Anyone will tell you that Managing life on the road with a kid or two, is tough but doable as long as you have the right tools at your disposable to keep the kids entertained on the long drives. But now, what if I told you, you had to do it with 3 kids? How about 4? What about 5, or 6, or 7? What about 8?
Well Damien and Deborah Allen from Making Our Way, have proven they can do this, with 8 kids ranged from 3 to 23 years old.
They are beginning their Overlanding Journey, in a self-sustainable, low environmental impact camping manner.
They will be in Australia for approximately eight months, then over to South Africa, where they will then travel up through to Europe and onto Asia.
For them, this is not just a trip but a permanent lifestyle.
Travelling with children can be like taking a herd of wild geese on holiday. Whether they're your own children or someone else’s, factoring your kid's needs into your travel plans involves a lot more than putting on a Spotify playlist, playing eye-spy and making frequent toilet stops.
There is a great deal of responsibility in taking your children on the road permanently. You need to provide shelter, sustenance, health care, education and socialisation.
So how do they ensure their kid’s educational needs, keeping up with friends and socialisation are met? Damien explains all that below.
Who are we?
We are a large family of ten, mum, dad and eight children travelling permanently around the globe in three Toyota Landcruiser’s, (one ute and two troop carriers).
After three weeks camping around New Zealand (10 of us in a small hire van) - we identified the biggest issues were power, meaning keeping the kids iPad charged, cameras ready and most especially keeping food edible (there are things worse than warm beer such as warm ham).
Thankfully our REDARC systems keep everything just as reliable as it is at home.
Educating our kids on the road
The kids rely on iPad educational apps for their core educational curriculum with the addition of some specialised apps for their own interests. They take photos with their iPad, keeping a diary, and access to their blogs.
Social media such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Facetime is invaluable for the young ones to keep in touch with friends and family.
Kids Digital Recreation
As much aligned as technology is with our lifestyle, it is invaluable in occupying children when they have exhausted their bodies and imaginations. Downtime is important for everyone, most especially our autistic son.
They can always choose to use their educational apps, but Minecraft, games and even good old playschool is a staple while driving. Downtime on the campsite often involves watching a movie using a wireless hard drive.
Each night the iPad and portable chargers are charged via a USB power board connected to the inverter. If their devices run out of power during the day that is all the energy they will get until tomorrow. We have found the children will limit their own usage when they have this in place, as they can make estimations on how much power they will have left.
Adult’s digital needs
For some of us, the allure of travelling isn't just about the experiences, we want to document the journey for others. From DSLR to drones and much in between, there is nothing worse than finding a perfect shot and having a dead battery unable to take it. We run a rotation charging system making sure we are always ready, and that our power supply is accurate.
Food on the road
After three weeks with a small esky for ten people, 180 litres seems like a luxury. However, you still need to be mindful of the power drain. Our initial idea was to have one car carry a fridge, the other a freezer, but the power requirements to do this were higher than expected. We reverted to both cars being 90l fridge/freezer setups, 40-litre freezer, 50-litre fridge.
Food safety is paramount in a group of our size, and although camping trips involve convenience foods, permanent travel requires real meat, fresh fruit and vegetables, dairy and of course ice for those all-important hot day drinks.
Both fridges are easily accessed by all of the children in line with our aim to encourage independence from a young age. On the topic of food, we can also run our Kenwood handheld blender, a luxury but well worth it for a frozen fruit smoothie out in the middle of nowhere.
Power for our adventurous life is capably handled by The Manager30 Battery Management System in each vehicle. This device is a marvel of modern technology, as it allows us to worry less about keeping everything running and more about living - which is what we have been aiming for in the first place. All of the inputs, such as car power from the alternator, or green power from energy efficient solar blankets or straight in 240 volts from the grid is handled with ease and keeps all 3 of the batteries in each vehicle running at their peak.
The Manager30 lets you configure warnings to let you know when things need attention, such as people trying to run too many devices simultaneously, and in a family of 10, this does happen occasionally.
Head on over to www.makingourownway.com if you would like to hear more about Damien and his family's adventure.