I didn't want to be the one to say it.Interesting thread that I'll continue to watch, but figured I'd throw out my experience of going from 1 kid to 3 kids in less than two years (as you are about to do!):
It's pretty easy to add one kid into your pre-kid, outdoor-centric lifestyle and seamlessly incorporate them into your adventures. And with your current rig, it sounds like you've done a great job of this already! Huge props on that.
For my wife and I, adding twins to the family while raising a two year old was exponentially more difficult. Without exaggeration, the first two years of raising twins, plus our older son were the hardest of our lives (and we are well supported with both sides of the family local). Many days/week were spent in "survival mode". At this point with our 2.5 y/o boy/girl twins and 4.5 y/o boy, we are just starting to see the light and some potential to start adventuring more extensively. In hindsight, we completely underestimated how much raising twins would limit our mental, physical, and emotional energy.
My two cents: Don't try to figure out the perfect solution until you've had a chance to get your feet under you.
He might swap out 2 seats for a bench seat.The van only seats 4. Seating for 5 would be required.
While I agree with all of this sentiment…parents of multiples have a different set of challenges that seem hard for singleton parents to really fathom, based on my experience.As a counterpoint let me offer this antidote...
A few years ago, I was camping with a buddy and my three boys. At the time, they were 3, 8, and 11. We also had my buddy's nephew, maybe 10 or something. At one point, the kids were all playing with a canoe down by the lake, and my buddy and I were puttering around camp, and this couple came by in a nice off-road camper, and we started talking. They commented on how it looked like the kids were having a good time and how they might should take their kids camping but that they didn't think they were old enough. I asked how old their kids were, and they said 11 and 14! I was actually dumbfounded and did not know what to say. What were they doing leaving those kids at home? By the sound of it, they had never taken the kids camping!
Time with your kids is so short. How is my oldest in high school? We may only have 4 more years with him. When they are young, it is harder to get out for sure, but please don't let any years go by without getting them out. Admittedly my kids are more spaced out, and I have never had twins, but I have had each of them out camping from the time their age was counted in weeks. None of them can remember the first 10 camping trips they went on, much less the very first. It is a part of them and a part of our family. I find it has a very positive effect on them as they age. It gives them confidence and independence, but also it is a kind of touchstone for our family that we have done fun and sometimes hard things together. I don't know what would fill the void if we did not do this thing together.
I presume I am preaching to the choir on this forum, and sure you need to keep it fun with the kids and meet them where they are, meaning the nature, duration, and experience of trips will change when you add kids and as your kids age.
Infants are actually easy to camp with and very rewarding. I have such great memories of my little ones in my lap wrapped in a blanket as we sat watching the waves crash on the beach or around the primal portal of a campfire with their little eyes twinkling in the firelight. I find the hardest age toddlers because they want to roam free but really struggle to stay out of dirt and danger. We kind of had to pick trips with grass, for instance, to make that work. The point is to make it work. It is worth the work and even the failures for the big wins.
Where are you (or the seat) located? I spent an illogical amount of time looking for what you described. Couldn't even find someone to fab it for any price (I'm in AZ).He might swap out 2 seats for a bench seat.
Which reminds me, I just happen to have a power bench seat that opens up to a "queen" bed, tan and black, that was in my E 150, actually I think these sofa beds fit in any full size van. It even has a center fold down console with drink holders! In very clean condition, a hundred bucks and a case of Ultra will take it away.
Junkyards my friend, conversion vans are sometimes easy to find there and will typically have a bench that folds flat into a bed. I've found a mechanical fold flat bench out of an E150 before that coupled to the standard bench seat brackets.Where are you (or the seat) located? I spent an illogical amount of time looking for what you described. Couldn't even find someone to fab it for any price (I'm in AZ).