Generally referred to as a means of travel supported by a motorized vehicle. As defined by Overland Journal: Vehicle-supported, self-reliant adventure travel, typically exploring remote locations and interacting with other cultures. Webster's did a nice job with Overlander: "one that travels overland". Simple is good!
In all honesty it's not lost on any of us what "overlanding" has become on social media. Endless gear options, Toyotas, Jeeps, Unimogs... all built to unimaginable (and unaffordable to most of us) capabilities.
Don't get us wrong, we love it, it's all very cool, and we appreciate what its popularity has done for many companies, entrepreneurs, YouTubers, film makers and adventure seekers like us. It's awe inspiring how overlanding has grown in popularity and become its own industry!
All that being laid out - Overlanding, or overland travel to us is merely exploring and traveling “over land” opposed to over sea, or over air. Whether you travel on a bicycle, motorcycle, unicycle or a unimog, it’s all a means of overlanding, or overland travel in our view.
Some might tell you it's camping, or car camping. Maybe yes, maybe no. We find when most people say they're going camping, they're headed off to an organized camp site with lots of "new friends" you may or may not wish to camp with. It's camp fees, fire pits made of cement, paved roads and bathroom facilities. Nice to some... but not our thing. Overlanding to us is traveling beyond the roads, finding hidden gems that inspire, comforts and brings inner peace. Places without crowds of people, loud music from other campers or pavement. It's basking in the solitude and serenity of nature, humbling you to the core as you realize how small and insignificant you are in the wild backcountry.
Now that we have things cleared up at 30,000 mile mark, or 19,000 miles shall we say (the distance of the Pan-American hwy.) let’s look closer at what a good majority of people are referencing to with the terms Overland, Overlanding, or Overlander. At least in our opinion (so don’t send hate mail just yet…). This is primarily a reference to using a motorized vehicle like a Toyota Tundra, or a Jeep, Unimog, MAN truck, EarthCruiser… (you get the idea), to explore and travel to remote places over long distances. Something like driving the Pan-American Highway from Prudhoe Bay Alaska to Ushuaia Argentina, with everything they need for meals and sleeping accommodations with them. Most of these vehicles will be outfitted for off-road travel with the intent to explore beyond the paved roads. To find and explore past the standard tourist traps, learning new cultures, experiencing life way beyond the comforts of home, and in general; living!
You will also see folks referencing overlanding with amazing vehicles decked out with every imaginable accessory, with plans for more essential gear additions coming, and they may not go 19k miles. They might just go 190 miles on a weekend trip, and that’s totally cool. Yes, we are far more interested in the two year trip, opposed to the two day trip. It’s about what gets you out beyond your couch, beyond your flat screen TV, it’s travel. It’s experiences and exploring a world that hopefully pushes your comfort zone. As my dad would always say “to each their own”.
Overlanding and being an Overlander is not one said thing. It's not one vehicle or bike, one wheel, two wheel, motorized or not motorized. It’s exploration of the land, by the land. There’s no need to get landlocked either, take a kayak, explore the waterways. Take your hiking boots and explore the wildest parts of the wilderness not accessible by a mechanical means. Do yourself a favor and acquire the appropriate skills to go do these things safely and wisely, but get your hind-quarts out of your house and live!
Other general things to pack in your proverbial bag of knowledge; be cool, be grateful for life, practice humility and get after it with tenacity. Don’t judge others poorly because they don’t fit your concept of overlanding. It’s not about the vehicle or gear someone has. It’s not about how many miles of dirt or paved roads they've taken. It's about travel, exploring, experiences, learning and enjoyment of life.
Do some good along your way! Depending on time, resource and skill available to you, pass-on positivity, helping and leaving behind a better tomorrow for someone else or something else. Leave behind something much more valuable than the dust stirred up under the tires of your overlanding vehicle. If you’re able to travel, you already have life better than most. Don’t try and “fix their life”. Find ways to help and give back that fit within their culture and their way of life.
Guests on the GHT Overland Podcast have done things like cleaning up beaches of plastics and garbage, to funding vaccinations for schools, to providing flea medications to animal shelters. What you can do is limitless, actually taking the actions and finding ways to spread good will overflow your senses.
Thanks for reading, and thanks for being curious :)
Overlanding, Overland Travel / Adventure Travel