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#Vanlife with the Baby

Here in Croatia we’ve been mixing things up to stay active, stay safe, and see new parts of this gorgeous country while still trying to be responsible travelers in the time of COVID-19. To celebrate Andy’s August birthday, we rented a camper van for a long weekend trip to the mountains and the coast. The verdict? Like many things #vanlife, the pictures were a tad better than the reality. But we’re convinced a camper van can be a great and socially distanced way to travel as long as you don’t have a 1-year-old (or just don’t care about sleep).

We opted to rent a Nomad van from, a camper van rental service with pick-up locations in Zagreb. The Nomad has two queen-size bunks and a small kitchenette with a sink and two gas burners. It also has a tank that holds about a 1,000 liters of freshwater and there are lots of little cubbies for storage and other thoughtful details you might not expect in a camper van: A freezer complete with an ice tray! A dustpan to collect all the leaves and dirt you’ll track in. Even a mostly worthless shower curtain bunched in the corner of the bathroom - we dare two people to try to use that room at one time. We pushed the van's limits with our large dog and budding toddler and won’t be racing out to buy one of our own anytime soon.

In Velebit National Park, the hiking was magnificent and the views unparalleled, but between the days traveling and all the excitement, our little boy only had what we refer to as “trash naps.” The danger was not immediately visible, but the storm clouds were gathering. After we’d gotten our fill of hiking and wandering, we parked for the only night we “slept” in the van. Sleep was our Achilles heel; it was impossible to get Ollie (normally a phenomenal sleeper) to close his eyes, and then he awoke at the crack of dawn in rare form. A calm morning gave way to a sleep deprivation induced child terror.

We almost decided to call it a weekend, but after some coffee and scrambled eggs, things calmed down, our sprits lifted, and we detoured via a short ferry to Rab Island to mix things up and explore. And by explore, we were mostly concerned with a tiny portion near Lopar with a pleasant hotel (Zlatni Zalaz) and easy access to swimming. And that’s how our weekend of supercool #vanlife mutated into #nicehotelwithbaby.

So the camper spent its second night empty in a hotel parking lot while we slept inside in a one-bedroom suite. We actually slept on a pull-out sofa, having sacrificed the mattresses for the actual bed to block light from the bedroom windows so the baby could have darkness and finally, finally sleep.

All in all we had a great weekend and have enjoyed telling the story – it seems the more challenging the adventure, the better the stories. If you want some more visuals, check out this short video we put together.

On a more pensive note, probably much like you, we find ourselves wondering when this will pass – when life will return to normal. We’re doing what we can with what we have now and trying to stay anchored in the present, as uncomfortable as it may be. But we still dream of better days ahead, when responsible travel can resume and people can once again explore, test their limits, and immerse themselves in a larger sense of community, a global racing community.

Until then, we’re here holding steady, learning new things to make Open World Racing even better, and planning new adventures.

So carry on, intrepid traveler, and keep your spark burning bright. We hope to see you on one of our trips when we can start traveling again!

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