Overlanding Hacks & Must Haves When Traveling With Kids
Your rig is packed, the family is loaded and you’re ready to hit the trail. It only takes 2 minutes of being in the car before your tiny one in the backseat is asking for a snack. Are you prepared for the 6 hours ahead?
There are many challenges you'll face when tackling the act of overlanding. Years of trial and error have gotten us to where we are today, but the variables are constantly changing. The one thing that remains consistent are the long car rides.
If you have kids the challenge escalates. How do we keep the kids entertained? How many breaks do we need to take? Where are we going to store everything? Every age requires something a little different, but there are some basic principles that have kept our boys happy and engaged on every trip! Join me as I dive into all of our tips for traveling with kids.
One thing we love about the overlanding community is how diverse it is – both people and rigs. As a family, you will be more strapped for space than an individual or couple. Every square inch of the backseat is valuable real estate, so you need to make sure everything is organized efficiently. Kids will always find a way to destroy this perfect organization system, but you can always reset along the way.
We have a Jeep Gladiator, which is a very compact truck. Personal space all but disappears when we're loaded down for a trip. Everyone ends up with gear stashed at their feet (minus the driver, of course). There are some realities you can't work around, no matter how hard you try. There is, however, storage underneath the backseat that allows us to store less-used items, clearing up space for the important stuff (snacks, toys, books, etc.).
See what other people have done to maximize storage by searching on YouTube and Pinterest. A simple google search never hurt either! Some companies, like Decked, offer custom fitting storage options that save you from all the clutter. We started out with DIY drawers in the back of our old F150. There are options for every budget!
SLOW AND STEADY WINS THE RACE
Kids are little balls of energy, and without an outlet, turn into ticking time bombs. Tears will be shed, insults will be thrown and morale will be at an all-time low if breaks aren’t incorporated in the drive.
What does everyone wish for these days? More time! Especially in today’s society, we’re constantly looking to get things done as quickly as possible. That mentality tends to stick with us when we have the camping spot loaded on the map. We put on the blinders and focus on getting to our destination as quickly as possible, with limited stops.
Let me shatter that habit here and now. Your kids will fall in love with the journey long before they fall in love with the destination. Once you hit the trail you need to ‘stop to smell the roses.’ Frequent breaks will not only allow everyone to stretch their legs, but you’ll be amazed at how much there is to see! We’ve discovered so many amazing trails and campsites by just taking breaks.
We do our best to stop at least once every hour an a half when we're on the road. Everyone gets roughly 15-20 minutes to breathe in the fresh air and walk around a bit. No one gets to stay in the car - even if it's raining.
WHAT’S IN OUR TRUCK
What to pack your kids for entertainment is shockingly simple. If you follow us on social media platforms, you know we don’t bring screens on any of our trips. Our boys have grown up on these kinds of adventures and we set the standard from the beginning. Before you explode, please know that we don’t judge anyone who uses screens to keep their kids entertained. We’re all doing our best to share meaningful experiences with our families through camping.
With us not using screens for entertainment, our kids have the opportunity to use their imaginations. It will come as no surprise to hear that we, as creators, love encouraging our kids to be creative. Our backseat is full of books, construction paper, word searches, mazes, crayons and colored pencils. Depending on the length of the trip, we will sometimes fill backpacks for each of our boys with this stuff so they can keep everything organized and contained. If your vehicle has the space, there are great organizers that fit over the seat, like this one, that can hold all of your little one’s gear!
The most exciting items we invested in for our boys are cameras. As photographers, we always have our cameras and the boys were begging to use them from the time they started talking. With a lot of patience and a good bit of assistance, we allowed our boys to start capturing beautiful moments. We purchased these cameras for them first and have put them to the test. Somehow they still work!
If you have kids that are a little older and can handle something more advanced, I would recommend the DJI Pocket. We bought this over the summer and the boys LOVE it. A built in gimbal helps with the unsteady hands of a child, so the videos are a little more enjoyable to play back.
Cameras are a great way to encourage your kids to move around on those super important breaks we talked about needing to take. Challenge them to take pictures of 5 new things whenever you stop. Make it fun!
Snacks and water are also really important on the road. The boys always have a bag of snacks to pick from, though we keep the options as healthy as possible. Potty breaks are inevitable, but with us taking frequent breaks we rarely deal with an emergency stop situation.
In addition to the entertainment and refreshment items, we also recommend looking into purchasing a quality seat cover. Kids are SO messy! Add in the dirt, mud, snow, snacks, crayons, etc. when you’re out camping and it will look like a bomb went off in the backseat. We purchased this one a little over a year ago and it works great!
Ready, Set, GO!