Experiment 2: Staying in a campground Mobile Home
At this stage of life, traveling is an escape from the reality of the usual packed schedule, daily commitments, and seemingly endless to-do lists. Despite our best efforts to take time to slow down at home, there’s a little nagging list which sits in the back of my mind, prodding me even when I have ended my day and am trying to relax in the evening.
But when traveling, it is so true that “out of sight is out of mind,” and it’s a lot easier to temporarily free my thoughts from those commitments so that we can focus on being together as a family. As time goes by it becomes even more important to us, because as Gretchen Rubin says “the days are long but the years are short,” get and before we know it the kids will be busy creating their own lives.
Our experiment with finding more family time through travel began as a camper van dream. We finally tried it out and escaped for the weekend in a VW California Beach. As much as I am tempted to drive down to the closest camper van dealership and sign on the dotted line, I finally realized that the car is just another tool for us to be together as a family, and an expensive tool at that.
Still in search of a way we could stretch our family travel budget without the financial commitment of a camper van, we decided to rent a mobile home* on a campground in Italy. Along for the adventure was our family of 5 along with our 2 teenage godsons.
Expectation 1: Finding accommodation for 7 would be easy.
We decided to holiday down on the Cavallino peninsula, located across the lagoon from Venice and on the Adriatic coast of Italy. The peninsula is lined with campground after campground, with places to suit all tastes, budgets and situations - or so we thought. But it wasn’t long before we realised that finding a cabin to sleep all 7 of us was not going to be easy.
Hubby started by contacting several campgrounds by email, and all but one could not accommodate us. We finally found Camping Ca’Savio which actually had a unit to suit us.** We quickly booked one of their 3 bedroom mobile homes and started to get excited for our sunny beachside getaway.
After a long winter, the warmer days of spring were suddenly upon us and on a sunny Wednesday at lunchtime, we (along with what felt like the rest of Europe) packed our car and headed south. We managed to get through the Gotthard tunnel and the crazy traffic around Milano with only a couple of delays and by early evening we arrived at Camping Ca’Savio and checked in.
Verdict: It is not easy to find a mobile home accommodation for more than 6 and you’ll likely need to book 2 if you have more than 6 in your party.
Expectation 2: Simple Accommodation equals less stress.
I like anything that makes life more simple, and staying in a Mobile Home on a campground is the ultimate in stress-free budget accommodation. All you have to do is drive in, unpack your suitcase, and buy some food for breakfast. The mobile home we booked felt brand new and was clean, although it was a tight fit for the 7 of us. As we planned to spend most of the time outside soaking up the sunshine and enjoying the glorious views anyway, that part was not a problem.
Our stay was chilled in every way. Breakfast began with fresh bread from the onsite supermarket and was enjoyed on the balcony of our accommodation. We enjoyed bread, meats and cheeses (brought from home ;-)) and did the same for lunch, while dinner was always eaten at a restaurant.
We used our car for getting to the ferry and getting to dinner, but otherwise it stayed parked in front of our home. We were able to walk to the beach, to the pool, to the restaurant site, and to get basic groceries.
Leaving at the end of the trip couldn’t have been easier, too. Check-out was available the night before so we could leave as soon as the barrier opened at 7am the next morning.
Tip: if you plan to leave earlier than 7am, you can park your car on the other side of the barrier BUT I wouldn’t suggest leaving your luggage in the car as it could be at high risk for a break-in.
Verdict: renting a mobile home provided us with a totally chilled out long weekend, just as I had hoped.
Expectation 3: A little bit more privacy than camping
Privacy is always a bit of a sticking point when it comes to campgrounds, where usually every available space is used to squeeze in as many people as possible. It’s the one negative of camping in Europe, and something I am still getting used to.
But it is a little different with a mobile home. Yes they are lined up in tight rows, but they are thoughtfully placed in order to maximise privacy. Despite having cabins all around us, we were only overlooked by one balcony.
And anyone not keen on sharing a bathroom with the rest of the campsite is also well suited to a mobile home. (As well as anyone not keen on having to line up to share kitchen facilities).
Verdict: Renting a mobile home definitely gives you much more privacy than staying in a traditional camping pitch.
Expectation 4: Allows you to get back to basics without really having to rough it
There is something about having JUST what you need. I never get tired of the feeling of freedom that having just the basics gives you. What’s even more surprising is how quickly cleaning and tidying becomes when only the basics are on hand.
Being in a mobile home on a large camping ground isn’t exactly roughing it. But it’s a nice compromise for those searching for the simple life and not wanting to give up the luxury of having your bathroom within the four walls of your accommodation.
For those who are longing to get back to nature, a tourist camping ground with mobile home accommodation may not be for you.
Verdict: We enjoyed having just what we needed while being in a beautiful area and enjoying the outdoors. No “roughing it” was involved.
Expectation 5: Best way to stretch our budget
When Hubby mentioned the price, my jaw dropped. 7 people staying for 4 nights, 426 Euros*** is insanely cheap! That works out to around 17 euros per person per night. When comparing it to the cost of a VW camper van, we could have 140 similar holidays for what the camper van would cost. At that price, sleeping in a cabin is very cost effective, considering that all you have to bring with you is your clothes and food. There are no extra cost for camping supplies since they’re already there.
Verdict: The mobile home was a wonderful way to stretch our travel budget while allowing us all to be together on holiday for a price we could afford.
Ask the kids:
When chatting to the kids, the Tween said she said it was fun but she preferred the VW camper van - it felt more cosy and to her and it felt more like “our own.” Actually, they all said they preferred the VW camper van over the mobile home because there were lots of ants in the cabin. (I think they secretly love the VW camper van just as much as I do, <sigh>.)
Verdict: The kids had a wonderful time and would do it again, even though they also have the camper van dream….
All in all
Mobile homes are a great to rent when the budget is too tight for a hotel, or a camper van. In our case, it helped us to stretch our travel budget as much as possible. As parents we enjoyed that we could close our door for some peace and quiet while the kids played, and I enjoyed not having to pack everything but the kitchen sink as I do for most camping expeditions. But it does lack that “back to nature” feeling you get when you’re in a tent or van. In our case, price and convenience trumped the rest.
We will do this again for sure.
Are mobile homes on your list of “go to” accommodations? Where is your favourite?
*A mobile home is not actually moveable. It could be moved, but is not designed to be continually moved like a motor home, or RV for example. It’s a stationary, non-permanent residence which is often present at campgrounds in the event you don’t have a motorhome or camper, and would take the place of a hotel room. They are generally equipped with kitchens, bedrooms, and sitting areas so are ideal if you have a family or large traveling group.
**On departure, Camping Ca’Savio informed us they made a mistake and wouldn’t accept 7 people, even with the 7th person being in a baby bed, in their 6 person cabins in the future. Looks like we lucked out on that one, but don’t try this at home folks.
***Note: We did stay during a shoulder season, which means the cost would increase during peak periods. It isn’t too dramatic though, the same cabin costs 160 euros per night during peak season.