No.25: Going Camping

An exodus is soon to hit the lowlands. Dutch people will be fleeing this flat little country en-masse over the next few weeks. And trust me, this won’t be like any evacuation you’ve ever seen before – Dutch people will all be exiting in a very peculiar, yet strikingly similar, manner. They will be leaving at precisely 6:30pm on a Friday (after 6:00 dinner, of course) and will  hit the highways via car/caravan at the same time. Their trunks stocked full of supplies (think tents, sleeping bags, deck chairs, toilet paper, potatoes, hagelslag, and drop).

What on earth is happening? And where are these thousands of Dutch people headed? Well my friends – it‘s VAKANTIE TIJD!!

Dutch holiday

Could they possibly be Dutch?!

Yes, Dutch people vacation in a practically identical fashion: Caravan? check! Tents? check! Dutch flag? check! Pindakas, hagelslag, cheese, drop? Check, check, check and check!! It is not uncommon to see group of Dutchies on a campsite in Spain enjoying solely Dutch food.

Of course you may wonder why the Dutch need to bring their own food (or toilet paper) on vacation – well, you can’t expect there to be good food in the top-culinary locales of the world can you??? We can  only assume that it must be their fear of not getting a decent meal (or wipe) abroad – instead of their  infamous cheapness practicality!

Apart from similar modes of transport and tastes, the Dutch also collectively head to THE SAME holiday destinations. If you’re Dutch and planning your vacation you must pick either France, Germany or Spain. Feeling really wild? Why not give  Italy or (gasp) Scandinavia a try!

Air Holland pulling camper

The only way for the Dutch to travel: caravan!

Now, I see you shaking your heads, thinking “Well, some Dutch do this, but NOT all of us!” Well folks, this year it is estimated that nearly 4 million Dutch people will pack up their tents and take the highly exotic camping vacation described above. That is a hell of a lot of caravans —and trust me, the local Dutch Albert Heijn’s will be busy before they leave!

Headed that way too? You’ll be sure to spot the Dutch in the campgrounds by the abundance of blond-haired blue-eyed children running wildly. Campfires will be lit, and the occasion patriot folk-tune will be belted out. And you are sure not to miss the familiar Dutch flag flying from the caravan roof. God forbid they ever be confused for a bunch of Germans!!!

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      • no not at all! i consider myself very dutch (even if i don’t live there anymore) and have never been on a camping vacation! Might have had something to do with the fact that my mom didn’t like it or that both my parents worked for KLM & we usually got on a plane to go somewhere.

      • Me neither, so, lets start a facebook commune!!! But seriously, I would absolutely hate to walk over a camping with a roll of toilet paper in my hand and the thought that I would be able to hear my neighboor fart, jykes! Geef mij maar een fijn vakantiehuisje!

  1. We take our food because else it´s getting old. And do you know how many people have called me German in my 6 months in the U.S. And we don´t like to be called german :p!

    • I can totally understand you. But did you know that there has been a investegation to it and that most american people never went out of there own country and thus had a hard time seperating people from each other. So dutch became germans and japanese and chinese were the same. And more but I don’t remember everything anymore.

      • The only countries on either side of the U.S. are Canada and Mexico and it’s usually a much greater distance to travel anywhere and expensive. Plus, the Netherlands is a small country, in size not population. It’s very easy to drive to many different countries from the Netherlands.

  2. As much as I am willing to integrate into Dutch society, I draw the line at camping and caravan holidays! A nice hotel in an exotic location with great food or three weeks cooped up in a tent where I have to walk miles to have a shower and cook my own supper. Tough choice. ;)

    My partner used to go camping in Italy every year when he was younger. I once asked him why on Earth they would travel all the way to Italy just to stay at a campsite with other Dutch folk. His reply : “There weren’t just Dutch people. There was also many people from Germany and Belgium”. Sigh…

    • Well its in our nature I guess. Being outside. ‘Building’ your own tent/caravan and then sleep in it has something survivally over it. I like hotels too and appartments but the main reason that Dutch people go out camping is for the kids. Kids absolutely love to camp. 3 or 4 weeks in France, Germany or Italy on a nice camping with tons of other kids to play with. I absolutely loved it as a kid and if I have kids I would do it again. To give them the same holiday memories as I have.

