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Overlanding: Why You Should Have It on Your Bucket List

For those already in the world of vehicle-based exploration, the term “overlanding” won’t be a new one. Overlanding is becoming increasingly popular as people all over the world are looking for unique and interesting adventures–without the need to jump on a plane. 

What is overlanding

Today, we’re going to discuss all things overlanding to inspire you to get out on the road yourself. And trust us: you won’t regret it!

What Is Overlanding?

Overlanding is a way of, you guessed it, overland travel. This travel can be to remote destinations, but the destination itself isn’t the primary objective. 

You see, overlanding is all about the journey. Overlanders enjoy discovering remote trails and out-of-reach places, taking their time to witness the country’s beauty without rushing to a final destination.

Overland travel involves being self-reliant and having an off-road-capable vehicle, like a van or truck that you can camp from for months or years at a time. This type of self-reliant travel requires you to take on obstacles and live a life that’s anything but predictable or mundane.

Are Overlanding and Off-Roading the Same?

Overlanding and off-roading often get confused with one another. However, off-roading is strictly an adventure on un-surfaced roads, while overlanding takes on roads of all conditions

When overlanding, you could be driving on roads and trails through steep hills, extensive deserts, or big cities. In some ways, it’s kind of like a road trip, but without a set-in-stone final destination – the absence of which is the true spirit of overlanding.

And unlike a road trip, the main accommodation type for overlanders is camping, whether that be in a regular tent, a rooftop tent, or in the back of an RV.

Overlanding camping

That said, the biggest difference between overlanding and off-roading is the time spent traveling. Off-roaders may be out for half a day, a full day, or a long weekend trip, while overlanders, can be on the road for extended periods of time, often without an end goal in mind.

Overlanding is seen as a lifestyle, whereas off-roading is a thrill-seeking adventure where the driver is constantly searching out difficult terrains.

History of Overlanding

History of overlanding

We can trace overlanding back to the Australian outback. It was the principal form of transport for farmers moving their cattle across the country with the change of the seasons. 

As I’m sure you already know, Australia is a vast continent, and this long-distance travel was what gave us the term “overlanding.” Later on, workers built highways through the great Australian outback, which overlanding enthusiasts use to this day. 

Travelers all over the world have taken their own spin on overlanding, and the fascination for traveling over extended lengths of land is far from fizzling out.

Why Overlanding Has Become So Popular

Overlanding has become increasingly in vogue as more people want to ditch the norms of everyday life and experience adventure travel on their own terms. Here are a few things that give this lifestyle its popularity.

Full Freedom to Explore

An overland journey has no limits. You could be driving long distances across entire countries or spanning international boundaries, and that’s what makes overlanding so exciting.

Without a final destination or a set-in-stone schedule, you can witness things that you may have missed before and stay longer in areas that have truly stolen your heart.

Other types of travel don’t give you this amount of freedom to be where you please, when you please.

Ability to Work on the Road

The evolution of technology has made overlanding even more appealing. Nowadays, the ability to work remotely has allowed people to hit the road while still making their regular income. The thought of working out in nature sure beats a brick wall office space, right? 

Cost Effectiveness

Many people also enjoy how cost-effective overlanding is. With all the accommodation and cooking facilities you need packed with you, there’s no need to spend money on hotel rooms or restaurants. Sure, if you choose to spend the night in a campground, it may cost around $20, but that still beats the $100+ you’d spend on a hotel suite.

Pets Can Overland, Too

Along with the huge monetary savings, overlanding gives you the ability to bring your beloved pet on all your adventures. Dogs and even cats adapt well to the overlanding life, because not only do they get to experience new places, but they get to do so with their best friend.

What Is an Overlander?

Overland vehicles

An overlander is a vehicle you use to live and travel. An overland vehicle should be able to provide its driver with a place to sleep, a place to prepare food, and everything else they’d need to live.

Vans, trucks, buses, and cars are all popular overlanding vehicles that can be kitted out and adapted to suit their owners. Ideally, you’d want an overlander that could tackle all types of terrain, like four-wheel-drive vehicles with off-road tires. However, you can also always adapt your journey to the vehicle you have on hand.

For example, if you’re heading out on an overlanding journey in a regular car, you may need to search out flatter, paved roads with less difficult terrain. But don’t worry, that’s part of the fun: savoring the journey, tackling obstacles, and witnessing new things are experiences that define overlanding.

Well-Known and Frequented Overlanding Routes

The world really is your oyster when it comes to overlanding, as there are endless routes across the entire globe for you to explore.

