Trying to make overlanding more enjoyable for a family of 4

  • HTML tutorial

overlandxc

Rank III
Member

Enthusiast I

874
Cumming Georgia
First Name
Adam
Last Name
Crenshaw
Member #

15338

So I am in love with overlanding and camping in general, however my wife and two young daughters not as much. I’m looking for ideas to try and make it as enjoyable as possible and to try and get them in the spirit of adventure and away from all the screens!

We have been on a few short trips, however they have been very few and very far between and have all been in that “figuring out a system” stage.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
 

Ubiety

Rank VI
Member
Expedition

Explorer I

5,221
Sammamish, WA, USA
First Name
Ubi
Last Name
Ety
Member #

6193

Ham Callsign
Ribs
Make sure some aspect of the trip is about them; whether that is destination, stops, food served, etc. Give them some ownership of the trip. For instance my son loves MREs and they are hideously expensive (given the relative economy of eating what the rest of us are eating) - just ordered him some MREs for an upcoming trip. Gives him something to be excited about. He likes shooting a particular pistol so I make sure to bring it for him to shoot; whether or not we shoot - it is something for him to look forward to. For my wife its all about comfort so I make sure to have room to bring her comfort items and have altered the way that I camp in order to make her more comfortable. I like sleeping on a cot under the stars but that does not work for her. So I haul a tent and plush sleeping system and lots of pillows for her.

No guarantees ;) Screens suck.
 

OcoeeG

Rank II

Enthusiast III

443
SE TN
First Name
Chris
Last Name
Gee
Make sure some aspect of the trip is about them; whether that is destination, stops, food served, etc. Give them some ownership of the trip. For instance my son loves MREs and they are hideously expensive (given the relative economy of eating what the rest of us are eating) - just ordered him some MREs for an upcoming trip. Gives him something to be excited about. He likes shooting a particular pistol so I make sure to bring it for him to shoot; whether or not we shoot - it is something for him to look forward to. For my wife its all about comfort so I make sure to have room to bring her comfort items and have altered the way that I camp in order to make her more comfortable. I like sleeping on a cot under the stars but that does not work for her. So I haul a tent and plush sleeping system and lots of pillows for her.

No guarantees ;) Screens suck.
EXCELLENT ADVICE!
 

Boucher

Rank V
Member
Expedition

Enthusiast III

1,798
Maidens, VA, USA
First Name
John
Last Name
Boucher
Member #

14789

Make sure some aspect of the trip is about them; whether that is destination, stops, food served, etc. Give them some ownership of the trip. For instance my son loves MREs and they are hideously expensive (given the relative economy of eating what the rest of us are eating) - just ordered him some MREs for an upcoming trip. Gives him something to be excited about. He likes shooting a particular pistol so I make sure to bring it for him to shoot; whether or not we shoot - it is something for him to look forward to. For my wife its all about comfort so I make sure to have room to bring her comfort items and have altered the way that I camp in order to make her more comfortable. I like sleeping on a cot under the stars but that does not work for her. So I haul a tent and plush sleeping system and lots of pillows for her.

No guarantees ;) Screens suck.
I would have to say that is the key, whenever my wife comes along I always try to hit a winery on the way back. She also loves cooking different recipes over the fire so her thing now is when we go out is to make a 5-course meal for everyone gets expensive for food but it makes her happy.
 

MOAK

Rank V
Member

Member II

2,835
Wernersville, PA, USA
First Name
Donald
Last Name
Diehl
Member #

0745

My grandsons were much the same way- tied to the little screens. Gramma & I invested in some shock therapy treatment. And— it worked. Now, understand that the pair of brothers are Navy kids. Been more places all over the Pacific/N. America stage than most people only dream of. Stateside for them at 11&13 was, at the least, boring. Hence, shock therapy was in order. Total immersion, no cell service, complete silence. We took them down the Shafer Trail, then 3 nights on the White Rim. Then down to Horsehoof Campsite in the Needles. The boys put their phones down, as we descended Shafer Trail, Never to pick them up again for over 6 nights. They didn’t care about anything except being in the moment, in the wilderness ( albeit a controlled wilderness experience ). How many times did we hear, whoa- this is dope? I cannot say, but because of the shock thereapy that took place as we decended Shafer Trail, they each became engaged, very engaged. With us, with their mom and dad, with one another and with Canyonlands. Their transformation completed, we now have very close, personal relationships with them. Being in wilderness left an indelible impression on their young minds and they yearn for more time there.

