Transporting a herd of kids

Shaindel from Ottawa, Canada is in a serious maternal pickle. She’s taking her eight kids (yes, that’s eight!) to Minnesota for a family reunion next summer. But, she needs some wheels. Wheels… with lots and lots of space.

Tom and Ray suggested a Dodge Sprinter, an old school bus (with seat belts), or 10 Greyhound Bus tickets.

How would you comfortably transport a small herd of offspring halfway across North America?

Share your suggestions with Shaindel, right here. And, who knows – maybe we’ll check back with her next fall, and see what happened!

Tom and Ray

Click and Clack, the Tappet Brothers

A full size, long wheelbase van would do the job, too. But the Sprinter will get far better fuel mileage. It depends on what Shaindel can afford.

There is a long wheelbase version of the Sprinter which should have enough room for 10 people. I think they go up to 12 or 15 passenger seats, so probably enough room for 10 plus luggage, though another solution for luggage is to use a small utility trailer. This way the van can be a little smaller and more manageable for local use at home and you just hook up the trailer for longer trips with lots of luggage.

For a one-time trip, I’d rent a large van or take the bus. No need to buy anything.

I assumed they wanted to upgrade anyway, but yes, renting a large van would make more sense for a 1 time trip.

After researching a bit, I find the Sprinter comes in a 12 passenger version in either short or long wheelbase. Again, I’d recommend the short wheelbase and a trailer for luggage.

I heard Mercedes is taking back the Sprinter, so she’ll either need to go to an MB dealer, or maybe there will be a clearance at the Dodge dealer. They aren’t cheap! Seems like $45k minimum, even with good mpgs that’s a lot of $$. Maybe buy a used full size van for much less. I don’t think any minivan will handle 9 folks. My old Suburban would, that’s another option.

I saw one recently and it was a truck label, not Dodge…Kenworth, International? I looked it up: Freightliner. It is back to MB, but here in America will be sold as a Freightliner Sprinter.

OK. I hear the Sprinter mentioned a lot, but I’d never buy one, especially if I had to find a Freightliner dealer. It’s really a commercial vehicle.

Okay, so a van with a cargo trailer is probably the ticket for these guys, or even better a van with a roof rack for luggage:
or some of those soft fabric cargo bags, those are pretty cheap, and you could fit at least two on top of a 15 passenger van. On the other hand, if these folks are serious about getting all Partridge and showing up in style, why not score an old airport shuttle bus. Sure they’ve usually got a ton of miles on them, but these guys only need to squeeze a few days travel out of it and then they can sell it down the road to the next unsuspecting group of family singers.

A quick ebay motors search reveals that they are rather affordable:
and they have enough time to wait for a closer one to become available. It really would be a nice ride, if the driver got a CDL (I’m not completely sure of the laws in maple leaf land), but they may not have to add seat belts, and they could keep all their luggage inside where it would be both accessible and dry.

Probably crazy, but that’s why I’ve always wanted to do it :slight_smile: (as in me too man :slight_smile:

Yeah, here’s a 12-passenger Ford van, looks like it’ll go fairly cheap

Not a suggestion but relating a family experience. When I was 16, the family vehicle became a A100 Dodge Sport Van. This was equiped with 3 row seating. There were 9 siblings and 2 parents. On a trip from Califonia to Iowa we had the entire family in the van and pulling a 21 foot trailer. The seating arrangement was 4 sibs in the rear bench; 2 sibs and mom in the middle bench; dad and a sib in the front seats on either side of the engine; one smaller sib on an upholstered seat atop the battery box behind the driver; and the last sib on a folding chair behind the front passenger seat.

The title for this trip was “Eyeball to eyeball across the United States”. We had a great trip covering the southern half of the U.S. on the way east and the north half on the way west. With all the load and the heat of the midwest the van and trailer had tire and wheel problems but otherwise, the trip was uneventful. We had surfboards on top of the van all during this trip as one stop was the Pacific coast for a couple of days. It was quite a sight.

Thought I would share this with you all.

Can’t see why you wouldn’t. It is a great van, although a little expensive. When you consider that other vans roll over and this one doesn’t, that justifies the price.

It was sold under two brands: Dodge and Freightliner. Dodge won’t sell it anymore but Mercedes will instead. Are you a commercial guy? Go buy a Freightliner where teh dealer will provide more of the business service. Don’t care for looking for a truck dealer and standing at the service lane with an 18-wheeler? Go to the Mercedes dealer.

There is only one really good answer: Both Ford and Chevrolet have been producing 15-passenger vans for many years. A used passenger van can be found within your price range. Remove the back bench seat and it’s an 11-passenger van with a fair amount of storage room.
Charlie Shugart

Be careful with 15 passenger [stretch] vans. Sadly, every big holiday i read in the paper of a major accident with these vans. driver falling asleep; van running off the road. Sadly , many of the passengers die. Renting a Sprinter and only the best drivers driving, with lots of rest stops and change of drivers

You’re right-also,the handling on them when loaded is poor, with a high center of gravity, easier to roll. Have to be careful, that’s for sure.