Last summer, the XOVERLAND team embarked on an expedition to Africa for the first time. A stark difference from the Nordic countries of Season 5, Southern Africa brought the team into vast landscapes, extremely remote locations, and days in between supplies, which was a major juxtaposition from our previous expedition in the Nordics.

This expedition also marked the first time the Croft family embarked on an international overland adventure together—the realization of a dream 10 years in the making! Cyrus, our oldest son (18), joined us twice before, but for Ryder (15) and Eli (13), this was their first expedition abroad.

For us, Africa has always been “the great teacher.” Between fuel logistics, demanding off-road tracks, and the unknown, traveling throughout the African continent revealed our weaknesses, whether in our vehicles, mindset, or logistics. We like to view these challenges as opportunities for growth and believe the stoic principle “the obstacle is the way” truly applies to any overland adventure.

No matter what adventure lies ahead, whether work, home, or travel-related, it always takes a bit of bravery to step into the unknown. Reflecting on our last decade of experience, we’ve pulled together some of the greatest lessons we’ve learned about navigating uncertainty while overlanding, particularly with family.

Catch the Africa Series premiere on February 29, 2024, and binge the first *FOUR* episodes on XOVERLAND Network.

Make the Unknown Fun By Trying New Things

We face plenty of unanswered questions going into any trip, from what the weather will be like to whether our overland rig will perform under pressure. While the big questions may remain unanswered well into the journey, we can dip our toes in by trying new things on a smaller scale. When Eli realized a restaurant in Botswana didn’t have his favorite Coca-Cola available, he dove right in, ordering the local Sparletta cream soda without hesitation. What could be more fun than a bright green bubbly drink?

Accept That You Can’t Control Everything

From illness to unexpected issues with paperwork, you can’t prepare for or anticipate every potential roadblock that comes your way. Our Africa expedition required tight timelines, which were often strained due to things we couldn’t control or didn’t foresee. Shipping three trucks from the US to Durban, South Africa, proved a challenge for the team when the vehicles were delayed by 10 days, requiring an overhaul of our filming schedule. Being okay with changing plans, adapting, and being solution-driven are all part of the overlander mindset.

Assign Clear Roles

Working as an efficient team means more time spent around the campfire, on the trail, or having fun as a family. During the Africa expedition, Cyrus put his experience from previous trips to Alaska and the Nordic series to work, taking on the responsibility of managing the electronics. Ryder was our galley assistant and provided electronics tech support, while Eli, our youngest, also helped with galley duties and stepped in with any tasks when needed. When each team member understands their role and how it fits in with the rest of the team, this eliminates any confusion about responsibilities and allows everyone to enjoy the trip to the fullest.

Plan Ahead

The ability to research, route, and execute a trip on the fly is critical to a dynamic overland adventure, and we’ve found onX Offroad (North America only) provides peace of mind in ever-changing destinations and schedules. Pre-planning tracks, destinations, and camp spots in one place are our favorite ways to organize information, and onX is our go-to planning and navigation app in North America.

Rachelle Croft on Navigating the Unknown While Overlanding as a Family

“This was a dream come true for the Croft family. Since before the boys were born, we dreamed of traveling the globe, introducing them to different cultures. Knowing that Africa would be a bit more of a culture shock than Europe, we began prepping them ahead of time. We explained that they may be more tired than usual, apart from jetlag, due to their brain having to work harder to comprehend all of the changes coming at them quickly.

Even simple tasks such as reading street signs and looking out the window put it into overdrive as you are figuring out a different country. Grocery stores, gas stations, people walking along the road, and new sounds and smells are all a shock to the system as you take it all in. We give a lot of extra grace and understanding for everyone the first few days to allow your body and mind the time it needs.

We raised the boys from a young age to be independent, communicating on their own to anyone, no matter their age. Africa was no different. We sent them in to figure out how to buy their own snacks at the store, order their own food, help the team by asking where the campsites or water was, and encouraged them to meet new people and ask questions when possible.

As with any trip or day in the life of parenting and kids, we all had good days and bad days. Being on the road for two months, working and interacting with others besides family, definitely took its toll at times. I kept a close eye on each of them, as much as possible, to get a read on them. Did they need more sleep, more food, or alone time? Or did I need a nap, more food, or alone time?”

Clay Croft on Navigating the Unknown While Overlanding as Family

“Overlanding as a family is a worthy challenge. There is not another thing we have done as a family that has shaped us more in our relationships than our overland adventures. The learning curve of travel is steep, and that’s exactly what makes it amazing. Kids are very resilient and adaptable, so don’t be afraid to throw them in the deep end.

If your kids are disciplined and have a grasp on family teamwork, an overland trip will level up every member of the family. For example, when you don’t know where to camp for the night due to unforeseen circumstances, let them in on the problem-solving. If a vehicle breaks down, let them in on the possible solutions to the situation. If they are in charge of dishes and the pot is burned, solve it with them to find a way to clean it out. The unknown is everyday, and travel puts that front and center. Working through the unknown is part of mastering life. However, as a leader and parent, you need to be able to show them the way, so having a strong problem-solving mindset is critical to the mentorship of your family.”

For more, join us for Episode 77 of the XOVERLAND Podcast as Clay and Rachelle Croft chat Africa: XOVERLAND Season 6 and what it looks like to travel through some of the most rugged terrain in the world as a family.

Where and How to Watch XOVERLAND’s Africa Series

Episodes 1 through 4 will be released first on the XOVERLAND Network, a premium, ad-free streaming platform dedicated to adventure travel and overlanding content, on February 29, 2024, followed by four episodes on March 17, and two on March 31, 2024. The series release begins on YouTube starting Wednesday, March 6, 2024, and continues weekly.

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