The Ultimate Resource for Overlanding – Part 3: Should I go on an overland trip?

First read:

The Ultimate Resource for Overlanding: Introduction

The Ultimate Resource for Overlanding: Part 1: What is overlanding?

The Ultimate Resource for Overlanding: Part 2: What is overlanding like?

The third most common question we are asked is, ‘Should I go on an overland trip?’

The truth is, only you can answer this question.

The motivation behind this question is broad. You may be a gap year backpacker wondering if you should do that overland trip or should you do it all on your own. You may be a 20 or 30 something professional who is thinking of an adventurous trip but worried an overland trip would be full of gap year types hell-bent on partying all the time. Or you may be recently retired and now that you have got rid of all the kids, are looking to do something for yourself, something you have been putting off for many years but don’t want to go on a ‘blue rinse’, boring bus tour, and are worried you may be a bit long in the tooth for an overland trip.

All very understandable concerns but rest assured you won’t be the first or indeed the last to have these apprehensions. It can be a big investment in terms of time, opportunity and money and nobody wants to get it wrong.

First and foremost, overlanding is a form of group travel. In our book, It’s NOT a Holiday! The A-Z Guide to Group Travel, we pose a number of questions that can help you decide if travelling in a group environment is really your thing or not.

Do you want adventure?

Do you like the great outdoors?

Do you like a challenge?

Can you cope when things don’t always go to plan?

Can you take instructions from someone younger than you?

Can you mix with people with differing opinions to yours?

Do you enjoy travelling with like-minded people?

Are you confident exploring somewhere independently?

Do you enjoy participating in group activities?

Do you want to interact with local people?                  

Can you deal with a cold shower?

Can you cope with being voted out in a group decision?

Are you prepared to pull your weight and do your share?

Morning person or not can you handle less than 7 hours sleep?

Can you survive without daily access to the internet?

Can you raise a smile when it really has all gone tits up?

So, are you cut out for group travel? If you answered yes to most of these questions, then yes, you should be seriously considering overlanding.

The key here is to know yourself – your likes and dislikes and to know what you want out of your travel experience.

The reality is that overlanding nowadays caters to all types. If you are a gap year or younger traveller then there are overland trips that cater specifically to you. They are cheap and cheerful with the emphasis being on seeing the highlights in a fun atmosphere. If you are an older traveller with more refined tastes and interests then there are trips for you – fully accommodated trips and special interest trips (e.g. wildlife, cultural or photography) that are still classed as overlanding. If you are that young professional then there are all sorts of overland trips that are a combination of the above so you get the best of both worlds.

In our experience, the groups that have enjoyed their time the most have been a mixture of ages and interests. For a group to become a cohesive family there needs to be people from all walks of life. There is no such thing as a typical overlander – you just need to be open-minded and flexible, have a positive attitude and don’t mind mucking in when necessary. And of course, a love for adventure.

So what advice can we offer?

Gap year and younger travellers – while travelling independently is certainly a rite of passage and offers a good opportunity to prove to yourself you really can do it on your own, an overland trip can be a great introduction to travelling. You can get a feel for a country/continent (and work out where you would like to go back to see in more depth) and get travel savvy in safe and supportive environment.

We have had many younger travellers on our trips and so many of them have said they have enjoyed both the independence and the group aspect of overlanding. We have seen first-hand, the benefits of overlanding for the younger traveller – they grow in confidence, they learn skills they may not have been exposed to before (e.g. cooking over fire, or for some cooking full stop ;-)) and most importantly they learn how to relate and contribute in a group environment. There is nothing more satisfying than seeing a young person’s view of the world around them be shaped by not only the countries they travel through and the local people they meet, but also the conversations and relationships they have with their fellow passengers.

20 or 30 something professional & older but active traveller – you may or may not have done a bit of travelling in your younger years but now you are looking for something a bit more adventurous, a bit more meaningful than your standard packaged holiday. Overlanding is not only the domain of younger travellers – more and more older travellers are choosing to overland. The overland market is shifting – more people are choosing to have career breaks (mid-career gap years if you like) and the baby boomer generation are reaching or have reached retirement. So not only do they have time on their hands but also the money available to do extended overland trips.

The overland industry has evolved to reflect this change. If you don’t fancy doing all the organisation yourself and don’t want to go an oldies tour then there are overland trips that will fit the bill. You could choose a trip that has more hotel accommodation than camping and/or one that has a chef on board. That way you get to have all the benefits of overlanding but with a few more creature comforts.

The variety of overland trip styles available these days really do offer something for everyone. You don’t have to be a gap year, young professional or older traveller to experience overlanding. Hell, there are even overland trips specifically designed for school aged children and families.

So, while you should really answer the question ‘Should I go on an overland trip?’ for yourself, we think the answer is a resounding, ‘Damn right!’

Next article in ‘The Ultimate Resource for Overlanding’ series, Part 4: Where should I go overlanding?

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