The idea of overlanding with family or kids can be overwhelming at first. While it does take planning and preparation, I want to tell you that taking your kids on an enjoyable overland trip is very doable.
Overlanding is a time-honored adventure that many families use to create lasting & beautiful family memories that we cherish.
When you Overland with your family, you’re creating memories and also increasing the family bonding that exists between your wife, husband or kids.
Overlanding is also a great way to help them appreciate all the beauty and adventure that the natural world offers.
Even though Overlanding with family creates wonderful experiences, it is entirely different from Overlanding alone or with fellow adults.
Whether you have been overlanding for a long time or just getting into it, these tips can help you have a smooth and memorable first trip.
This post gives you everything you need to feel confident hitting the trail for your first backpacking adventure with kids.
1. Organize A Plan That Suits Your Family
Involve everyone that will be overlanding with the family, including the kids.
In the process of choosing and organizing your trip. You may be surprised to find out the kind of things your kids like and the types of things they dislike.
In order to have a memorable overlanding trip, try as much as you can to balance everyone’s interests and abilities to make an itinerary that each family member is excited about. Also, be sure to research park or trail regulations, fire restrictions, and permits at this stage
2. Start With Small Overland Trips
It’s difficult for anyone to jump straight into an overnight trip, especially if it’s your first time, and you plan to overland with your family.
Initiate the whole family into short overlanding trips to local parks and safaris, and gradually work up the mileage and elevation gain.
Use these trips as opportunities to try out new overlanding gear before an overnighter—it can take some time to wear in new boots or find the perfect adjustments for a weighted pack.
3. Get Everyone Excited & Comfortable With Overlanding
You don’t want your first time overlanding with family to be when you’re already out on the trail visiting popular overlanding destinations like South Africa & Argentina
Test the waters with a one-night overland trip that’s close to home and doesn’t involve a lot of overlanding.
Regardless of how excited you are about overlanding with your family, you have to test the waters with a one or two-night overland trip that’s close to home in order to see if your family members are excited as you.
4. Plan Your Activities
You’ve probably already been thinking about planning activities depending on whether it’s a big or small adventure.
Want to go fishing? Stay someplace close to a river or lake (and make sure you have your fishing permits, fishing gears and license).
How about a nice, easy trail hike? Look for terrains that have loop trails that aren’t too strenuous, with plenty of trail markers along the way.
5. Choose The Right Vehicle For Your Trip
When you are overlanding with family, you need to go with a vehicle that’s able to drive on roads that are cemented with asphalt.
So how do you know a vehicle that’s right for the trip?
The best vehicles have these in common:
- They have a 4-wheel drive
- They are very spacious: If you’re overlanding with kids there will be a lot of luggage and in order to avoid parking too many loads in the backseat, which might make your kids uncomfortable, you need to get a vehicle that has a big trunk.
- Have large tires – Because of weight and nature of terrain, you need a vehicle that has tires that can handle off-road drives smoothly.
6. Make A Packing List
A packing list is a must for family overland trips! Don’t just wing it—take some time to seriously plan what you’ll need. Overlanding with kids is a completely different ballpark than with adults.
Extra changes of clothes, socks, shoes, batteries, books, and more should be on your list.
Will your trip lead you to areas that are cold?
Extra jackets or balms are a necessity when they are sleeping in a cold environment. Of course, the normal sunscreen, bug spray, food, and first aid kits are non-negotiable.
Check out our overlanding checklist to help guide you.
7. Bring Entertainment Items
Yes, Overlanding with kids is a good way to get them away from some of their everyday comforts, but toys and games are still necessary.
Comfort toys like stuffed animals will help them sleep at night, while board games or lawn games can be a perfect way to wind down after dinner.
And when I talk about entertainment items, I don’t mean kids toys only.
I mean items that can keep both kids and adults entertained.
Do you love football? Then bring a ball. What about tennis, then, bring a tennis board.
