Hitting the road and not looking back is a dream many of us share. But choosing to forgo a traditional lifestyle for a nomadic one is a massive commitment, especially when children are involved. Brittany and Eric from Hourless Life have done exactly that and now, along with their son Caspian, have set off on an overland journey around the world.
We don’t need an alarm clock; we have a five-year-old. My husband Eric and I could’ve slept much longer, our tent’s zipped panels shielding us from the rising sun. Despite the comfortable darkness, our son Caspian began voicing every thinkable reason for me to get out of bed, each one growing in urgency: it’s time to play; I’m hungry; I have to go potty.
I couldn’t beg off any longer, though I groaned at the thought of parting with my bed’s warmth. At that point, Eric made a noble contribution: he pulled out his iPhone and turned on our petrol heater with a tap on the screen. I began to hear the blessed sound of the heater fan in motion, and suddenly I was much more willing to face the cool air amidst the pine trees outside.
Full-time overlanding as a family
Eric and I began traveling full-time in February 2014, without any home or property. Other than a few storage containers at my parents’, stuffed with memorabilia from Eric’s 20 years of military service and my childhood journals, everything we own in the world traveled with us in our home on wheels.
Caspian joined us at the end of 2016, but we never considered getting off the road with our newborn. Not long afterwards, Eric and I started itching for something new. Though we continued to treasure the thrill of seeing new places in the diverse United States, we had mastered the RV lifestyle and it didn’t challenge us like it once had.
So, in May 2018 when I happened upon the term “overlanding,” I was immediately attracted to the idea of exploring the world by driving across international borders. But there was a problem: I had a one-year-old. International overlanding would fit me perfectly, I was certain, but it couldn’t possibly fit my phase of life as the mother of a toddler.
But I couldn’t let the idea go. I kept researching and discovered the Snaith Family from the United Kingdom, who spent four years literally driving around the world with two young daughters. My excuse shot to pieces, I set the goal of driving around the world.
We started overlanding with what we had: a 2014 Jeep Wrangler, which we outfitted with an iKamper rooftop tent. But as we approached our final departure from the United States, we chose to purchase a 2021 Jeep Gladiator and pair it with an Alu-Cab Canopy Camper. The Gladiator offered us expanded payload capacity and storage space, while the Alu-Cab Canopy Camper enabled us to have two separate sleeping areas and interior space for retreating when the weather became really miserable. With the size of our platform, we would be nimble enough to navigate the off-road tracks and narrow-streeted towns of the world.
With no time constraints, other than the fact that Caspian will eventually have dreams of his own he’ll want to pursue, we are planning to spend the next 10-15 years completing our drive around the world. This is the very definition of long haul.
With that in mind, living off-grid with our Jeep takes on real weight. We can’t save up our dirty laundry for a washing machine back at the house, count on endless potable water, or enjoy the psychological solace of “holding out” through bad weather and unexpected challenges for our return back home. We are home, and our home is 100 percent off-grid.
But it’s not as bad as it might sound, provided we take measures to make our overlanding lifestyle sustainable. That’s the key: what tools and processes do we need so we don’t burn ourselves out due to the intentional self-deprivation that overlanding always involves?
Powering life on the road
After nearly eight years of full-time travel, our wheeled homes becoming smaller over time, I’ve embraced minimalism and the beauty of simplicity. When we first began to design our Jeep Gladiator, I argued for a simple power system. Fewer things to purchase; fewer things that could break over time. How many components could we possibly need for a platform so small?
But I had to face reality. The dual battery system and 100-watt solar panel we had for our Jeep Wrangler had never been sufficient for our power demands. I went back to the fact that we needed to make our overlanding lifestyle sustainable, and that required a power system that matched our long-term needs.
That’s why we chose to partner with REDARC. The Manager30 expertly manages our multiple power inputs: solar power to our cranking battery under the hood, solar power to our lithium house battery, power from our lithium battery, battery charging power from our alternator when the Jeep is running, and shore power if we ever need to use it. It’s a lot to juggle, and the Manager30 makes the system efficient, even utilizing solar power before drawing from our lithium battery.
On the power output side, the RedVision vehicle management system provides a level of ease that makes camping out after a long day on the road still enjoyable. Our RedVision display unit is mounted just inside our Canopy Camper and can be accessed from the outside. With its large light-up screen and oversized buttons, I can easily operate it in the dark, quickly turning on our exterior lighting, water pump, inverter, or heater. When I’m busy preparing a meal and need an extra pair of hands, Caspian is able to follow my instructions and navigate the RedVision interface.
And for those times we want to turn on the heater from the comfort of our warm bed, the RedVision phone app allows us to do so with one tap.
Finding a way that works
We’ll never regret beginning our overland adventure with what we already had. With our Wrangler, we explored 2,000 miles through interior Mexico in 2019 and the full Baja Peninsula in 2020. If we had waited for a new vehicle and more complex setup, we would’ve missed out on many wonderful adventures. Through those two international trips, we confirmed we really did want to drive around the world and determined our personal style of overlanding as a family. If we had delayed that first trip to Mexico to “make sure” all our systems were perfect, we wouldn’t have had room to learn from our mistakes.
As we find ourselves in beloved Mexico once again, the horizon hides Central America, South America, and an ocean crossing to Africa and beyond. We have chosen an off-grid system that will support us for years to come, empowering us to experience the adventure of a lifetime as a family.
Learn more about Hourless Life and follow their journey around the world on Instagram. If you’re looking to set off on an overlanding adventure, find the perfect power system for your setup using our Lifestyle Selector Tool.