      • That, and the other type of holiday is just too expensive for a lot of people. I can afford three weeks camping out with a little tent in France or the UK or Germany, but I can’t afford to fly to an exotic destination…
        Same holds for taking food along, bringing salads, drinks and sandwiches in the car is much cheaper than buying stuff at roadside restaurants. We don’t bring other stuff, btw, my parents do, though. My mom takes ingredients to France to make a complete rice table for their friends on the campsite :P
        The reason we take toilet paper, btw, is that in bad toilet facilities in France along the motorway there often isn’t any toiletpaper, and on campsites there’s often no toiletpaper either. We don’t take more than two rolls, btw, I am aware that toiletpaper is sold in France too :P

  3. I love camping and as Gido says kids love it too. When you’re in a hotel you either sit at the poolside or you have to go somewhere to have fun. On a camping there’s plenty to do (and children can run around freely without their parents having to worry all the time). Even doing nothing at a camping is fun! I love watching people and enjoy sitting in a chair and watching life on the camping.

  4. As a kid I went camping once..and NEVER again. Hated it but maybe that’s because I’m not a native-Dutch person :P But I don’t think it’s typical Dutch. Don’t Americans love to go camping as well?

    • Yes, Americans like to go camping too. I’m an American citizen now but was born in Holland and lived there till I was 16. Liked camping in Holland growing up. We take our own food, why leave it at home to possibly spoil. We also take our own toilet paper to use in our camper or as the Dutch say, caravan.

  5. My husband also loves camping. I don’t mind it for short periods, but heading to L’Ardeche with a thousand other Dutchies and shopping in the local campground AH for two or three weeks really doesn’t appeal to me. Having said that, either does the other end of the scale – two weeks all inclusive in Turkey. I’d much rather a bit of adventure in my holidays!

  6. Hmmmm The caravan is a very thankfull subject for this blog (which I like), but I find the tone here a bit overly negative. Is the goal of ur blog to descibe ur amazement or to bash Dutch customs??

    I mean, France and Spain main destinations. Not very surprising since north and west of the country is pretty wet! :D And Germany is def nót a popular destination. I bet there’s more people going to Italy or Turkey.
    And ‘an exodus’? Have ur ever been to Italy or France? The so-called exodus there is even bigger since the entire country starts it’s holiday on the same day! (In The Netherlands most holidays are divided per region.)

    • Germany is a huge destination. This was shown on NOS one night. Thought it was weird myself but most of the people said they liked the geography and how cheapl Germany was.

  7. Growing up my aunts & uncles all had permanent caravans/trailers/campers at a campground not too far away from where we all lived in A’dam. They would spend weekends there and longer streches too. Alas, only 1 family remains at the campground now. But everytime, I went to visit as a kid we would have a great time. . .walking around, participating in the organized activites, swimming, and the backyard (sideyard) barbeque. It was fun. My family never went camping for a vacation since we always came to the USA to visit my grandparents & other relatives that live over here. Also popular in my youth were vacation to Indonesia (where there was more family to visit). I moved to the US when I was 10 . . .i had to get used to vacations down the shore, to florida, & weekends of amusement parks. Both were wonderful. I feel blessed to give my kids a bit of both words but camping they won’t learn from me.

  8. I spoke to my French colleague who loves to go camping in the mountains with his kids. So it’s not just Dutch people that love camping. But he camps out in the wild and not on an ANWB-camping.

  9. Pingback: NL’s Love to Go Camping | Michael Menzel

  10. So, is packing up all your stuff including tent on bikes, going to norway/sweden/denmark/andokayoncewewenttofrance and cycling from campsite to campsite undutch, or superdutch because it includes bikes?

  11. we (Dutch) want to leave our completely dead regulated society for some weeks of freedom feeling and get a little tanned in the south of europe after 49 weeks overcasted,windy, wet, weather.

  12. I’m Dutch (though I live in Texas now) and I used to pack everything in a backpack, take the boat to Dover or Hull in the UK, and hitchhike to the Cairngorms or the Lake District, for instance, and hike into the wild and walk and camp in the wild for four weeks. I am very unnationaltistic, but a tip I got very early on in Britain was to put a Dutch flag on my backpack so I would get a lift, because otherwise the Brits would think I was German and I’d have to wait longer. It worked.

