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Life is Indeed a Journey for Overlanders

OverlandNot everyone can be as adventuresome as Brad and Sheena Van Orden, who in 2011 quit their jobs and left their Flagstaff home to drive around the world in their Volkswagen van.

So far, they have driven to the top of South America. Now, they are shipping their vehicle to Asia so they can continue their once-in-a-lifetime trip.

They were inspired to take the five-year trip by the 2011 Overland Expo, which brings together a special type of traveler who takes the road less traveled for exploration, said Roseann Hanson. Hanson and her husband, Jonathon, sponsor the event, which again this year will be held at Mormon Lake Lodge.

In its fifth year, the Overland Expo is geared toward people who believe the journey is the purpose of getting somewhere. It is the only one of its kind in the United States, but there are similar ones in Europe and elsewhere.

“It is something we wanted to bring attention to in America. It’s basically camping and exploring on your own and under your own power or with a four-wheel-drive or motorcycle,” Hanson said. “It is very different from the current trend of what they call off-roading. It is not even extreme four-by-four. It is people who are out camping and exploring.”

Overlanding is not considered a sport, but a concept and a way of life.

“We call it do-it-yourself adventure travel.”

The upcoming expo gives Overlanders an opportunity to see what is new for them, some of which has not been seen in the U.S. yet. More than 150 exhibitors are expected so that the 5,000 people who are expected to attend can see just about every aspect of Overlanding, including solar panels that can run a refrigerator so an adventurer can have ice, meat and cold drinks.

Hanson predicts people are going to love a new item called a rooftop tent, which opens up and is secured on top of a vehicle. This way, animals will not be able to visit during the night. “It makes a camp a little more comfortable.”

In addition, more than 300 hours of classes are offered at the expo, ranging from driving to conservation. “If you’ve never camped, there are classes for beginners all the way to advanced,” she said. “Our partner, Land Rover, gives a segment of driving techniques that don’t rip up trails and promote conservation.”

Overlanding has been popular in Austria and England since the 1950s when the Land Rover first became popular. “It is a welcoming community of people who like to share their adventures with others,” Hanson said.

Sharing adventures includes sharing how to be an adventurer. The Van Ordens, for example, have learned the finer points of border crossings and the best way to ship a vehicle.

Hanson said a group of her friends saw this concept as a business opportunity to share what they like to do with others. “The industry grew up around us. This is the second year at Mormon Lake Lodge, which is a fantastic partner, a really wonderful venue for the event. And Flagstaff is a fantastic community. People and businesses are inviting and helpful.” FBN



The 2013 Overland Expo was held May 17-19. . To find out more, visit the website at www.overlandexpo.com.






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