In a motorhome we always get closer
You have families, you have big families, and then you have us. 😊 2many4grany is a blended family of seven with kids ranging from 2 to 13 years. A big blended family is fun but it comes with many challenges, one of them being how to synchronize the schedules between all members. But we are well organized and with traveling being on top of our priorities we always find time for shorter or longer holidays. Since COVID-19 grounded us we have been forced to find a replacement for air travel, and thanks to our positive past experience with motorhomes we decided to give it another try.
We agreed to rent again an Alkoven motorhome from Sun Living for the third time, more precisely the A70DK, which was kindly given to us by Adria Mobil for testing. In addition to a sufficient number of beds (seven) and 6 certified passenger seats, the Sun Living A70DK also offers a driver-friendly configuration, as it can be transformed into almost an autonomous vehicle with an automatic transmission and cruise control.
I agreed with this way of traveling mainly because I already had the experience with a booked apartment or hotel, which disappointed me, but with a motorhome you are free and you can change the location much easier. Freedom on wheels seems to me to be one of the key advantages of traveling by motorhome, and the other key advantage for me is definitely the ease of loading luggage, which represents a tough nut for five children. A motorhome seems to be a traveling closet or a small apartment that is always with you and whatever you need is somewhere within reach. That's why wandering with babies didn't seem the smallest challenge to me, as I had everything I needed on hand, from a water heater, changing mats, water, toys, to clothes and diapers. The next key advantage is the financial savings in this type of travel. If you are a family of seven (believe me, we have checked a hundred times), then renting an apartment, hotel and dining in restaurants is much more expensive than paying for camping for a motorhome, however, even if I add tolls, fuel and the rental price.
Once we agreed on the type of vacation, we needed a location that can be fun for each and every family member and Tuscany came out as a clear winner. Proximity to Slovenia, its beautiful nature and history, the museums suitable for kids, mild Mediterranean climate and food that we all like made Tuscany our first and only choice for early fall vacation.
At the end we decided to go on a trip with four of the five kids, since one didn’t want to miss school (God knows why). Three of our kids are under the age of 6 so we planned our trip with a focus on their needs and their ability to sit still during the drive. The route was planned in a way that longer movements were supposed to be during the time of day when younger children would sleep (necessarily in car seats) and in this way we made it easier for them not to get bored on the way.
As a mother of small kids, I pay a lot of attention to our family life and I strive to spend the time we are together as quality as possible, pleasant, varied and will long be remembered.I was inspired to travel by motorhome by my husband who really wanted such a journey, so following my first childbirth, we went on a longer journey to the countries of the former Yugoslavia, but first with his kids on extended weekend journeys to Italy, Germany and Austria.
Since you can find a lot of travel guides about Tuscany, I will just quickly summarize our trip and focus more on motorhome travel essentials. Our trip started in our home town Domžale from where we went to San Marino on the first day. On the second day, we crossed Apennine mountains and visited Arezzo and Sienna continuing towards the sea side on day three, stopping in San Gimignano and Volterra before we reached Rosignano Solvay for a good night sleep. The fourth day was marked by beautiful Pisa and a perfect campsite in Florence. We were blown away by Florence historical sites and the city vibe on day five after which we sadly needed to drive back home to Domžale. More than 1500 kilometers driven and less than 800 EUR spent on camps, gasoline, highways, food and restaurants made traveling by motorhome a very affordable solution for a big family as ours.
Because our family is very spontaneous and adaptable, we only decide a few days in advance where we are going and adapt to where we are moving depending on the weather and (currently Covid situation). The figures provided even show that the sale of motorhomes increased during the Covid period, which testifies that the independence from aircraft is of a great importance to people, as motorhomes and cars are given greater security by mobility itself and for safety home-coming.
Unlike our Ford Galaxy, the Sun Living motorhome also offers a lot of space for bicycles, baby carriages and scooters, which we have to rent when traveling by car, and consequently an increase in additional costs.
For motorhome travel, in my opinion, you have to be tidy and orderly, because such a small space with so many people can quickly become a "barn". We take care of order by always having a mini hand vacuum cleaner with us to vacuum crumbs, dust and sand on a regular basis. In the “garage” we have a large plastic box in which we throw dirty clothes, so there are no smells in the motorhome, and the space is reserved for clean things only. I also always fold our clothes by “piles” from A to Z, that is, what one wears one day is in one package, with no need to touch the closets for socks, panties and a T-shirt. You just take a package that contains everything you need you wear that day and it is also color-coordinated of course :)
It is important that the motorhome has insect screens and Isofix for our youngest, as well as good air-condition, heating, and sensors, because those who do not have much experience with driving, very quickly rub a traffic sign or balcony, because they forget how tall the motorhome is.
