There are many types of four-wheeling, but one that is less common is overland travel. Lots of people think overlanding is just buying a bunch of neat bolt-on widgets for their 4x4, but we describe this trend as getting away from home for multiple days and exploring and living out of your 4x4. It may be a long weekend in your local woods or a trip to the farthest reaches of the world. You may be going overlanding when you’re camping or exploring for a holiday vacation. Or you may be selling the house, packing the family in your 4x4, and taking them all on the adventure of a lifetime.
Where rockcrawling is more about surmounting a boulder-strewn trail and mud bogging is playing in a muddy field, overland travel is often less extreme on the trail obstacles but more extreme in the distance from home and civilization. In fact, you may need to mud bog or rockcrawl to finish your overland trip.
In Alaska you may go overlanding (and call it camping or moose hunting) and never leave the state. In the lower 48 maybe you could be overlanding if you’re taking dirt roads from Mexico to Canada, or as many logging roads as you can from Lake Superior to the Pacific Ocean.
The idea is actually pretty simple—it’s an adventure—but defining it will be different for everyone. We know people who have gone on these trips in old Jeeps, cars, motorcycles, and built-to-the-hilt 4x4 or 6x6 campers. It doesn’t really matter what you take or how you outfit it; you can still have an adventure. You just have to go.
Set a Departure Date
If you don’t set a date to leave you may never leave. It’s easy to say you will, but easier still to find excuses not to. Set a date and work toward it. Then on that date, leave.
Tell your friends that you’re going to drive around the world in the ’50 Dodge Power Wagon you just drug home from a junkyard, and some of them will tell you you’re crazy, you’re going to die, and you’ll never make it out of the county. They may be right, but negative people will not help you get through your trip. You need a can-do attitude to accomplish stuff that hasn’t been done before. If people tell you it can’t be done, ask if they have actually tried. They may just be scared and figure you should be scared too. You shouldn’t be scared; you should be smart.
Meet With Likeminded People
There are forums online all about world travel and expedition adventures, such as www.expeditionportal.com. The Overland Expo (“Wanderer’s Weekend,” page 30) is a great meeting of adventurous folks. Plus, if you look around you may find individuals in your hometown who have gone on wild and crazy trips. Experienced people will help feed the fire and can give you realistic advice. Is Mexico really a dangerous place to visit? We know people who go there all the time, while others will tell you you’re going to be shot just crossing the border by gun-toting drug smugglers, but they’ve never actually been there.
Don’t Read the Newspaper or Watch TV
A lot of the daily news is about looking for a sensational story to gain viewers. The news media can make you want to crawl under your bed in fear of serial killers, blood-thirsty terrorists, and evil border guards. The facts are simple: Millions of people die every year, and millions of people travel every year, but that doesn’t mean traveling will kill you. Ignore the hype. Plus, TV can be a huge time sink when you could be in the garage, shop, or barn fixing up your travel truck.