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Old 08-08-2009, 09:55 PM   #11
Join Date: May 2007
Location: Salt Lake City
Posts: 52
Re: Adventuring with Kids

Our 5 year old has been camping in the SMB (EB 50) since he was 6 weeks old!! At first, he slept w/ us downstairs ("don't break his arm" came after goodnight for my wife and I in those days!!). Now that he;s older, we let him choose upstairs or downstairs to sleep. We take the other bed, and usually by the end of the night, he's joined us, making things quite tight.

He loves to play up top in the back part of the bed in inclement weather, but in nice weather he's outside.

Yes, we do do a chinese fire drill each evening- bags, gear, etc all wind up on the front seats, dash, front floors, etc. After five years, we've got it down pretty good.

I made a mount reminiscent of our table mount from our old VW Westy, w/ a table top. I mounted it to the rear side of the door cabinet, and it holds the DVD player (we actually use the laptop as a dvd player). Works great!! He's now able to do almost everything by himself, while strapped in to his booster. Part of what keeps us all sane is him w/ the dvd through earphones, and my wife and I listening to podcasts of This American Life (or our own music).

I guess part of the issue for him is that the only window he has is tinted, and right next to him. It's pretty hard for him in the back to get a good view out any other windows, so scenery/wildlife viewing isn't that great.

We have tempered some of our bigger adventures- only in that the kind of drives we used to do as a couple would be too long/boring for him, so that we don't get in quite as much exploring. We also find that on our bikes or hikes we either temper way down (either a trail a bike or a bike trailer for now) or take turns.

Do it!!! Some of our best times have been "van trips" as a family!!!

'03 EB 50. Q 4x4. 7.3 PSD

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Old 08-09-2009, 11:30 AM   #12
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Join Date: May 2009
Location: ncounty San Diego
Posts: 239
Re: Adventuring with Kids

I just purchased the van and have yet to do any REAL camping in it. Having 3 small kids 7, 4 and 9 months I decided to purchase a small off road trailer so that I did not have to deal with room/ space issues. Added benefit of the trailer is that you can take wieght out of the van utilizing the 3rd axle. Having the roof top tent on the trailer will work out nice for guests or when the kids are old enough to sleep out on thier own.

2001 7.3 4x4 "Land Orca"
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Old 08-10-2009, 01:19 AM   #13
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: San Diego, CA
Posts: 41
Re: Adventuring with Kids

Hi Geoff,

We have two little girls, 3 and 6. Camping with them is so fun, but also so much more work than our normal lives at home.

I don't think you need to make a crib in the van. The bed in back, with the seat folded up, works fine. A very young child couldn't climb over that, and a child old enough to escape that is also old enough to follow basic rules.

However, our van does have a ~5" gap between the back doors and the back bed. Which is just enough room for a five year old to slip down underneath the bed while she is sleeping. I still have no idea how she did that. So maybe figure out a way, or a towel, to mash in there so your kid doesn't get stuck.

- how to deal with all the extra stuff you need to bring
Well, last month we camped for a week, and realized on the morning of the second day that we didn't bring their clothes. So they only had what they were wearing. Fortunately, kids that age don't seem to notice things like that. It worked out fine, though we did wash their clothes once or twice while they slept.

I don't feel like they've ever had that much stuff. We bring toys, clothes, diapers, and probably more snacks. But it doesn't seem to amount to that much. You only need a few toys, a few books, and their clothes are pretty small (all of them fit on one of the shelves). Their sleeping bags are tiny, they scrunch into the bags for our sleeping bags without making them bigger. We fit everything we bring for them into the forward sliding closet.

That said, all of my wife and I's person stuff fits in the sliding rear sliding closet. So we still haven't "filled" the van and may be a bit weird. Diapers are the only thing we consistently overpack, because it is such a trainwreck if you run out of those.

If you are going to have trash with you for a while, I heartily recommend "knot-a-bag", so that you can individually seal each diaper before you throw it in the trash. This worked really well when we were sailing, and had to keep trash for up to a month at a time.

- how to keep them happy (not bored) on the road
This is hard. It depends on the age. Personal attention works really well for very young kids, if one of you wants to sit back there with them and play. But it's tiring for that person. After a few hours of that I want a break. The DVD player is like magical crack.

Where to put the kids to have them playing out of the way when cooking/cleaning, etc.? I know when the weather's good, we'd just send them outside. But what about when it's freezing or raining?
It does get claustrophobic when it's cold for a long time. It's just too many people in too small a space. We deal with it by putting them upstairs, or we go hide upstairs for a while.

- how to keep them out of the way when cooking
The van is so small, this hasn't been an issue for us. If they are not outside while we are cooking, then one of us is sitting on the couch next to the stove and it's easy to keep them both away.
V8 RB-50
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Old 08-12-2009, 10:24 AM   #14
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Location: Seattle, WA
Posts: 1,028
Re: Adventuring with Kids

Thanks, everyone for sharing your experiences! There's a chance I might have more specific questions in a some months.

-- Geoff
2004 Ford, SMB 4x4, RB-50
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Old 08-31-2009, 05:02 PM   #15
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Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Baja Whenever Possible
Posts: 1,012
Re: Adventuring with Kids

Nintendo Game Boy or whatever the hell it is. The Girl has a pink one. The Boy has a black one. They work great at keeping the kids form killing each other when going down the road. However, if they link them to play a game together, one kills the other and the real fight is on.
It takes a village to raise an idiot.
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Old 09-01-2009, 03:30 AM   #16
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Join Date: May 2009
Location: Phoenix, Arizona
Posts: 233
Re: Adventuring with Kids

My boys are 18 & 11 and we have traveled as a family their entire lives in a variety of rigs in a variety of countries.
For me the key is "engagement"....either they are engaged with me, my wife or the countryside. No videos unless it is something we can talk about with pauses...Camel Trophy, Aussie 4wd, Classic Western or something that can be paused and discussed.
My wife loves to read out loud and we pause to talk about what she is reading.
My younger son loves maps, gps, or any kind of navigation. My older son will talk movies, books all day long.

When they are little stop ALOT to let them out and explore the world, get dirty and have fun.

if you go over to and check out their forum there are a bunch of threads on overlanding with kids.

Go out and play in the dirt!
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