  13. A combined reaction to Dutch camping-ism and ‘gezelligheid’(see http://stuffdutchpeoplelike.com/2011/09/23/gezelligheid-gezellig/), because these two concepts are inseparable. Gezelligheid plays an huge role in the Dutch ‘national identity’, and hence in Dutch behavior abroad.

    In my opinion, that probably explains why Dutchmen flock together when they are abroad, because they believe their fellow countrymen feel the same about ‘gezelligheid’. In addition to that, the Dutch also have the (nasty) habit of displaying their ´gezelligheid´ to the world.
    That explains why you will find in almost all touristic centers of the world pubs and food chains with names like:
    - Hof van Holland (Crete);
    - Rembrandt (Marmaris – Turkey);
    - Hans en Grietje (Calella – Spain)
    - Feestpaleis (Mallorca)
    In Salou (Spain) only you will find: ‘de Skihut’, ‘de Malle molen’, ‘Heineken hoekje’, ‘t Gat van Nederland’, ‘de Swing’, ‘de Koets’, ‘de Heeren van Holland’.

    It also explains why Holland during the Olympic games has the ´Holland Heineken House´ (http://www.hollandheinekenhouse.nl/), in which the triumphs of the Dutch sportsmen and women are celebrated together with the people. More and more non-Dutch people tend to go to the HHH, to get a glimpse of Dutch ‘gezelligheid’.

    Another example is the ‘Villagio Olandese’ (Italian for ‘Dutch Village’), a site where 260(!) bungalows are situated, almost all of them owned by Dutch people who like to get a real Italian pizza, and share it among Dutch friends.

    But to return to the topic of the Dutch camping habits, probably one of the best examples we have seen during the World Championships football. During this tournament the participating national teams played in various cities across the country. Dutch fans had exclusively arranged campsites for the Dutch fans in all the host towns Holland was playing.

    After Holland played in Durban, their next game being in Capetown, hundreds of Dutch campers and cars forming a caravan of 9 mile in length traveled 1000 miles from the Durban campsite to the Capetown campsite. See links below.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uVZozy_hULI
    http://blog.spitsnet.nl/2009/12/08/vijftien-kilometer-oranjefans/

  14. I’m Dutch, and a bit ashamed of the trend of my fellow campers to camp in essential ENCLAVES along the French and Spanish mediterranean coast. As a kid my parents thankfully avoided these locations and took us hiking in almost every remote corner of the Alps and related mountain ranges. (Jura on the French/Swiss border and the Dolomites north of Venice)
    I have to mention though, that despite camping maybe two hours from Venice we did not actually go there. In fact, the past two summers my brother and I were kindly asked at age 18 and 20 to let our parents have a reasonably peaceful vacation together with just the third brother age 12. And only now do they actually go to major cities and capitals instead of the less crowded and tourist overwhelmed towns. I clenched my teeth when I got a phonecall from the Champs Elysees in Paris when the three of them had positioned themselves in sight of the finish line of the Tour de France.
    But I digress, in my actual vacationing-with-my-parents days I figure I must have seen half the mountains in the Alps and gotten carsick on half of the mountain passes my dad couldn’t wait to blow our engine on. My guess for the reason we move out with caravans and tents is so we can spend the full three week vacation time many adults here get somewhere away. My solo vacation to the USA two years ago (instead of a vacation with my parents) cost me no less than 2400$ or 2000 euro at the time for two weeks in a hotel visiting New York and Washington. (Being twenty in the US cuts your mobility a lot more than some age/driving laws lead you to believe.) And my nights were definitely not the same as they were back home. Considering I’d been drinking beers legally for four years by then the whole ‘being underage again’ thing really bummed me out.
    So there you have it, one family of five, three weeks in a tent or two or a caravan on or near a camping (campsite) …. affordable price.
    Same affordable price in a hotel in … Greece for example… A week tops? Some would say it’s worth it, but my parents go NUTS being stuck with home-base “Thuis” (home) to go back to every night after visiting the same old zoo, landmark or relative the way we do on regular weekends. And one week in Greece means a gruelling two weeks with nothing to be excited about and a constant nagging feeling that there’s still some work you really shouldn’t have put on hold until after the vacation.

