Make overlanding how you want it to be following these simple steps:
- Avoid the hype
- Refuse to be influenced
- Resist gear acquisition syndrome
- Don’t compare to others
- Realise what’s important
Overlanding has become big business over recent years, when I first started to become interested in it the whole overlanding scene had already grown into something quite substantial. There were overlanding Youtube channels, forums, memberships, annual events and brands continuing to emerge out of Kickstarter etc none of which I’d heard of until I began to look into overlanding more seriously.
My first impressions of ‘overlanding’ were that it must be an expensive activity to get involved with, running a 4×4 in today’s world is expensive enough then there’s all the gear you need to buy to become a ‘proper overlander’, roof top tents being the prime example..! Despite the apparent expense associated with overlanding it still intrigued me to the point where I decided to dig deeper and find out if it could be done on a budget which of course it can be.
Avoid the hype
Social media has played its part in the hype and glamorizing overlanding. Images of feet hanging out of roof tents across lake views offer an unrealistic perception of overlanding much the same as van life – you see a snippet but it’s not like that all of the time. Overlanding is a serious pursuit, it involves driving offroad, you need to keep your wits about you, you’re responsible for others in the vehicle and yes, it can be dangerous although how dangerous will depend on your ability to know your limits.
Overlanding is about exploration, rather than conquering obstacles. While the roads and trails we travel might be rough or technically challenging, they are the means to an end, not the goal itself. The goal is to see and learn about our world, whether on a weekend trip 100 miles from home or a 10,000-mile expedition across another continent– Overland journal
Youtube has some great videos from overlanders with many of them very well put together indeed, the drone shot following the 4×4 through woodland or across the desert is great but ultimately it adds to the hype. There are numerous things to take seriously to make sure your overlanding trip runs smoothly, forget Instagram and concentrate on the realities for a moment, once the planning and contingencies have been nailed down then get the camera out.
- Route planning
- Breakdown/recovery/vehicle knowledge
- Medical emergencies/first aid
- Food & water/cooking
The above is a very short list of things to consider, within them are a whole host of other things as well, the key is to be prepared, be confident [but not over confident] in your own abilities and plan.
Think about why you want to overland, is it because you want an expensive hobby and build up your 4×4 pride and joy? Is it because you want to explore more of the outdoors or spend more time with the family? All of these reasons are fine and whatever yours is that’s fine too. Just know that in the real world your trips are not going to look like Peter Mckinnon productions and the slow mo coffee is only a very small slice of the cake.
Refuse to be influenced
There is a lot of influence out there these days and much of it is on Youtube, sometimes it’s hard to differentiate between unbiased, honest reviews and those who are being paid to review and promote/increase exposure.
There is no ‘one size fits all with overlanding’, as everyone’s style of overlanding and reasons for doing it will be different.
When it comes to gear some may be adamant that for overlanding you need a twin battery setup and a 12v fridge whereas the reality is that you may well be just fine with a €150 cooler. There is no ‘one size fits all with overlanding’, as everyone’s style of overlanding and reasons for doing it will be different.
One thing we soon realised was that everyone has their own ideas when it comes to overlanding and we had ours, we had a vision to begin with and from there it developed into it’s own thing, a style that suited us and not something that we were constantly striving for because we need the gear, or because we had to do a certain thing in order to make it ‘proper’ overlanding.
Overlanding is whatever you want it to be.
Much will depend where in the world you are too, for us in Spain camping is about as restricted as it gets and is pretty much banned across the country. Sure, we still wild camp as you have to be realistic and not let bureaucracy spoil your fun but compared to some of our friends across the pond in the US, Europe is very restrictive.
This has a large bearing on the kind of gear you invest in and it pays to use your head, not your heart when making buying decisions particularly those concerning vehicle modifications, we’d all be running 33’s on lifted suspension if money and rules were no object and we wanted the look. Ultimately we stuck with stock rims and invested in some good rubber and standard ride springs – they still get us to the same places at a fraction of the cost.
Resist gear acquisition syndrome
Gear acquisition syndrome aka ‘G.A.S’ is something overlanders can suffer from greatly, it is also common in photographers who always need that bit of gear extra or the upgrade or the new piece of kit that will make things better. Companies are clever at marketing and businesses within the overland and outdoor industry are no exception, they want your money and will spend a lot of their own trying to get it.
As someone, who by my own self admission suffers from this annoying affliction from time to time I can only offer these words of advice:
What exactly is wrong with the gear you have already? Will the new gear make life better and in what way? Will your better half be over the moon when you tell them you’ve dropped another grand on the rig?
Acquiring new gear can be neverending, just when you think you’ve got everything you need something else will come along, Watching Youtube videos is fatal as there is always someone with something that makes the mind think ‘hmmm…..’ !!
Don’t compare to others
It’s easy to say ‘don’t compare but when you’re doom scrolling on Instagram looking at the Jeeps, the Shogun’s, the Landcruisers and the wicked looking machines that others have built it is hard not to compare what you have – especially when your build is on a budget.
There is an attraction to older vehicles though like the Shogun for example, it’s no new Tacoma but nor is it trying to be, it’s a different vehicle from a different era and its still a good one – for tens of thousands less than the fancy rig at the meet up or on your Insta feed.
There’s nothing wrong with a budget build, it’s unique and it’s yours and how does a newer build do the job any differently to warrant the expense? Overlanding can be done in a family saloon if you want to so is it really that important?
No roof tents, week long trips, convoys or anything like that, just us, some peace and the fresh air. It was [and is] all we need.
It’s not just the hardware either, comparing what others do and how they go about it isn’t useful, not everyone has huge expanses of country where they can set up basecamp, light the fire and enjoy a night under the stars, for a lot of us the realities are very different so we have to work with what we’ve got.
We do a lot of overlanding day trips, in 2022 we stayed very close to home and adapted to wild camping/car camping instead as well as simply enjoying some time out in nature. No roof tents, week long trips, convoys or anything like that, just us, some peace and the fresh air. It was [and is] all we need.
Realise what’s important
Living in Spain makes you less materialistic, it’s a cultural difference compared to that of the UK, vehicles for example don’t matter, you can be driving a new car or an old one and it makes no difference like it would in England where many people [including myself when I lived there] are constantly wanting something better, newer or simply different because that hit of having a new car wore off quite a while ago.
What is important when it comes to overlanding is to realise that the gear, while it is important is not the prime focus. Yes, the rig has be kitted out for offroad if that’s your thing, yes, the sleep system you decide to invest in has to be comfortable but these are materialistic things that can be replaced.
The experiences, being outdoors, actually doing the overlanding is the prime focus. Spending time with friends and family and creating memories is our priority when we overland. When our kids talk about us after we’re gone, overlanding will be mentioned and the photos will come out!
We live in a fast paced world where convenience and streamlining has become part of our lives, the old and sometimes better ways of doing things are becoming a thing of the past as we rely heavily on technology, people and the society to which we belong is changing also, sometimes for the better, sometimes not.
What we do have is nature to enjoy, it’s free and being out there to escape the modern world sometimes can be good for your wellbeing,
This is we why we love our style of overlanding. Avoid the hype.