and helpful hosts, gorgeous setting. Our tent was right next to the bridge over the stream that runs through the middle of camp.

    I’m going to have to look up Vimy ridge and Bacharat and put them on the list of possible future destinations!

    Reply

  3. tansymichaud
    Aug 04, 2012 @ 21:01:18

    Out of curiosity, what are some of your favorite campground’s you’ve been to?

    Reply

  4. puravida
    Aug 04, 2012 @ 21:57:53

    The most unusual were Zugligeti Niche Camping in Budapest (an old end-of-the-line streetcar station in the Buda hills) and Camping Castel San Pietro in the ruins of a fortress in the hills above Verona. Camping Langenwald in the Black Forest was beautiful, and Camping Chateau des Marais near Chambord, France has a wonderful pool and water slides and is on the grounds of a chateau!

    Reply

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