    Also, and this is a big one:
    Two reasons for packing food on that first traditionally endless night of travel. As described a lot of people leave with three types of food. Roadsnacks, ‘hagelslag en pindakaas’ and general mealtime goods.
    The first is self explanatory, there will only be three stops along the endless and much congested highways on the way to, for example, a village along the French coast near Marseilles. The trip will take some 12-15 hours even though the satnav said it should only take 9. And once the family rolls out of the warm and smelly car there’s still a tent to pitch and matrasses to inflate. It’s saturday morning, everyone’s exhausted and if the kids dare wake up dad before it’s 4 pm there will be hell to pay. I cannot imagine anyone in their right mind going out for groceries to cook up their take on the local cuisine. Which rarely disappoints a cultured adult, but will spazz out anyone under 16 years of age. But that is thankfully all going to wait until monday because mom brought enough food to last the two days until stores open again on monday morning for fresh baguettes and camembert.
    This brings me to the third type of stockpile wedged in a corner of the trunk: Hagelslag en pindakaas. Unless someone at the ‘enclave’ was smart enough to bring enough to start up a small business you will not find hagelslag or pindakaas (Dutch peanutbutter, (or any other kind)) in a French supermarket. That’s why keeping your kids occupied while you hunt down the stuff you CAN get is easy if you ask them to find some more pindakaas in the common ‘mega’stores that resemble a Wall Mart scaled down by about a third.

    I hope I managed to keep SOMEONE interested long enough to read this all the way down. Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoy this blog as much as I do.
    To summarise my thoughts on the actual blog post: I agree a lot of us like to go to particular places ‘together’ either to keep a sense of security or simply to hide from the inevitable awkward moment when we don’t speak the local native language. There are some odd things going on in our heads I agree. But I will defend my pride as a Dutchman when someone implies a very practical and undeniably necessary precaution against whining kids is just a cheap way to save money.

    • Thumbs up to Joost van Amerongen for writing a longer comment that explains how the more educated people escape the main flows of fellow Dutchmen, using camping and food brought from home as a way to make their holiday budget last longer. I completely agree! :-)

      The Spanish Costa Brava had always seemed so luring to me, but my parents refused to go with the flow and disliked those overpopulated industrial campsites. When I was old enough to discover Lloret de Mar on my own, I soon found out I had not missed too much.

    • We’re Scottish and have only recently started camping. I am very fussy about camping grounds and always look for one which is run by Dutch because I know it will be well run, but we do try to go at the end of the season when the sites are much quieter..
      PS love Dutch food and absolutely love this blog xx

  15. http://www.hetvrijbuiten.nl/promotiefilm/index.php#film

    And there is a littl group of dutch peopel who not only ike to camp, but who are willing to go back to basics. They group together at an esate (landgoed). And work in the mornings to patch up the place. (cut trees, paint fences, make roads).
    They build their own shower, preferably with water warmed by a fire. And in the early days dug their own loos (forbidden now)
    Some caravans, but a lot of simpel tents.
    And at night around the campfire, trying to find new ways of cokking on tha fire.
    Beregezellig!

    • Sounds great! I come from Tsjechie and we dont really have the caravan culture. I just slept in tent or under the sky.. and I think it was beautiful, swimming in the rivers, building natural sauna, smelling like a fire :-). I spend one summer with similar project, we were mowing (with scythe) in a national park.. And it was so much fun. Love to hear something like that is in NL.

  16. Dutch food certainly is an important issue. When I used to live in the States, I had my mom send me Dutch food until I was able to find an internet store selling exclusively Dutch food items in the US!! One just can’t live without hagelslag, pindakaas, beschuit, anijsblokjes for in milk, etc. I have to admit that it took me a long time to get used to the food in the States… I am glad to be living in Holland again (if not only for the huge amount of weight I gained in the US. I tried to order healthy foods in restaurants, but still found it deep-fried most of the time…).

      • Surely there is no Pindakaas/Peanut butter anywhere that can match Calve……I love it…and i’m British :)

      • It doesn’t say Calvé on the label so to most Dutch it can’t be the best peanut butter.

      • Too much sugar! There is a reason why americans are so fat and huge: there food is of bad quality.

