What is overlanding?
Overlanding or overland travel has become more popular in the United States over the last two decades. However there still some confusion on what overlanding is and how overlanding compares to off-roading.
Overlanding is any type of long-distance, self-reliant travel in a vehicle, mostly on unimproved or unpaved roads. Overlanding can be by motorcycle, car, truck, SUV or a custom off-road vehicle. Most overlanding is through remote areas, but usually with a destination in mind.
Overlanding in a vehicle is the historical progression of the long trade routes followed by merchants and explores along the Silk Route or Road from China through the Middle East to Europe, early travel through the Outback in Australia. Overlanding follows the original adventurers that were traversing in a Land Rover across the African safaris and deserts from Cairo, Egypt to Cape Town, South Africa or driving the Pan-American route from Prudhoe Bay Alaska across and through North, Central and South America to its southern end in Ushuaia, Argentina.
Overlanding is about the spirit of exploration and self-reliance, of slowing down and taking time to enjoy the journey. Overlanding is tapping into your underlying sense of adventure and discovering the road less travelled.
Combine traveling down fire roads or old forgotten dirt roads with outdoor camping in the vast open spaces of the backcountry and you have the essence of overlanding. Its tapping into your ability to rely on yourself and your resilience in handling whatever unforeseen issues come your way.
Overlanding is about unplugging from the typical non-stop distractions of 21st-century life and slowing down to enjoy nature and get back in touch with your inner self, the part of you passed down generation to generation by the rugged lovers of the Australian Outback and African Serengeti.
Overlanding doesn’t have to be a months or year long journey across several continents as you deal with vehicle breakdowns, unpredictable weather and road conditions. Overlanding can start with just a day-long or weekend-long escape into the local backcountry.
Overlanding doesn’t require an extensive and expensive upgrades to your vehicle to start. Many of the shorter land roving routes in the United States are dirt fire roads that a stock SUV or pickup truck should be able to handle.
Overlanding and off-roading sometimes get used interchangeably, but the big difference between off-roading vs overlanding is more to due with the experience and not so much the technical aspects of off-roading.
Throw your tent, sleeping bag as well as extra water and a camping stove and you can get started with overlanding on a minimal budget.
As you get more experience with overlanding and roving the outdoor road system, you can add upgrades to your vehicle with better tires, upgrading the suspension and adding a roof top tent and roof racks.
If you’re new to overloading and want to find out more, check out our list of beginner overlanding YouTube channels.