Spain, France and Italy with a baby

CorinneArms

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Hello, we are looking for advice and tips for our 12 week trip to Spain, France and Italy this Spring, travelling with a 7 month old baby in our van (which has a Euro VI engine). We're taking the Portsmouth to Santander ferry in March, with a rough route of Santander -> Barcelona -> Marseille -> Lake Como -> Rome, taking the Grimaldi ferry from Rome back to Barcelona and then Santander to Portsmouth ferry home. Would love to hear any tips on great places to stay, campsites, beaches, aires, and any advice on campervanning with a baby! Thanks in advance.
 

alcam

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looks like we're all to old here to be much help on traveling with baby's :ROFLMAO:
Indeed , mostly a different demographic .
I did meet a single mum travelling in France with a baby a few years ago . She seemed to be enjoying her trip
 

jacquigem

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Looks a challenging itinerary for time available, even without a baby ! We have learned that sometimes less is more so maybe think about a shorter route allowing you to spend more time in the places you visit and really enjoy them. Hopefully you can pick up what you miss in a following year ?
 

REC

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I agree with @jacquigem. A less ambitious route may be more fulfilling and give you a chance to take those little deviations which make motorhoming such fun. Don't think you will have any problems getting supplies for the baby, but I would try and take a duplicate of any "comfort blanket/toy" essential to the baby. Even starting to introduce a "spare" to him/her before you go!
The covid rules may change while you are enroute so a contingency plan would be good, avoiding one of the countries if they ban tourists. Take some NHS covid tests for in-between the official ones which may well still be needed for entry to countries.
Photograph all important documents and store online....vehicle documents..insurance schedule/V5/insurance certificate / breakdown, passports/ travel insurance and covid documents. Get GHIC cards and copy them too.
Work out paying tolls. Enough euros in change plus a spare credit card which can be used to pay for fuel.
Loads of apps which give places to stay plus of course the wildcamping poi app.
Exciting times.
 

mark61

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We all travel differently, to me 12 weeks for that trip is plenty of time, I'd probably be adding Sardinia or Corsica too, depending on ferries etc.

Seeing as you are returning to Barcelona, I'd probably do the initial drive east zig zagging through the Pyrenees. I'd probably avoid the south coast of France too, much prefer a route about 100 km north, through Verdon etc.

Sounds a great trip.
 

trevskoda

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You would be better of with a satnav as the baby wont be able to send you on the right roads, YET, few years though. 😂
 

HurricaneSmith

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Since my late teens and before I married, I've always loved travelling long distances, and continue to do so to this day.

Once married, and babies came along we quickly found out that long drives with tiny tots to be too problematic, and restricted camping to France and the UK. It was a different age, where nappies were washed in a blue bucket and hung out to dry on a bit of string. Looking back, it was right for us.

You've clearly planned a trip that suits you, and I wish you well, but all I can think about is those blessed nappies when it's tipping down.
 

chris spratt

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Hello, we are looking for advice and tips for our 12 week trip to Spain, France and Italy this Spring, travelling with a 7 month old baby in our van (which has a Euro VI engine). We're taking the Portsmouth to Santander ferry in March, with a rough route of Santander -> Barcelona -> Marseille -> Lake Como -> Rome, taking the Grimaldi ferry from Rome back to Barcelona and then Santander to Portsmouth ferry home. Would love to hear any tips on great places to stay, campsites, beaches, aires, and any advice on campervanning with a baby! Thanks in advance.
If you intend to do Switzerland make sure you have a ‘motorway windscreen sticker’ We got caught out on a quiet Sunday morning by a jobsworth copper! Thankfully managed to, just, pass the weigh bridge test! but cost us a fortune for a a ticket and the fine imposed. “You can use it for 12 months”, she said (we only needed 24 hours!) “Don’t worry, you can pay by credit card” - Thanks for that, lady! You live and learn 😂
 

Annsman

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Hello, we are looking for advice and tips for our 12 week trip to Spain, France and Italy this Spring, travelling with a 7 month old baby in our van (which has a Euro VI engine). We're taking the Portsmouth to Santander ferry in March, with a rough route of Santander -> Barcelona -> Marseille -> Lake Como -> Rome, taking the Grimaldi ferry from Rome back to Barcelona and then Santander to Portsmouth ferry home. Would love to hear any tips on great places to stay, campsites, beaches, aires, and any advice on campervanning with a baby! Thanks in advance.
Download the app Search for Sites, or Park for night to your phone/tablet. one of these will give you all the info you need to find somewhere to stay. I prefer Search for Sites myself. It's 5.99 per year and gives a wealth of info. It also has reviews from other vanners.

You've set yourselves an ambitious itinerary for first trip. It can be done, but you'll be driving virtually every day, which I'd suggest isn't your plan. Do you need to do that mileage? You're not giving yourselves many rest days either, never mind sightseeing. You can spend a week in Rome and still not see a lot!

Why not settle on following the coast along Northern Spain, into Portugal and then South to the Algarve, into Spain and then back up the Med Coast and across to Santander. We did it three years ago and it took just under 12 weeks. There's lots to see and do. You can take your time and get used to travelling with the baby. You might think you can cover the miles, but will you want to, if the baby keeps you up at night.

