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April, 2024
Tips And Tricks On Trucks x Kids
Salome and Michel are currently busy exploring Mexico with their two toddlers. They have gained so much practical experience ever since shipping their truck to Halifax and making their way across Canada and the US.

Before we dive in to a Q&A - get to know the crew a bit better!
Salome is the mum, musician, doctor, hobby gardener, organiser and planner, realistic optimist, creative mind and responsible for videos/photos and social media on their website.

Michel is the dad, an enthusiastic athlete, a passionate cook, mechatronics engineer, practical strategist, gourmet, an all-around calm haven of peace and responsible for repairs, technology and the website.

Saya is a spirited dancer, singer, language talent, explorer in nature, imaginative storyteller and an animal lover (except for dogs and spiders).

Leo is a cuddler, persevering tinkerer, constructor of all kinds, wild water rat, gourmet connoisseur, admires his sister and is a music lover.

Together, this wonderful family form an adventurous pack that wants to explore the world on their terms.
Salome’s and Michel’s vision
It is important to us to teach our children values such as environmental awareness, sustainability and cultural diversity. And what better way than to experience it yourself, to see it, feel it, smell it, hear it. So that we feel comfortable as a family, we always have our own home with us. We call our truck Coco, and with Coco, our children have a familiar and cozy retreat to process the ongoing stream of fresh impressions.
— First of all, please let us know what made you decide to travel with an expedition truck?
— We are both interested in getting to know new countries, cultures and people, and what better way to do that than on a road trip? In 2018 we traveled together for a month in Chile, Argentina and Uruguay in a rental car. That's when we realised how important flexibility was to us. We wanted to be even more flexible and not have to rely on hotels or hostels, so some kind of camper solution was needed.

On this trip we also realised that a certain off-road capability is important. Especially in more remote areas. With these thoughts in mind, we started looking for the right solution for us.
— Can you let us know more about the preparation phase?
— We started planning with a more keen eye in 2018 after our trip to South America. Then around 2020 we ordered a living habitat from KRUG EXPEDITION and a chassis from Daimler trucks.

Then we moved on to the ‘fine tuning’ stage to find out what we absolutely need and what we can do without. When we were able to pick up the vehicle in Schladming in August 2022, we were in a rush, because our test trip was planned for the following month. We set off with only the bare essentials inside the module, and then figured out what we needed along the way.

After this initial roadtrip, we took some time to optimise a few things, make additions, or in some cases get rid of something.

And then finally, in April 2023, our expedition truck, which we affectionately call Coco, set off on the long boat journey to North America.
— Did you run into obstacles with work while arranging the time for your travels?
— No, that wasn't difficult for us at all. Michel actually quit his job - because after 20 years he wanted to do something different anyway. Salome works as a doctor in a practice and was able to apply for a sabbatical for two full years.
— What made you decide for a truck by KRUG EXPEDITION?
— The initial idea was to order an empty module from KRUG EXPEDITION and then try for a self-build. But we quickly gained more understanding of the amount of time and effort we should put into this project and ended up ordering a fully built module.
— How long will you be on the road on this first longer trip?
— Our first long trip will take us through North America, Central America and South America (at least that's the plan). In total we gave ourselves two years. Having said that, we are open to changes in our planning, always. On a trip like this, we think it’s wise to stay spontaneous, we have already learned that.
Salome prepared a useful thought-composition, a potential go-to guide for tips and tricks on trucks and kids covering decluttering in general, toys, meds supply, food, the daily grind, studying and language development, and some hacks on how to make the most of an overall new relationships experience.
Without saying this covers it all, here some comprehensive insights on a range of topics that may keep parents occupied while preparing for adventures, and the time throughout.
Day X - starting to pack

Where does packing start? When you think about what you need, when you sort out your children's clothes or when you actually pack your suitcases?
It was like that for us, we first cleared out our entire apartment and put a lot of things away (the apartment was rented out empty).

With a lot less ‘things’, we then moved to our parents house for two months, where we kept sorting out our belongings again, deciding what we would need for the trip and what we didn’t want to bring.

Since we didn't have any time to travel in the winter, all of our winter clothes stayed at home, and if it got cold, we thought that adding layers and a jacket would suffice. One key item we packed were rubber boots. Nothing beats those for a string of rainy days, playing in the mud and snow and much more.

