What does overland travel mean?

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Overland travel, what is it?


Overlanding is the ultimate travel style for those who are looking for an Adventure with a capital A. An overlanding trip is done autonomously in a remote or un-touristic destination and generally requires some form of transportation (bicycle, 4×4 or motorcycle, van or even horse) and focuses on taking one’s time (from two weeks to a few years for some!).

When crossing wild areas which are often sparsely inhabited, the main form of accommodation is wild camping. Each day is an exploration with a certain degree of technical challenges because the routes are not always straightforward. By 4×4 it can be accessible to all levels of experience, but it requires more experience on a motorcycle for example. Overlanders often cross land borders and travel in several countries with their own vehicle.

Exploration des UAE emirats arabe unies en Toyota

Travelling to remote areas with little tourism

The overlander has a need to disconnect from consumerist society as well as a certain desire to immerse themselves in and reconnect with nature. The great wilderness areas such as the steppes of Central Asia or the deserts of the Middle East are destinations that correspond perfectly to this vision of travel.  By travelling for an extended period of time and being autonomous, it is easier to explore these little-known regions by benefiting from a privileged relationship with the local population.

The notion of time is therefore very important in any overland trip since it is about immersing oneself and living at the rhythm of a country and experiencing a totally different culture. The longer you stay, the more time you will have to explore what the country has to offer.

Travelling off the beaten track


Driving across the country makes it easier to reach remote areas not served by public transport. Take this opportunity to explore and get off the beaten tracks and paved roads. Ask the locals for help or advice if you are in doubt about the condition of a track or road, and it’s also an opportunity to talk to the people you pass on your way.

Be careful not to confuse overlanding with off-roading. At first sight “off-Road” refers to a trip off the road, off the beaten track… wrong! It’s an activity whose technical prowess is a goal in itself. Indeed, by putting yourself in tricky situations on difficult tracks (mud, sand, rivers to cross), you can find a form of fun and challenge. However, it is necessary to have a powerful vehicle adapted to the terrain and some experience!

Travelling on your own


Being self-reliant you are able to improvise your itinerary every day. But this means being well equipped and anticipating problems that may arise. Having a global vision of the terrain with a topographic map and a functional GPS is absolutely essential! You won’t always be able to count on the help of locals because in some remote areas you won’t meet many of them!

Therefore, you should also think about food supplies, drinking water, petrol for motor vehicles. We are currently preparing a complete article to help you organise your overland trip

cheval Kirghizistan step maxence michaud
Explore Ladakh en Royal Enfield Zanskar vallée

How do I prepare for an overland adventure?


Just because we advocate improvisation you should not leave without doing the necessary preparation. The more prepared you are before the trip, the freer and more confident you will be when you get there – trust our experience.


Choosing the destination

There is no bones about it, you have to listen to your heart. Choose a region that makes you dream and choose the right season to go there. For example, you should avoid the mountainous regions of Central Asia in winter because the passes are often closed and the roads are not cleared of snow. You should avoid Oman in July-August where temperatures can reach 50°C.

Travelling abroad and in remote areas means potential geopolitical instability. This is a vital point to take into account This is a point to absolutely take into account when choosing your destinations, without of course falling into paranoia. For these reasons, we invite you to contact the relevant consulate and above all to take into account the testimonies of other travellers.  You can also find a lot of information in the forums of expatriates living there.

Choosing the right vehicle

Theoretically, you can choose any type of vehicle, but in practice, you need to choose a vehicle that is adapted to your needs. First of all, it is essential to have a good knowledge of road conditions before venturing out. Again, no one can tell you more about road conditions than the people who live there. In addition, you will have to choose your vehicle with knowledge of its limitations so as not to put yourself in danger. To do this, simply ask before you leave.
Here is our article to help you choose your 4×4.


Be well equipped

Last but not least, you have to set-off well equipped! Think about the tent and all the camping equipment you might need. Here are our recommendations on roof-top tent.

The journey is even more beautiful when it is shared…

Join us on our discussion group to talk about your next overland travel destinations or share your experiences! Our members will answer all your questions (destinations, wild camping, mechanics, etc…), it’s here:

tente MSR oman
famille kirghize rencontre thé avec l'équipe OunTravela
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