how did this happen? Their mom & dad, me and gramma and nature, did not give them a choice. They had to participate. Sulking was made fun of and laughed at, until the offender, would actually crack a smile. By the second campsite, they were actually playing, with sticks & rocks and making up little games for themselves, the way a child does when they are free. So, after this long winded little story, my advice would be to put your girls in a camping situation that gives them zero choices to make except whether to participate or not. Most kids will choose to participate in the experience. Shock therapy gets their attention. They will figure out the rest. ( BTW, it’s obvious that one’s spouse must support the idea ) speaking of spouses? I am one lucky man. I’m 68 by gal 65, and yes, our camp has some nice things specifically for her, admittedly, I enjoy them as well. Hot shower, tap water for kitchen, roof top tent, lots of pillows. Luxury beyound belief compared to 25 years ago when we started 4x4camping. That’s basecamp, we back pack occasionally which entails sleeping on a small mat on the ground. Then, there are those gals like my sister whom replied when invited to Arches NP to camp with us, “ are there hotels & casinos nearby?” Ha! I’ve never asked her again. Good luck man! Wow, I got through that without mentioning my first wife that absolutely hated the back country. LOL
 
Last edited:

jrlombard

Rank V
Member
Adventure

Advocate III

1,978
Laurel, MD, USA
First Name
Jason
Last Name
Lombard
Member #

31493

I would have to say that is the key, whenever my wife comes along I always try to hit a winery on the way back. She also loves cooking different recipes over the fire so her thing now is when we go out is to make a 5-course meal for everyone gets expensive for food but it makes her happy.
We've used camping as a way to try and learn new things together. Cooking outdoors is certainly one of those. Ownership of the trip is definitely key. I feel that everyone should have a role and know what it is. This way, the unit fails or is less successful if everyone doesn't participate. My boys (13 and 10) know this. And this isn't just for camping. :-)
 

overlandxc

Rank III
Member

Enthusiast I

874
Cumming Georgia
First Name
Adam
Last Name
Crenshaw
Member #

15338

Thanks guys! That is all awesome insight! Working on the comfort side for the wife and activities/adventure for the kiddos is top of my list.

My current set up is a Gazelle T4 Overland and I also have the large ARB awning with room attachment.

What the best sleeping arrangements y’all have used? I’ve tried a king size air mattress but that just ended up getting leaks, which is horrible when 2am rolls around and you are all rolling into each other on a flat mattress!

I’m thinking good quality sleeping pads and lots of pillows.
 

jrlombard

Rank V
Member
Adventure

Advocate III

1,978
Laurel, MD, USA
First Name
Jason
Last Name
Lombard
Member #

31493

Thanks guys! That is all awesome insight! Working on the comfort side for the wife and activities/adventure for the kiddos is top of my list.

My current set up is a Gazelle T4 Overland and I also have the large ARB awning with room attachment.

What the best sleeping arrangements y’all have used? I’ve tried a king size air mattress but that just ended up getting leaks, which is horrible when 2am rolls around and you are all rolling into each other on a flat mattress!

I’m thinking good quality sleeping pads and lots of pillows.
We're figuring this out right now. Trip #1 this year did not go to plan with regard to sleeping arrangements. We have a Gazelle T4 Plus tent which works great, but our Camp-Rite double air mattress (brand new for the trip) did not hold air and we ended up sleeping—or not—on rocky ground. We've decided to go with Mountain Summit Gear cots for the adults and some fairly robust Sea to Summit air mattresses for the boys. A good pillow is also key.
 

