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Introduction to Overlanding: All you Need to Know for Offroad Camping

What is Overlanding, and Why Should it be on your Bucket List?

a woman sits atop a yellow and black jeep with roof tent setup, looking out over the cloudy skies and ocean from a rocky bluff in South Africa

Jeep Wrangler Overlanding in Bizana, EC, South Africa - Photo Credit: Nick Ferreira


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Everyone wants to have new experiences and explore new places, so it's no wonder that so many adventurers are trying their hand at Overlanding. Going on an overlanding trip is one of the most exhilarating vacations anyone could hope to take, offering a unique chance to test your self-reliance, survival instincts, and driving skills all at once.

If you enjoy road trips but want to add a bit of excitement to your traditional traverse, taking an overland holiday could be exactly what you are looking for. So, what exactly is overlanding?

What is Overlanding?

Overlanding is a trip centered around your personal vehicle, combining both on-road and off-road paths to find remote and distinct destinations. The main purpose of overlanding is the journey itself, not the destination; your lodging will consist primarily of outdoor camping, and the trip could last weeks, months, or even years.

To successfully overland, you’ll want to first build some experience in outdoor living. You’ll be exploring new locations and living a more rugged life, so you’ll want to be as self-reliant as possible. This self-reliance will pay off, as there are a variety of reasons overlanding can be such an enriching experience.

A man sits by his amazing overlanding setup - a white SUV with rooftop tent and shade structure attached, accessible via a ladder behind his vehicle

Overlanding in an Offroader with Roof Tent - Photo Credit: Uriel Mont

4 Reasons Why You Should Go Overlanding

Reason #1: Explore Any Destination You Wish

Because you can design your overlanding trip in whatever way you choose, you have the complete freedom to select any area or destination you desire. The only limitations you'll face are picking locations accessible by land, and choosing pathways your vehicle can safely traverse. A great overlanding trip will involve visiting several different locations, allowing you to create long-lasting memories and explore areas you may not have had the chance to visit otherwise.

Reason #2: Create a Lasting Connection With Nature

By combining the long-distance get-away of a road trip with the outdoor experience of camping, overlanding is a great way to connect with nature in new areas. You can take your time as you move from location to location, exploring among the local flora and fauna before you settle down each night. Instead of sitting in a hotel room surrounded by electronics, an overland trip offers a break from the hustle and bustle of modern life and the chance to soak up the beauty of the outdoors.

An RV attains VIP parking in front of a beautiful beach, two surfboards at the ready to catch the waves on the pristine blue waters

Overlanding via RV, Surfboards Encouraged: WA, Australia - Photo Credit: Robert Bergqvist

Reason #3: Travel Further on a Tighter Budget

You can save considerable money on your vacation budget by overlanding, mainly by spending less on lodging. Because an overlanding vehicle will usually be an RV or involve an attached trailer, your sleeping arrangements are already taken care of. Even if you have to book a campsite, these tend to be incredibly cost-effective. Instead of booking endless hotel stays, overlanding lets you save money and spend more time in natural settings.

Reason #4: If You Need to, You Can Work Remotely

If you have to continue working during your vacation, overlanding can offer more connectivity than traditional camping. Because you are traveling to new destinations of your choice semi-regularly, you can plan out stops that will allow you to access wifi. That way, if you have to do a bit of work, you can find pockets of time (and internet access) to allow you to do so.

a man descends from the rooftop tent above his Jeep via ladder as night begins to fall on his campsite

Tent on Jeep: CA, USA - Photo Credit: Luke Bender

Things You Need to Prepare Before Your Overlanding Trip

A Proper Overlanding Vehicle

Not every car can handle overlanding, so you'll need to ensure that your vehicle can withstand a rugged, long-distance trip. A good overlanding vehicle should have:

  • Clearance: Because you will spend so much time off-road, it’s important to have a good amount of ground clearance. This space between the bottom of your vehicle’s body and the road will allow you to clear obstacles and get over rough terrain, ensuring that the internal mechanics of your car or truck stay safe.

  • Horsepower & Torque: You may be traversing steep hills and getting through mud and muck; to do that, you’ll need a powerful vehicle. Having a significant amount of muscle can make the more difficult parts of your trek a lot easier, so make sure to consider this factor when choosing your overlanding transportation.

