While you may not have heard of the actual term, you’re likely familiar with the idea of overlanding. Put simply, this is a self-reliant form of overland travel designed to allow access to remote destinations. Here, the journey is the principal goal, not the destination. Typically, overlanding is accomplished with mechanized off-road capable transport (most often trucks). Camping is often the main form of lodging, and the most enthusiastic overlanders prefer to be out on expedition for months, sometimes years at a time. However, don’t let that timeline dissuade you from this adventure—people often take week-long trips.
Overlanding began in the Australian Outback, inspired to a large degree by Len Beadell. In the 1940s and 1950s, Beadell constructed many of the roads that opened up the Outback, but needed a form of transportation to access these remote places. Thus, overlanding was born. These roads are still used by Australian overlanders, and they still hold the names Beadell gave them: Gunbarrel Highway, the Connie Sue Highway, and the Anne Beadell Highway. The idea gained popularity with the advent of commercially available four-wheel-drive trucks.
As a result, modern overlanding popularity has increased in the past several decades. It is now quite common for groups of overlanders to organize meetings; through the Internet, it is easy to find the information and resources required for extended overland trips in foreign countries. Commercial overlanding has also gained popularity. In the 1970s, companies began to offer overland tours to groups in large, specially equipped trucks. Mostly in Africa, these journeys last anywhere from one week to several months, and they rely heavily on the participation of paying passengers for food preparation and camp set-up.
If this sounds like an interesting adventure, you’re in luck—overlanding is a viable adventure in nearly every part of the world. Before heading off, however, you’ll want to obtain an international driver’s license and educate yourself on the mechanics of car maintenance; if something goes wrong in the middle of the Australian Outback, there will be nobody around to help.