Sleeping in a minivan with kids, what an experience.
Last year we sold our tent-trailer with the hope of buying a real camper with bunk beds for our kids AND a toilet. My budget finally went on a beautiful purple Harley Davidson motorcycle. It was very ungrateful of me but I have no regrets!
I'm a light sleeper and it's worst in camping so it's no longer an option of sleeping in a trailer tent for me, the slightest noise wakes me up, I do not appreciate the camping much since. In addition, our 9 year old is getting too big to sleep on bed table.
We have a mini-van and I searched to find a solution to go camping with the family. I found some families using their minivan to sleep. I love projects and it did not take more to interest me. There is enough room at the back for 2 adults and a child sleeping on the side. As we have two young girls there was a gap for one last. The two front seats provide enough space to sleep another child by covering the hole in between.
I used a large box and tried to cut a mold to use it to cut a cushion using 100% of the remaining space. It felt like it would work, I only needed a wooden board to put my plan into action.
Summer was slipping through my hands and we had not been camping yet. As my husband was working without being able to get a break I decided to go alone with the girls. I stored the cardboard piece because I was not going to need it. We have a large amount of cushions that we got from our old trailer and my in-laws. I threw these cushions in the bottom to get a double bed and placed another one forward to make a single bed. With bungy cords, I hung curtains all around to give us some privacy and cut the sun too early in the morning.
I got all the camping equipments on these cushions, added our big tent on top and left.
The tent proved absolutely essential. Where would I put all the equipment otherwise? In this big tent there was our clothes, food, as well as the portable toilet. The mini-van only served to sleep and store food at night.
We stayed two days at the campsite. I'm sparing you the details but I had to go out in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom for my first girl in the tent, necessarily waking up the second. It was very cold during the night and all the windows were filled with steam and I had to restart the mini-van to warm us up a bit and cut a little moisture. The bottom of the minivan is made to accommodate benches seats that hide underneath without leaving bumps and hooks that I felt all night under my cushion. Not to mention the downward angle of the ground. Hello insomnia.
The second night it started to rain and my daughters had trouble sleeping because of the noise. Rain on a van roof sounds much louder than on the roof of a fiberglass tent trailer. At 7am the next morning everything was stowed in the minivan and I was ready to leave.
I rearranged so much that I released the passenger seat and got an extra seat to bring back my 14-year-old niece who was now alone with 5 other adults. (She had come to join us with my cousin.) On the way back, just out of the wood we had a flat tire. We changed the spare tire and got back on the road. Girl power!
I am not saying that it is not a good idea but if I had my husband with us we would have been much tighter, because of less space at the back and with much more objects. I do not regret my experience, I know it's inappropriate to sleep a family of 4. But at least, my daughters went camping once and played in the lake. They will still have very good memories of it.