Is Overlanding the new “authentic” tourist trap? Or is possible to still see the world as it is, and not through a guidebook style trip?
There is a certain perception around the term Overlanding or Overlander. A quick look at Instagram throws up many would be world travellers, some doing it on a shoestring whilst others seem to be using gear costing thousands of dollars in specialised rigs or campers. However (and this isn’t taking a shot at anyone), the one thing they all claim they are being authentic to the term and to their goals by travelling independently around a continent or the world in some cases.
But how many of these truly are “Living the Dream”, so to speak? How many have given up everything to travel the world and does it really matter if they haven’t?
Before everyone jumps up and down and says this and that, and that you need a certain type of vehicle to travel the world. Let me just say this, it wasn’t long ago that we all used 2WDs to explore and we seemed to manage just fine so, for me, it’s less about what you drive and more about where you go and what you experience with it.
Fortunately, or unfortunately the world, theoretically, is getting easier to traverse. Many of the classic overland routes have now been partially paved or at the very least well graded. It’s a fact of life that the more a route is used the better it is maintained, especially if it also used by local industry.
Take the Road of Bones for example. Still not an easy trek I’ll grant you, but it’s a damn site easier than it was just 15 years ago with parts of the route well graded or even paved (on the new route). Or look closer to home (for us here in Australia) there are plans to pave large parts of the Cape, it won’t be long till you can reach Cape York in a family wagon. Is this a bad thing? Some would say so, but others would look at the increase in traveller numbers and knock on effects it will have to the local economy.
This brings me back to my earlier question, ‘Is Overlanding the new “authentic/hipster” tourist trap? Or is it still, possible to see the world as it is and not through a phone filter?’
For me it’s a no-brainer, of course, it’s still possible to see the world as it really is, we just need to open our eyes a little more, look at our surroundings and not try to record every last detail through camera phone lenses. One of the best things about overland travel, for me, is the chance to meet fellow travellers as well as locals as you move through an area, and for most this is part of the experience we all crave. They say a picture can tell a thousand words, but local interaction can help you, the traveller, understand an area and feel part of it as opposed to an outsider looking in.
So, what exactly is Overlanding and are we Overlanders?
Well according to Wikipedia: “Overlanding is self-reliant overland travel to remote destinations where the journey is the principal goal. Typically, but not exclusively, it is accomplished with mechanised off-road capable transport (from bicycles to trucks) where the principal form of lodging is camping, often lasting for extended lengths of time (months to years) and spanning international boundaries. And that “Historically, “overlanding” is an Australian term to denote the droving of livestock over very long distances to open up new country or to take livestock to market far from grazing grounds.”
There are many different modern definitions of Overlanding and what it is, for us, at LastXplorer, we prefer to keep it really simple. Overlanding today, in its truest form is vehicle based overland or cross country travel it’s as simple as that. Whether you are on a motorbike or push bike, 4WD, wagon, van or earth cruiser, so long as you are travelling somewhere and taking the long way around, you are an overlander.
We as Overlanders generally like to take the adventurous route to get somewhere often detouring from the norm in the pursuit of a unique or challenging experience. I guess this is one of the many things that sets us all apart from the crowd. However, each one of us is different and wishes to gain their own experiences from their adventures. There is no right or wrong in this instance just differences and as such those perspectives should be encouraged and celebrated. And let’s all be honest with ourselves here, sometimes it’s nice to stop in a touristy location, soak in the warm showers and experience a guided tour. You never know you may find something that you would otherwise have missed.
At the end of the day, there is no right or wrong to overlanding, you just have to be out there experiencing what the world has to offer.