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What on earth is “overlanding” all about?

One of the obvious joys of overland travel is it’s ability to change your life for the better. Because for many of us, overland travel is more than a method of going from point A to point B and C, it’s a whole new way of life.

What’s better than living on the road, living the life you always wanted to? Every day a new beginning for yourself, new locations to discover, new people to meet, new food to taste and new things to learn. But just how achievable is this dream, or is that all it is?

Travelling overland, slowly, is the way with the most ease you can afford to spend more time exploring, whilst spending the least money. It really doesn’t have to be expensive and you definitely don’t need any fancy gear or equipment. Discipline is something you’ll need, but even that’s free!

Keeping daily costs as low as possible, cutting out unnecessary expenses, and being resourceful means it’s possible to spend a long time travelling without spending too much money. It can be a sustainable lifestyle too. Working on the road, either remotely, or finding a job wherever you lay your hat, means that you don’t have to go home once the adventure is over (or you run out of cash). 

As more of us are discovering that the way we’re currently living doesn’t tick all the boxes, it starts to feel like a necessity to sacrifice all the unwanted baggage and seek a change of scenery and a new start – and there’s many ways you can do it, too.

The name ‘overlanding’ put simply, is “travel, exclusively over land.”  And because of most American publications we see, this drums up images of shiny new 4×4’s or state-of-the-art 50ft motorhomes – overland travellers actually come in all shapes, sizes and budgets. 

In the past, explorers have completed long distance journeys to all corners of the globe, living the drifter lifestyle with all-manner of vehicles before most of us were born and the trendy moniker ‘overlanding’ was even used. Truth is, it’s never been as current and popular as it is of late.

Something happens when we turn from city-dwellers to nomads, it’s like our eyes are opened to a lifestyle that’s been under our noses the entire time. The sense of community among overland travellers makes you feel like you’re part of a movement, a tribe, one where creature comforts, and lazy nights slumped on the sofa with a TV dinner just won’t cut it. Create everlasting memories in locations most will never visit, learn to adapt to new situations on-the-fly and solve problems that all teach you things about yourself you never knew.

The only thing you really require to travel and live like this is a means of transport. So let’s take a look at the most popular ways of travelling overland.

Popular Methods of Overlanding

4-wheeled vehicles

If a good old fashioned road trip sounds more like your thing, why not plan a journey and get on the road? Road trips are a great way to maximise your exploration potential, while saving money. You don’t need a specialised vehicle either. Any 4-wheeled vehicle that’s reliable, safe and economic enough for your budget will prove to be surprisingly capable for long journeys. Whether you are using car, van, 4×4, pick-up truck or even a motorhome, make sure it has the ability to carry everything you’ll need, while still leaving enough room for you and your passengers to be comfortable for the duration of your journey.

Services like viaMichelin and Roadtrippers can help you create your dream journey. If you are a driving enthusiast that wants to take more time to travel on some sensational roads instead of the highway, why not take a look at Kurviger.

2-wheeled vehicles

Motorcycles offer a sense of freedom and enjoyment that’s hard to match. Riding motorcycles is a fantastic way to travel. The feeling of leaning through the turns, feeling the warmth of the sun on your face and the breeze on your back, it’s a truly addictive way to travel. 

Sure, motorcycles do present a few other challenges: your carrying capacity is limited, and you are exposed to the elements unlike most other forms of transport, but it’s all part of the fun, and in no way does it make the journey any less interesting. Get yourself some suitable luggage, some comfortable protective gear and get on the road. Arriving at a new location on a motorcycle is always a great ice-breaker and conversation starter as I’ve found. Our very own motorcycle guides, tips and stories can be found here.

Trains

A massive amount of the world can be explored using rail networks. Ranging from high-speed bullet trains, to nostalgia-inducing steam locomotives with luxury cabins, the possibilities are vast depending on the location of your choosing. 

International trains can transport you from one country to the next, while local trains can help you discover more obscure locations between. Train routes with a focus on scenic viewing pleasure are popular if you really want to experience the beauty of a country from the comfort of your cabin.

The most popular option in Europe for decades has been Interrail – it’s so old even my parents used it. It’s a fantastic option if you want the freedom of hopping on-and-off in popular destinations, while still travelling in comfort and safety. It’s not unusual to meet other interaillers on your journeys that you can hop-off and explore with. For everything you need to know about train travel, check out The Man in Seat Sixty-One.

Hitchhiking

Hitchhiking has to be one of the oldest methods of getting about if you don’t own a vehicle. While it might not be the fastest way to get about, it’s hands-down the cheapest. You do have to have your wits about you, like with all adventure, but it’s nowhere near as scary or dangerous as the movies would have you think.

For the daring opportunist, hitchhiking has proved itself to be a free method of getting about. It’s true, you might end up waiting a long time for a ride, but you really can’t complain about things that are free. Be sure to inform yourself with the hitchhikers ‘code’ in whatever area you are in to ensure maximum effectiveness and the least chance of angering any fellow hitchhikers. Because I can’t speak from experience in this area, why not check out this complete guide to hitchhiking by Adventure in You.

So which is my favourite?

Easy, 2 wheels all the way! I love riding through countries and exploring every nook and cranny I feel driven to. I don’t plan my route too much. Often there is a final destination in mind but I’m open to detours along the way, hence the namesake. I enjoy navigating according to the terrain so I won’t often be missing out on any mountains, lakes, forests or other natural delights.

Riding long distances means I have to be more equipped than with other kinds of travel. That can mean carrying more luggage – but above all, I enjoy the feeling of being able to turn away from the current route and go to explore anything that catches my eye. If you’re looking for some tips to start motorcycle touring, read this guide.

The spontaneous nature of long-distance driving brings a lot of satisfaction. It’s completely expected that you’ll encounter a variety of situations that you couldn’t imagine, making the journey even more memorable. From being chased by angry, rabid dogs in rural Romania, to blasting the high-speed autobahns late at night in Germany, interesting places and moments are always just around the corner. 

Detours are definitely a good thing if time is not a concern, sometimes you could find that you enjoy the journey more than the destination. If you’re looking for an affordable motorcycle to take you on long-distance adventures, I’ve created an informative guide to help you choose the perfect motorcycle. 

So if you haven’t tried an overland adventure yet and want to experience something new and fantastic, do some light research on possible destinations and get yourself out there!

See you on the road.

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