With the growing popularity of "overlanding," people who are new to this activity and even those who already identify as "overlanders" often struggle to define what it truly involves. Imagine it like this: aspiring to be a mountaineer while you're currently practicing backpacking or rock climbing; overlanding holds a similar, yet distinct, aspirational appeal.
In the spirit of embracing new adventures and venturing into the unknown, we strongly believe that the term "overlanding" maintains its genuine essence and focus on upholding the significance of being an "overlander." This approach ensures that anyone setting out on the overland journey can relish the feeling of accomplishment and personal growth that's truly one-of-a-kind to this experience.
In this article, we'll provide a concise explanation of what overlanding truly means in the context of outdoor exploration.
Distinguish Overlanding From The Terms We Hear Frequently
If you're someone who loves venturing into the natural beauty of uncharted territories, you've likely come across terms such as Car Camping, Four-Wheel-Drive Touring, Off-Roading, Vanlife, RVing, Road Trippin, and more.
Overlanding has gained remarkable traction and captured the interest of numerous individuals since 2019, as highlighted by Google Trends. But what exactly does Overlanding entail, and how does it set itself apart from other outdoor pursuits?
Let’s begin by comparing the differences between Overlanding and other outdoor activities.
1. Overlanding is quite different from "Car Camping". While car camping offers a comfortable and friendly starting point for those getting into overlanding, they are separate activities. Car camping involves using a regular two-wheel drive vehicle, often a "car."
When car camping, the main focus is on heading to well-established campgrounds that are easily reachable without needing a four-wheel drive or special gear. Car camping is attractive due to its straightforwardness: you pack up your camping gear, go to a campsite with family and friends, have fun, and return home after a night or two of camping beneath the stars.
2. Overlanding is different from "Four-Wheel-Drive Touring." Four-wheel-drive touring happens when you explore a specific area, like a state or region, using less developed roads. People do this to camp in basic spots far away from regular campgrounds.
A well-equipped overlanding vehicle is perfect for this type of touring, and it's a great way to learn important skills like driving on challenging terrain and recovering from tough situations.
However, there are other crucial skills for Overlanding that you can't pick up while touring in your area. These skills, like understanding international border crossings, getting along with different cultures and people, and dealing with big differences in laws, rules, and money, are essential parts of overlanding that go beyond just driving and touring.
3. Overlanding is different from "Off-Roading." Off-roading, often called "four-wheeling," is a kind of motorsport. You can have a really fun day doing off-roading, then head back home at night without camping.
Off-roading comes with its own set of challenges. At the expert levels of this sport, you need heavily modified vehicles and special driving skills.
Similar to car camping and 4WD touring, you can learn skills while off-roading that can be useful for Overlanding.
4. Overlanding isn't the same as "Vanlife." Vanlife is a way of living where people choose to live in a van instead of owning a house or apartment because it's cheaper and more flexible. So, many van lifers aren't exactly overlanders. But it's still possible to do overlanding using a van or a camper van. Notice the distinction?
5. Overlanding isn't the same as "RVing." Similar to Vanlife, some people go RVing without leaving their country or state. RVs can also cross international borders. But, when you go Overlanding, you focus on traveling to distant places with basic campsites that RVs might not reach, or even vans in some extreme cases.
6. Overlanding is different from "Road Trippin." Road trips have been a classic American tradition, celebrated in stories and songs. But, a road trip isn't exactly overlanding. Here's the key: A road trip could be from your home to somewhere a few hours away, or it could be a long journey across the country. However, it doesn't always include camping, focusing on remote places, or going across international borders as overlanding does. It is still quite enjoyable and comfortable compared to overlanding.
What Does Overlanding Truly Mean?
Now that we know what overlanding isn't, let's explore what it is. This will help us understand and enjoy this special way of traveling and having adventures.
We'll start by checking out the definition of the term "overlanding":
Overlanding is all about embarking on self-reliant adventure travel to far-off places where the main focus is on the journey itself. This kind of travel is usually, but not always, done using vehicles capable of handling off-road terrain, ranging from bicycles to trucks. Camping is the main accommodation choice, and these trips can stretch out over long periods, lasting from several months to even years. It's also common for Overlanding journeys to cross international borders.
To help you figure out if you're truly overlanding, consider these questions:
Am I going to remote places?
Am I learning about a different culture?
Am I exploring areas that aren't well-known?
Am I traveling on my own in new places for days, weeks, months, or even years?
Am I mentally and physically ready to handle all the challenges on the road?
Going international truly adds authenticity to the overlanding experience.
Once you cross borders, that's when the real overlanding adventure starts, for example, journeying through countries with less developed infrastructure compared to places like the United States or Canada.
Here are some common challenges you might face during this type of Overlanding:
Dealing with language barriers, making communication tough
Navigating through big cultural differences
Facing corruption and the possibility of dealing with bribes
Having limited access to technology and cell phone use
Finding it hard to get help due to a lack of emergency services and vehicle breakdown support
Managing important resources like food, water, hygiene, and vehicle maintenance
Figuring out time and distance while on the road
Needing advanced navigation skills
Handling finances over a long time while traveling internationally.
Everything mentioned above relates to the "self-reliance," "remote places," and "crossing international borders" parts of overlanding. These aren't just ideas; they're what you face during the adventure. We think these tough and daring parts of overlanding are what makes it thrilling and unlike traveling within one country.
With all this in your thoughts, we want to encourage others to become overlanders and chase the dream of overlanding. We think with proper planning and preparation, the journey is worth it.
Are You Ready To Be An Overlander?
While you might not exactly be "overlanding," you can still apply these ideas to all your trips and adventures. Also, you can use an Overlanding vehicle to enhance and make more of what you do. A well-made overlanding vehicle can take you further on all your trips and let you enjoy a comfy and useful camp.
The mindset of an overlander that helps you value diverse people, places, and cultures worldwide can also help you see the small differences in your area.
If you're planning to try overlanding and want to get ready, you can use your time at home to do two important things: prepare an overland vehicle and get into the mindset of an overlander.
After you have these 2 things ready, you can then go ahead and carefully plan for your overlanding trip. While you're having fun setting up your vehicle, also focus on expanding your mind and knowledge. Books, movies, or YouTube videos made by professional overlanders is very helpful for you to avoid basic mistake. Learn more about the places you want to visit. Research and study the countries and spots that interest you the most.
Lastly, work on having a mindset that welcomes challenges and adventures. Value the diversity of people and cultures all over the world is important.
In conclusion, as overlanding become more popular among those outdoor enthusiasts who are daring, brave, adventurous, and self-reliant, it is really important to have a clear understanding of what overlanding truly means.
Overlanding is quite different from the terms like Car Camping, Four-Wheel-Drive Touring, Off-Roading, Vanlife, RVing, Road Trippin, and more. It is important to know that overlanding maybe not as comfortable and enjoyable. It requires more advanced skills, knowledge, mental and physical toughness, and so forth. The goal of Overlanding is to roam into unknown places to explore what you haven’t been, seen, or experienced before.
It is quite challenging if you just switch to overlanding. Don’t easily depart without having enough knowledge and skills. You can acquire them by reading books, watching documentaries and movies, and watching videos from professional Overland YouTube channels. Learn as much as possible to prepare and avoid common challenges.
When you grasp the essence of what overlanding is all about and actively cultivate the skills and mindset that go hand in hand with it, you unlock the gateway to a new adventure. This remarkable journey holds the potential to not only foster your personal development but also create meaningful memories that will stay with you forever. For those who possess the courage and dare to step into the world of true overlanding, a thrilling and enriching adventure eagerly awaits ahead for you.