15 questions with….the Birner family
Where do you live?
Amberg, Bavaria, Southern Germany.
What’s your age bracket?
My partner and I are late 30s and we have two boys aged 8 & 5.
Have you always been a camper?
I wouldn’t describe ourselves as lifetime campers although back in my youth we used to do camping trips with groups of friends going to Italy and Croatia. Since having kids my wife and I thought about what is the best way of having holidays with young kids. We then started camping again and planning real time off to take them across Europe and explore. We planned to go away for five weeks or so and bought a caravan. We did a great tour through Europe – starting in Bavaria we went all the way to Greece and then took the coast back, crossing Albania and Montenegro. We did 11 countries in five weeks. That was in 2018 and since then all our holidays have been camping holidays.
What kind of camping holidays do you go on?
We always take our caravan now and go pretty much anywhere we can get to! Our season starts in June when we can camp in the mountains or more locally and then head further south for the Summer. It can be pretty cold even in June and I would say that despite being keen skiers, we are not yet ready for Winter camping!
Why do you love camping? Do any specific moments spring to mind?
We love the freedom and flexibility you have camping. You don’t have to worry about timelines or formal agendas or dressing up to eat. You can do whatever you want whenever you want, pretty much, and that includes where you stay and how long. If you like a place you stay and if not you can just decide to leave the next day. With young kids they can have so much freedom in the campsites. I think you also get to meet more interesting people and unexpected things are often happening as you are looking for remote sites in new countries, finding your way!
Where are your preferred places to go camping?
We’ve stayed in all sorts of sites and locations – the mountains, near lakes and by the sea. I think we love camping by the sea most and have recently explored Corsica, Croatia, Italy and Sardinia. I am trying to convince my family to try a trip north one day!
What do you look for in a campsite?
We look for sites that are not too big but have plenty of space. Close to the sea is ideal so you don’t have to use the car once you are pitched. Our kids would say a small pool as well! We do like to have some interesting things to visit in the surrounding areas, such as cities or sites. We stayed in Maremma sans Souci this Summer, it was just the right size and the pitches were amongst the trees so although it was full, you felt you had your own space.
What have been your favourite camping holidays in the past?
I think we would say our tour across Europe.
What potential camping trips are you most looking forward to?
Because of the ever changing situation with Covid we have not started to plan for holidays next year. If we have a more ‘normal’ year then we would plan something for June – Germany and Austria and then south again for the longer Summer holidays. Maybe go to southern Croatia or Italy again, there’s still plenty we have not explored.
Do you have any camping trips booked this year? If so, what and where?
No, we have finished our camping for this year.
How do you feel about camping this year, given the Covid-19 situation?
We had to change our plans the night before we were leaving because of Covid this year. We had a trip planned for Croatia but restrictions meant we couldn’t go. So we checked out what country was ‘safer’ regarding Covid – and Italy was on the list. It’s pretty easy to reach for us and the beauty of camping is that you can book more last minute. We really did feel safe and we felt the Italian people had done a lot to manage the Covid restrictions out and about enjoying sites, beaches and cities. The campsites were the same. At Maremma Sans Souci – they were really strict and consistent about their rules – it made us feel safe and our holiday was better for it.
Would you choose camping over a hotel or apartment this year in light of Covid-19? Why?
We would be camping anyway but I would say the freedom and fresh air of camping makes it an ideal holiday during these times.
How do you go about planning your camping trip?
Most of the time it starts with an idea of route or area and then Google – blogs and articles listing the most beautiful beaches and sites help inspire us and then we start our search for sites. We have a fair idea about what we want and don’t want so then we can narrow down sites and check availability and then try and reserve for a few nights. The reason we made the reservation via CampInn.com was because we wanted a specific campsite and contacting them directly was not working. Having a site like CampInn really helps to be able to check out pictures and reviews of the campsites, as well as get reliable information on prices. Because of Covid and demand for sites this summer prices really went up and when we arrived at sites the cost per night at some of them was too high. I’d love to be able to see a map of the campsite and pre-choose my pitch depending on my preferences.
What are your top tips to those that might be new to camping?
Talk to friends and get recommendations, don’t always rely on Google maps and information as some of it can be out of date!
What are your favourite bits of camping kit and why?
We obviously love our caravan and have even had it painted recently by an artist, based in the Netherlands, we met just as we were leaving a site in Tirana, Albania. I would also say that for a bit of camping luxury we love our refrigerator! It’s really nice to arrive at a site, set up camp and have a nice cold drink ready as a reward!
Any other camping hacks?
- Try and get as much specific information on your location especially with regard to the roads and accessibility even! Camping definitely lets you go to unexplored and remote places but don’t just trust Google for everything when you are planning! We had a great experience camping on a remote and beautiful hill in Tuscany only to get stuck on the tiny tracks when we were trying to leave. It took us three hours and three extra guys pulling our caravan to actually leave!
- Pack a spade! In Greece we had a situation where it rained hard for three days and the water actually took some caravans away. Digging a rivlet or holes around your site will help redirect water that may want to cross your tent! Also its use doubles up to make great sandcastles on the beach!
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