Accommodating a large family - questions

stevenmd

Expedition Leader
Before I met my wife I was a single dad with 3 boys. It seems like every weekend we loaded up the rover and headed out into the woods or hit a trail. Now that I am married with 2 more children, I find myself having to redo quite a few things. I only want to redo things once and do it right.

I'd like to hear from the people who travel with large families. My wife and I now have 5 kids, ranging from 8 months old to 14 years old. I see quite a few vehicle/trailer/storage/camp set ups on here that are very cool but when I think about how to apply them to my large family, they seem to not be very practical.

So those of you who have 4+ children, how do you do it? What vehicle - dedicated rig or dual use (DD too)? How do you pack everything? 7 people equals 7 sleeping bags, pillows, clothing! Trailer? Food?:chef: Shelter - one big tent, several tents?

Also, I can't be the only country boy on here who married a city girl...:wavey: What special things do you fellas do to make your "city" wife feel comfortable on your trips?

I'm hoping some insight from others will assist me in making the right decisions that I am going to be making in the near future.

Thanks!
 
Boy's tent, Girl's tent, Mom & Dad tent.

As for the city girl's amnety requirements, I've found an air matress and her pillow from the house stimulate her senses of touch (comfortable matress) and smell (pillow) and make her feel more comfortable sleeping somewhere other than her bed.

For your size, I would look for a 15passenger van that has 4x4. Plenty of options out there that won't cost you as much as a Sportsmobile. You could always go the way of a small (used) school bus.
 

stevenmd

Expedition Leader
For your size, I would look for a 15passenger van that has 4x4. Plenty of options out there that won't cost you as much as a Sportsmobile. You could always go the way of a small (used) school bus.
Funny you say that. Chris (ujoint) and I have been conversing via email. I'm just not sure how feasible a 4x4 van is for DD use.

...and no, no school bus!:coffeedrink:
 
The one I've driven had an insane amount of space, and was actually quite nimble on the road. It does however have a very long wheelbase and care needs to be taken when navigating the parking lots.

And that V10 it had hauled ***.

It was cool because the seating was all removable, and left very flat floors and walls that could be customized anyway you like.


All that for less than $40k brand new. I'm sure you could find a used one for $20 or less.
 

James86004

Expedition Leader
My wife is the oldest of 7. They used a 15 passenger van, although they pretty much stuck to camp sites that 2wd could get to. Dad started taking the older ones on backpacking trips into the Grand Canyon while Mom would camp on the rim with the younguns. They started doing rim-to-rim trips with Mom shuttling back and forth. They also did a lot of fishing trips to some lake in Arizona's high country.

Sometimes they took two vehicles, especially after my wife got a driver's license.

The extended family still goes camping together, with everyone showing up with their own vehicle. We are now limited by the grandparents desire for a real toilet when we go. When they don't come we go somewhere more remote.
 

stevenmd

Expedition Leader
Thanks James. I often remind myself it's the memories that we are creating that counts the most. Not the type of vehicle we drive. Not where we go. It's the memories. Sticking to that type of thinking has led me to open my mind past my love landies and look at other platforms.
 
There's also the option of a Suburban. But you're going to need a good roof rack for all the gear.

I'd get one on the 3500 platform with a diesel.
 

stevenmd

Expedition Leader
Well I mentioned the 4x4 van option to my wife and she didn't say yes but she didn't say no either. That usually means do whatever you want.:wings: Thinking seriously about an E350 diesel set up for travel (captain's chairs all around and Ujoint's 4x4 conversion) and then towing a Coleman E3 behind it. For shorter trips without my wife, I can always set up a tent or put on a couple RTT's.
 

stevenmd

Expedition Leader

Martinjmpr

Wiffleball Batter
No need to get the Partridge Family bus yet. :ylsmoke:

Anything with 3 rows of seats would work, it's just that you might need either a rooftop cargo carrier or a trailer to get all your gear.

I'd look at a Suburban just because you should be able to stow a significant amount of gear behind the back seat and anything extra on the roof - saves you from having to haul a trailer. Or you could go a bit smaller and look at something like a Tahoe or a Toyota Sequoia (personally I think the 2nd gen Tundra/Sequoia is hideous looking, so I'd go for the 1st gen, but that's just a personal preference of mine.) Even an Expedition should work if you're a Ford guy.

Question would be: How far are you going and how long will you be out? I've got a "city wife" too and I don't have to worry about planning for more than about 2 overnights because anything more than that and I can pretty much plan on sleeping alone!

I think you have to be a bit realistic here. There's a reason there aren't many families of 7 going on extended trips to the mountains or the desert. When I was a kid back in the early 70's, we could easily pack our family of 6 (mom, dad and 4 kids) into the "Wagon Queen Family Truckster" (actually a big Ford Tornino station wagon) with a canoe on top, one big tent for the kids (mom and dad slept in the back of the wagon) and enough gear to keep us happy for 4 or 5 days and after that we'd be heading home anyway.
 

Martinjmpr

Wiffleball Batter
Just did a quick CL search and found lots of 3-row Suburban 4x4s in the $10k-$15k range, at least here in CO. Most had ~100k on the odometer.

I think the pluses for a Suburban or similar vehicle over a 4x4 van would be: It's a factory 4x4, no oddball parts to worry about; extremely common, especially in the mountain west and other rural parts of the country; should make an easier DD than a van that might have visibility issues; better off road capability due to lower COG; towing capacity should be equal to or superior to a van.

You can also pull the seats out and use the cargo capacity of a suburban - not sure you could do that with a van, at least if it has some kind of 'custom conversion' done.
 

stevenmd

Expedition Leader
No need to get the Partridge Family bus yet. :ylsmoke:
...er... doc explained how "it" was happening... got that taken care of right away!:ylsmoke:


I don't know... I'm just not a Suburban kind of guy. They're cool but they just don't appeal to me. Plus, I really want a diesel too.
 

R_Lefebvre

Expedition Leader
Excursion with the PSD?

I only have 2* kids, not 4, but I recommend skipping the roof rack and jumping right to a trailer. My trailer only takes about 1.5 mpg to pull, and I have what... 10 times the storage of a rack?
 

08whitex

Adventurer
X2 on the trailer. My roof rack is huge until I mount my tent to it and then I am out of room quick. My wife is a city girl. She does good sleeping in a RTT, having a pett toilet, and a fridge. :victory:
 
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