Ubiety

Rank VI
Member
Expedition

Explorer I

5,221
Sammamish, WA, USA
First Name
Ubi
Last Name
Ety
Member #

6193

Ham Callsign
Ribs
What the best sleeping arrangements y’all have used?
We too have a Gazelle T4 - lots of room for either three of us or my wife's suitcase. Hahaha. Recently we have been taking and using a separate tent for the boy to give him the autonomy that he desires - next trip it will be his responsibility to setup and tear down HIS tent. We use an REI air mattress that makes up like a bed which is a unique experience camping (bed not sleeping bag); never had a problem with it leaking - the boy gets a sleeping pad and has not complained. We also carry memory foam for plushness. To answer your question - the best sleeping arrangement I have ever used is a cot under the stars ;)

Funny @MOAK - my son has the time of his life playing with sticks and rocks and dirt but once he gets home his attitude changes and he says "it was all right, I guess". MORE SHOCK THERAPY! ;) This year I think I am going to start putting him in the driver's seat when out and away from others...

One more thing I forgot. Turns out my wife really enjoys driving (beating) the Jeep - so I let her drive whenever she wants. That helps keep her happy and coming back.
 
  • Like
Reactions: bulfo4 and MOAK

OcoeeG

Rank II

Enthusiast III

443
SE TN
First Name
Chris
Last Name
Gee
@MOAK I LOVE your response. Such an awesome experience for the boys, GREAT job pappy!

I guess I just got lucky. My wife was my college sweetheart, we went our separate ways back in 98 when the world called me and she still had 2 years left on a college soccer scholarship.
We both lived our lives apart for 20 years, thankfully when Facebook came around we found each other and kept in contact, sometimes a lot, sometimes we wouldn't talk for a year or 2. During this time she had a son whom she did an absolutely AMAZING job raising by herself in the concrete jungle of New York City. 4 years ago we reunited and they moved from NYC to SE Tennessee to live with me.

Our son had never camped in his life, he was 6.5 years old. As soon as he moved down south he started to call himself a country boy and he took to it like a fish to water. Which amazed me for a kid who had hardly ever seen what the wilds of this world have to offer. Creek swimmin', hiking, white water rafting, fishing, cliff jumping, biking, etc. he was down with every adventure. On our first camping trip he did AMAZING!! HE LOVES IT! NATURE vs. NURTURE The wilds were just in him, part of his soul. The fun safe adventures we took him on let it out. I think most children have that in them, it is our job to unlock it in a way that allows it to blossom not wilt. Project fun and confidence. It is not easy, but it is a must. If you stress , they stress. If you are angry or scared, they don't feel safe there. If Mama is not having fun they are not having fun.

My wife had only been camping 1 time in her life before she came down south, with me in college. But from day 1 of our outdoor adventures she put 100% faith in me, and that has never wavered. I think like everyone says above, you have to get Mama on board whatever it takes. That is a lot about her, but also a lot about you. Do your best to project confidence in each and every activity you bring them on, give them no reason to doubt you. Best of luck! YOU GOT THIS!
 

OTH Overland

Rank VI
Benefactor
Member
Expedition
Adventure
Investor

Pathfinder II

4,635
Camano Island, Camano, WA, USA
First Name
Dave
Last Name
Ballard
Member #

20527

Ham Callsign
N7XQP
Service Branch
Fire/EMS/SAR
Back when the kids were still home, we found that going to plces without cell service really got them to engage with thier suroundings, as soon as they put down their phones they started to actually look out the windows and get excited about being on a trip. Allways made time to stop and explore anything that seemed to catch thier interest, climbed a lot of rock piles, explrored a lot of roadside attractions. Before leaving on a trip we would go over our route with the whole family and gave each of them a task to go online and find one thing they wanted to see or do on the route and plan it out, then we would all particiapate, they really liked the responsibility of planning a portion of the trip, and quite honestly came up with some really good stuff. We made sure they all had some of their own gear and they woud set up thier own 'camp' at night even at a younger age, when they would often elect to stay in the family tent once it got dark..lol Fast forward 10 years since they have moved out, camping and road trips are still some of thier best memories. Today Michelle and still spend more nights camping in a tent then in our motorhome, With the invnetion of the portable power stations (Jackery/Goal Zero etc) is the ability to bring an electric blanket, nothing makes a happy wife on a camping trip is getting into a pre-wamred sleeping bag, I also need to remember to stop before it gets dark to make camp..lol
 

