Travelling with your children can be a challenging yet rewarding experience. For those that have the passion for overland travel, the challenges can be even greater. The kids will be bored in the car; they’ll have nothing to do without access to Facebook; they’d prefer to be hanging out with their friends and all their worldly goods won’t fit in the short-wheel based G-Wagon. Whatever we worry about, these anxieties can be enough to put many parents off the idea to go overlanding with the kids.
But think on. Those experiences can be hugely rewarding. Not just for the children but for your entire family unit.
Juliane & Michael Stahl and their 2 young children from Germany, defy the convention. They aren’t on a 3 week winter expedition to Morocco with the kids. They’re not overlanding to the Arctic Circle for a short Lapland tour. They are travelling across the globe in their modified Land Rover Defender and they’re in it for the long haul. If they can go overlanding with the kids on such a long term expedition, surely you can on a short trip?
A Wordly EducationMichael wrote a recent article for the Overland Journal, exploring how and why you should take the children with you. He describes how his children’s education is much richer than staying at home. It’s a mighty fine read and you might find your fears and anxieties are ill founded.
Of course there are some who do not always agree. Michael says:
“Although travelling with small children sounds harmless, the reactions you will get as parents of young children when you tell friends, colleagues and family about your overland plans are quite often highly critical. This is made more so if you want to go to the “danger zones” of Africa, South and Central America and Asia. Reactions range from “Oh, how interesting,” to a direct, “This is irresponsible.”
Education is one thing to consider but for a short trip you may be more worried about safety? Particularly when you have really young children in tow. You might worry that they will they be kidnapped, stolen or lost in the bush.
Having travelled with many groups over the years and with many children as young as 3, we have never lost a child yet. Even as we wandered around places like the Libyan Sahara, we can safely say no children were harmed in the making of those overland trips. Sure you need to be mindful of them, just as you would at home. Keeping them close to the campsite, holding their hands and keeping them by your side in a busy market place. Many countries will see you and your children as the most precious thing and treat you as honoured guests in their country.
Children Play Well Together!
When you travel with or meet up with groups of overlander families you’ll witness an amazing phenomenon. Without their mobile phones, Games-boys and Xboxes, children actually go and play together. They do this naturally regardless of their ages. They will quickly band together; play games, run around, scream, shout and entertain themselves while you’re sitting by the camp fire socialising with the other parents.
In our opinion, if you can overcome your parental anxieties and go overlanding with your children, they will benefit from a rich, educational experience. They will have developed life skills beyond their years.
We look forward to following Juliane & Michael Stahl’s story.
Featured Photo Credit: Marco Corleone