Or just cross into France and motor down France and into Italy? The time it takes to cross into France and along the South of France will take you at least as much time and driving down, but you'll probably save on fuel as its not as far. The ferry will be cheaper too, and save you two days as you won't need a night on a ship!

It would be a shame to spoil your first trip in the van by trying to do too much. It's very easy to overestimate how much driving you can do. We've done it and got the regrets to go with it. It's your choice, and tour, but my main advice would be, I'd do less.
 

GMJ

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That seems like sound advice to me. Don't underestimate the work and routine of setting up/breaking down camp if you are constantly on the move. I imagine this may be more work as well with a nipper on board. It spoils the fun I think if 'stuff' you have to do, becomes a chore.

You should catch some lovely weather too in the spring with nights getting longer and warmer...just the job for 'dropping anchor' for a few days here and there in new places that you discover.
 

jacquigem

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I guess with the Baby you need to think about temperatures you might face and keep some flexibility to avoid early heatwaves ?
 

Norfolk NewBoy

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Enjoy whatever you do.

BUT how much will your baby get out of the trip? My kids insisted that their children had a break from the car seat every couple of hours and rarely did more than 4 hours of driving in a day: not good for the proper formation of bones I was told.
In a few years time your child may "remember" seeing Segrada Familia, Monte Carlo, Colosseum, Vatican, dolphins and whales on those long sea crossings, etc. IMO this trip is purely for your benefit and as others have said, you may not enjoy the strains which your child puts on you.
When we had young children we spent a lot of time on the beach or strolling in the countryside: each to their own.

Enjoy whatever you do.

Gordon
 

Norfolk NewBoy

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Having had time to reflect, I imagine that you are taking a year's maternity/paternity leave and wanting to do something which will not be available to you in the near future: a 3 month "trip of a lifetime". Obviously, that is something worth supporting and I wish you well.

I talked to a young couple on a camperstop at Bilbao who were touring Spain with their 3y old daughter and 6 month old son, in a VW campervan. They had just arrived the previous day and were looking forward to visiting the Guggenheim followed by some of the other great places (Prado, Alhambra, Mesquite, etc). They would be covering a similar distance to your planned trip. I have no idea how they got on but I wished them well and offer the same to you.

Gordon
 

Sambarob

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I'm assuming that if your travelling with a 7 month old then your baby is currently 3 or 4 months old.
That 7 month old is also going to be 10 months by the time you finish your trip.
A 10 month old is a very different person to your current bundle of joy.
Not least they will be teething while you are away and that can turn a golden bundle of love into a screaming demon sent from hell in the blink of an eye.
So my advice is similar to others, basically get off the ferry and have no plan apart from a vague direction. That way you will have a fantastic trip full of memories. Give yourself plenty of time to enjoy all those wonderful locations with your new baby.
Also take lots of Calpol and learn how to ask where the launderette is spanish and Portuguese.!
 

TJBi

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<Snip>

Or just cross into France and motor down France and into Italy? The time it takes to cross into France and along the South of France will take you at least as much time and driving down, but you'll probably save on fuel as its not as far. The ferry will be cheaper too, and save you two days as you won't need a night on a ship!

<Snip>
That would not be possible with the current Covid-related regulations, which prevent all but essential travel into France from the UK. Hopefully, that may change by the spring, but who knows? Ferry to Spain and enough time there after leaving UK would presumably overcome this potential issue.
 

Norfolk NewBoy

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Some further thoughts:
Is this the right forum for you? Are you intending to do a lot of "wildcamping"? Not everyone on here does, but there may be more appropriate forums available IF that isn't your favoured form of overnighting. One of the many joys of travel in Europe is the greater provision for motorhomes and I only stop on campsites for approx 10% of my time there, compared to 50% in UK.

How much experience do you have in your vehicle? If you are seasoned travellers then you will probably have adopted a sort of routine involving showers, waste disposal, etc. If you are new to the scene then these are things which you may wish to experience in UK before embarking on a 3 month adventure. "Living" in a motorhome is different to spending a couple of nights away.

What do you want to do with your time? You mention Euro6 engine so perhaps you are thinking of getting into the centres of cities? Are you confident in the cut and thrust of driving on the "wrong" side of the road? I have been in several situations where "foreign" drivers don't take prisoners: having a reliable satnav which "knows" the size of your vehicle is a big advantage! (Having a screaming child with me would not decrease my stress levels.)

Only you can know your situation completely BUT our combined advice may be more structured if we appreciate your situation more fully. Don't let my negativity put you off, because as was said earlier, the age profile on here might result in more staid responses than you wish for. You only live once, so make the most of your dreams BUT do please consider your young child AND your own sanity.

Gordon
 

CorinneArms

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Thanks to those who shared tips for our trip. We’re seasoned campervanners used to doing long trips, sometimes wild camping, sometimes at campsites. We usually move on every 2 days. Have done similar mileage in the past in just 2.5 weeks. I just thought popping a message on here would gather some nice recommendations for places to pull up along the route or beauty spots worth a visit. Yes, it's a once in a lifetime kind of trip. Not sure our generation will get to retire so got to take the opportunities when they come. Good vibes only please ✌️
 
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