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  • Writer's picturePolaris Overland

Are you an Overlander or a Traveller?

Overlanding or Tavelling?

In our previous discussion where we clarified the concept of Overlanding, so we now turn our attention to the distinction between identifying as an Overlander or a Traveller.

But before proceeding, it is essential to emphasise that this discussion is not intended to target, label, or diminish any individual's self-identification process. In today's diverse world, individuals have the right to identify as they choose.

Not Much Room For Storage and low ground clearance

If you drive a Tuk Tuk and identify as an Overlander, that is entirely within your prerogative, and no one should criticise or ridicule your choice. Overlanders have been exploring the world using various means of transport, including Tuk Tuks and even London Double Decker buses on the Pamir Highway. So if you want to rock up at Tescos (other supermarkets are available) in your prepped Tuk Tuk with winch and light bar and call yourself an overlander that is absolutely fine for who is anyone to say different.

In the spirit of fairness, let's first attempt to distinguish between Overlanders and Travellers. In broad terms, "Overlander" and "Traveller" both refer to individuals embarking on journeys, often of long-distance or international nature. However, there are significant disparities in their approaches and intentions:

**Overlanders: **

- Overlanders are typically adventurers who predominantly travel by land or sea, often employing purpose-built vehicles such as SUVs, 4x4 trucks, camper vans, or motorcycles to navigate remote or challenging terrains.

Airing down in the Sahara
Route finding in Mongolia

- Overlanders often prioritise the journey itself, placing emphasis on the experience of off-road driving to complete a journey, camping in remote locations, and immersing themselves in local cultures.

- Overlanders tend to engage in camping, off-roading, exploration of off-the-beaten-path destinations and enjoying the great outdoors. It's important not to confuse them with off roaders.

-Overlanders travel off-road as a means to an end, with their vehicle serving as their home, which they protect and nurture throughout the journey.

**Travellers: **

Sightseeing in Trogir

- Travellers encompass a category of individuals who undertake journeys for various purposes, including leisure, business, cultural exploration, or personal enrichment.

- Travellers may employ diverse modes of transportation, such as planes, trains, buses, and boats, to reach their destinations.

- The duration of travel for a traveller can vary widely, from brief weekend getaways to extended vacations or even nomadic lifestyles.

Ferry Travel

- Travellers often embark on journeys with a deep curiosity about the destinations they visit. The allure of travel extends beyond mere sightseeing; it involves immersing oneself in the local culture to gain a richer understanding of the place.

This immersive experience often begins with interactions with locals, as travellers seek to connect with the heartbeat of the community. Sampling local cuisine is a pivotal aspect of this cultural immersion. Food serves as a gateway to understanding a region's history, traditions, and lifestyle. By indulging in local dishes, travellers not only treat their taste buds to new flavours but also uncover the culinary tapestry that weaves together the stories of the people and their heritage.

Exploring the sights of Athens

Exploring historical sites and tourist attractions becomes a means of delving into a destination's past. These landmarks are like chapters in a city or country's narrative, each offering insights into the evolution of its society, architecture, and values. Travellers, armed with a desire to comprehend the roots of the places they visit, wander through ancient ruins, centuries-old buildings, and culturally significant sites.

Beyond the well-known attractions, adventurous travellers often seek out hidden gems and off-the-beaten-path experiences. These might include discovering local markets, attending traditional festivals, or engaging in activities that are not part of the typical tourist itinerary. This pursuit of authenticity allows travellers to break away from the surface and truly connect with the essence of a place.

In essence, the concentration on destinations goes beyond the superficial enjoyment of scenic landscapes; it involves a profound engagement with the local fabric, an attempt to unravel the layers of history, culture, and daily life that define a place. Through this approach, travellers transform their journeys into enriching experiences, leaving them with not just memories of picturesque landscapes but a deeper appreciation for the diverse tapestry of the world.

So, where do we fit in? Are we Overlanders or a Travellers?

Reviewing our own travel history, we have completed extensive overland trips in our Defender, reaching destinations as far east as Mongolia, as far south as Morocco, and as far north as Nordkapp, traversing challenging terrains from the Pamir Highway, to the Sahara Desert, and on to the Gobi Desert and we have taken the van to explore the tracks and trails of the Pyrenees.

Camped up in the Russian Altai

During these journeys, we primarily camped in a roof tent or within the van often in remote and difficult to reach locations where self reliance is key and for this reason both our vehicles have been purposely set up for extended self-reliant journeys off the beaten track where help and support can be measure in days not hours. All of which seems to align with the characteristics of Overlanders.

However, we have also undertaken numerous shorter trips utilising various modes of travel within the UK, Europe, and globally. We flew to Jordan, used buses and 4x4s to visit historical sites like Petra, explored Rome, the Colosseum, and were blessed by the Pope at the Vatican City. These experiences seem to resonate more with the traits of Travellers.

We flew to Jordan and toured in a bus to see places like Petra

Stepping back further and examining all our journeys over the years, during our longer overland trips, we often enjoyed stays in comfortable hotels, engaged in tourist activities, took hot air balloon rides in places like Cappadocia, and visited historical sites. These are unmistakably traits of Travellers.

We flew to Namibia and rented a 4x4 with roof tent

Conversely, on our shorter trips, we rented 4x4 vehicles and explored destinations like Namibia, mostly camping in a roof tent and relying on self-sufficiency. In Jordan, we embarked on a 4x4 trip to Wadi Rum, camping under the open sky. These experiences align more closely with the traits of Overlanders.

So in summary, based on our own experiences, Overlanders can be seen as a subset of Travellers, with a particular focus on adventurous, often self-supported, land-based journeys that take them to remote or challenging areas. Travellers tend to encompass a broader range of individuals travelling for various purposes, using different modes of transportation, and varying the duration of their stays at destinations.

Ultimately, the choice between identifying as an Overlander or a Traveller depends on individual interests, preferences, and the type of experiences one seeks. It is worth noting that while an Overlander can also be a Traveller, the reverse does not necessarily hold true, and a Traveller is not necessarily an Overlander.

No matter your chosen identity or the paths your journeys lead you down, we wish you joy, happiness, and memories that will endure for a lifetime as you seek out your adventures and at the end of the day who cares what it is called so long as you are doing it and enjoying it.

Safe Travels


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