Wikipedia describes overlanding as such: Overlanding is self-reliant travel to remote destinations where the journey is the principal goal. Typically, but not exclusively, it is accomplished with mechanized off-road capable transport, where the principal form of lodging is camping, often lasting for extended lengths of time (months to years), and spanning international borders.
Overlanding can reveal itself in many forms. Overland groups flock to Africa to experience the dark continent within the security of group travel. Our 3-month African odyssey was just such overlanding. Although we, as a group, were responsible for cooking, cleaning and setting up our own camp, the itinerary was set and we were accompanied with a guide and driver. The stress of finding our way was removed from the scenario, but there was no way around long, dusty, often boring drives, punctuated with extraordinary wildlife and tribal culture.
A more vagabonding type of overlanding has no set itinerary and is self-driving, but has a set time frame, such as we did with while driving across New Zealand, Australia, and the United States. With our own wheels but nowhere to be for weeks or months, we meandered these countries, criss-crossing as our hearts desired.
Then there is the mac-daddy of them all, long term overlanding where, as defined above, the journey is the goal. The idea to simply live. To create a life at your own pace and on your own terms. Where travel takes on an entirely different meaning and, rather than becoming a means to the end-game, becomes life simplified. Day to day becomes about the places you pass through and the people you meet along the way. A life lived out in the world, not just in your own neighborhood.
Overlanding is not for some, in fact, it’s not for most. Overlanding is NOT a vacation. It is simply life. It’s not all sundowners on a gorgeous tropical beach and breathtaking vistas. Not all incredible meals and cultural highlights. While all these are part of the draw of the open road, overlanding is also tedious and difficult. It’s long drives on terrible roads. It’s toilets and showers that are total crap, if they even exist. It’s camping in a parking lot at the end of a tough border crossing day. It’s having feet that are never quite fully clean.
Overlanding is like RTW backpacking on steroids, coupled with mechanical issues!
The ART of overlanding is just that, an art. To be successful long-term, an overlander must be flexible, adventurous, and willing to step far outside their comfort zone. Not knowing what the next day will bring is part of the joy, and part of the pain. And a life spent overlanding is exactly the life we are striving for. In spite of the challenges, nothing else brings quite the same overwhelming feeling of being really and truly alive.
As we countdown to Overland Expo, our conversations are centered on the fabled overlanders we will meet and the classes we will take, excited beyond words to become part of this select group of those who truly understand the search for something more.