Overlanding is an increasingly popular way to travel and discover the world, though it can be costly. Fortunately, there are numerous ways to save money on your next overland expedition. First, plan out your route and create a budget. Doing this will help you avoid unnecessary expenses and keep your trip on schedule.
Overlanding Costs in a Nutshell
The cost of overlanding can vary greatly depending on several factors, including your choice of vehicle, the extent of modifications and equipment, travel destinations, duration, and personal preferences for comfort and amenities. Here’s a breakdown of the primary expenses involved in overlanding:
- Vehicle: The cost of a suitable overlanding vehicle can range from a few thousand dollars for an older, used model to tens of thousands for a new, well-equipped 4×4 truck or SUV. The type of vehicle you choose will significantly impact your overall budget.
- Vehicle modifications and upgrades: Depending on the vehicle’s initial condition, you may need to invest in modifications and upgrades like suspension lifts, all-terrain tires, off-road bumpers, winches, and recovery gear. This can cost anywhere from a few hundred to several thousand dollars.
- Camping and cooking gear: Your setup may include a rooftop tent or other sleeping arrangements, a fridge or cooler, cooking equipment, and storage solutions. Costs can vary widely, from a basic setup for around $1,000 to a high-end, fully-equipped setup exceeding $10,000.
- Fuel: Fuel expenses will depend on the distance traveled, your vehicle’s fuel efficiency, and local fuel prices. Plan your route and estimate your fuel costs accordingly.
- Food and water: You’ll need to budget for food and water based on your preferences and dietary requirements. Costs can range from a basic, budget-friendly meal plan to more elaborate, gourmet options.
- Maintenance and repairs: Set aside funds for routine vehicle maintenance, such as oil changes and tire rotations, as well as potential repairs that may be needed during your journey.
- Travel expenses: Factor in costs for permits, visas, insurance, park fees, and other travel-related expenses. These will vary depending on your destination and travel requirements.
- Emergency fund: It’s essential to have an emergency fund for unexpected situations, such as medical emergencies or unforeseen vehicle repairs.
In summary, the cost of overlanding can range from a modest budget of a few thousand dollars for a basic setup and short trips to tens of thousands for a high-end rig and extended journeys. To minimize expenses, prioritize essential items and consider purchasing used equipment, sharing costs with travel companions, and choosing cost-effective destinations. Be sure to plan your budget carefully and make adjustments according to your individual needs and preferences.
(1) Cost of Your Vehicle
Overlanding is a form of travel that offers the advantages of discovering remote places and self-reliance. It can range from taking a weekend trip to making a two year journey across multiple continents.
Overlanders typically opt for four-wheel-drive vehicles with a powerful drivetrain, high ground clearance and high suspension to tackle off-roading challenges. Popular SUVs such as the Toyota 4Runner, Tundra and Tacoma as well as Lexus GX come equipped with this capability.
Some adventurers opt for purpose-built overland trailers or modified campers. These usually come equipped with large tents on the roof and a kitchen, though such equipment can cost thousands of dollars.
Another way to save money on an overlanding vehicle is to look into used gear. This could include something as basic as a tent that you may already have in your garage or attic, or it could be something more complex like a camper that you can purchase or rent from a local reseller.
Alternatively, you could build your own overlanding vehicle from scratch using existing parts and equipment. This approach offers the advantage of not paying exorbitant prices for new gear while still getting the most out of your overlanding experience.
Consider checking local resellers for deals or discounts on overlanding gear; additionally, you could always consider finding a pre-configured used vehicle that has been tailored to be an overlanding rig.
Before embarking on an overlanding trip, you must create a budget and identify which items need to be bought. Doing this will help determine whether it is worthwhile. Once you have enough money saved up, you can plan your journey and purchase everything necessary for success.
(2) Cost of Fuel
Fuel costs are a significant component of overlanding expenses. Fortunately, there are ways to minimize your dependence on petroleum when traveling.
One way to reduce fuel expenses is planning your route carefully and minimizing the number of miles needed for travel. This can save money on accommodation and food expenses, as well as the fuel necessary to get where you’re going.
Another way to reduce fuel costs is by using alternative fuels. These may include natural gas, denatured ethanol and pure ethanol; you can purchase these in many countries but they may be more costly than other options available.
