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Jeep with overlanding gear in front of sunset

Overlanding 101: A Beginner's Guide to Self-Reliant Adventure Travel

Many people have asked us recently, "What is Overlanding, anyway?" We explained countless times how Overlanding was a unique and exciting way to explore the world.

Everyone we talked to wanted to know more. So we made a guide giving you everything you need to get started.

In this guide we cover:

  • What Overlanding is
  • What an Overland vehicle is
  • Factors to consider when choosing an Overland vehicle
  • The best Overlanding vehicles
  • Overlanding safety tips and considerations
  • The history and evolution of Overlanding
  • Different types of Overlanding
  • The benefits and challenges of Overlanding
  • How to plan your Overlanding route and itinerary

But first, let's actually define Overlanding.

What is Overlanding?

black mercedes with overlanding gear infront of sunset

Overlanding is a way of traveling that combines off-road driving with camping and exploration. It's a way to explore the country, backroads and wilderness and has become super popular in recent years.

But what sets it apart from other forms of adventure travel?

Well, with Overlanding, you're traveling in a self-reliant manner (often in a vehicle) with the goal of exploring remote and wild places.

Since you're in a vehicle, you can bring all your camping gear, food, and supplies with you. This allows for much more flexibility and self-sufficiency when compared to backpacking or mountaineering.

The Bare Minimum to Get Started Overlanding

5 basic essentials you need to start overlanding infographic

What is an Overland Vehicle?

jeep overlanding on a trail

An overland vehicle is a type of vehicle that's built or equipped specifically for Overlanding adventures. It's like a combination of a camper van and an off-road vehicle. It's equipped to handle rough terrain and has all the amenities you need to be self-sufficient while you're on the road.

Basically, it's a vehicle that's designed to take you on the ultimate off-road adventure. It has features like higher clearance, bigger wheels, and more powerful engines that allow it to tackle rough terrain. It also has things like a built-in kitchen, a bed, and storage space for all your gear. It's like a mini-home on wheels!

You can buy a factory-built overland vehicle or convert your own vehicle into an overland travel vehicle. It all depends on what you're looking for and your budget. But either way, an overland vehicle is a must-have for any serious overlander. It gives you the freedom to explore remote places and the comfort of making the journey as pleasant as possible.

Essential Factors to Consider When Choosing an Overland Vehicle

jeep infront of montains
  • Off-road capabilities: An overland vehicle should be able to handle rough terrain and have features like higher clearance, bigger wheels, and more powerful engines.

  • Reliability: You'll be spending a lot of time in your vehicle, so you want to make sure it's reliable and won't leave you stranded in the middle of nowhere.

  • Fuel efficiency: Overlanding often takes you to remote places, and fuel can be hard to come by. So you want a vehicle that gets good gas mileage.

  • Storage space: You'll be carrying a lot of gear and supplies, so make sure the vehicle has enough storage space to accommodate all of your things.

  • Comfort and amenities: You'll be spending a lot of time in your vehicle, so you want to make sure it has comfortable seats, air conditioning, and other amenities that will make your journey more pleasant.

  • Maintenance and repairability: Overlanding can be hard on vehicles, so you want to choose a vehicle that's easy to maintain and repair.

  • Price: Overlanding vehicles can be expensive, so you want to make sure you choose one that fits your budget.

  • Resale Value: You want a vehicle that will hold its value well in case you want to sell it in the future.

  • Brand reputation: Consider the brand reputation, look for models with a good reputation among overlanders and check for recalls, known issues and durability.

  • Personal preferences: It's essential to choose a vehicle that you'll enjoy driving and that matches your personal preferences.

Once you choose a vehicle, it's important to know what you're getting yourself into so you can have fun and explore but are prepared if something does go wrong.

What Are The Best Overlanding Vehicles?

3 vehicles that can be used for overlanding infront of mountain

When it comes to Overlanding vehicles, there are a lot of options out there. Some of the most popular and highly recommended Overlanding vehicles include:

  • Toyota Land Cruiser: This is a classic Overlanding vehicle. It's known for its reliability and off-road capabilities. It's also a bit of a cult classic among overlanders.

  • Jeep Wrangler: This is another classic Overlanding vehicle. It's also known for its off-road capabilities, and it's a great option for those who want to add some personal touches and customizations to their vehicle.

  • Ford Raptor: This is a bit of a newer option, but it's quickly becoming a favorite among overlanders. It's a high-performance pick-up truck that's built for off-roading.

  • Mercedes-Benz G-Class: This is a luxury option for those who want to overland in style. It's a bit more expensive, but it's definitely worth it if you're looking for a vehicle that can handle rough terrain and still provide comfort and luxury.

  • Toyota 4Runner: This is a great option for those who want a more budget-friendly option. It's a bit older but still a reliable and capable vehicle that can handle rough terrain and has a good reputation among overlanders.

