While overlanding is rapidly growing in notoriety and more families than ever are equipping themselves for overland travel, the number of full-time overlanding families continues to be a small subset.
It took more than three years to launch our global journey, after we set the goal of driving around the world in May 2018. During those years of preparation, I always wanted to learn more about those who had found the bravery to make this move.
But despite my constant search, it’s been difficult to find full-time overlanding families. They’re often more dedicated to adventure than Instagram fame, so many times I can’t even tell from their social media profiles that they’re overlanding full-time.
For my part, I don’t understand why everyone isn’t talking about international overlanders. Forget what’s on the nightly news; forget Hollywood celebrities; these people are the real deal. And talk about upping the ante by taking your children along for the challenge of a lifetime.
For these reasons–the extraordinary nature of these families AND the difficulty of finding many of them–I decided to compile this list. I hope you’ll find inspiration and instruction in what they share, like we have.
One final note on definitions. For the purposes of this list, I’m only including full-time overlanding families, those who live out of their vehicle to travel long-term (more than a year). I’m also focusing on those who overland internationally, crossing multiple borders over the course of their travels.
This article was originally published January 26, 2020.
1/ Akela World
Meet the family: Maria, Leander, and 10-year-old Lennox.
Meet the vehicle: A classic Mercedes Benz 911 they converted into their rolling home.
When did your family begin overlanding full-time? 2016
What country do you consider home? Still looking for it. 😉 But in the last few decades it was Austria.
Places visited: One way around the world already. From Europe through Asia to Australia, the U.S. and, due to COVID, back to Europe.
Bucket list: A few more continents. 😉
Follow the adventure: Find Akela World on Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube.
Meet the family: Erik and Melanie with Claire (10), Molly (9), and Simon (6)
Meet the vehicle: They’re traveling in a 2014 Toyota Sequoia. Their only mod was to ensure a towing upgrade for towing their travel trailer. When they ditched the trailer, they added an extra large roof box and a large hitch box for extra storage.
When did your family begin overlanding full-time? June 30, 2020
What country do you consider home? Canada
Places visited: They’ve driven from Ontario to Newfoundland and back with the trailer. Then they drove west from Ontario to Alberta, then north to Yukon and the Arctic Circle, then south along British Columbia’s west coast. At that point, they spent the winter in Canada, sold their trailer, drove back to Ontario from British Colombia, and then shipped the truck across the U.S. border into Detroit. They flew to meet it and then drove from Detroit to South Carolina, then to Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, and California. From there, they crossed into Mexico and drove down the Baja Peninsula. Then they ferried over to Mazatlan and drove to Guanajuato. From there, they went to Veracruz, Villahermosa, Palenque, and Merida.
Bucket list: They are hoping to go to Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica. Ultimately, they hope to make it to South America–all the way down to Ushuaia–and take a boat to Antarctica. That’s the big dream right now. They’ll likely travel to other continents, but maybe won’t overland, per se.
Follow the adventure: They have a blog and post photos often on Instagram. They’re also making videos about once a month on YouTube.
3/ Expedition Family Happiness
Meet the family: Inge, Alex, and their 7-year-old twins
Meet the vehicle: 38-year-old Mercedes 613 van named Jacky. Though not a 4×4 vehicle, it’s a great home on wheels that takes the family everywhere, even off-road sometimes.
When did your family begin overlanding full-time? April 2018
What country do you consider home? Originally, they’re from The Netherlands. And they really like to be in Spain, so that feels like home, too. But currently, home is where they are with their campervan!
Places visited: They drove off from The Netherlands and have explored Europe, and a tiny bit of Africa and Asia. Europe is very diverse and made up of a lot of smaller and bigger countries that have their own charms (cultural and natural). So far, they’ve visited Belgium, France, Spain, Andorra, Portugal, Morocco, Italy, Albania, Macedonia, Montenegro, Kosovo, Serbia, Bosnia Herzogowina, Hungary, Romania, Moldova, Transnistria, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Turkey, and Greece.
Bucket list: The plan is to explore the more eastern and northern part of Europe, a bit of Russia, and the Nordic countries like Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Denmark. After that they want to make their way to southern Europe again via England and Ireland to Spain (ferry). For the years after that they have no plans yet, but plenty of ideas! Shipping to the U.S. or South America sounds great to them, as well as driving eastward to Iran and other Asian countries. And they would love to overland in Africa. There is simply too much to explore!
