In this interview we get to know Jasmin and Jonas, a family that has been traveling through Europe in their own van with their two boys and two dogs since 2019. They have found the courage to become independent and are now self-employed as a yoga teacher and photographer.
Vanlife with children and dogs
On their Instagram channel @trust.and.breathe and their travel blog, they share their inner and outer travel experiences and want to inspire other people to follow their heart’s path. In the interview, Jasmin and Jonas talk about their decision to spend their lives in a van, the gear they need for their travels, and give insights into traveling with kids and dogs. They also share their favorite travel destinations and offer tips for families looking to start a similar adventure.
You can find everything about Jasmin & Jonas here:
Germany - Spain - USA
Content Creator: Travel and Life Experiences
FIV: Hello Jasmin, hello Jonas! Maybe you can introduce yourselves briefly in advance, so that our readers can get an impression of you.
Jasmin & Jonas: We are Jasmin and Jonas and travel since 2019 as a family with our two boys and now two dogs through Europe. We have taken the leap into independence and started our own business as a yoga teacher and photographer this year.
On our Instagram channel @trust.and.breathe and our travel blog we report about our inner and outer journey, we share our travel – and life experiences and want to inspire people to follow their heart’s path.
Independent living: On the road in your own van
FIV: How did you come up with the idea of spending your life in a van and traveling?
Jasmin & Jonas: We have been traveling a lot since the beginning of our relationship. The idea to build an independent life to be able to travel permanently came when we were in Southeast Asia in 2014 on a long-term backpacking trip. Our first son was born in 2015 and through the children we got the idea to travel with the camper.
Having previously done a lot of backpacking ourselves, we liked the idea of always having our familiar surroundings, our retreat, with us when we vanlife.
Solar system, fresh water tank, etc.: Necessary equipment
FIV: What kind of gear do you have in your van to support you on your travels?
Jasmin & Jonas: Especially important for us is all the equipment that allows us to stand self-sufficiently free. Not being dependent on campsites allows us to travel completely free. For this we use a solar system, which supplies us with electricity via inverter, a large fresh water tank and a dry separation toilet. So we are completely independent.
FIV: How did you design the interior of the van to have enough space for sleeping, cooking and living?
Jasmin & Jonas: This year we have renovated quite a bit. Jonas has built a bunk bed for the two boys. So you have your own retreat and we now sleep upstairs in the alcove.
For us it is an absolute gamechanger. Previously, the kids slept together in the alcove and we had to convert our dining table into our bed every night. That is no longer necessary. The dining area can remain permanently set up. Our kitchen is in the back of the camper and feels like a little room of its own, which is incredibly helpful in so few square feet.
The right van kitchen equipment
FIV: What cooking utensils and equipment do you have with you to prepare meals in the van?
Jasmin & Jonas: We have normal pots and pans with us. Our tableware is made of stainless steel. It’s super sturdy and lightweight. Our kitchen equipment is almost like that of a normal household, just less of everything. We especially love our milk frother, for creamy lattes, and our USB-rechargeable hand blender.
The most beautiful destinations & surfing
FIV: Which destinations were your favorite and which are next on your list?
Jasmin & Jonas: Every country has its own beauty. Slovenia, Sweden and Sardinia have been our favorite so far. Since we surf (surfing), we also love the French and Spanish Atlantic coast very much. In late summer we will go there again. We plan to drive along the coast towards Portugal and the next winter we would like to spend in Morocco.
Child Friendly Travel: Routines & Occupations
FIV: How do you travel with your children in the van? Do you have any special rules or routines?
Jasmin & Jonas: Our kids were on the road with our camper for the first time when our “big one” was 2 years old and the “little one” was 8 months old. Our most important routine, which we also always try to stick to, is the evening routine. It gives our children a certain consistency that is often missing in the varied daily travel routine. Since we organize everything flexibly in everyday life.
FIV: What employment opportunities do you have for your children during the long trips?
Jasmin & Jonas: We try to drive only a few hours at a time. Ideally about 1-2 hours at the most. Since the kids are older, they are allowed to watch their series or a movie during the drive. On longer trips, they listen to a radio play, read, or play card games. When they were smaller, I (Jasmin) often sat in the back with them and played something with them.
Childproof in a confined space
FIV: How did you childproof the van? Are there any particular safety precautions you take?
Jasmin & Jonas: The most important thing for us is that we don’t leave any sharp or pointed objects lying around and that we stow everything safely. In such a small space, it can happen that you quickly bump into something or drop something. If that were a chef’s knife, that would be bad, of course. So everything is always put away right away.
When the kids still slept in the alcove, we had a self-built and absolutely safe fall-out protection installed. The same now applies to the upper bunk bed.
Tips for traveling with the dog
FIV: How did you prepare for traveling with your dog? Are there any special challenges?
Jasmin & Jonas: Traveling in a camper with a dog is actually quite easy. It is especially important to always read through the entry regulations of the respective country in advance. Because even within Europe there are some important exceptions, such as in Norway. But even if you want to travel outside the EU, there are some precautions to take.
Popular destinations for vanlifers are for example Turkey, Bosnia Herzegovina, Montenegro or Morocco. We started 4 years ago with our little mixed breed dog and adopted a little Greek street dog in the fall of 2022. In the summer months, it is also important to think carefully about which destination makes sense with a dog.
Often dogs are not allowed on beaches and that can be problematic at high temperatures. We are then gladly at the Atlantic (wide beaches, dogs usually allowed) or in the mountains (cooler temperatures). Greece also went great in the summer with dogs.
Vanlife: Is this something for me?
FIV: What tips do you have for other families thinking about starting a similar adventure?
Jasmin & Jonas: If you only know this lifestyle from Instagram or other social media platforms, you should definitely test it extensively for a few weeks first. Because vanlife definitely has its “downsides” and is not as beautiful every day as the pictures on social media suggest.
It’s a wonderful way to travel the world as a family, but at the same time it’s also very difficult and not the right way for every family. The small amount of space and the many different needs can offer a lot of potential for conflict. But for those who love to be outside in nature a lot, want to travel as freely as possible and can cope with rather “little comfort and luxury”, we can highly recommend this way of discovering the world.
FIV: We thank you for the exciting interview and wish you all the best on your travels!