Is Overlanding the Ultimate Social-Distancing Vacation?

We all look forward to our much needed, well-deserved vacation. With the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us have had to cancel ours completely, leaving us locked in the house looking out the window dramatically while listening to sad music. Whether we like it or not, the safest thing to do is to socially distance and to try and avoid unnecessary public travel. But there is one thing that you can do still, and it’s fun for you and your friends or even your whole family. It can be completely social distanced, and it’s pretty inexpensive: it’s called overlanding.

What is overlanding?

Overlanding sounds like off-roading on the surface, and while it does share some qualities they aren’t the same thing. The trip is all about the route you take, and it can be a total adventure. To me, it sounds like camping on steroids, but instead of making the hike to a remote location on foot, you get the adventure of tackling rough pathways with your car.

A black, lifted, 4x4, full-size van sits on a dirt road
An overlanding conversion of a Nissan NV 3500 van | TFLTruck

Overlanding enthusiasts will explain that it’s all about the expedition, a way to explore nature with a little bit more muscle power, or rather, horsepower. It can be something fun that you can do with a family or even with your friends, as long as they are read for some camping.

It’s for more than just Jeeps

While you can’t really overland in your standard sedan — though I have definitely seen people try — the good news is that there are a lot of older 4×4 vehicles on the market that you can buy for dirt cheap, pun intended. Overlanding vehicles can get pretty beat up along the way, so the paint or body panels are usually damaged, but that just adds to the vehicle’s rugged aesthetic.

Lifted Excursion
Lifted Excursion for overlanding projects | Photo by Chris Cordes

The “Tail of the Dragon” Is One of the Most Scenic and Dangerous Drives

With the proper equipment or routing, you can enjoy an off-road overlanding adventure and find yourself a safe, socially distanced. It is a way to find unique and relatively untouched places and explore your area or areas nearby. You could find a hidden hot spring, a beautiful camping spot, or a calm place to relax.

There are no rules for overlanding, except to be safe and have fun. You can socially distance from other campers because you aren’t staying at an easily accessible, popular campsite, or you can travel with friends who are in other vehicles. No matter where you live, well, besides a big city, an overlanding adventure can happen just about anywhere. It doesn’t require expensive travel, expensive hotels, or risking your health and safety, just some 4×4 capabilities and good company.