We have been talking about a 'roadtrip' for a while. I went to Australia with my sister when I was younger, and traveled in a camper van. I wanted to try the same kind of travel with my family. So we spent a lot of time on Google to find the right places and camper van rentals. We agreed on Portugal pretty quick! It looked so beautiful and there seemed to be a lot to see and do. We wanted a van that was small enough to go anywhere, but still practical when traveling with two kids. We found The Getaway Van - a portuguise company with good reviews, and they had the perfect van for us. Check it out on these pictures. How cool is the exterior? When we showed the kids pictures of the van, they couldn't wait to go and live in this 'house bus' as they called it :)
We took a flight to Lisbon a day before we were going to pick up the van, so we had one night at a hotel in Lisbon and the next day we got the van. The days for the pickup and delivery of the van, were the only things we had planned from home. So we packed the van with our stuff and hit the road. To go wherever we wanted to go. Just to write about it, makes me miss the feeling. We both wanted this to be a vacation without any hurry at all, and with all these beautiful places not far from eachother, we only drove an hour or two a day - maximum. Some days we didn't drive at all. So Portugal is a really children friendly place to travel by van. Not many kids want to sit stuck in a car seat five hours a day, when they can spend the time on the beach finding animals or rocks ;)
The first two days our youngest boy missed his bed at home. He is a little sensitive guy who needs a lot of security. But after a couple of days he felt at home in the van, and he wanted to stay in Portugal forever!
Pretty soon we had two little nomads, who ran towards the beach every time we parked a new place. They felt comfortable and happy every where we went - ready to explore new beaches, streets and of course gelato shops.
As you can see on the picture above, the van was very cozy and well furnished. Half of our bed - the lower one - worked as the kids carseats when we were driving. Under the bed there was a lot of storage room, and the van was equipped with everything you need. There were a backpack for the kids with beach toys, a volley ball, camping chairs and table, towels, kitchen equipment etc.
With this van we could park anywhere we wanted. At least anywhere you can park a normal car. We downloaded an app called CamperContact - this is a map with an overview over all campingsites, camperparks, and just parking lots with permission to camp. Its free the first 7 days, and then you have to pay for it. We used it a lot, and it worked great for us.
We thought we would have time to see both the north and the south, but we didn't. We were too slow travelers, haha. We went south and found so many beautiful cozy little towns with cobble stoned streets and white washed walls, we visited a lot of beaches with big and rough waves, and found bays with shallow water perfect for the kids, sailed in canoes, we went surfing in Milfontes and we went on a boat trip and saw so many dolphins jumping around our little boat. We could have touched them - so close were they! We found this company that sold the boattrips by a coincident on Instagram, and they were only placed a few miles from where we were at that time, so we booked a trip. We went with Wild Watch Algarve and they were so friendly and professional. We had one biologist with us on the boat, that could tell us everything about the dolphins, as we watched them jump up and down the water around us. They are worth a visit!
When we came to this town, Ferragudo, where they were placed, we pretty soon 'fell in love'. It's a small fisher town with a perfect beach for kids. On our way home from the boattrip, we saw a parking lot on shore, with a couple of vans parked, and it looked so beautiful and cozy, so we went there for the night. We did stay some more, and I think this was one of our favourite places.
Everything was amazing! We didn't make it to the north however, but now we have a good excuse to come back!
The day before we had to deliver the van, we did go a little north, when we went to see Dino Parque. Before we went on the trip, we let the kids choose a place each that they wanted to see in Portugal. The youngest chose Dino Parque and the oldest chose a waterpark called Slide and Splash I think.
I think I will need to make a post with our route and a 'must see/do' list, because we visited so many great places and met so many nice people. I can truly highly reccoment this kind of vacation for families in Portugal! The people are so kind, helpful and generous, and we felt so welcome everywhere.
I think you can click 'follow blog' somewhere (sorry, I'm new to this;) ) if you want a notification when the next post is up about our van vacation in Portugal <3