A well-equipped kitchen was chiefly important to us (including a coffee machine, pasta grinder, cake trays, etc.). Being mobile on the go struck us at equally important, for that reason we have two e-bikes with us. We love them - they have kids seats and follow-me kids bikes. A whole lot of tools, spare parts, a spare wheel, adapters for power and water connections and more came along as well, naturally.
Toys, toys, toys

Here we deliberately limited ourselves and only brought along a few favorite plush toys, some books and puzzles alongside painting and craft supplies and a few board games for rainy weather days. Sandplay toys are great for outdoor play and are in use often, we brought buckets, shovels and the whole lot. That’s all in fact!
Meds on the road - as prepared by Dr. Salome

We actually have a normal first aid kit with us, which is best put together according to your own needs.
Ask yourself: What do I need at home?
This is what you need most when traveling.
Some key items may include painkillers and bandages for sprained feet, something for traveler's diarrhea, insect spray and bite aid, and electrolytes for dehydration.

If someone needs their own regular medication, think well in advance how much you can take with you and how you can get refills. This will save you several trips to doctors and pharmacies, as most pharmacies abroad do not accept prescriptions from European countries.

Since I am a doctor myself, we of course have a few extras with us such as antibiotics, sewing supplies, an Epipen for severe allergic reactions and even an infusion kit. I would advise everyone to contact their family doctor before a long trip and plan/supplement the truck med-kit together. Don’t forget to ask if you need any special vaccinations for the countries you plan to visit, and do it early enough.
Keeping the kids happy with their favourite food on the road...

From our own experience, our children are already used to the fact that we all eat together at home and that we all eat the same thing. We continue joint meals on the road. The children try everything we prepare and then they can choose their seconds. If you can't do that at all then just offer a piece of toast (bread as we are used to is homemade) or a banana. Of course, we also cook the kids’ favourite food if requested (currently that would be Quesadillas or Pizza (Leo) and Apple Tart or Spaghetti (Saya).
Staying open to meeting new people, when goodbyes are inevitable.

Getting to know new people is always very quick, especially with children. You can't avoid it. They just walk up to everyone and invite them to come to us. Sometimes the goodbyes aren't easy for us, Saya in particular has a hard time with situations like that. Oftentimes you see each other again somewhere along the way, as many people here on the Panamericana have a similar route, but not always.
The every day grind - how to cope with miles and miles of road, but integrating playtime, nap
time, and just... time to be

On such a long journey it is not easy to keep up with a daily routine. We try to stick to a few fixed points as often as possible: three meals a day (warm cooked food at least once), when we drive, the children usually take a nap, otherwise not. We usually don't drive more than three hours per day.

Our favorite places for lunch breaks are playgrounds we find along the road. Then the kids get to play while we cook in peace and take some rest. During driving, the children occupy themselves with books (Tiptoi, hidden object books, etc.), music boxes, puzzles, and painting materials.

We regularly keep in touch with our families and friends at home, especially the grandmas and granddads appreciate the updates. This is also fiercely important for our children. Every now and then someone comes to visit, rents a car or a camper and travels along, or joins us in the truck.

We do love to celebrate special occasions like birthdays, Christmas, Halloween, Canada Day and so many more ... local festivals provide a great insight into the culture, different religions and mentality of the people. These are wondrous occasions and cherished. Like that one time on Soraya's birthday we stayed at an Indian reservation with many dragonflies as guests at the party, and the cake was shared with the Indians.

It remains to be seen how the next grand occasion will be celebrated, bout too long ago, a plastic of the Virgin Mary was carried past our Coco on horseback.
Learning experiences - study time and more

Since our children are still small (currently 2 and 4 years old), we don't need to worry about homeschooling just yet. We met a lot of families opting for homeschooling so far, and often times they study five days per week for one or two hours per day, wither with mum or dad. In our case, if Saya wants to write letters or numbers, we obviously support her efforts. The kids learn many things from a direct experience, and come to know and understand why fish have fins and no feet or how a dragonfly flys, how bees make honey, and where the crabs have their eyes.

This would be just to mention a few questions that we have clarified together, as we were traveling with a marine biologist for a while.
What language is today?

When we set off, Saya was already speaking very good Swiss German and some German, while Lio was barely speaking a word. Saya now also speaks and understands German fluently and a few sentences in English. We all are currently learning Spanish. Lio speaks and understands Swiss German and a few words of English. Of course, they are always happy when we meet someone who speaks German or even Swiss German.
Keep up with the adventures of Salome, Michel, Saya and Leo with Coco by way of Instagram
All photos by Salome and Michel
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