I consider myself a pretty adventurous guy. I grew up camping and hiking. I know how to survive in the wilderness if I ever need to. Still, overlanding is not my thing. It’s something I have no interest in trying. And if someone asked me, I would have to admit that ‘decompress’ is not a word I would normally associate with the overlanding hobby.
I only bring this up because a recent CBC report on overlanding used that very word to describe it. The report did a reasonably good job explaining what overlanding is. It even delved into some of the details of the hobby. I applaud anyone who wants to take overlanding up. For me though, it’s a non-starter.
Everything you have read thus far may mean nothing to you if you have no idea what overlanding is. Let me give you a basic definition. Overlanding is the practice of traveling over land using some sort of motorized vehicle that has been modified to meet your needs. Usually, this implies modifications that allow you to take the vehicle off road.
Although the strictest definition of overlanding would include traversing the country by RV, most devoted overlanders rely on a more refined definition that eliminates journeys taken almost exclusively on paved roads. That leaves out trailer and RV campers.
Overlanding is a form of travel. That being the case, most forms of travel are undertaken in order to reach a particular destination. The destination is the goal. In overlanding, that’s not the case. Overlanders care less about the destination and more about the journey. Indeed, the journey is the whole point of overlanding.
This is why I would not use the word ‘decompress’ to describe overlanding. Although I like to travel, I’m not a very good traveler. I find the process of getting from point A to point B stressful and uncomfortable. If my entire trip were nothing but the journey, decompressing would be the last thing I would do. I would need to come home to decompress and relax.
Having interviewed quite a few overlanders in my time, I’ve learned one thing: enjoyment of the hobby is in the equipment. An overlander’s equipment will either make or break a trip. That’s why overlanders tend to prefer modified vehicles. They want vehicles they know for sure won’t let them down.
Overlanders also prefer to not have to come back to civilization for accommodations at the end of every day. So they sack out wherever they choose to park. That means they need to carry sleeping accommodations with them. Some sleep in their vehicles while others prefer tents. Still others will sleep under the stars.
Overlanders need to invest in tons of equipment to make travel safer and more convenient. They carry hand tools, spare parts for their vehicles, and plenty of cam straps to tie things down. I wonder how many of them prefer my favorite brand: Rollercam?
They also need to carry their food and water. They carry basic medical supplies, toiletries, laundry supplies – essentially everything they need to survive off the grid for as long as they choose to be out in the great outdoors.
Some people are able to decompress by overlanding. That’s not me. If overlanding is your thing, have at it. But I prefer to decompress in the bright sunshine and white sandy beaches of the Caribbean. That’s my idea of relaxing travel by which I can forget all my cares for a while.