Your travels rhyme with roaming, off-road and bivouac. Is it doable with young children?
We started camping when our children were 1.5 and 3 years old. We didn't have the cars yet; we left for 1 or 2 nights, we did short hikes and we slept in tents.
With the cars, we started when they were 3 and 5 years old. Very quickly, we made them responsible. At first, they were helped to set up their things and put everything away; now they both do it on their own (6 and 8 years old); sometimes bitching but they do.
How far in advance do you plan a trip?
3-4 months for long trips of 2-3 weeks.
We decide on the destination (one or more countries), we look for inspiration on travel blogs to know the places to visit, the great activities... Then, we pin all the interesting points and, using different tools (maps roads, apps, etc.), the route is traced avoiding roads as much as possible. It is therefore not enough to make a route from point A to point B because the objective is to go off-road; we look for the tracks, the small paths indicated in dotted lines on the maps; we check that these are not pedestrian paths, not accessible to vehicles…
All this preparation is very important because it allows us not to waste time at the moment. Indeed, some trails are accessible alternately to pedestrians or ATVs and to motorized vehicles; if you haven't planned it, you can find yourself facing a closed track and have to turn around...
However, despite our organization upstream, we sometimes go back and forth because some tracks are closed, or not very accessible... So when we get back, we compile all our tracks, we clean everything to provide the ideal track for our customers.
In general, a proportion of about 60% tracks and 40% roads is achieved in terms of km. But, given that we drive on average at 30km/h on the tracks, the proportion is much more important in terms of time.
For smaller trips, long weekends… we prepare the month before. Sometimes, however, we go off on a whim; suddenly we lose time on the spot for the search for accessible tracks, bivouac… In these cases, we take advantage between us, but it is not usable for Yeti.
During the rental, all the logistical side is managed, the route is given with the vehicle as well as access to the Mapstr of Yeti, which includes photos of the bivouac places to be able to visualize each place before going there. Without all that, most would end up on national roads and sleeping in small undergrowth.
How many hours a day do you ride?
The ideal is to ride about 4 hours a day: we fold up all morning, then we ride 2 hours and then we take a break at noon, during which we take the time to prepare food, rest, enjoy the where we are… We drive another 2 hours in the afternoon and we try to arrive early at the bivouac; ideally around 4-4:30 p.m. to have time to set everything up, take a shower, have an aperitif, prepare food… light is important, we live with the sun.
That said, we often ride more, but sometimes it's too much... We're difficult so it often takes us 1 to 2 hours to find the ideal bivouac spot: a beautiful place, with the sunset, where we can swim , to fish…
Are you going in summer or winter?
We do, but it's obviously more restrictive in winter because the days are shorter; we go back to the tent early, with a book. We then target the places where we can make a fire to lengthen the evenings.
How is the installation of the campsite going?
Unfolding and folding the camp may seem laborious but with practice, we go faster and faster. The first few times it takes about 10-15 minutes; now, in 5 minutes, a tent is unfolded. Then, you have to take out the tables, the chairs...
Folding it takes a little longer, it's a little more chipot.
But everyone has their role, we agree and it rolls; you learn with each trip and you become more and more efficient.
The rest requires a good basic organization; we split up as much as possible: walking boots in one bag, rain jackets in another, same thing for swimsuits and towels. Because in general, when it rains, everyone needs their jacket, if we go hiking, everyone needs their boots...
Are the children participating?
When we arrive at the bivouac, we let the children discover the surroundings and play while we set up everything.
When the camp is unfolded, the tents are installed, they have their mission: everyone has their little bag, sets up their sleeping bag, their lamp, their books, their pajamas,...
Do you change locations often?
We have never slept in the same place twice. For the excitement of changing and seeing what's next.
Yet we've told ourselves many times that we should stay because we're in such beautiful places; and that is what people are advised to do. But we are so excited to see the rest, to see as much as possible on our stay.
As a result, when we stay several nights in the same place, we are almost always in places so lost in nature that we could leave the whole camp (taking care that nothing is lying around and that everything is clean of course) during the excursions of the day so as not to have to fold up the tents every day. Of course, you have to adapt to where you are. Depending on the destination, it may or may not be possible to leave the whole camp; on the Opal Coast, for example, there are probably more passages…
What are you planning in terms of luggage and food?
One small bag per person for clothes.
In terms of food, we plan a lot of dry food (couscous, rice, pasta, cereals, etc.) and a little fresh for the first few days. Then, fresh food is added every 3-4 days, stopping in small villages. When you are lost in nature, it becomes a real pleasure to buy fresh fruits and vegetables, local fish...
In the end, we always plan too much; we often think we won't last long, but in fact we have a lot of room.
Is this type of trip suitable for all family configurations?
Unfortunately, this is only possible for families of up to 5 people since there are only 5 seats in the car.
On the other hand, it is possible to leave with a baby; just provide the baby equipment. And for the night, in general, the children sleep in one tent and the parents in the other; obviously with a baby, a parent(s) sleep(s) with him.
What are the advantages and disadvantages compared to a classic travel format (rent a house / go to a hotel)?
In our view, there is only downside; sometimes we experience more difficult things, a storm, a breakdown, a flat tire, we get stuck. It can be stressful right now. But these obstacles that we cross on our way are ultimately the memories that we build much more than during another trip where everything is easier. We will laugh about it in the evening, we are even proud to have passed above, to have arrived there. It is ultimately what we will remember the most after the trip and what we talk about the most. There is a kind of self-transcendence, especially for children and us as parents in the management of children. There is a whole reflection that enriches us a lot. It builds us as a family. It is also interesting to discover the feelings of children which are often not the same as ours.
If you have a limited number of holidays per year, you may tend to move more easily towards restful, quiet holidays that require less organization. But adventure travel enriches the children much more, it's incomparable! Children pull parents; they are not bothered by the cold, the rain, they live in the present moment. And we, we live the experience through their eyes which are amazed by the fact of living in nature, of making a fire, of running after a butterfly, of swimming in a lake or a river, of pretending to fish for 3h. Freedom !
Finally, we discover places, preserved, we live in slow motion, with family, off the beaten track.
The next destination?
Otherwise, we would also like to go to Italy or Portugal.