Get Out There and Travel

“Get out there and travel”. It’s a seemingly simple statement, but it takes a lot of courage for many women to take the leap, whether they are single, a wife, and/or mother. I know because I hit the road hard more than a decade ago and have never looked back. Well, to be honest, after being on the road for two years and circumnavigating South America, I decided that I needed to go “home.” After a mere week back in the “real world,” though, I was ready to return to the Land Rover and my family, to keep on traveling. That was as much of a surprise to me as it was to anyone else.

a2a expedition overland travel

When I was younger, I was led to believe that the American dream (a life where you work hard, play hard, and vacation once a year) was my end goal. I was brought up in a middle-income household, but I was also the ugly duckling among a family of beauty queens. I was still expected to marry well, and my worth to be determined by the husband with the tailored suit, expensive car, and lavish lifestyle. When I achieved success at a relatively young age as a successful entrepreneur, I suddenly gained the acceptance and respect from family members I had yearned for. But I also began to grasp that money did not always offer a solution to my problems and gave me only momentary pleasure.

a2a expedition overland travel

It is unfortunate, but very few of us attain a true level of satisfaction and are discontented with what life deals us. No one can guarantee that we will reach retirement age to enjoy the fruits of our labor. The sudden death of my father, who was desperate to travel the world before his life was cut short, made me realise that it is a choice to live life well, to be challenged, to earn memories and self-respect, to enjoy nature and freedom on our terms.

a2a expedition overland travel

So I took the opportunity to release myself from the norms of society and to live a life outside of my comfort zone. My husband and I removed ourselves and our children from the grips of normality and flung ourselves deep into the unknown. It was not an easy step. You will likely lose friends, and your family may frown upon what you do. But your kids will wear their experience as a badge of honor because they have traveled the world and have done extraordinary things, breaking out of the mold to become intrepid explorers.

a2a expedition overland travel

Your partnership changes, too, because you become a different person. I was an anxiety-ridden individual, and my relationship with my husband was strained. But now, we are true equals within our marriage and respect each other’s opinions. When anger rears its ugly head, a brisk walk in the opposite direction, remembering what we have endured and survived and achieved together, reminds us to be better people to ourselves and each other.

On the other hand, not everyone wants to travel overland long-term. And even if your partner shares your dream, it rarely becomes a reality. It’s a choice that needs to be made together and made to happen. If you have the DRD4-7R or “wanderlust gene,” making you more likely to be adventurous and seek excitement (and your partner does not), perhaps put that down on your next Tinder profile.

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If you are ready to be on your way to becoming a full-time overlander, here are 10 steps to help with the transition.

  • Start small, take baby steps, and establish your style of travel. Figure out which rig is best suited to you. Try out ground tent camping, rooftop tent camping, or hire a van. Don’t make a decision immediately; your comfort levels will change as you become more settled with the idea of living outdoors.
  • Save money. Percolate your own coffee, prepare your own food, and be frugal when it comes to any big purchases. When it’s your birthday or a special occasion, request gift cards or specific presents from outdoor retailers.

a2a expedition overland travel

  • Expand your skills set. Learn a new life skill, something that will help you on the road, whether it be mechanics, electrics, navigation, or cooking—the list is endless.
  • Master yoga or a method for self-motivation. Learn how to cope or deal with situations when times get tough. Stop, drop, and roll is one of the best life lessons while on the road.
  • Establish a network of friends or a group where you feel safe. It gets lonely out there. You may be spending 24 hours a day with your partner or find yourself constantly meeting new people, but sometimes you will need a break.
  • Find a family member to be a proxy. You will inevitably be required to renew your vehicle registration or tag when abroad, or you may need to receive mail. Speak to a responsible friend or family member to assist you while out of the country. Make sure that all your policies are in order and the person has been granted power of attorney.

a2a expedition overland travel

  • Research and learn about your mode of travel. If taking a motorcycle, take an advanced riders course. If using a 4×4, learn how to drive off-road. If taking a van, learn how to use a winch. Most importantly, become familiar with different navigation methods.
  • Work on your no BS filter. Before you set out, you will be chatting to a lot of people about travel, what to buy in order to travel, and how to travel. Everyone’s an expert—learn to know when to walk away from the conversation or sale.

a2a expedition overland travel

a2a expedition overland travel

  • Join a network of overland travelers. There are several groups and forums that are focused on overland travel. Become a part of it but beware of the armchair gurus or Facebook trolls. You don’t need negativity; people have been doing this for years, and you probably won’t be mapping unchartered territory anytime soon.
  • Set a goal and stick to it. It is human nature to procrastinate when stressed, so take out your calendar and work on a deadline for each task. Be realistic while still being flexible, but don’t keep delaying it. Keep in mind that life is moving at an ever-increasing rate and does not slow down.

a2a expedition overland travel

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Luisa Bell has always had a passion for travel, but she never imagined that she would travel the world, with her family, in a self-built Land Rover Defender camper. As the navigator, administrator, and penetrator of bureaucracy, she has led her family to over 65 countries on five continents. Luisa is the wife of Graeme, and their quarter-century together feels like a full century in overlander years. Her two kids and her dog are her pride and joy, and if she could travel with them indefinitely, she would. With a background in immigration law, she has the ability to make the impossible possible and has no plan of settling down or retiring her full-time traveler status. Follow her adventures at www.a2aexpedition.com