Overlanding is an amazing way to see a totally different part of the world. It allows you the opportunity to see and experience life as a local does. Squished in a truck with very little control over what you can say and what you can do with your life. Forced to eat a lot of snacks, take some amazing photos and make some great friends.
It’s not all doom and gloom though. In reality, the 12 hour days of driving give you plenty of chance to catch up on sleep, reading that book you told your mother that you would get to and even perhaps getting to know your fellow travellers that little bit better. But with such long days of travel and limited control over your life tempers can fray, words can be said and your trip can turn into a pile of disappointment. We know, we’ve just been in this exact situation! Our first overland crew was amazing and we loved each and every day. The next trip was three weeks of polarising shit storms and amazing adventures.
To help ensure you don’t have a disappointing time and feel as if you threw your money to the wind I’ve whipped up a quick top 10 Do’s and Don’ts for your next overland adventure.
The top 10 Do’s!
Do be on time!The less time you spend on the truck, the less time you are spending on the road and actually getting to your destination. Even though overland companies like to spruck that it’s the journey and not the destination that counts, really it is the destination that you’re most interested in. Even if it is just for a hot shower and a bed to sleep in. Also being late to the truck is the number 1 way to ensure that everyone else hates you.
Do be aware of personal space. Overland trucks aren’t overly spacious and people will need and want their personal space to be their own. No one is going to appreciate you leaning over them to open a window to take a million photos.
Do brush your teeth and wear deodorant. Seems simple but bad smells do travel all the way down the truck.
Do be prepared for long hours of singing, reading and general faff. A good overland truck comes complete with a library but just in case BYO book/Kindle/cards. Which comes in handy at those pesky border crossings when a certain person decides not to let your crew into the country
Do be prepared to use hand sanitizer each and every time you board the truck. I don’t care what you do at home with your bits but spreading germs around such close quarters isn’t going to make you friends.
Do have your own personal stash of soft toilet paper and baby wipes. At some point in the journey, you’ll have an upset stomach and your bottom will appreciate the little bit of luxury. As well as a very basic first aid kit!
Do travel with an open mind and be flexible. Shit happens. Plans change. You’ll soon learn to go with the flow. Because in all honesty there is nothing you can do to change what’s going on. Be positive, enjoy the experience and if in doubt drink more.
Do read the trip notes in details and ensure that you a) have the correct gear for the activities and b) actually understand what is potentially going to happen on your trip. For example is you don’t like camping then perhaps an overland trip isn’t for you. Half way through your overland trip is not the time to decide to read the notes and spend hours complaining about the potential camping.
Do pack your day bag for the situations and bring all the layers of clothing. Early morning starts, late night finishes and fun times in between can mean that one outfit alone isn’t going to do the trick during your day. As your backpack will be locked away during the day, you do need to be prepared for all weather conditions.
Do throw away all your expectations of what will happen. By having low expectations you’ll be constantly surprised and find yourself enjoying your adventure oh so much more. Due to the nature of overlanding things happen, shit changes and you really have no idea what’s about to happen.
Top 10 Don’ts
Don’t be a dick
Don’t take a suitcase. For the love of travel leave the wheeled beast at home. Overland trucks have minimal space for all your personal shit. A suitcase is a waste of space in the small area allocated for luggage. If you don’t want to spend the big dollars on a massive backpack check out the awesome CabinZero bags!
Don’t carry more than 1 piece of hand luggage on the truck. You’ll need to have this luggage in your foot well. Don’t be that dick who insists on having multiple bags in multiple areas across the truck and smacks into people when trying to get to said bag.
Don’t put your bag on a seat. Who knows someone actually might want to sit on it.
Don’t be a food diva. There is a difference between having a legitimate allergy or just not liking a particular food. Overlanding sees different people from different cultures cooking you amazing food. If you don’t to eat it then BYO food and leave the attitude at home.
Don’t keep the truck waiting. Really it isn’t that hard to tell the time. When the crew says the trucks is leaving at 6am it really is leaving at 6am. Not load up, go to the bathroom and contemplate life at 6.30am.
Don’t take photos with the flash on. Not only will you end up with a shit photo you’ll also end up blinding anyone sitting near you as the flash reflects off the window.
Don’t spend the entire day winding down the windows to take photos whilst the truck is moving. Especially when it’s freezing cold. It’s a great way to encourage fellow passengers to throw shade at you. Or potentially a shoe.
Don’t hide from your responsibilities. Overlanding trips work the best when everyone pitches in, helps out and has a good time. Even if you’re not assigned a job don’t be afraid to ask a team if they need help.
Don’t be a dick. Ok I know this is a repeat but really it isn’t that hard. Be a nice person, help out and don’t be a demanding diva. Try to learn a little of the local language, lend a hand and generally enjoy yourself.
Is overlanding the right travel experience for you?
Overlanding isn’t for everyone. The trips are more physically and mentally demanding than your usual tour bus group style. When you travel with an overland company you’ll be expected to stay is less than desirable conditions. There will be camping. Which means that you may have to poop in a hole in the ground. You are expected to contribute to the smooth running of the trip including setting up your own tent, helping cook food for the group and generally contributing to the micro-society that you have joined.
Sadly part of our trip overlanding wasn’t as great as it could have been. We’ll have a full review of our Dragoman experience in the near future. One thing we will mention is that overlanding has the potential to be a truly amazing way to see the world. As previously mentioned our first crew were amazing and a whole lot of fun. One of the issues we came across is that certain companies had been combined on our second trip without advising their clients of what to expect. For example that they would be travelling in a truck, overland and that there were certain expectations of them as clients. Sadly these were not the sort of people you want to travel with at our age and certainly not the sort of people who should be in an overland adventure scenario. I’m not entirely sure if these passengers would have agreed to the trip that we signed on for, had they been fully aware of what was about to happen. Some responsibility does lay with certain travel agent companies, two in particular, who failed to fully inform their clients. Then again let’s be honest – we’re all adults here. It’s really not that difficult to read an itinerary and ask questions before you leave home!
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