If you need inspiration for your next overland journey, check out these popular routes: 

The Pan American Highway

Pan American highway overlanding

For this one, you’ll be starting in Alaska and driving down to Argentina. The striking differences between the start and endpoints and the trek down the West coasts of two continents make this one of the most popular overlanding routes in the world

The Rubicon Trail, California

Rubicon trail

Pack up your vehicle and head out to California’s Sierra Nevada region. Here you can tackle challenging terrain and witness some incredible natural beauty like Lake Tahoe, the El Dorado National Forest, and everything in between.

Australian Outback

Overlanding in the Australian outback

Australia is full of remote locations that are just waiting to be explored. The Canning Stock Route in Western Australia is one of the country’s most famous, spanning 1,150 miles and taking roughly three weeks to complete.

The Silk Road

Karakoram highway

If you paid attention in history class, then you’ll know all about the Silk Road. This roughly 4,000-mile-long route spans the Eurasian continent from China to Paris. While you’re driving the Silk Road, one of the segments can lead you onto the Karakoram Highway, which zigzags Pakistan. Trust us, this road is spectacular and one you won’t want to miss. 

Africa

Overlanding in Africa

What better way to experience Africa than in an overlanding vehicle? The route from Cape Town to Cairo, which we also know as the Pan-African Highway, stretches the length of Africa through Mozambique, Kenya, Tanzania, and many more unforgettable countries with stunning, picturesque landscapes.

Europe to Singapore

Singapore skyline

It’s even possible to drive from Europe all the way down to Singapore, or vice versa. The number of countries you could visit on such a journey is endless, as you have numerous options for crisscrossing the Eurasian continent on your way.

The beauty of overlanding is that you can go wherever the wind takes you.

What You Need to Start Overlanding

Since overlanding adventures tend to be longer than your regular road trip, you need to plan and prepare beforehand. After all, you’re going to be living in your vehicle. And there are a few necessities that every human needs to stay self-sufficient on a lengthy adventure.

Finances and Time

Although overlanding is considerably cheaper than staying in hotels, you still need money for things such as campsites, fuel, food, and activities

Overlanding can be as expensive, or as budget-friendly, as you wish to make it. So it’s best to give yourself a rough daily, weekly, or monthly budget and stick to it along the route.

Keep in mind that prices for certain things in one state or country may be considerably more or less expensive than in others.

Along with money, the next and possibly most obvious thing you’ll need is time. However, your overlanding journey doesn’t have to be months long. If you get a certain amount of weeks off in a year, then make the most of them by going overlanding. In our opinion, a short trip is better than no trip at all.

An Overlanding Vehicle

Another obvious component that you’ll need to start overlanding is a vehicle suitable for the journey.

Now, we mentioned before that this vehicle could be anything between a van and a car. Any vehicle that feels comfortable will work just fine for your overlanding trip. 

Some popular overlanding four-wheel-drive vehicle brands are Jeep, Land Rover, and Toyota. And although these are the most popular, if you think your car can hack it and you’re willing to put in a little more planning, then car camping and overlanding is also totally possible!

Overlanding Gear

Before heading out on your trip, it is vital to prepare and pack all the essential gear you could possibly need. 

Some of the most important pieces of gear include: 

  • Recovery gear
  • First aid kit
  • Shovel
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Jumper cables
  • Jack
  • Tarp
  • Tool kit
  • Spare parts for your vehicle, including a tire

Along with these essentials, there is an endless list of other items that you may wish to take on your overlanding journey, but we get more into that in our article Overland Gear.

Overlanding is all about self-reliance, and although packing too many things can take up a lot of space, not having everything you need will slow down the journey and potentially put you in some sticky situations.

Skills

Although anyone can head out overlanding, there are certain skills that will definitely come in handy on your journey. For example, if you don’t know how to change a tire, then driving alone through uninhabited areas isn’t the wisest idea. 

Other skills, like understanding road signals and road rules in other countries will also be extremely beneficial. After all, you wouldn’t want to get into any accidents or rack up costly fines in a foreign country.  

Overlanding: Our Final Thoughts

Whether you’re traveling from the East to the West coast of America, or from Europe to Singapore, overlanding is one of the most rewarding ways to travel.

The sheer freedom you get from packing up your life, moving into your vehicle, and hitting the road is like no other. That’s why we highly recommend that everyone put an overlanding trip on their bucket list.

As conclude this article, we’re intrigued to know if you’ve ever been overlanding? And if so, where did you go, and what was your favorite part of the journey?

Let us know in the comment section down below!

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