Monday Mantra to live by: Choose your own family adventures

I didn’t grow up hearing much about travel, but life has its unexpected ways to reveal what’s out there if only you know were to look. Very early in my childhood, I made the most significant discovery in life by walking into my local library.

Most of the books I read back then shaped my life’s choices and the majority of them fueled my healthy obsession with exploring foreign lands by shining a light on places I longed to see with my own eyes.

My first ever encounter with London city was trough books following fiction character Sherlock Holmes and his abilities to solve severe cases. I was introduced to a whole new world of secret societies, slums, rules of etiquette and horse-drawn carriages.

I had a glimpse into the richness and savageness of Yukon by reading The Call of the Wild and stumbling upon The Last of the Mohicans in the school library only added more fuel to my already boiling soul and fed my growing appetite for more spine-tingling tales.

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Exploring our own backyard – beautiful Sligo.
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Streedah Beach with Benbulben Mountain in the background.

 

Monday Mantra to live by: Choose your own family adventures

I can’t even remember how many times I re-read all the classic adventures books, but I can recall intensity, joy, and the rush of adrenaline those stories gave me.

But it was much more than just about trilling events taking place deep in the forests of an unexplored corner of the World that caught my attention.

Flipping through pages, I learned that standing alone and pawing my path in life will only strengthen my character. I learned about love, honour and I was forever haunted by never-ending possibilities in life.

Just like my adventure book heroes, I wanted to see and taste the world! I wanted to ride camels into the colourful sunset in Morocco and take in the views from the snowcapped mountaintops.

I wanted to relax underneath the palm trees on a lazy morning only to hike up the volcano in the afternoon. I desired to cross the ocean, and I longed the excitement.

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Not all classrooms have four walls.

 

Fast forward many years and I was faced with real-life and real-life challenges. Instead of reading and daydreaming, I was old enough to make my own decisions, and I had no intention to worry about missed opportunities.

I didn’t want to dream, I desired to make my life count by following my heart and by shooting for the stars.

When it comes to travel, there are lots of different ways to see the world. You can take inspiration from people who sell their stuff, leave their jobs and buy a one-way plane ticket across the globe.

You can also spend the summer months exploring Europe by train, or you can even choose to go on a mission to uncover beauty in your backyard.

In short, there is no right or wrong way to do it,  the perks of being struck by wanderlust are that your options are limitless. And it doesn’t have to involve deep jungles, 18-hour plane rides, a death wish or fights with abnormal midgets.

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Visiting Caves of Keash, Sligo.

 

We were encouraged by those who found solitude in a gipsy style movement and travelled the world in a campervan. Who am I kidding? We were completely and utterly obsessed with the idea of having our own campervan we can load with surfboards, hiking gear and be free to go wherever the wild Atlantic wind takes us!

It was more than just a dream because as much as we love exploring the world and frantically plan trips to new destinations, we don’t want those 4 weeks a year that our jobs allowed us to take to be our only source of excitement and happiness.

We craved to go on a family adventure every weekend, and since the road trip around Portugal a few years ago, where we rented a campervan to travel the whole length of its beautiful coast, we instantly knew van life is for us. We knew that that’s the answer to fulfil our thirsty souls.

We longed to chase the sunsets and sleep next to meadows thick with wildflowers, and we wanted more surf, and we wanted to create memorable family adventures. We wanted unforgettable experiences, and we wanted to travel around Ireland to capture real moments in life.

We could talk for hours and openly fantasise about it in bright daylight. We would exchange inspiring travel routes, have discussions about the best make and model(and colour!) And don’t even get me started on the interior.

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Our happy place.

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Let’s face it, driving without restricted itineraries is very appealing and we believe that by stripping away everyday comforts, we enrich our lives and can more concentrate on topics that are fundamental for our well being.

There’s nothing more convenient than being able to pull over on the side of the road to make a cup of tea or to park near the park in order to get an early start the next morning, and there’s nothing more critical than redirecting our focus to where we are now and where we are going. Life is happening fast and what we do and think matters.

Finding the right size campervan that would comply with our needs and budget, sorting out the paperwork and fixing the few faulty parts was a rigorous process that required more time and recourses than we anticipated. I am not a tiny bit embarrassed to admit that we kind of nearly gave up a few times(I’m going to California for a month instead).