All of these vehicles are great options for Overlanding. It all depends on your personal preferences and budget. If none of these sound appealing, vans and converted buses can also be used for Overlanding. 

If you think another vehicle should be on this list leave a comment below!

No matter what, if you're in the market for an Overlanding vehicle, it's always a good idea to do your research and see which one would be the best fit for you.

Overlanding Safety Tips and Considerations

jeep overlanding during a sunset

Embarking on an overlanding journey is a thrilling experience, but it's important to be prepared for any emergencies that may arise. From a remote area of wilderness to unfamiliar territories, it's essential to have the right tools and knowledge to stay safe and enjoy your adventure to the fullest.

Here are some things to consider:

  1. First aid kit: Make sure you have a well-stocked first aid kit, including essentials like bandages, pain relievers, and any necessary medications.

  2. Satellite phone: A satellite phone can be a lifesaver in the event of an emergency. Make sure you know how to use it and that it's charged and ready to go.

  3. GPS device: A GPS device can help you navigate in the wilderness, but it's always a good idea to bring a map and compass as a backup.

  4. Emergency contact: Let someone know your planned route and expected arrival time so they can check in on you if necessary.

  5. Area knowledge: Familiarize yourself with the area you plan to visit, including the local regulations, weather conditions, and potential hazards.

  6. Preparedness: Make sure you have all necessary gear and supplies, and that your vehicle is in good working condition.

By following these essential precautions, you can be well-equipped to handle any situation that may arise on your long distance overlanding journey.

Take the time to properly prepare, and you'll be able to focus on the exciting adventures that await. Remember to stay vigilant, be aware of your surroundings, and always put safety first.

The History and Evolution of Overlanding

jeep overlanding on a mountain

Overlanding has Australian roots in the early 20th century, when adventurous travelers began to explore remote parts of the world by vehicle. Back then, these pioneers would set out on long, grueling journeys that could take months, or even years, to complete.

During their jorneys they would travel through rugged terrain, cross deserts and mountain ranges, and cross rivers and lakes. They did all of this in vehicles that were primitive by today's standards, with no air conditioning, limited fuel capacity, and few amenities.

Despite the challenges, these early overlanders were driven by a sense of adventure and a desire to explore new and unknown lands. And as the years went by, the vehicles they used improved, as did their routes and the gear they carried with them.

Fast forward to the present day, and overlanding has evolved into a popular, modern form of adventure travel. It's now possible to travel to some of the most remote and beautiful parts of the world in relative comfort, with a wide range of vehicles and gear designed specifically for this type of travel. Whether you're an experienced overlander or a beginner, there are plenty of opportunities to explore the trails and discover new places and cultures.

So, the next time you set out on an overlanding adventure, take a moment to reflect on the history and evolution of this amazing and unique form of travel. And who knows, maybe someday you'll be telling the story of your own overlanding journey to a group of curious and adventurous travelers.

The Different Types of Overlanding

jeep overlanding on a beach

When it comes to Overlanding, there's no one-size-fits-all approach. Different types cater to different types of people, from adventure seekers to families, to those looking for a luxurious getaway. Some popular types include:

  • Expedition Overlanding: This type of Overlanding is for adventure seekers who enjoy traveling long distances and exploring new territories. Often, these journeys take several months to complete and cross multiple countries. People who enjoy long-term travel, testing their limits, and immersing themselves in different cultures might enjoy Expedition Overlanding.

  • Off-road Overlanding: For those who love a challenge, Off-road Overlanding is the way to go. This type of Overlanding focuses on exploring remote and rugged areas, and often involves challenging off-road driving. If you're someone who's into adventure sports and enjoys pushing their limits, then Off-road Overlanding is definitely for you.

  • Family Overlanding: Geared towards families, Family Overlanding is a great way to bond with loved ones while exploring the great outdoors. Typically shorter in duration and less challenging than other types, this type of Overlanding is perfect for families with children who want to experience adventure without going too far out of their comfort zones.

  • Luxury Overlanding: For those who enjoy traveling in comfort and style, Luxury Overlanding is the perfect option. This type of Overlanding involves traveling in style, with amenities such as hotels, resorts, and high-end camping gear. If you're someone who values comfort and style, and wants to make the most of your Overlanding experience, then Luxury Overlanding is the way to go.

No matter what type of Overlanding you choose, one thing's for sure, it's an incredible way to experience the world, create unforgettable memories, and immerse yourself in different cultures.

Overlanding Benefits and Challenges

truck with a closed rooftop tent parked in a garage

Overlanding is an incredible adventure that takes you on a journey to explore remote destinations, experience nature in its rawest form, and gain great resources and a newfound appreciation for life.