    • I guess it’s what you’re born with. I loathe Dutch food, as a Brit, and have to order packages of British and American food online sometimes to break the monotony. The supermarkets are just so small and with not enough variety here. :(

      • Have you ever been to AH XL? I must admit that the big Sainsbury’s and Tesco’s have a lot of variety on offer (almost ridiculous, 8 kinds of carrots) but I think AH XL is a good option if you’re used to Tesco’s. The Tesco’s Excellent label is the same as AH Excelletn by the way. And Dutch bread is SO much better.

        That said, I’m a native Dutchie and I buy stuff at a UK store too ;)

    • Dutch Peanutbutter is disgusting! Way to oily and gritty. Give me Skippy Peanut Butter anytime fo the day or week! And @FLOOR… You are generalizing. Being overweight is not unique to the States, take a look around, Holland too has fat & fluffy people and bad quality food. For example, any idea the caloric count in a Hema Rookworst? Yikes, just thinking about it has caused me to gain a kilo! =)

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  18. Ah, yes. The annual summer vacation. We went camping every summer, mostly in Italy but also sometimes Greece and 2 times in France. But unlike stereotypical Dutch, we never brought along a big bag of potatoes or went to camping sites that lots and lots of other Dutch would go to. For example; we never went to Lake Garda; the place in Italy that every Dutchman seems to be wanting to go to.

  19. There is one more camping destnation: Belgium.
    I worked on a Dutch camping in Belgium for 2 years. I am saying “Dutch camping” because majority of guests were Dutch. Funny thing about them is that once they arrive on a destination and place their caravan and tents they stay there for entire 2 weeks! I thought the idea of camping was to move from place to place…

  20. And yet there is even one more camping destination, the Veluwe. The same rules do apply, albeit in a more regional way. People from Rotterdam, Amsterdam or The Hague tend to flock together in factions where they would join together outside of the Netherlands. They will shout the names of local football (soccer for you Americans) clubs at each other while drinking loads of beer in the sterile cantine.
    A good time is had by all.
    The children run together during the days and are at night frightened by the possibility of encountering wildlife while being entertained by being dropped off somewhere in the forest with the instruction to find their way back. All with a certain level of monitoring by the staff, of course. Scary stories being fed all the while.

    Not my kind of fun but very common in the eastern parts of the Netherlands. There are communities dependant on it, I grew up in one. The clients tend to return each year. It is not similarity, they really do return each year as their children do after them.

  21. I agree that a lot (read: way to many) dutch people will take a caravan on holiday, but don’t forget: where ever you go on a holiday, you will ALWAYS meet a Dutch person. Even in rural China…

  22. don’t forget to bring the mayonnaise….. because how else will you eat the potatoes? and as my family used to say:” you can not get good mayonnaise abroad, it’s just to sour.

  23. The image is not that correct any longer, the ever growing aging population of the Netherlands in combination of the desires of the youth to go explore this big wonderful world rather than hanging out in a camping having not much else to do but to wonder when the rain is going to stop and whether the sun ever shine and if so, if it will be 20C or 17C in the midst of the summer, plus the fact most youth dislike to drive around Europe with a caravan and not being able to hang out where they want and do what they want, will change sometime sooner or later.

    In fact I didn’t see one Dutch in my surroundings this year on who did choose to go on a camping trip while they were used to do so and all having kids as well.

    Having said that, it is also important to mention that the higher costs of fuel, the rising inflation and such, will ensure that the whole camping business will start to dwindle further more and make room for long distance travel to Asia or Middle East, Africa and South America.

  24. Pingback: No. 1: Bicycles | Stuff Dutch People Like

  25. This really puzzles me, camping! Why would anyone want to haul their stuff in a caravan across Europe (after working your ass off for a year) to stay at a……well camping site. I cannot wrap my head around that. I’d rather sit on my couch in the dark for three weeks. Why folks, WHY?????

  26. There’s a reasonably-sized community of Dutch-descended people in Michigan. Their ancestors crossed the Atlantic well before there was any such thing as a camper/caravan, and yet they still all vacation in them – it’s in the Dutch genes!

  27. Wat waarheid!! I’m called German a lot in my technical native country of the U.S but when I’m anywhere else they say I look hardcore Dutch. I had a teacher who visited the Netherlands(who’s originally Colombian), he was the first and so far the only American to say I look Dutch.