Follow the adventure: Find them on Instagram at @expeditionfamilyhappiness, Facebook, and expeditionfamilyhappiness.com.
4/ Family Overland Adventure
Meet the family: Evan (45), Christine (44), Miles (13), Ash (10), Charlie/Doggo (5)
Meet the vehicle: 2016 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro: GFC Camper, Decked Drawer System, C4 Bumpers,Redarc Manager 30 w/300 AH Lithium, 375 Watts of Renogy Solar, Icon Stage 9 Suspension, Icon Alloys w/ 35″ BFG KO2, Alu-Cab Tilt Fridge Slide, Snomaster 85L Dual Compartment fridge/freezer, Baja Designs Lights.
Turtleback Trailer: 42 gallon fresh water, 6 gallon hot water heater, outdoor shower w/shower tent, Bushcompany Blackseries RTT with Bushcompany Max 270 awning, full kitchen with 2-burner stove, sink w/filtered water. Redarc Manager 30 w/ 300 Ah lithium and 250 watts solar.
When did your family begin overlanding full-time? March 2021
What country do you consider home? United States of America
Places visited: The entire western United States as well as the entire Baja Peninsula
Bucket list: Mexico, New Zealand, Australia
Follow the adventure: Find them on Instagram at @family.overland.adventure.
5/ Mali Mish
Meet the family: Dan, Marlene, Ava (15), Mila (12), and Luka (9)
Meet the vehicle: Self-built Sprinter 4×4 Van 170, outfitted with 350 watts of solar, propane cooktop, top-loading fridge, sink, portable toilet, diesel heater, roof fans, awning, rooftop shower, and permanent bunk beds (pictured at the top of this article).
When did your family begin overlanding full-time? 2008 (with breaks for pregnancies and children)
What country do you consider home? United States
Places visited: As a family, all the drivable states in the U.S., all the provinces in Canada, plus some territories, more than half of the states in Mexico, 32 European countries, Turkey, and Morocco.
Bucket list: They’ll continue to travel as a family as long as everyone is happy and on the same page. So far, so good.
Follow the adventure: Find them on Instagram at @mali.mish, YouTube, and their blog, malimish.com.
6/ The Hilltop Adventures
Meet the family: Nick, Amy, Sammy (9), and Jack (7)
Meet the vehicle: They are overlanding in our Toyota Land Cruiser (105 series). Affectionately known as Brenda, she is named after a particularly plump and assertive pet hen from Amy’s childhood. Brenda has two fuel tanks, raised suspension, locking rear diff, bulbar with winch, rear wheel carrier, air compressor, 125ah leisure battery, fridge, 100l + 40l water tanks with water filter, and underslung cooking gas tank. All custom built and installed by Nick. They all sleep in an iKamper X-cover roof tent, which is rather a snug fit for the four of them!
When did your family begin overlanding full-time? Their current trip began in 2021.
What country do you consider home? We are from Devon in England, and plan to return just before the boys reach high school age.
Places visited: They’ve done previous overlanding trips across Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (2011, pre-kids). With the kids, they’ve driven around Scandinavia, the Baltics, and the UK. Most recently, they shipped their truck down to South Africa and have driven around South Africa, Eswatini, Lesotho, and are currently in Namibia.
Bucket list: After Namibia, they plan to continue through Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and back to South Africa. From there, they will ship/fly to Nova Scotia in Canada, then drive the Pan-American Highway all the way down to Patagonia in Argentina.
Follow the adventure: Find them at thehilltopadventures.com and on Instagram.
7/ Hourless Life
Meet the family: Eric + Brittany + Caspian (5) Highland
Meet the vehicle: 2021 Jeep Gladiator with Alu-Cab Canopy Camper (see the full build here)
When did your family begin overlanding full-time? We’ve been traveling full-time by vehicle since February 2014, but we officially became full-time overlanders in February 2021.
What country do you consider home? The United States
Places visited: We’ve spent at least one night in all Lower 48 states, visited Ontario, Canada, briefly, overlanded the full Baja Peninsula, and driven several thousand miles through mainland Mexico.