overlandxc

Rank III
Member

Enthusiast I

874
Cumming Georgia
First Name
Adam
Last Name
Crenshaw
Member #

15338

Back when the kids were still home, we found that going to plces without cell service really got them to engage with thier suroundings, as soon as they put down their phones they started to actually look out the windows and get excited about being on a trip. Allways made time to stop and explore anything that seemed to catch thier interest, climbed a lot of rock piles, explrored a lot of roadside attractions. Before leaving on a trip we would go over our route with the whole family and gave each of them a task to go online and find one thing they wanted to see or do on the route and plan it out, then we would all particiapate, they really liked the responsibility of planning a portion of the trip, and quite honestly came up with some really good stuff. We made sure they all had some of their own gear and they woud set up thier own 'camp' at night even at a younger age, when they would often elect to stay in the family tent once it got dark..lol Fast forward 10 years since they have moved out, camping and road trips are still some of thier best memories. Today Michelle and still spend more nights camping in a tent then in our motorhome, With the invnetion of the portable power stations (Jackery/Goal Zero etc) is the ability to bring an electric blanket, nothing makes a happy wife on a camping trip is getting into a pre-wamred sleeping bag, I also need to remember to stop before it gets dark to make camp..lol
Great advice man. The whole point to me is creating those memories that last a lifetime. Slowing down and letting them help plan is an awesome idea! They are just 4 and 6 but they would love having a part in all of it.
 

MMc

Rank V

Influencer II

1,749
San Dimas, Ca.
First Name
Mike
Last Name
McMullen
Member #

18647

My wife had never camped until se met me. I started her off camping with showers and flush toilets, 3" egg crate pads (before Threm-a-rest ). Made sure we ate well and she didn't have to do anything she didn't want to. Three years later she was dry camping in remote Baja. It was a series of small positive affirmations, getting her comfortable and good times. We would hotel a night if we were out for a week or more, restaurant sometimes. The more fun she has the better.
I like there-a -rest pads, there a bunch of quality self-inflating pads these days. As for the girls unplugging might be pretty hard, I would start small, a day or so without cell service then they can check in.
 

joseluis.17g

Rank I

Enthusiast I

231
Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico
First Name
Jose
Last Name
Gomez
start them easy, I started with my now wife glamping, in the beginign we stuck to camping spots with a shower and bathroom, and worked out way from there, my wife is a food lover, so I make sure to bring wine and a nice ribeye for us to dine, comfort is another consideretation, no one likes to be uncomfortable for days at a time, so I make sure to pack stuff to make the trip as comfortable as possible
 
  • Like
Reactions: bulfo4 and Ubiety

MidOH

Rank IV

Off-Road Ranger I

1,298
Mid Ohio
First Name
John
Last Name
Clark
Ham Callsign
YourHighness
We're back to mostly glamping with overlandy kit.

Wasn't so much about the toughness of tent camping or anything. It's the lack of things to see. Exploring without any pay off. The glampgrounds are near interesting spots for diving, islands, theme parks, etc. etc. Overlanding can't compete with that. Even the wildlife has been better glamping (bald eagles all over the place this year).

If I go camper, it might be for just rest stops, on the way to our hotel destination.
 

AndrewW

Rank I

Contributor II

124
Riverside, CA
First Name
Andrew
Last Name
Warm
You know how I successfully did it with a wife and kids? I bought a motorhome! No really - my wife doesn't know the first thing about camping. Her version of camping is electrical hook-ups with both ACs or heater running, the fridge keeping her wine at 35 degrees, and the porcelain toilet waiting for her in the middle of the night. While they like to off-road and get off the beaten path, they want to come back to complete comfort. When they go, I find usually find a campground centrally located to something I want to do and then make several day trips. Pack the 12v fridge with whatever they want to eat and we have a good time. Maybe not the ideal camping situation, but it works for us. For me? My goal is to get some of my own trips in where I spend 4-5 days in the unknown, attempt to find that elusive brook trout and not pick up my phone the entire time.

Andrew