The overlanding craze is sweeping the globe. This is how to get involved in the burgeoning community of vehicle-based adventure where the journey is the goal.
Overlanding now encompasses everything from bike packing to million-dollar Unimog camper builds, and range from weekend road trips in the mountains to multi-decade expeditions around the world.
However those are the extremes. The more common overland scenario involves a 4×4 vehicle, like a Tacoma or Jeep, to explore local off-the-beaten-path routes with friends and family. Often, this involves camping and off-road travel for a duration longer than the typical weekend outing.
Overlanding: Where To Begin
There are two quick ways to get into overlanding. First, you can just hit the road less traveled and figure it out as you go. The second is to attend one of the many overland events across the country.
Expos provide an excellent way to pick up some of the finer points of remote, off-road travel. They’re a place to dip your toe into the activity without getting a full submersion.
But for many, it’s easy to simply run out the door, hop in the 4WD in your driveway, and hit the road. A sturdy mountain bike or motorcycle might even work. You don’t need a ton of training, specialized gear, or specific knowledge to go overlanding.
But even if you decide to jump in headfirst, expos are a great way to expand your knowledge base.
While all the adventure-mobiles and exotic locations are great, the people involved and those you meet while traveling are the best part of the adventure. You’ll get express-lane access to the community by attending expos.
Furthermore, overland events are a great way to quickly learn about the diversity of vehicle options and the specific skills you might need during self-reliant expeditions.
The most valuable events, especially for those new to the overland world, are those like Overland Expo that offer in-depth classes, roundtables, and demonstrations from industry experts. Vendors show the latest overland gear. Hands-on driving and skills workshops ramp up drivers’ techniques.
Many overland events are quite reasonably priced and are a quick way to fully immerse yourself in this growing community.
Overlanders are a pretty inclusive group. However, sub-groups exist, many times based on travel experiences, vehicle choices, or other interests like cycling, fishing, or traveling with children and/or pets. Plan to find people with similar interests among the crew to help connect beyond vehicle choice.
- February: American Adventurist Desert Rendezvous, SoCal
- May: Overland Expo West, Flagstaff, AZ
- June: NW Overland Rally, Plain, WA
- August: Mid-Atlantic Overland Festival, Huntingdon, PA
- August: American Adventurist Mountain Rendezvous, Big Bear, CA
- September: Vermont Overland Rally, Reading, VT
- September: American Adventurist Appalachian Rendezvous, Uwharrie, NC
- October: Overland Expo East, Asheville, NC
Ultimately, it is important to follow your own path to adventure. There is no one-size-fits-all overland adventure. You are the only one who truly knows what sort of travels will be the most fulfilling to you, your friends, and your family. So get out and explore, however you choose to roll.