Overlanding for the everyman

Overlanding is one of the most accessible forms of adventure...if you ignore social media

Keywords: Overlanding

I'll admit it: I'm get jealous sometimes.

Social media is full of beautiful people who seem somehow able to purchase gear I can't afford and take endless exotic journeys I don't really have time for. Their rig is perfectly lifted and perched atop the sexiest tires. They have a drawer system that looks like it was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and a rooftop tent that expands into a small palace. It doesn't help that they only seem to ride during the 15 minutes when the sunset light is perfect and apparently always take a professional photographer as a copilot.

And then there's me, feeling unworthy in my 10-year-old 4Runner full of gear from Walmart stashed in a plastic box, sneaking out on occasional trips where I can squeeze them into an already-busy weekend around work, kids, church, family, home, and everything else that needs attention, taking photos and video in bad light with a phone struggling to keep its battery charge.

It's worth remembering, though, that it's not just overlanding that's affected by this syndrome. It's everything. Every interest or pursuit will have its heavily-sponsored star celebrities at the top, making everything look effortless and delightful and making you wonder what you're doing so wrong. Ask any photographer, mountain biker, cook, woodworker, or anyone else, and they'll report the same. It's normal. It will always be this way.

But what we see on Instagram and Pinterest and Youtube and everywhere else isn't representative of the day-to-day reality. While those visually-appealing stars with their visually-appealing rigs and gear obviously play very well online—and the "sold my house and quit my job so I can do it full-time" stories are iressistably appealing—the reality of overlanding is a lot more mundane than that. It's made up of everyday people with everyday jobs, figuring out how to shoehorn some adventure into their lives.

And that's awesome.

To be honest, I'm way more interested in those stories. Those are the ones that give me insight and perspective. Those are the ones that are relevant to my own situation. Those are the ones that keep me going and remind me that I'm not alone.

The problem, of course, is that those stories get buried. They don't make for good quick-consumption media. They don't get likes or hearts or upvotes. But we still need them. I have trouble finding those stories, but I figure maybe if I put my own stories out there they can help someone else. So that's exactly what I'm going to do.

Here's the thing: Overlanding isn't a luxury lifestyle for the privileged few. It's actually one of the most accessible forms of adventure out there. The thing that matters about overlanding is just that you throw some gear in the car and you go. Go outside. Go far. Explore places you've never been before. Get to know the real world around you, outside the freeways and city limits. Find some adventure, and then take it back home with you and see what you can do with it. You'll be surprised the positive impact it can have on everything else, and that's what really makes it worth doing.

James from Journey West

James from Journey West

James grew up in a family prone to extended camping and epic cross-country road trips. He's now enjoying exploring and documenting the Arizona backcountry in a 2008 V8 4Runner. He's currently planning and pre-running the Heart of Arizona overland loop. You can reach him at journeywestco@gmail.com