  28. Pingback: Funny list of things Dutch people love « holinholland

  29. Not only Spain, Germany and France, Me and my family rather go to Italy than any of the others (except Germany because we have to go through it XD)

  30. Young people seem to be heading out into much farther locales. Last september I went to Sabah-Malaysia and met at least 3 other Dutch people traveling alone. I ended up spending my holiday with a mixture of American, Australian, Austrian and British people, (some seperately) and at some point or another they all said: You Dutch are everywhere, aren’t you? It just so happens that they all met Dutch people before me, even when they travelled to distant locations. One British girl told me that no matter where she went be it the Easter Islands, Brazil or Thailand, she always met at least one Dutch person…

  31. this is so accurate haha!
    In whole my live we always went camping in France and that was great!!!

  32. We’ll i have never been to France, Germany or Spain except driveing through them to go to Italy, Greece or Poland and Czech Republic or if we go with a plane we’d go to Turkey, Tailand or the VS we’ve also been on several roadtrips trough england. We have’nt been camping since i was six. This year i am going to France for the first time with my whole family in a huge facation house. And this summer where going to spain. So it’s not really true. I know that most of my friend don’t go all around the world, but it’s not so mainstream as you think. (I’m not sure if my english is verry good, but he i’m stil learning)

  33. Did you also know that the schools have different vacationweeks. The country is devided in 3 parts, North, middle and south. They do this to try to avoid trafficjams! It´s really that bad!! But you gotta love camping!! Italy is also popular!

  34. This post sounds so mean, judgemental and stereotypical… Why is there a problem with camping and only going for france, germany or spain?…

  35. Ah, yes… Walking to the lavatories, in a dressing gown, with a roll of toiletpaper underneath your arm… Brings back fond memories :)!

  36. After reading the blogs it is safe to assume my mom cheated on my dad. Forget that I´m his spitting image, my mom must have cheated with a foreigner. I HATE drop and herring, I´d rather die than be seen on a campsite. Not a big fan of France and Spain either, but I do love renting a place in Portugal, Italy or go trekking in Asia. That´s the part you´re leaving out, the other 12 million Dutch love to travel to more remote and exotic places.

  37. I`m English & I had never been camping, I always went to All inclusive 4/5 * Hotels untill I met my Dutch Boyfriend. I went for the first time last year now going for 3 weeks later on this year not fully converted yet but doing my best to fit in !

  38. :)))))))) I was just speaking the other day with my Dutch teacher that most of Dutch people like camping a lot (she does not) and the reason, she said, is the fact that is cheaper and for them een mooie vakantie is not the same thing as practische vakantie, so they always choose practisch over mooi :))). I wish I could see here more about the way Dutch lady dress.
    I also read in the book A Year in Provence that the author, recently moved from Great Britain to Provence, was surprised one day by a bunch of tourists camping in his backyard, don’t remember exactly if they were Dutch of Germans (I hope no Dutch will see that I can’t remember) :D

  39. I understand everything about this desire of going abroad in a camping van for weeks to avoid the rainy Dutch summer, but one thing: bringing Dutch food. During my 3 years in Holland I ate typical Dutch food (on the cheap side, though, because I was a student from Eastern Europe without money, haha), and I gained 15 kgs, my blood sugar got f*cked up, I was continually ill (I mean I got sick with flu literary every month for 3 straight years), got diagnosed with 2. type diabetes mellitus due to my labs and got seriously depressed. That’s what Dutch food (those koekjes, snoepjes, rosinenbrodjes, brodjes met hagelslag of muisjes, fresh stroopwafel) does to a person who grew up eating “real food” in her whole life :o/

    I don’t understand, how Dutch people survive while eating all that crap, I really don’t get it. Maybe Dutch people are already immune against sugar and hyperglycaemie has no effect on them, it’s also possible :o) But the famous Dutch diet also makes an excessive amount of Dutch children being diagnosed with ADHD. They start eating bread with gestampte muisjes (which it’s pure powdered table sugar with some artificial anis flavouring) and with fat-free margarine (instead of butter, because Dutch people take care of the health of their children, haha), at the age of six months. And at the age of six years they get their usual ADHD diagnosis based on their habit of throwing tantrums ten times a day because of serious sugar deprivation (like they didn’t get any snoepjes in the last two hours) (it takes around two hours after a sugar overload for your blood sugar to crash and to get whiney), and are labeled as “kids with special needs” instead of cutting out sugar of their diet and let them be just normal. It’s really sad.