Bucket list: We are currently driving around the world. We’ll drive south through Central America and South America, back up to Brazil, then ship our Jeep to Africa. From there, we’ll overland through Africa, Europe, and Asia. After overlanding through Australia, we’ll all end up in the United States. This trip should take 10 to 15 years.
Follow the adventure: Our blog, which you’re on right now, is the hub for all our content. We recommend you join our email list, subscribe on YouTube, and follow on Instagram. If you really want to go behind the scenes and be part of our intimate community, then Patreon is the place to be. No matter how you choose to connect, we thank you for being here!
Other Overlanding Families to Follow
There are several other overlanding families we eagerly follow. Some are full-time, some are on a trip with a definite end in sight, some are on hiatus, and others have finished their trip (but have amazing stories and photos to inspire).
We’d love to do profiles on all of these families, as well. So if you see yourself on this list or know someone here, then let’s connect!
- @graeme.r.bell (A2A Expedition)
Thanks to you all for blazing the trail for the full-time overlanding families coming behind you.
First of all, I love the content you have! Thanks for sharing!
My family and I are long time lovers of camping and traveling, and recently started dabbling in off-roading when we bought our Jeep Wrangler earlier this year. So your site has so much great content that we can really relate to.
A few questions for you. Were both your husband and you completely bought into the idea of full time travel? Or did one have to convince the other?
Also, how do you earn your income while full time traveling and overlanding?
Thanks, and I’ll definitely be following your new content! 🙂
Hi Phil! Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment. You are actually the very first person to do so on our new website!
Congrats on the purchase (and use) of your Wrangler. They are incredibly fun aren’t they?
As far as your questions, let me answer as best as I can:
Q. Were we both bought into the idea of full time travel?
A. Kind of. The idea of traveling fulltime was mine (Eric), but the idea of driving around the world was Brittany’s. There was really no convincing one another of either. Don’t get me wrong, there was plenty of discussion, but no convincing. We are both dreamers, but we’re also the types of people who pursue our dreams relentlessly. Throughout our years of fulltime travel, we’ve mutually discovered what is truly important to us, and what we want to experience with this one wild and precious life we’ve been given.
Q. How do we earn our income while fulltime traveling and overlanding?
A. So it’s been a VERY long road to get to where we are. No pun intended. I served in the US Military for 20 years and retired. So I have a small pension that helps us keep the wheels turning. Then I worked for the King County Sheriffs Office (Seattle) and Texas Department of Public Safety (Austin) before fully “retiring.” In 2011 we started our own company. We intentionally started a company from which we could could earn an income from home. Through a lot of hard work and hustle, we grew it from nothing to modestly successful. After years of building our businesses we decided that what we really wanted to do was drive the world. So, we sold parts of what we had created, hired folks to outsource what we needed and reduced clients in order to be completely free from having to be online at a specific time. It has been about a 10 year intentional journey to get to the point where we’ll be able to drive around the world. Brittany is actually in the process of writing an article that explains all of this in much greater detail as we get asked this question a lot. Suffice it to say that it was a lot of work to get here, but we’re finally on the cusp of making our dream a reality. Hope that makes sense, and happy to answer any follow up questions. Bottom line is that it is possible to live this lifestyle, but you have to want it and pursue it intentionally (just like anything else in life.) Glad you are joining us virtually for the ride of a lifetime. ~ Eric
Excellent reply Eric – thanks for sharing !
Anytime. Thank you for being part of our community. ~ Eric
Forgot hippie.trail these guys are amazing. One child was born in the road
I’ll see if they’d like to be included! Thanks for the recommendation.
Just stumbled upon your great site, reading up a bit on others ‘road’schooling, seeing if we can find some other families on the road.. As you said, not so easy to find long term family travellers between the thousands of people doing some kind of travelling. Thanks!
Now in Argentina, so if you know of any families in the South of the continent, feel free to shoot us a message @oostveen_overland.
Hope we meet on the road somewhere! We’re heading north over time, so we’re roughly on track 🙂
Hi Elmar! Looks like we are already following you on Instagram. Hope to cross paths as we go south and you go north! One of my next projects is to compile a list of other overland travelers in Latin America, so maybe that will be a helpful resource for you. We don’t know many families in/going to South America, but several in Central America.