What is especially very practical to me is the "garage" of the motorhome, as it opens and accesses it from the inside, which means that we throw dirty laundry directly in the laundry basket in the garage and it can be opened from the outside from both sides. When my husband pulls out tables and chairs, I, on the other hand, can pull out a pram or bikes.
I always set off for a journey with a pre-prepared menu. Since I don't like to cook and it's not my husband's passion either, we agree this earlier, so we plan meals and take with us exactly what is on our list and nothing more. So, there is no surplus feed, we buy it minimally or even nothing, and what doesn't need to be put in the fridge, I put it back in a big plastic box and it's stored in the "garage" motorhome. Because we are a real big family, the 142-liter refrigerator with a separate freezer is really a suitable size so that we have enough space for the first part of the food, which must stand in a cool temperature.
When on vacation, our life is simplified and we worry mainly about three things as where to sleep, where to eat and where the closest toilet is. When traveling by motorhome, a good preparation of the sites for camping and PZA spots along the road is crucial for stress free vacation. We defined sleeping spots in advance and changed our plans just during the day but never changed the location where we would spend the night. If you follow this rule you are on the safe side since our Sun Living offered a fully equipped bathroom and kitchen where we were able to cook even more complex meals. The fridge was super big even for the family of six so we didn’t need to buy any additional food or drinks during our trip. Since our Sun Living had a very good maneuvering capabilities it almost made us feel like drive a normal car what was of a great help and it reduced stress during parking and driving.
I believe that there are a hundred of motorhomes that are fantastic and may be even better than our favorite one, but fate obviously wanted us to rent a Sun Living motorhome for the first-time years ago so we got used to it, and because there is also a good arrangement of beds for us, we feel great. Why? Above the driver's and front passenger's seats there is an attic, which does not need to be prepared, as it is fixed and always there. If we stop somewhere and the children need a daily rest, occasionally all of the five children or just three of them are put there. Above, there are lights, a security fence, and a ladder that is fixed to the edge of the bed and when the children climb up and down, it never happened to slip away or that anyone would fall down.
We like it that in case any of the children doesn't go on the journey with us, I can easily change the lower part of the bunk into a higher garage part and so there is only one bed in the back, there is only one in the back bed. Since Miha and I are both tall, Miha is the one who doesn't moan "where should I put my feet", as all the beds are 210 cm long, which is really great. The interior height of the motorhome is 210 cm, which increases the feeling of spaciousness and there is no fear of hitting your head in the ceiling. The bathroom has a hidden washbasin that can be set up and is invisible when not in use as it can be fold into a cupboard. So, there’s more room to use the toilet or to change your clothes, as teenage kids already want some privacy.
We have been scared of our family time since we are running our own business. Sun Living provided us with a space where we could reconnect and sing, laugh and play without outside interference. There were neither check-ins nor packing or repacking after we started our trip what made us get more time to enjoy than if we had been travelling by car changing the hotels all the time.
Personally, I think that the Sun Living motorhome is designed very youthfully. Because it belongs to a financially lower rang, they are easier affordable to families, young couples, or even retirees.
In this motorhome, you can always find simple, but very high-quality solutions, and things do not break down and get damaged easily, which I can confirm despite having 5 kids. The materials are very durable and color-insensitive, the cabinets with firmly equipped buttons are spacious not to open while driving. Beds obviously have very high-quality mattresses, so your back doesn't hurt at all, which is very important, especially when you sleep in that bed for several days. You don’t need much time to change the number of beds from two to seven because everything is designed to change with a few movements.
We ourselves are spontaneous at the little things, but we like to determine the basic components of the journey in advance: where we go, for how many days and what we determined to see, but we leave something to our well-being and weather, and make a list of optional points for sightseeing that we may or may not see.
We always go on a trip with a menu and a well-thought-out number of suitcases, furthermore, we always take books and fun techniques with us and if the trip is really strenuous and long, medicines, documents, board games, good music and some movies are the obligatory part of our equipment.
Lonely Planet is still our loyal companion. Although everything is already online, I still like reading from the books and I still like follow the new in the media.
We use PZA points, which are often free or cost between € 10 and € 30 per night. We follow them at camperstop.si and campercontact.com/en. We are looking for campsites at www.avtokampi.si, www.campingeurope.com, and www.amzs.si/na-poti/kampi. We always take care of our safety, since we also have in addition to Wienerstadtische insurance we have an insurance package with Vzajemna and Generali, and we occasionally use Coris insurance.
The Ikea style clean lines and Škoda simplicity is what defines Sun Living. Such an approach essentially summarized the nature of our characters, in such a way that there was nothing missing and the feeling was homely and warm. We were more satisfied with the choice of location and motor homing as a whole and are already planning our next trip. Greece, here we come …
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