Is Overlanding Expensive?

Overlanding is a lifestyle that has become extremely popular in recent years, an alternative, nomadic way of living for adventurous souls. But it can come at a cost.

Overlanding, at the end of the day, is an expensive way of life. Costs include gas money, repairs, parking fees, and food. Some of the costs are not necessarily financial: to overland, you’ll have to sacrifice plumbing, showers, and certain comforts.

While Overlanding is expensive as a lifestyle, it doesn’t have to be expensive when taking shorter Overlanding trips. If you plan appropriately, you can overland over the weekend on a budget.

Keep reading for everything you need to know about the cost of Overlanding.

Overlanding Overview

If you’re not familiar, Overlanding is a way of life that involves constant travel. Overlanders primarily sleep in their vehicle or camp. It’s a lifestyle that is focused on adventure, travel, and exploration.

Overlanders are modern nomads who believe in the power of the journey. They like to experience nature and see the entirety of this vast green world.

As a way of life, Overlanding has been around for decades. Hippies in the 1960s popularized vanlife, and living on the road. Today, Overlanders are free spirits who crave adventure.

Overlanding has become popular in recent years in the United States because of the soaring rent prices. The outrageous cost of living combined with a poor job market has made a nontraditional nomadic way of life more appealing for millennials.

There is a misconception that Overlanding is a “free” way of life. It does indeed cut the costs of traditional living, like rent and electric bills. However, Overlanding comes with its own costs.

Where you are choosing to Overland will have an impact on the cost. Some countries are simply more cost-effective than others. The United States in particular can be a rather expensive country to Overland in.

The cost of Overlanding varies, depending on gas prices and your individual desires. And while it is expensive, there are ways to Overland that will save you money.

What you need to begin Overlanding

Technically, the only things you need to begin overlanding are a car and a strong passion for travel. However, there are several tools and items that will make your overlanding life a lot easier.

A Capable Vehicle

When beginning your Overlanding journey, it’s important to invest in a capable vehicle that can tackle any terrain. You could be traveling through desert sand, snowstorms, mountain ranges, and a variety of climates, and you need a car that can handle it all.

If you can’t build a rig to tackle any terrain, you should tailor your build to your specific regions terrain.

Popular vehicles for Overlanding include the Jeep Grand Cherokee, the Jeep Gladiator, the Toyota Tacoma, the Toyota Tundra, and the Toyota 4Runner. 

When choosing your vehicle for this journey, be sure to look for one that is resilient and capable. Larger vehicles tend to have more storage, but depending on the build, can have less capability offroad.


Look for a vehicle with four-wheel drive. As the roads you’ll encounter will often be uneven, rocky, and muddy, you’ll need the power and traction provided by a four-wheel drive.

Vehicle ‘Armor’

You’ll also want to look for undercarriage protection, to avoid any potential accidents involving the fuel tank or oil tank.


Another quality to look for in your vehicle is an off-road suspension. Overlanding will bring you to some wild, rustic trails, and off-road suspension will help you hit those bumps and hills with grace.

Investing in a good vehicle can be quite an expense, and this is where the bulk of the cost will come from.

Vehicle Accessories

As an Overlander, your vehicle is your home base. You’ll be driving endlessly, constantly on the move, and that continuous action on your car can lead to some unexpected accidents. It’s important to have all the right tools and gear you’ll need to confront any unanticipated obstacles.

Mud-Terrain Tires

If you’re just beginning your Overlanding journey, you may want to invest in mud-terrain tires. Mud terrain tires will be able to provide your vehicle with more traction and grip. They will help you trek through some of the harsher, wetter, muddier climates that you’ll encounter.


Another tool you may want to consider purchasing before beginning your Overlanding journey is an emergency rescue winch. An emergency rescue winch is a tool that will help pull your vehicle out of mud, swamps, water, or even up a hill.

An emergency rescue winch for an overlander has been compared to a life jacket for a white water rafter: essential, life-saving. Your rescue winch will be able to help save not only your rig but the rigs of other Overlanders that you encounter on the trails.

Winches have a motor or crank that will provide the power needed to pull your vehicle out of a tough situation. They are an investment, but a wise one to make, considering all of the unknown terrain that you will be encountering as an Overlander.

Additional Mods

More vehicular accessories to consider when setting out on your Overlanding journey are grille gards, bumpers, roll cages, push bars, and rock slides. All of these accessories have the same goal in mind: protecting your vehicle.

These accessories will provide a thorough protection for your car. They will help to prevent damage from large rocks, debris, and anything else the trail throws your way.

When Overlanding, you encounter intense terrains. Rocks and debris can cause serious damage to your rig. These preventative measures and mods can be essential to a smooth trip.

Camping Gear

When you are not sleeping in your car, you will be camping outside. Having all of the right camping gear will make your Overlanding experience safe, fun, and enjoyable.

The Right Tent

You’ll want to invest in a strong, sturdy tent. It’s important to have a versatile tent that can work in a variety of climates. As you travel, you’ll encounter many different ecosystems; you’ll likely travel through winter snow, desert dust, and woody forests.

Once you’ve secured a sturdy tent that fits your needs, you’ll also the right sleeping bags and blankets.

Lighting Options

Flashlights and lanterns are also essential on your trip. Depending on where you are traveling through, you might not see electricity for days. It’s a good idea to invest in a crank flashlight, to prevent any potential mishaps with batteries and chargers.

A crank radio is also a good idea to have when you’re beginning your Overlanding journey. Many modern crank devices have ports for you to charge your cell phones, in case of an emergency. Owning one of these crank devices will prevent potential powerless disasters.

Drinking Water

Another essential item before beginning your journey is a water purifier. Modern technology has become so creative and innovative in regard to these items. Today, you can purchase pills that will purify river water. You can also purchase special water bottles and straws that will cleanse the water for you.

Accidents can and will happen on the road, and it’s imperative that you are prepared. It’s a good idea to bring water with you— but the unforeseen can always strike, which is why you should invest in a good water purifier.


Last but not least… ALWAYS be sure to have a thorough first aid kit with you at all times, as you never know what kind of accidents might occur on the road.

Parking Fees and Hiking Passes

Another underestimated cost of Overlanding is the cost of parking passes. While some people can get away with finagling free parking spots, many landowners will charge you a fee for the right to park on their land.

When planning your own Overlanding excursion, you must factor in the cost of parking your vehicle. You’ll also want to factor in the costs of the national park entrance, as well as other recreational activities.

Kayaking and rafting are popular activities for adventurers, but they can often come at an unexpected price.


So that’s everything you needed to know about the cost of Overlanding. Ultimately, Overlanding is an expensive way of life but can be done on a budget over the weekend for shorter trips. At the end of the day, get out there, explore, and be safe!

Jeremy Hoxie

Born and raised in beautiful Northern Michigan, I've have spent two decades enjoying everything the outdoors has to offer. When not working on RigForge, I spend my time Overlanding and tackling off-road trails while sharing my experiences and testing gear along the way. My current rig is a 2013 Jeep JKU Moab.

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