2012 Overlander of the Year: Austin Vince

Austin Vince Overlander

Austin with his Mondo Sahara machine

Each year, Expedition Portal awards an “Overlander of the Year” to the individual that captured the greatest sense of adventure and inspiration for the community in the previous year (and years). For 2012, this much deserved title goes to one of the most entertaining, approachable and genuine adventurers on the planet – Austin Vince.

While we will list Austin’s (many) accomplishments later in the article, what makes him so important to the overland community is his ability to inspire. Inspire others through his humorous and self-effacing (his humility, not so much wardrobe) approach, but also because he sheds off the glamorous and always travels on the cheap. While his motorcycle may be affordable and his attire, errr, timeless, Austin has never shied away from the serious and remote routes around the world. From his early expeditions around the Northern Hemisphere (his route predating the Long Way Round by about a decade) to his most recent bash through the Sahara, Austin and his mates really go for it.

Chatting with Austin for even a few minutes, his passion for travel is infectious, and while he is certainly enthusiastic about his own adventures, he spends equal time ensuring all he encounters understand that their own adventures are not only entirely possible, but should be done. Austin is proof that with even $10,000, you can ride a motorcycle around the world; with half that, you can cross a big chunk of the Sahara. A few years ago, Austin and Lois Pryce (his wife and inspiring adventuress) started the Adventure Travel Film Festival, an annual gathering held in the UK, USA and Australia. Austin represents all that is important about travel, most critical of which is to have fun, at least consider traveling light and cheap, never take yourself too seriously and make sure that your moto suit looks fast. . . 

Thank you Austin for inspiring us all!

(P.S.- You can buy the overalls too: HERE)

Why Austin Loves the Desert

Who is Austin Vince? (Excerpt from his personal website): Austinvince.com

Sep 1978
 got accepted for Mill Hill School in NW London. Left there in Jul 1983 utterly transformed; I had dropped the altar boy image and was now academically successful, obsessed with sport and the army.

Summer 84′ travelled overland on buses and trains from London to Delhi. Whilst in Iran saw some Germans on Yamaha XT500s and suddenly saw my future.

Secured a thing called a ‘Cadetship’ which was like an army scholarship for university. Did Civil Engineering at Bristol 84-86 then failed my second year exams through lack of hard work and low intellect. Then 86-88 completed studies at the MOD’s own Uni, The Royal Military College of Science just outside Swindon, the city of spires. Graduated with a colossal 2:2 then spent summer cycling around Morocco then back to Sandhurst in Sep 88.

Passed out in Apr 89 then onto Royal Army Educational Corps hiding my newly acquired pacifism from my senior officers. Soon realised I couldn’t be an Army Officer for ethical reasons, and £6000 and two years later I was out.

Teacher training at The Institute Of Education (secondary maths)

Sep 1991 – Apr 1995 teaching Design Technology and Physics back at Mill Hill, my old school.

Apr 95 – May 96 Mondo Enduro motorcycle trip.

Summer Hols 1997 shoot Roadside USA project with Clive Greenhough

Sep 96 – July 98 teaching maths back at Mill Hill and paying off Mondo debts. Get Mondo TV show picked up by Discovery Channel – jubilant!!

July 98- Jan 2001 work in TV as freelance camerman, presenter, director, producer. Shoot colossal quantities of Super 8 but crucially, learn the ‘grammar of television’.

Apr 2001 – Dec 2001 Terra Circa motorcycle expedition

Jan 2001 meet Lois Pryce and until Sep 2001 spend time editing Terra Circa footage and falling in love (with Lois Pryce not the Terra Circa footage)

Sep 2001 – Jul 2010 teach maths, science, IT and history at a Prep school in NW London. Marry Lois and move onto the fabulous Dutch Barge, Hoop Op Zegen

Jul 2010 – present resigned from teaching so as to work full time promoting and encouraging folks to embark on low budget DIY adventures.

Publisher’s Note: The 2012 award proved a little more difficult to complete than in years past, as most serious overlanders can be difficult to get ahold of, and then the editor also needs to be around (and not travelling) to write it. As a result, our team was seriously tardy in awarding for 2012, passing the assignment amongst a few of us since May, before landing on the publisher’s To-Do list a few weeks ago.


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Scott is the publisher and co-founder of Expedition Portal and Overland Journal. His travels by 4WD and adventure motorcycle span all seven continents and include three circumnavigations of the globe. His polar travels include two vehicle crossings of Antarctica and the first long-axis crossing of Greenland. He lives in Prescott, Arizona