Vanlife, Cornwall edition

Camping with kids is always an adventure, but add a VW camper van to the mix and you’ve got a recipe for unforgettable memories—and probably a few hilarious mishaps along the way. North Cornwall, with its stunning coastline, charming villages, and endless outdoor activities, is the perfect backdrop for a family camping trip. Here’s how to make the most of it and keep your sanity intact.

The Journey Begins: Pack Strategically Before even setting off, the first hurdle is packing. In theory, a VW camper van has plenty of storage. In practice, when you’re packing for kids, it feels like trying to fit the contents of a small house into a suitcase. My tip: prioritise. You need snacks (so many snacks), clothes for all weather (it’s Cornwall, after all), and entertainment (Uno is king in our family). We bought two sets of tall plastic drawers from Poundland and packed our clothes into these, so we had no bags. These can then be put in your side tent to keep the main van space clear for cooking and chilling.

The Road Trip: Embrace the Chaos The drive to North Cornwall is scenic and beautiful—or at least it would be if you didn’t have a constant chorus of “Are we there yet?” emanating from the back seats. Embrace the chaos. Play car games, let the kids navigate (with a map, not the GPS, for added adventure), and remember to take breaks. The goal is to arrive with everyone still speaking to each other. We like to have a halfway stop and camp to break the journey and make it part of the trip. We stopped at The Wave in Bristol for a surf session to get them into it before hitting the real thing in Cornwall.

Setting Up Camp: Teamwork Makes the Dream Work Upon arrival at your campsite, setting up the camper van is a team effort. We find it best to send the kids off to explore the site while we get the camp sorted. This lets them go wild after being cooped up for a long drive and allows us to set up camp quickly with no distractions. A side tent is a great addition to the setup. We store everything in there, leaving the van for chilling and cooking space. We also have a pop-up dining table and chairs in the tent.

Exploring North Cornwall: Adventure Awaits North Cornwall is packed with family-friendly activities. From exploring rock pools and caves, foraging for mussels, surfing, and hiking sections of the South West Coast Path, to visiting the enchanting Tintagel Castle, there’s no shortage of things to do. Let the kids lead the way occasionally; you might end up on a treasure hunt or building epic sandcastles. Always have a backup plan for rainy days—indoor attractions like the Bodmin Jail, the quirky Museum of Witchcraft and Magic in Boscastle, or our favourite, the National Lobster Hatchery in Padstow, can be lifesavers.

Van Life in Cornwall:

Endless Discoveries Van life in Cornwall is a firm favourite with us. There’s so much to do and so much to find. It has everything from hiring a vintage shrimper sailboat, learning to spearfish, to finding fantastic hipster coffee roasters. You can stay in a huge campsite or have a stealth stay in a tiny bay with no other vans and literally have a beach to yourself.

Camping with kids in a VW camper van is a whirlwind of laughter, occasional tears, and endless adventure. It’s a bonding experience that, despite the challenges, brings the family closer together. So pack up, hit the road, and get ready for the trip of a lifetime.

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