Travel is about the journey and not just the destination, how much of the country will you actually see by taking a flight? Although flying will get you from A to B much quicker, overland journeys will allow you travel at a slower pace, take your time and immerse yourself in the local culture.
What is Overlanding?
As you’ve probably already guessed, overlanding entails travelling over land and takes you off the beaten track, giving you a real taste of the country you’re visiting. Overland travel normally takes place in special expedition trucks, which usually come equipped with basic amenities for passengers, such as a fridge, drinking water and charging points for your electrical equipment. This method of travel is perfect for those who want to meet like-minded people, and if you’re travelling solo, it’s a great opportunity for you to make some friends. Overlanding allows you to travel to places that would be more difficult and or expensive to reach on your own, as all the logistics are handled by the Overland tour operator.
Overlanding takes you through several countries over long periods of time, sometimes 6 months or even more! With companies offering itineraries including South America, Asia and Africa, there are plenty of options available for travellers who want to explore a continent and get a real taste of each country! Companies such as Odyssey Overland offer routes including Kathmandu to Istanbul and Beijing to Istanbul, as well as overland adventures around South America.
Where would I sleep?!
So you’re travelling around countries in a truck…this is bound to beg the question, “where will I sleep?”. Honestly, the answer can vary depending on where your journey takes you, some of the time you’ll find yourself in hotels and others you’ll be camping beneath the stars!
Most overland companies will provide camping equipment such as tents and they’ll also cook some tasty food for the camp, so there’s no need to pack cumbersome tents and cooking equipment. However, you would need to bring a lightweight sleeping bag and a sleep mat to keep you warm and comfortable on a night. The season rating of the sleeping bag you require will all depend on the tour you’ve booked, in colder climates, a 3-4 season bag would be advisable and in warmer climates a 2-3 season bag should suffice. If in doubt, simply check with your tour operator and they should be able to provide you with a kit list for your destination.
What should I pack for an Overland Expedition?
You’ll need somewhere to pack all your equipment for the trip and a backpack with a side opening zip is the best option for overland travel. Depending on the duration of your trip, something around 70 litres in capacity should do the trick.
You’ll be required to bring a selection of clothing, suitable for both hot and cold conditions, as you will be travelling through a variety of different climates during your trip. Don’t worry too much about packing your entire wardrobe, you can easily wash your clothes while you’re on the road, bring a travel washing line and some travel detergent to make washing your clothes easy.
Also, if you’re visiting temples and places of worship, you will need something modest to cover your knees and shoulders with (a trusty sarong can work wonders here!).
There are 4 items you will need when it comes to sleeping gear for an overland trip.
1) Sleeping Bag – Try and get a compact and lightweight model, the season rating you require will depend on your destination.
2) Sleeping Bag Liner – These keep the lining of your sleeping bag clean and add extra warmth, especially if you opt for a silk sleeping bag liner.
3) Sleep Mat – You can go for the traditional foam roll mat or for the more advanced self-inflating models on the market, which give a higher level of comfort and insulation.
4) Pillow – Not only great for when you’re sleeping, but to give you some extra support and comfort during long journeys.
First Aid Kit
We recommend that no matter what your style of travel, you pack a basic first aid kit. So for overland travel, make sure you take a good quality first aid kit, along with any other medical essentials you may require. Items such as diarrhoea relief, diarolyte, antihistamines and any prescription medications will all need to be packed for your trip.
Wash Gear & Toiletries
Again, another requirement listed on many packing lists for travelling, wash gear is key to keeping you clean and hygienic on the road. You’ll find that you will be able to find most products while you’re travelling but having the basics can save you a lot of hassle further down the road.
A travel towel is one item that can save you space in your backpack, so forget about packing a towel from home and invest in a quick drying, microfiber option! Other items you should pack include shampoo, shower gel, deodorant, a toothbrush & toothpaste. Hand gel and wipes can also come in handy (excuse the pun!) and will help keep you healthy during your trip. For female travellers, ensure you pack tampons as these can be difficult to acquire in some locations!
Gadgets & Accessories
There are a number of travel and outdoor gadgets that can make your life easier, including waterproof bags for keeping valuables and important items safe, as well as security items such as cable locks and travel safes. A torch would be great for the nights when you’re camping and a worldwide travel adapter can be used to charge appliances and equipment in hotels. For the ladies, you may find a portable travel urinal, such as the Whiz Freedom, will come in handy when nature calls and there are no toilet facilities in sight!
Rachel has worked for the company for 9 years and as one of our buying team, has a wide knowledge of travel gear. She has travelled in Europe and Southeast Asia, but her dream destination would be South America to experience Carnival in Rio, unleash her inner Attenborough in the Galapagos and sip on Colombian coffee in colonial Cartagena.