But, going on that very first road trip made every unexpected resistance worthwhile, and we were reminded that arriving at your destination isn’t always the prize. For us, it is the journey to, from and in-between that matter most as well as knowing what it took to accomplish it that it makes it so rewarding.

We grew to love flexibility, simplicity and inspiration that new places and new people gave us. We mastered to cook delicious and healthy meals by using a two-burner stove and a pot of boiling water. We learned to read instead of scroll, and we started to write our adventures in ink. And, most importantly – we didn’t wake up on Sundays dreading for Mondays to come.

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Roaming around Northern Ireland.

 

When I look back on the adventures we had last summer, I can’t help but be happy and content with everything we have seen.  Spending long weekends in a campervan has exceeded our expectations but its been by no means easy.

I can say with confidence that travelling around Ireland in a campervan destroyed the limits we had and was crucial to understanding who I am as a person. I acknowledged my shortcomings, made friends with myself,  learned about where my weaknesses and strength are.

We also learned to see mistakes as valuable lessons, and most importantly, we learned to swallow the fear.

The weekend’s in a campervan made me think quite a lot about fear and the unknown. What if we break down in the middle of nowhere or what if a spider crawls in and hides between the sheets? While the growth through fear can be painstakingly challenging, I’ll take it without even blinking.

 

”In any given moment we have two options: To step forward into growth or step back into the safety” Abraham Maslow

 

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Our first road trip with a campervan was around beautiful County Mayo.

 

 

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Now, over to you!

Have you ever been on a road trip with a campervan? Let us know in the comments!

Let us know if you are plotting a road trip and have travel-related questions!

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Our Crossings follows the daily adventures of Latvian expats living in Sligo as they surf and explore the world

53 thoughts on “Monday Mantra to live by: Choose your own family adventures

    1. Travelling with a campervan is close-quarters living – you share the chores, buckle up when the weather turns bad, take the good experiences with the ones you never want to mention again, it’s lots of repairing and maintaining, it’s hatching plans and planning routes – it’s lots of hard work and certainly not for everyone. Thanks for reading and have a good day, Aiva. 🙂

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    1. Thanks so much and I have to agree with you – the world is a terrific teacher, both for kids and their travelling parents. Traversing through Irelands lesser-known corners and waking up to the sounds of lapping waves proved to be more memorable than all of our previous trips combined together. Thanks for stopping by and have a good day. Aiva

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Excellent post and I like that you chose a reasonably sized camper. Over here, everyone gets the biggest and the best and then it sits in their yard most of the summer. Spending $100,000 CAD on something you the feel is more of an obligation than a vacation is not my idea of a holiday. Our first camper trip was in 1978 (a year after we were married). We traveled for 3 weeks down one side of our province and then back up through the mountains. The next was in New Zealand for 3 1/2 weeks with our 16 month old son. We did both North and South Islands and it is a vacation I will always remember. If I could buy the size of camper we had there, I might be enticed to try it here. Now, one of our favourite stays is renting a cabin in the mountains and following a relaxed lifestyle. It feels almost like living there. Thanks for sharing. Allan

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Allan! Wow, your campervan adventures sound like a dream come true trips for me. The lure of the open road, the countryside and adventure beckons once you hit the road in New Zealand, I bet you made heaps of fantastic memories to cherish in years to come!

      I have to agree with you, there’s no point to purchase or convert a campervan just for it to collect the dust or even worse – mould and moss for 50 weeks of the year! Our family was fully committed to hitting the road every weekend, rain or shine because let’s be honest camping and travelling in a campervan is a team effort; otherwise it will never work out so that you get the full benefit, enjoyment and return or your considerable investment.

      Thanks for stopping by and reading! Aiva 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Love your happy place! Yes! We did a road trip in a 1982 Campervan this past summer. We loved it so much. There will be one in our future, just not sure when. Blog post coming out on it in the next couple of weeks. I loved reading this story of yours! Precious family.