    And no, I don’t want to advertise any diet with this comment, I just saw this happen with a lot of kids while babysitting for a living. And experienced the same on myself. Six months after I left Holland and got back to a normal life without all those sugar, I lost the 15 extra kgs, could go off the diabetes drugs again and came out of depression. But it took six months for my body to compensate all the harm those three years did to it. I love Holland but never ever will eat Dutch food again. It doesn’t even taste good :o/

  40. You write a piece on Dutch people going to camp and forget to mention the ANWB? Impossible.

  41. All other Dutchies are quietly pretending to be from Belgium. I know I will.

  42. This is very funny and good-natured. However, I can confirm that sometimes my wife’s Dutch relatives show good sense and travel here to Western Canada, rent a motorized caravan, and head for the mountains – I would highly recommend this and you are certain to meet other Dutchies doing the same thing, and the roads are very uncrowded.

  43. I’m Dutch, but also “commute” to the U.S. (where my ex and our boy still are), and over time, many “discussions” have taken place on the various subjects found on your site, haha!

    Every now and then, my ex would then yell “Sheesh! You Dutchies are WEIRD, and why do
    I get the feeling you’re even PROUD of that!” and, well, *cough* I guess she was right in a
    number of ways ;-) We’re weird! Yay!

    Camping…… oh yeah!
    As a kid, we always went camping. First, with grampa/gramma in their caravan to France,
    Yugoslavia (the part which is now Croatia) and Luxembourg. Grampa started having problems with driving those endless distances, so he accepted the offer of a friend who just opened up a new camping in the mid-south of Holland (near Eindhoven) to “test that out”.

    Off to there we went. I cannot remember much, but I do know that I had a great time, running
    around, playing with other kids (without the language issues..) and, of course, eating my bread (with hagelsag and pindakaas, for breakfast, and with cheese and leverpastei for lunch) and, in the evenings, “helping” grampa with the barbeque.

    We liked this a lot, so in the next (pff, 12 or so?) years I went there with my parents and lil sis, now with our own (biiiiiig !) tent. Those years were heaven to us, kids, as we could spend three to 5 weeks in absolute freedom. In later years, my parents always “defended” the camping-in-Holland by stating that “the kids loved it”, and, so, they themselves had a good time, too,
    without having to worry (or the need to entertain) the kids.

    I am 46 now, and always have a smile when thinking about that time. The camping still exists,
    and is a big-ass ANWB camping. I still go there every now and then for a day of fun, drink a beer (or several ;-) with the now-managers, as I grew up with them and then return home with an even bigger smile.

    Why do Dutch people like this?

    Well… compared to other options (flying out to remote destinations), it’s cheaper, which, as we have seen on this site, is important. Also, its practical.. the kids can run around unattended, giving the parents a breather too. Since there will be many other folks (Dutch or not), it also
    will be very gezellig. My grandparents once did not visit us at the camping because they were
    out on a long flying trip. After they returned, my grampa muttered that “yeah, it was ok, and
    gramma loved it, but GRRRR, it was completely ongezellig !”.

    Since everything in Dutch society is “managed by rules”, Dutch people just want to escape that for a little while- without dropping their need for “lekker eten en gezelligheid”.

    Its slowly changing now, given the risen prices of campsites, travel (fuel) costs and a changing view of the world, but still… lets go camping folks! :)

  44. The reason I thought we always take food and toilet paper with us is that if you arrive late on the place of destination and the shops are already closed you won’t have anything to eat.. And because shops in other countries don’t sell hagelslag.. I could be wrong though, just like my spelling can be wrong. I’m sowwy..

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  46. I’m dutch and i only go camping for a few days oktoberfest in Munchen. And thats because theres no hotel availeble. Cant understand why people go to France. The language sucks the people there are not willing to speak english HATE HATE HATE France. Better go to eastern europe

    • Joz, it’s OK that the charms of France are lost on you. That leaves me more space to enjoy French culture when I go to France. Of course, the French are loosing money on tourists like Joz, but they keep their culture alive. Mind you: whenever French people do speak English, they expect you to spend some big money in their shops! Learning French from my travels did not cost me too much, but you can never underestimate the value of speaking several languages. :-)

      Let me cite Loesje: Een wijde blik verruimt het denken. (A wider view broadens your thinking – or in proper English: horizon) There’s still too many narrow-minded folks around who do not yet understand this… :-(

      I can only shake my head: We, or most Dutch people, demand that foreigners who come to live in the Netherlands, learn to speak the Dutch language and take part in our society. Yet those very same Dutch people do not learn French when they buy a second home in France, or cannot order a coffee in Spanish, despite it being their 15th winter on the Spanish south coast. Does anyone happen to know if Geert Wilders’s Hungarian wife has taught him to speak some Hungarian? ;-)

  47. why on earth are dutch really crazy about holidays? they feel like their world ends when they can’t have vacation abroad each year.

