Thought to be a term of Australian origin, overlanding refers to extended travel by land, often with elements of adventure, discovery, or self-reliance.
Overlanding can also refer to an extended excursion taking the “road less traveled” – finding a path away from tourist spots and population centers.
Overlanding can take place on foot, bicycle, motorcycle, car, truck, or RV. Some overlanding involves vehicles such as buses, RVs, or safari trucks that have been outfitted specifically for living long periods of time in a self-reliant fashion.
Individuals can be overlanders, and one can also travel as part of a group, or as part of a guided tour. An overland tour may involve backpacking and hiking, a combination of stays in hostels or hotels, onboard an RV, and in remote wilderness camp sites.
Some view overlanding as a way to “get off the grid” or “unplug” from everyday society and see the world in a new way. As overlanding can involve travel to multiple countries, the opportunities for learning, relaxation, and escape are plentiful.
Extended travel by train can also be referred to as overlanding, such as travel via the Trans-Siberian railway in Russia, or the Indian Pacific Railway in Australia.
Europe, Asia, Australia, and Africa are common places for overlanding. Safari-oriented overlanding is common in Africa among those seeking adventure and first hand experiences in the wild. In the Americas, a popular overland route is from San Diego, CA to Baja California, and down through Central America.
The 13th-century Italian explorer Marco Polo, known for his epic journey by land through Asia to China, is often thought of as the archetypal overlander.
The term has been adopted by campers and RVers who spend extended periods of time traveling over land, lodging mainly in their tents and RVs. The Internet has given rise to sites containing information supporting this kind of adventure.
Overlanding is a common theme in film. For example, the 2008 movie Transiberian starring Emily Mortimer, Woddy Harrelson, Kate Mara, Ben Kingsley, and Eduardo Noriega is the story of an American couple who take an overland adventure from Bejing to Moscow via the Trans-Siberian Railroad.