Before embarking on your trip, ensure the fuels you plan to use are secure for both yourself and the environment. This includes making sure it’s secure to transport, as well as that it can be utilized safely in your vehicle.
You can buy these fuels in bulk and save money. This is especially beneficial if you plan to use them for an extended period of time.
Fuel costs are a major concern for millennials in the United States, who are searching for cost-effective ways to live and travel. Overlanding offers them this option: they can save money while still enjoying the freedom and independence of a nomadic lifestyle.
Fuel costs can be quite high when traveling long distances, especially if you plan to visit a remote area. That is why it is essential to do your research and create a budget before embarking on an overlanding trip. Furthermore, keep an eye out for prices of food and other necessities so that you stay within budget while overlanding.
(3) Cost of Entrance to National Parks
The cost to enter national parks varies depending on where you are and what activities you plan on doing. Some parks charge admission fees, while others provide free admission on certain days. Examples include Denali National Park & Preserve in Alaska; Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona; Yosemite National Park in California; Everglades National Park in Florida; Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park; Acadia National Park in Maine; and Badlands National Park in South Dakota all offering waived entrance fees.
If you plan on visiting more than one national park, an annual pass may be worth considering. The America the Beautiful pass costs $80 annually and allows access to 422 fee-paying national parks as well as 2,000 federal recreational areas such as national monuments, wildlife refuges, forests and BLM (Bureau of Land Management) sites. Active-duty military personnel, US veterans, people with permanent disabilities and fourth graders also get discounted passes.
At some parks, such as Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park, visitors may pay to attend visitor center films or tours. Mesa Verde National Park charges $2 per adult to watch a 20-minute film in their visitor center or $3 per adult to tour Balcony House, Long House or Cliff Palace.
Many parks provide shuttles or buses so visitors can leave their cars inside the park, saving on gas expenses. For instance, a bus ticket to Yosemite Valley for adults starts at less than $5 and includes entrance into the park.
If you plan on visiting multiple national parks, carpooling is the most cost-effective option for saving on entrance fees. Not only will this save you money if traveling as a family, but it also allows for greater exploration of each park’s highlights without spending too much time and energy navigating it.
(4) Cost of Camping
Camping can come with a host of hidden costs that can quickly add up. But, if you plan ahead and save money wherever possible, enjoying camping won’t break the bank.
The cost of camping varies based on the type and amount of trip. Tenting can be relatively cost-effective if you purchase all necessary gear like a tent, lighting and long-lasting sleeping pad or bag that will serve you for multiple trips.
If you’re taking a longer trip, investing in camping equipment may be worth considering. A quality camping stove or Jetboil, which will quickly boil water efficiently, are both relatively affordable options that can make the experience better.
Another item worth investing in is a flashlight or headlamp. Prices for these can range anywhere from $10 to $40, but they’re essential for any camping trip.
You should also bring along rain gear in case the weather suddenly turns. A simple slip-over poncho costs only $12 and will keep you dry if rain is forecasted.
Adventurers will love camping for its many activities. Water rafting and zip lining, for instance, offer unique experiences you won’t find at home. Prices for such activities usually range from $40 per person but most can be done close by your campsite.
When overlanding, the primary cost of camping is the gear necessary for success. A quality tent, backpack, illumination and other essential items will ensure an enjoyable journey. Once these have been purchased, any remaining expenses will be minimal.
(5) Food, Hygiene & Other Living Expenses
Overlanding is just like everyday life in one sense – you’ll still need lots of things to make it through the week, so make sure to budget for hygiene / personal care supplies, food and other living expenses (don’t forget about stocking up on any medications you might need – sometimes the closest pharmacy will be further away than you expect).
(6) Maintenance & Repairs
Maintenance and repairs will inevitably be required and, if you’re going overlanding with a new vehicle – we recommend going on a few short trips first to get used to it and potentially spot any upcoming trouble before it turns into an expensive mechanical issue.
(7) Occasionally – Cost of Parking
Parking lots come in all shapes and sizes, from city operated public ones to the private valet type. To determine the best option for your requirements, it’s important to do some research. Find out which parking operators offer the most competitive rate as well as which spots are safest and most convenient.