Overlanding: A Cost-Effective Way to Have an Extended Career Break Adventure

Taking a career break and traveling doesn’t need to be shockingly expensive or over-planned. After all, one of the reasons we take career-breaks is to relax. Overlanding can be a great alternative to traditional planned-and-structured travel. What is overlanding? Overlanding is exploring the world by self-guided means, in your own vehicle, on your own motorcycle, or even bicycle. The journey is the purpose in overlanding. The most cost-effective way to overland is to camp along the way, though many people alternate camping and hotels, hostels, or couch-surfing.

Families are getting into overlanding in growing numbers, as are couples—both working professionals and recently retired ‘boomers.’ Solo travel is also a popular choice for overlanders.  Overlanding can be in a $700 secondhand Chevy van (check out the global travels of journalist Lorraine Chittock); in a sturdy Land Rover fitted with a roof-top tent, fridge, and mobile kitchen (like Graham Jackson and Connie Rodman’s that they drove from London to Cape Town); or on a motorbike (Lois Pryce took a break from the BBC to ride from London to Cape Town, then from Alaska to Argentina).

Overlanding is not new to Europe, Africa, or Australia, where there is a long tradition of exploring by self-contained vehicle or motorcycle—and where gap years and career breaks are more common. But over the last five years overlanding has been growing in popularity in North America with the importation of safari-style equipment like 12-volt fridges, roof tents, and other equipment. Adventure motorcycle riding—thanks to programs like The Long Way Round—has exploded in recent years.

Sure, you can spend tens of thousands of dollars on equipment and accessories. If you have the budget, great. If not, it’s no big deal: thousands of overlanders take off with nothing more than a stock Toyota Tacoma and camper shell, or a well-loved Suzuki motorcycle and a backpacking tent, and circle the globe, some for as little as $26 a day.

The benefits of traveling with your entire home contained in your vehicle or on your bike are huge. Fall in love with a particular beach in Costa  Rica? Stay three months instead of three weeks. Want to help an orphanage in Tanzania improve their water system? Set up camp and stay as long as you like. Hear about an amazing little-visited hot spring at an oasis in Egypt’s Libyan Desert? Just go!

If this sounds great to you—if you dream of the freedom and adventure of the open road, guided only by your whims and a GPS or map—but you have no clue how to start, even if camping to you has meant Motel 6 instead of a Ritz-Carlton, there’s an event in North America that can help you get all you need to get going, from inspiration to equipment to training. Overland Expo will be held May 18 – 20 in Flagstaff, Arizona.

What is Overland Expo?

Overland Expo is the largest gathering in North America of expedition equipment manufacturers and enthusiasts with the sole purpose of learning and sharing about this growing new activity and market in North America. Overland Expo is for people who see their 4WD or ADV motorcycle as a means to adventure and exploration, and who see travel as a portal to learning about the world.

No other event combines intensive education modules with social opportunities to visit with thousands of other enthusiasts and share information and experiences, as well as a wide array of product and service vendors just for overlanding-related activities, both mechanized and human-powered.

Who attends?

Half the Overland Experience attendees are women, and dozens of families with children under 10 attend, to learn how they can pack up the kids and take off on extended travel. AdventureTrio.com and AdventureParents.com are popular instructors and resources at the show.

- Overland Experience packages include over 70 classes taught by 65 of the top overlanding experts in the world

- Day pass visitors can enjoy dozens of films, slide shows, mini-workshops, and roundtable programs

- Over 120 exhibitors ~ 4WD & adventure motorcycles, accessories, camping gear

- Presenters and staff include 65 experts, authors, & videographers from around the world

- Music, food, film festival, & happy hours

- 1000s of overlanders from around the world

- Onsite & nearby camping for everyone, minimal cost for day pass visitors

- Kids under 16 are free

Roseann Hanson has made numerous career breaks to travel and to work in wildlife conservation in Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Egypt, and Mexico. She’s been a journalist, book author, marketing director, lapidary and metalsmith, expedition leader, and event-planner.  In 2009 she founded Overland Expo, one of the world’s largest educational and inspirational events for do-it-yourself adventurers. For details about the event, visit  www.OverlandExpo.com

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