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Overlanding With Kids: How to Keep Your Sanity

Photo by Solovyova via iStock

Kids are great. Significant others are great. Everything is great…until you spend a few weeks overlanding together.

I’m not gonna lie…as much as I love my family, being confined together in tight quarters is a challenge to everyone’s sanity. But there are ways to help keep everyone in better spirits and minimize the instances of getting on one another’s nerves.

If you’re ready to set out for summer overlanding with kids, be sure to take the following tips to heart.

Find Ways to Involve Your Kids

small child pretending to drive

Photo by visualspace via iStock

Kids of all ages like to feel involved in the process of whatever is going on. Maybe they get to be in charge of navigating. Perhaps they get to decide where to stop for lunch. They might even get to choose the music you listen to as you rumble down the road.

Whatever their involvement, even if it’s minor, it will help them be engaged in the trip and take ownership of what happens along the way. Rather than just sitting there and watching the world go by, they actually have a vested interest in what’s going on. The more interested they are, the less likely you’ll hear the dreaded phrase, “Are we there yet?”

Overlanding With Kids: Take Lots of Breaks

Overlanding with kids taking a break eating ice cream

Photo by ferrantraite via iStock

When I was heading into my freshman year of high school, my parents, sister, and I embarked on a 5,000-mile road trip through Canada. We did it in seven days. And we did it in seven days because my dad hardly ever stopped the car.

While there were lots of great things that happened on that trip, one of my lasting memories is being stuck in the backseat with my sister, feeling claustrophobic as some of the most jaw-droppingly beautiful scenery whizzed by at 80 mph.

Family taking a break from overlanding

Photo by visualspace via iStock

The point is that taking a few more stops to enjoy the scenery and get out of that damn car would have made the trip even more enjoyable.

Overlanding isn’t about “making good time” as my dad so desperately wanted to do. Instead, it’s about taking time to enjoy what’s along the way. Sometimes, you’ll need to make some unscheduled stops, and that’s okay! Give your kids the power to say, “Hey, I want to stop and look at that.” And be okay with granting them that wish.

Besides, when overlanding with kids, it doesn’t hurt to get everyone out of the car, walking around, stretching, and getting some fresh air. It will help everyone’s mood and lessen the chances of you all driving one another crazy!

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Bring Entertainment

Man and child fishing near a campsite

Photo by monkeybusinessimages via iStock

In today’s world, your kids likely have a phone or iPad or some sort of electronic device to keep their attention.

And while that’s okay, I would encourage you to bring other forms of entertainment that allow you all to engage with one another and have a good time together.

Perhaps you sing songs as you drive along or play “I Spy.” Maybe you bring a Frisbee with you to play with once you get to camp. Board games, card games, charades…all of these are great for a fun family trip while overlanding with kids.

While you’re at it, bring swimsuits, fishing poles, hiking boots, and other gear that allows you to get out as a family, explore a little bit, and make nature your entertainment.

Overlanding With Kids: Give Them Some Space

Child reading in the grass

Photo by sshepard via iStock

Perhaps most importantly is to give your kids some space on your trip. This doesn’t mean just physical space, either.

Sure, they’ll need to get away from you and do things on their own once you make camp. But also give them the space they need to do what they want. Not every moment of the trip needs to be planned out minute-by-minute. Allow your kids (and yourself) to go with the flow, and you’ll find that the freedom that results from that helps you all keep your sanity while you’re on the road together.

Traveling with kids isn’t the easiest thing to do – even if you abide by these tips. But, man, it can be one of the most rewarding things you’ll do, too!

So, pack your car, grab your kids, and hit the road to make some awesome family memories while overlanding with kids.

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