  • Traction: If your tires can’t find purchase on the ground, you aren’t going anywhere. Having a vehicle with good traction can mean the difference between getting stuck in the mud out in the middle of nowhere or powering through and getting to your campsite. Make sure you have a good set of off-road tires before you begin overlanding, and avoid cars that only have rear-wheel drive. This doesn't necessarily mean you need an all-wheel drive vehicle. Front-wheel drive vehicles are best for off-roading conditions; since most of the weight is on the front axle, it’s easier to pull that weight from the front instead of pushing it from the back.

You will also need a vehicle that has up-to-date maintenance and documentation. Having all your paperwork in order and ensuring your car is mechanically sound can make your trip less stressful and allow you to focus on having the most fun possible. If you are using a vehicle you just purchased, you may want to get a vehicle history report. These reports can help you see whether your vehicle has any history of accidents or recalls, allowing you to make the proper adjustments before your trip begins.


Looking for the right soundtrack for your next Overlanding Trip? Check out some of our recommendations right here: 10 Thunderous Tracks for Road Tripping Through Red Rocks


a man sits on the hood of his SUV, looking awfully proud of the tent resting atop his vehicle and the motorcycle parked alongside it.

Rooftop Tent with Built-in Camping Chair: CA, USA - Photo Credit - ArtHouse Studio

The Right Overlanding Gear

There are several items you'll need if you want to have a fun and safe overlanding trip. Some of these items include:

  • First Aid Supplies

  • Satellite GPS

  • Spare Tire

  • Recovery Gear

  • Tarp

  • Camping Supplies

  • Jumper Cables

  • Fire Extinguisher

  • Extra Water and Food

  • Emergency Cash

Of all the equipment you pack, you don’t want to forget the recovery gear to help free your vehicle in case it gets stuck or needs to overcome a certain obstacle. Make sure you have enough space for all your gear in addition to your (and possibly your family's) belongings. If you end up not having enough room, you'll need to determine what the essentials are and what can be left behind.

Remember, you won't have the convenience of a hotel to give you the provisions you need. Besides the occasional resupply run, you'll need to pack everything you might require in your vehicle before the trip begins.

You’ll also want to consider your camping setup. There are a few ways to camp each night, including:

  • Traditional Tent: Nothing too special, just a regular collapsible tent set-up. Easy to use and affordable, this is a good basic option for many overlanding trips.

  • Car-Top Tent: A specific accessory for the roof of your vehicle, a car-top tent can help you stay out of the elements and keep away from wildlife.

  • Trunk Camping: If your vehicle has ample rear storage room, you can set up a bed and camp in a safe, enclosed space.

  • Hammock: If you really want to get in touch with the outdoors, you can string a hammock up between two trees. If you choose this option, make sure to bring a net, or at least some bug spray!

Enough Time and Money for Your Trip

While an overlanding trip can be cheaper than a traditional vacation, you will still need to set aside an appropriate amount of money. You can calculate your budget beforehand by estimating how much gas, food, and other supplies you'll need to complete your trip. You'll also want to request the time you'll need for travel off from work (if unable to work remotely), and ensure that all participants of your trip can do the same. This is best done well ahead of time, so if you want to take an overlanding trip, start planning now!

A rooftop tent perched on an SUV parked in a magnificent forest as the sun sets. The SUV itself has a spare tire attached to the back, and an enormous backpack strapped to that

Cars are Backpackers too when Overlanding - Photo Credit: Alfred Bolvin

Overlanding is a Great Way to Vacation While Saving Money

If you enjoy roughing it out in the wild and have a desire to see new locations and experience new things, overlanding can be a very exciting way to travel. Unlike the range limitations of backpacking and camping, or the short duration of hiking, overlanding lets you combine all the best elements of outdoor adventure to create a versatile and memorable journey. As long as you take the time to prepare both yourself and your vehicle properly, you should have a safe and exhilarating vacation you can look back on for years to come.


Guest Blogger Patrick Peterson is a content manager at GoodCar. Born and raised in the automotive world, he’s an enthusiastic expert who writes exquisite content pieces about everything regarding cars and bikes.


Find a dispersed campsite near National Park land. Learn a new camping recipe, or get tips to enhance your thruhiking. Be among the first to get exclusive stories, trail reports and more from our growing team of experienced campers, backpackers, thru hikers, and fellow adventure lovers.


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