It's a type of travel that allows you to see international boundaries, take the road less traveled and make memories that will last a lifetime. However, like any adventure, overlanding comes with its fair share of benefits and challenges.

From the excitement of exploring new terrain and experiencing nature, to the trials of self-sufficiency and unexpected obstacles, it's essential to know what you're getting into before setting off on your overlanding journey.

Benefits of Overlanding

  • Exploration and Adventure: One of the biggest draws of overlanding is the opportunity to explore new places and experience adventure like never before. Whether it's the vast wilderness of Patagonia or the rugged terrain of the Outback, overlanding allows you to venture off the beaten path and discover hidden gems.

  • Freedom and Flexibility: With overlanding, you are in control of your journey. You set the pace, choose your destinations, and determine your itinerary. This gives you the freedom to create a truly unique and personalized travel experience.

  • A Chance to Disconnect: With the fast-paced nature of modern life, it's easy to feel overwhelmed and overstimulated. Overlanding provides the perfect escape, giving you the chance to disconnect from the chaos and truly unwind. Whether it's spending time in nature, reading a book, or simply relaxing with your friends and family, overlanding provides a welcome respite from the daily grind.

  • Self-Sufficiency: Overlanding requires you to be self-sufficient, which can be a great way to build skills and confidence. Whether it's fixing a flat tire, changing a broken part, or cooking a meal on the open fire, overlanding provides the perfect platform to test your abilities and learn new skills.

Challenges of Overlanding

  1. Harsh Weather and Terrain: Depending on where you travel, you may face extreme weather conditions such as heat, cold, rain, or snow. This can be challenging, especially if you are not prepared or equipped for it. Similarly, rough and challenging terrain can put a strain on your vehicle and require you to have good driving skills.

  2. Mechanical Breakdowns: Overlanding often takes place in remote locations, far from civilization. This means that you will need to be prepared for mechanical breakdowns, and have the necessary tools and parts to fix any issues that may arise.

  3. Planning and Preparation: Overlanding requires a lot of planning and preparation, from researching your route and destinations, to acquiring the necessary gear and supplies. This can be a time-consuming process, but it's essential to ensure a successful and safe journey.

  4. Cost: Overlanding can be an expensive hobby, especially if you are traveling in comfort and style. From purchasing or upgrading your vehicle, to buying gear and supplies, the costs can add up quickly.

Despite these challenges, overlanding is an incredible experience that is well worth the effort. The memories you create, the friends you make, and the personal growth you experience are truly priceless.

How To Plan Your Overlanding Route and Itinerary

black dog sitting in front of a set up roof top tent on a jeep

Finally, before you hit the road, it's important to plan your route and itinerary to make the most of your trip. Here are some tips for planning your Overlanding journey:

1. Research Your Destination

The first step in planning your Overlanding route is to research your destination. This includes looking into the types of terrain you will encounter, the weather conditions you can expect, and any travel restrictions or permits that may be required. It's also a good idea to familiarize yourself with the local culture, customs, and language.

2. Decide on a Rough Route

Once you have a general idea of where you're going, it's time to decide on a rough route. You can use mapping apps or paper maps to plot your journey, taking into account scenic routes, rest stops, and any landmarks or attractions you want to visit. Keep in mind that Overlanding is about flexibility, so don't be afraid to adjust your route as you go.

3. Plan Your Daily Itinerary

After you've decided on a rough route, it's time to plan your daily itinerary. This includes deciding where you'll spend each night and what you want to see and do during the day. It's a good idea to research camping spots along the way, including public campgrounds, RV and national parks too, and wilderness areas where you can pitch a tent.

4. Prepare Your Vehicle

Before you hit the road, make sure your vehicle is in good working condition. Check your tires, brakes, engine, and battery, and make any necessary repairs or replacements. Make a list of necessary gear and supplies, including camping gear, food and water, and tools and equipment in case of a breakdown.

5. Stay Flexible

Overlanding is all about flexibility and the unexpected. No matter how well you plan, things may not always go according to schedule. Be prepared for unexpected detours, weather changes, and other surprises, and always have a backup plan.

By following these steps, you'll be well on your way to a successful Overlanding trip.

Go On An Overlanding Adventure

black truck with a closed rooftop tent

So, in conclusion, Overlanding is a truly one-of-a-kind adventure that is just waiting for you to take it on. Whether you're looking for a challenge, a chance to escape the daily grind, or just an exciting new way to see the world, Overlanding has something to offer.

All you need is a little bit of preparation, the right gear, and a sense of adventure, and you'll be ready to hit the road and explore the wild and beautiful places that the world has to offer.

And if you're looking to gear up for your next Overlanding adventure, be sure to check out our site for the best Overlanding gear and supplies available. And don't forget to subscribe to our newsletter for more tips, advice, and inspiration!

So what are you waiting for? Get out there and start your Overlanding adventure today!

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