  48. The description of how some campsites are decorated reminds me of camping in the USA. Some campers must think it is Christmas with all their lights and lawn decorations!! Funny story and I got a good laugh out of it.

  49. Come on, Colleen, you are using stereotypes! Amusing indeed, but not true for all of the Dutch people. I am not among those who clutter together with all the Dutch habits that you rightfully criticize.

    My mother used to take me and my sister abroad, camping in a caravan with a tent in front of it. It’s not that my parents did not have the money for a hotel, but camping in the ’80s was so cheap, we could stay away from home all summer long. My sister and I loved to play outside, make new friends and discover new territories, so we also loved camping, as long as the weather was OK.

    When the rain kept pouring upon us for 10 days in a row, we fled from southern Germany, across the Alps, to Italy, as we paid our camp-site day by day, instead of making a booking 6 months in advance, like most people tend to do today. Those few times we did not find free space on a camping the night we arrived, my mother just parked the caravan on a public parking and called it an adventure.

    Our education was quite strict: we did not get drop, ice-cream or any other sweets every day. Sweets were for sweet children only and often only on Sundays. Our holidays however were an exception to the rule of strictness. We could have as much small German white breadballs as we could eat and enjoy an ice-cream a day, but this privilege came with another educational measure: we had to go buy our beloved bread or ice-cream ourselves and order it in the language of the country we were in. This is how I not only inherited the ability to be fluent at speaking several languages, but also conquered the hearts of several foreign ladies. Thanks mom! :-)

    Being on a small budget, I always look for farmers offering basic camping with no other attraction than a clean shower. Sadly, I see a trend for more luxury and more glamorous campsites today and it comes with a price: Some rooms in a budget hotel are actually cheaper than a pitch on a glamping crowded by posh tourists. Some campsites have completely been turned into bungalow parks. :-(

    Also, it seems to me that almost any French campsite has been bought by Dutch people, advertising you don’t have to speak French at their campsite anymore. Or is it just Google and the booking sites getting in the way? When I leave the Netherlands, I want to leave my fellow Dutchmen behind. When travelling in Europe, I want to indulge in all those languages they speak around my beloved continent!!!

    When I travel, I try to get into meaningful conversations with the locals, so my potatoes stay at home! Do I still need to explain to you that I drink local wines and certainly not Heineken’s horse piss? ;-)

  50. So 4 million, that’s not even 25% percent of the entire population. Only tokkies and elderly people do this!

  51. So true about the hagelslag etc, we do the same in Canada,Dutch traditions live on .Yes,we all wore our orange shirts while camping and watching the Worl Cup Soccer.

    • I am Dutch for almost 65 years and I never owned a caravan or a tent. We went to Cyprus over the last 5 years, and what you see there are all the English flocking together. The same goes for the Algarve in Portugal, and whats more, they are very very noisy!

  52. am I the only dutchie who doesn’t like to go camping in Spain and who actualy likes fo
    reign food?

  53. I’m Dutch, work in a beautiful Glamping Camping and look forward to see all the Dutch clients at Esterel Caravaning in the south of France. Even if you’re not Dutch, it is worth to try, we even have touringpitches with a private jacuzzi !!
    They often bring me hagelslag, pindakaas en drop, because 5 euros for a pakje hagelslag is even for me to much !! And this has nothing to do with cheapness :-)

  54. You should all come camping in Canada. Lots of Dutch/Canadians here which means we have Dutch food shops!

    • Agree! saw them last autumn, but….I am a dutchie that prefers the food that’s usual in the country where I am at that moment. Days enough left for peanutbutter and dropjes!

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  56. Dutch flag? In Canada I’ve seen more maple leaf flags every day than dutchies put outside on kings day!