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  • Writer's picturePolaris Overland

What Is Overlanding?

"In our community, there's no question quite as likely to ignite a passionate debate as the one about the essence of overlanding. With the burgeoning popularity of 'overlanding,' the definition has expanded and evolved to encompass a multitude of interpretations, somewhat diluting its core meaning as it strives to include everyone with a desire to be an overlander.

For us, a succinct paragraph encapsulates overlanding but this is by no means definitive, this is our opinion and quite rightly others will have differing opinions in the same way choice of vehicle is debated and that is ok because that is what creates discussion.

So to us:

"Overlanding is a form of adventurous outdoor travel, characterised by self-reliant, long-distance journeys in vehicles, traversing remote and often challenging terrain, including international borders. Unlike conventional tourism, overlanders prioritise the journey itself over the destination".

Here are some defining features that we believe characterise overlanding:

1. Self-Reliance: Overlander's aspire to be self-sufficient throughout their journeys, carrying their own provisions, water, camping gear, and means of transportation, whether it be a car, van, 4x4 vehicle or a motorcycle. This self-sufficiency enables exploration in remote areas, far from civilisation.

Desert In Morocco

2. Remote Destinations: Overlanding predominantly leads travellers to secluded, less-trodden locations such as deserts, mountains, forests, and wilderness expanses. These expeditions frequently involve wilderness camping or stays in remote campgrounds which are pursued with a passion.

Gobi Desert - Mongolia

3. Extended Duration: Overlanding excursions can vary in duration, ranging from a few days to typically several months or even years. The aim is to spend an extended time on the road, immersing oneself in diverse cultures, landscapes, and environments.

4. Off-Roading: Many overland routes necessitate off-road driving, requiring travellers to navigate unpaved roads, rugged terrain, river crossings, and challenging obstacles as a necessary part of the journey. This often demands specialised vehicles and equipment.

5. Cultural Immersion: Overlander's often actively seek authentic cultural experiences, engaging with local communities to understand their customs, traditions, and languages. This cultural immersion forms a significant part of the overlanding experience.

The Registan - Samarkand, Uzbekistan

6. Adventurous Spirit: Overlander's are inherently drawn to adventure and exploration. They may not adhere to a fixed itinerary and may adapt their route based on recommendations, local conditions, or personal inclinations.

7. Minimal Environmental Impact: Responsible overlander's are conscientious about their environmental footprint. They adhere to Leave No Trace principles to minimise their impact on the natural environment and respect local regulations.

Overland Bound trail Clean Up - Galloway Forest Scotland

8. Navigation and Survival Skills: Overlander's must possess strong navigation skills, as they often traverse areas with limited or no GPS or cellular signal. Additionally, they frequently have basic survival and first aid skills to handle emergencies in remote locations.

Route finding on the Northern Route - Mongolia

9. Community: The overlanding community is tightly-knit, they frequently connect with like-minded travellers, sharing insights, tips, and offering assistance to one another, both on the road and via online forums and social media. These groups share knowledge on vehicle builds, routes and breakdowns. In our case belonging to one such group, Overland Bound, helped us when we had a blown intercooler in Turkey and a blown cylinder head gasket in Greece directing us to local trusted garages or contacts.

Overland Bound Rally Point - Scotland

10. Specialized Gear and Equipment: Overlander's often invest in specialised gear tailored to their specific mode of travel and the environments they anticipate encountering. This gear can include camping equipment, vehicle recovery tools, communication devices, and more.

11. Documenting the Journey: Many overlanders document their travels through blogs, vlogs, social media, or traditional media outlets, sharing their experiences and insights with a broader audience. This practice has gained even more prominence as the popularity of overlanding continues to grow and as you are reading this you can't help to note we do the same.

So in essence, overlanding serves as a means to break free from the monotony of everyday life, embracing adventure and exploring the world's less-frequented corners, while nurturing self-sufficiency and a profound connection to the natural world.

It's a lifestyle and a travel philosophy that resonates strongly with those in search of a more profound and immersive travel experience."

If you are looking to start out on your overland adventure then join groups either local or online.

Facebook has many such communities that you can join. Our own web page is here to help inspire you to drive forwards on your overland journey. Overland Bound for one is a huge resource to help you start out, with forums on all things overlanding and with members throughout the world all supporting each other no matter what they drive or where they are in their overlanding journey.

Take a look here


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