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    1. Thanks so much, Ireland is such a perfect destination to travel around with a campervan and living on Ireland’s West coast with plentiful of amazing beaches and winding roads, we had to give it a go. And I’m so glad we ended up buying one because there’s nothing quite like the thrill of hitting the road in a camper van. Would love to cruise around Scotland, USA and New Zealand one day too, it’s such a rewarding experience. Thanks for stopping by and have a good day. Aiva

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much! Going on that very first road trip with a campervan was a very fulfilling moment! The allure of open road and family adventures for the past two years will be forever embedded in my heart and soul. Can’t wait for spring to arrive so we can hit the road again. Hope you’ll have a chance to experience it too! Thanks for stopping by and have a good day. Aiva

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, Robbi! I think it’s a good idea, to open up a little bit and write a more personal post. You know the one where you can talk about your fears and achievements and struggles and everything else out there because travelling is so much more than just capturing scenic views. Hope all is well on your side of the world! Any sign of the first snow? Aiva

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  3. I have never been on a campervan so this is such an interesting post for me to read. It allows me to experience a little slice of your fascinating life. Last week, my husband had another friendly and talkative taxi guy and he told him that he owns a boat as well. Spends his weekends on his boat and his week days driving a taxi. And he used to be a baker! What a lovely, interesting life!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, you are right; what an exciting life. I always find it inspiring to interact with people like your taxi driver.

      It’s up to us to make the most of our lives, and it can take a few lifetimes to experience everything we can on this planet, that’s why we always like to challenge ourselves with everyday tasks, trips and short & longterm goals- rewards are usually immensely satisfying.

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  4. Oh and btw, I have to tell you – we went to Howth this weekend. The day was lovely and so were the views, but the car our neighbours had rented got broken into. It turned out to be such an adventurous day (for the lack of a better word).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am so glad you went to beautiful Howth village. It was our happy place while living in Dublin. Just a short drive away from the city you are greeted by fantastic views, beautiful lighthouses and a friendly vibe. Have a good day. Aiva

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  5. Your daughter pictured in Co. Mayo is lucky to have such adventurous parents and, in fact, we are all lucky to be living today when travel is both cheap and easy. I enjoyed this post, keep them coming.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, Mari. The best lessons in parenting we learned trough travels, adventures and great outdoors. We are lucky that Ericeira is so adaptable and easy-going by nature – she is never sensitive to changing environments thus this allowed us to continue spending time outdoors. Thanks for reading and have a good day. Aiva

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  6. I’m an avid camper, but have always slept in a tent rather than a campervan. But the older I get, the more of a hassle I’m finding it is to pitch a tent every night or every few nights. It’s even worse when it’s cold or rainy outside. I’ve contemplated renting a campervan just to see what it’s like, but I’m worried that I’ll like it too much and may not want to go back to the days of sleeping in a tent.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We are avid campers too and still love to go on camping trips in Ireland and pitch our tent somewhere on the beach – I have always found it to be a great way to improve my sleeping pattern, health and overall happiness levels. While most people are used to sleeping indoors with total quiet, a mountain of pillows and a huge, fluffy mattress; I always preferred sleeping in a tent or a campervan accompanied by natures smells and sounds.

      Give it a go, most likely you’ll love it. Thanks for reading and have a good day. Aiva

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Well, first, your backyard is an incredible place! Beautiful! You are a lovely family and your child is so lucky to be able to start life with the idea that to travel, to discover, to have adventures is a lovely lifestyle, which she, of course, is learning from her parents. I have often thought of travelling in a campervan but have never had the opportunity. I saw many in Alaska and even met a couple who had one and had driven to the Kenai Peninsula from San Diego, California. It seems like a lot of fun to me…maybe I will do that some day! Great post and lovely, lovely photographs! All the best, Aiva

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much! Travelling, hiking, biking and camping were our usual weekend activities before Ericeira was born and we had no intentions to change any of it. Travelling together and finding opportunities to teach your child what it means to have an adventurous spirit and respect for the outdoors is the best thing we can do as parents. And don’t be fooled by happy faces in photos, we had our fair share of tears, tantrums and negotiations.

      Hope you get to go on a trip with a campervan, it is an unforgettable experience. Thanks for reading and have a good day. Aiva

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, what a sweet thing to say. What we quickly learned by going on that very first camping trip – you don’t have to camp in crazy places or go on epic hikes to be able to call yourself an adventurous person, getting out of your comfort zone and doing that one thing that scares the crap out of you the most is what really counts.