Overlanding is not just about driving from place to place; it’s also about having fun, enjoying outdoors activities while reaching the destinations in the comfort of your car.
8. Take Pictures
Even though overlanding with family should be phone-free, try as much as you can to take something you can take pictures with, preferable a digital camera.
A mobile phone with a good camera phone will be the easiest way to snap some quick pictures or videos, but digital cameras work just as well.
I recommend the Sony A7i mirrorless camera.
Another approach that works is to buy a disposable camera for your kids and then explain to them how it works, and let them take fun photos.
Once the trip is over, you can get them framed at a photo studio. Encourage your kids to hang them up in their bedrooms, camping notebooks, or make a scrapbook of the fun times.
5 Essential Gears For Overlanding Trip
A First Aid Kit
When people go on adventures that require a lot of outdoor activities, it’s not unusual for someone to get ill, catch a cold or injure themselves in the process.
And because of that it’s necessary to always carry a complete first aid kit as you may find yourself treating injuries you never thought would occur.
An Overlanding Shovel
An overlanding shovel is one of the best & essentials tool you can take with you on a trip.
This shovel can be used for a lot of things like excavating tires, digging holes, quenching fires etc. A good overlanding shovel should be lightweight, portable, and strong enough to dig holes on dry or rocky grounds.
One of the best shovels to take on an overland trip is the Gerber’s E-Tool shovel.
This shovel is portable, weighing a little over 2 pounds with a length of 9.37 inches. This shovel is a no-brainer!
It also has a serrated edge – this edge gives you more power when digging in rocky environments.
My favorite feature is the locking mechanism.
The locking mechanism will keep the Gerber E-Tool open when in use, helping keep you safe and protected when you apply pressure while digging holes.
A Truck Tent
If you’ve been camping for a while, you’ll notice that many people who go on overland trips prefer to camp outside, and because of that a good shelter is a necessity.
The best overlanding tents I have come across are those which are built in a way where they can connect with the top of a vehicle.
They are usually very comfortable and spacious, easy to set up and take down, and most of them have built-in mattresses.
Good Sleeping Mats
After spending a big chunk of your time driving during the day – sleep is required.
Sleeping mats play a very important role in a good sleep system while overlanding with your family.
If your sleeping mat is not comfortable, you likely won’t sleep well. The same is true for insulation and keeping you warm through the night.
The Costnature self-inflating sleeping mat is the one we recommend for overland trips.
An Accurate Navigation System for Off-Road Driving
An accurate navigation device is a recommended essential for any overlander.
One of the best GPS devices for overlanding is the Megallan eXplorist TRX7. This device was built specifically for off-roaders.
This 7 inch device comes with street navigation. Street navigation is a feature in the software update due out this October 2016. TRX7 owners get these updates, map updates and off-road trail updates for free.
Apart from the street navigation feature, this device also gives you access to share your routes and also see routes other people have used.
What to eat on an overlanding trip?
Before you go overlanding with your family, you need to plan out what you & your kids will eat.
Before you choose the amount of food you should take, you have to consider some factors like, how long the trip will last, how many people are going, and lastly, how many energy-consuming activities you plan to participate in.
For breakfast and dinners, I recommend sticking with foods that can be cooked in just boiling water.
For example, Oatmeal, Corn flakes and Golden morn can be used as breakfast.
For lunch and snacks, I recommend you stick with foods you’re you love and are already used to.
And for dinner, you can go with pre-made dehydrated meals that come prepackaged. They are lightweight and generally have 2 servings in each pouch.
Is Overlanding With Family Worth it?
Overlanding with family can seem like a daunting task to take on when you are new to the idea.
Yes, there’s a lot to consider, but it is possible, I promise! With a little organization and planning, it’s easier than you imagine.
Overlanding with your family can be very fun, especially if you plan everything very well. Get all the gears that you need, use an appropriate itinerary, stay safe – and most importantly, have a lot of fun.