10 tips for a Gap Year with (or without) kids

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19 February 2016 - 11 Comments

Going on a sabbatical to travel the world is not only a dream! Or if it is a dream, you can make it come true! What families traveling the world say when we talk about this desire to go on a world-road-trip with kids (or without, that also works;)): “Don’t look for the right moment or right kids’ age, it will never be the right time anyway!;) Just take a 1-year sabbatical break (or more if you can) and hit the road!” You will need to save a little bit though;) (see n°5 of this article)

Seriously, the Huddle community* interviewed a German family aka Mischa, Juliane, Anouk and Soley aka the 4-wheel-nomads, who are currently on a 13-month-trip from Germany to South Africa! Check out the video and read the article below to get ALL the answers to your question!:)

(*Huddle members who have subscribed to the Huddle website. Close group on friends’ invitation only. Want to join us?)

1. Which route?

  • Germany-South Africa. As far as the 4-wheel-nomads are concerned, they have decided with their kids to go to Africa for this 13-month-road trip. Then coming from Europe, it was quite obvious that the 1st country in Africa would be Egypt and the last one would be South Africa. So they had to ship their car from Greece to Egypt. Another option could have been to go through Turkey, Iran, U.A.E., North Sudan, Ethiopia etc.

To have more information about how to ship your car from Greece to Egypt, see our article “6 useful tips to travel to Africa with your own car“.

  • An open route. Although the cities of departure and arrival are clear, the rest of the route is not. It depends on the encounters, the family expectation, motivation, health issues… One thing is sure: they want to take time in each country.

2. Travel duration?

The 4-wheel-nomads have taken a gap year with compulsory savings on their salary. Other overlanders have decided to travel longer. Let’s have a look on the other overlanders who are also members of the Huddle Travelers community. If you are Huddle member, feel free to contact them if you need their feedback & advice on their travel experiences:

  • The DaCaLuF – A 3 year world-road trip in South America and Africa with a converted fire truck. This French family of 4 with 9 and 11-year-old children, is currently in Ethiopia heading towards Europe.
  • The Bos’Trotters – A French family traveling around South America and Africa for 18 months with a camper van!
  • The Kump – A French globetrotter family  traveling for two years with a camper van to discover the world.
  • The six-en-piste – 4 children, a four-by-four and a off-road trailer, on the African and South African rough roads
  • The Convoi d’Anges Heureux – A family of 6 on a one year journey to discover southern Africa!
  • The Slow donkey – Stan & Anne Weakley aka the slow donkey in reference to their slow – but so steady – tractor-like Land Cruiser 76 series 4.2 diesel station wagon, traveling through Africa
  • Julie and Keith, Africa 2015-2016 – An anglo south african couple, on a grown up Gap Year traveling around southern Africa in their Landrover Defender

3. Preparation: itineraries, paperwork?

They read a lot of books and blogs. They also participated in overlander meetings where they got precious advice from other overlanders coming back from roadtrips. They also travelled a lot with their kids in Europe during the summer holidays before planning this big trip so that they get used to their car and feel there a bit at home too.

In 2014, they spent 4 weeks in Ethiopia all together as part of an educational project. They really liked this immersion travel and this is basically where the kids have decided to go back to Africa.

Concerning the paperwork for the car (car insurance, car registration etc.) and the family (international birth and marriage certificates etc.), see also our article “6 useful tips to travel to Africa with your own car“.

4. Traveling by Car Land Rover;)

The 4-wheel-nomads and – in particular Mischa maybe;) – are keen on Land Rover. From their point of view “it is not only one of the very few ‘real’ 4×4-vehicles with high off-road capabilities, due to its box-shape and its riveted and multi-panelled structure, it is also a highly versatile vehicle that can easily be modified and converted.”

The best plan, from their point of view is to either to buy a new vehicle or buy a good used one, have it thoroughly inspected and converted and invest a lot in maintenance etc. They don’t recommend to buy a complete vehicle… it’ll almost never suit your own personal demands.

car all set up

It also is very important to listen to many other people with experiences in overlanding, attending overlander’s meetings … and then to make your own decisions based on the info-mix you heard, saw and read. Then, you can start planning AND EXPERIENCING what your special needs are! At least one or two shakedown trips are really helpful (they did four) … and may become expensive: after each trip, they found new things that they needed and did away with older plans … Anyway, an Overlander is a project that never will be finished!

collage inside car

Take a tour…

 inside their car: sleeping, storage, water, electricity, food and cooking

outside their car: engine, protection, suspension, types / rims, lighting, spare wheel carrier, fuel, roof rack, sand laddders, poptop, foxwing awning, solar panel

From their point of view, they like the idea of traveling by car as it will make it easier to reach small villages, not to be limited. However, other overlanders may choose other means of transport such as converted fire truck, camper van… (cf n°2 of this article)

5. The budget?

About €100 per day i.e. €3,000 per month for the all family, including the shipping from Greece to Egypt (as well as their flights from Greece to Egypt) and the fuel. But not including the vaccination, medication bought in advance and the car of course!