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  8. We have a little 12-foot pull-behind trailer and road trips are the best. But no, not a camper van. My colleague had to get rid of hers because it was so old and broken down, but she still misses it and talks about it frequently. She bought a popup trailer and hates it. She longs to get another camper van.

    Great post. We call that icky Sunday feeling “the Sunday blahs.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Vanlife, just like any other thing in life, has its drawbacks too; like waiting weeks for spare parts to arrive and watching with terror two perfectly sunny weekends pass by! That’s why we still have a soft spot for camper trailers that can be easily hooked behind the car. What’s not to love about a small and cute portable vacation home you can bring along your adventures?

      For us, travelling in a campervan is the best way to see the world, while much of the developed world gives a collective groan at 4 pm on Sunday, we are usually out and about somewhere on the secluded beach making dinner and catching waves. Bring on the summertime!

      Thanks for reading guys and have a good day. Aiva

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I can definitely see benefits to both the driveable RV/camper van and the pull-behind trailer. I always wish mine could morph to driveable while I’m in transit. (Towing can be scary in some weather conditions and quite stressful in certain traffic conditions.)

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      2. Yes, I can see benefits to both too! But I can only imagine what an actual towing process would be in heavy rain that’s quite the everyday occurrence on the Emerald Isle! Weight is the critical factor if you’re towing a trailer on Irish roads and because of the confusing towing rules in the country, we opted to get a campervan.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Indi! We have had our fair share of hostel accommodation and instant noodle cooking, thus it was time for something more exciting. Being able to stop and make a healthy dinner whenever we needed was a game-changer, not to mention all the hiking and surfing gear, books and favourite teddies we were able to bring along with no extra cost! Thanks for reading and have a good day. Aiva

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Never been on a camper van trip but the recent travel with my husband made us more spontaneous instead of planning the day’s itinerary every minute. My husband loves driving and if we ever did have a vehicle here we would probably go on road trips as well. Hope we could continue the travels once we get a little one in the future. You have a lovely family. ❤️

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    1. We’ve never been excited about big houses in the suburbs. Instead, we spent our money travelling. So getting a campervan to spend every weekend and waking minute to exploring Ireland’s beautiful landscapes was a natural decision for us. I hope you get to experience it one day, even if just for the long weekend – its super fun and rewarding. Thanks for reading and safe travels. Aiva

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  10. Wow, such a great read and amazing photos! Your backyard looks breathtaking! I have never travelled via camper van but it is an experience I think would change my life! Your van looks amazing and now I’m gonna do some research on how much this would cost in the US. I look forward to reading about your upcoming adventures ☺️

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    1. Thanks so much, Toni! Before we bought a campervan, we actually rented one first, went on a two-week-long road trip around Portugal, just to make sure it’s for us. It gave us an idea of what would work for and what wouldn’t because spending a lot of time together, in a very small space playing games, cooking and talking is worlds away from sharing a two-bedroom house! But it changed our lives for better, we bonded more as a family and became conscious of what we consumed with our senses and of the effect it had on us. Have a good day and thanks for reading. Aiva

      Liked by 1 person

    1. An African canoe in a swamp sounds like a great adventure, from what I’ve gathered so far- you had plenty of memorable moments throughout your life! Yes, sleeping in a campervan certainly is a world away from a comfy bed and mountain of pillows, but it’s great character builder and teaches you to appreciate those little things in life. Thanks for stopping by and have a fantastic weekend. Aiva

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Our most memorable camper van experience took place in New Zealand in the late 1980s. I most recall the extreme weather, a multitude of sheep, the Maori influence, and the distinctive New Zealand ways of pronunciation in English.

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    1. Wow, travelling around New Zealand is a bucket list experience in itself let alone in the ’80s when Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Robert Muldoon announced a wage and price freeze to combat unemployment and inflation!

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    1. Thanks so much for compliments! There are so many fantastic travel experiences yet travelling with family and exploring our backyard prooved to be the most memorable ones for us. Thanks for stopping by and have a lovely festive season, Aiva

      Liked by 1 person

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