The car bought new (to be on the safe side) plus the conversion and gears is about €75,000.

Their budget in detail below:

Trip Costs Budgets

“Life” includes all food, entry fees etc. “Traffic” is road tolls, bridge fees etc. “Other” is mainly pocket money for the kids.

6. Accommodation?

Regarding accommodation (14% of their budget), they mix between wild camps, campsites, lodges or friends, encounters or Huddlers’ places:)

Trip accommodation

7. Schooling?

They took this sabbatical trip just before their eldest child – Anouk (6 years old) – goes to school. But as teachers, Mischa and Julian, are doing some “homework” with their kids. And for them, this road trip is also part of their children education: learning through experience.

Note that in Germany it is not allowed by the Government to do home schooling. Which is not the case in France. We have met many French traveler families recently, traveling the world with their kids for 1 to 3 years, who are doing home schooling with specialized organization such as CNED or Saint-Anne.

8. Health?

Before leaving, they did all the vaccinations required by the doctors and German ministry of foreign affairs, including the yellow fever vaccination. They have also decided to take the malarone for the 4 of them against malaria, to be on the safe side. And they haven’t got any side effects so far.;)

They checked with friends’ doctors to prepare an appropriate first-aid kit to suit the conditions they would have in Africa. They have two boxes of medicines with them. Otherwise, they also have the email joker option, which is to contact their friends’ doctors by email describing their symptoms.

Road encounters may also be helpful sometimes as not everything can be planned. For instance, they met a couple on the road, both retired doctor and nurse – The Slow donkey who are Huddle members too – who took care of them in  Ethiopia where they were a bit sick.

Note that the malarone represents quite a hight budget as a box with 12 tablets costs about €35.

9. Traveling with kids?

If they are not used to it, it might be a bit difficult but it is definitely feasible. What matters most for kids is to be with their parents. And on a sabbatical road-trip the family is together 24/24 7/7!

The wheel-nomads have made many trips with their car in Europe. The kids are therefore used to it, to the space they have in the car, and to their new bed.

What is also important for the kids is to have a kind of routine, things they are used to… such as for Anouk and Soley a bottle of milk before going to bed.

10. Consuming landscapes only or still able to build things?

It is important for them to be useful such as writing about their trip, sharing their experience. They explain that the fact they have been through Egypt and Sudan, they have made people going there as they gave a positive feedback on such countries that generally “scare” people.

They also have the opportunity to help out sometimes, such as providing English courses in lodges.

Travel encounters

Finally, what matters most is encountering people. They are building things, they are building relationships and this is what they will keep from their trip.


All the questions were asked by members of the Huddle community. You’ve liked this article? Great, we are looking forward to reading your comments in the comment box below!:) Share with us the info you have found the most useful!  

Other questions to ask? write it on the comment box or if you are a Huddle member, post it on the Huddle home page. ***Want to become a Huddle member, join us!


  1. It’s the budget where I get lost. The article starts by saying you will need to save a little bit but by the budget section I find out that “little bit” is more that I earn total in 2 1/2 years (and that’s not including the 75,000 euro vehicle). I get mired sometimes when searching for information about overlanding. I research overlanding often but there seem to only be 2 kinds of overlanders; young singles or couples with no responsibilites and families where the parents have jobs with absolutly huge salaries. I wish there was more information about how a family that only makes around $15-20,000USD per year (total not each parent) could create a budget for such types of travel. I love to travel overland with my family but our budget usually restricts us to domestic roadtrips of a few hundred miles. I would love to find more info on how families with only humble income can see the world by vehicle.

    1. Hi Nick, even though 100€ per day sounds a lot, we are not earning huge salaries at home … We saved up for realizing our dream for a long time, used these savings and also had the chance to do a sabbatical. This means that for two years we voluntarily reduced our wages to two thirds so that we would still be employed in the third year when we would get the saved up money as a salary. This meant reducing our family’s costs of living considerably for two years. And, if you rent out your home-flat (or house which we don’t have) while you are traveling, you can reduce your costs at home to just about zero … Also, nobody has to buy a new car for overlanding and kit it out as we did … there are certainly cheaper options which are as good as ours … We only plan to use the Land Rover for a long time and thus invested a bit more … Just in case, you want to ask any more questions or discuss the matter further, feel free to contact me via http://www.4-wheel-nomads.de or via Facebook as 4-wheel-nomads . All the best, Mischa

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