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How to Go Overlanding on a Budget

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Overlanding doesn’t have to be expensive. With the correct planning, it can be a relatively budget-friendly activity. 

So, in this article, we ignore the $100,000 builds and dive into some tips that will enable you to go overlanding on a budget.

Table of Contents

The Biggest Expenses of Overlanding

Hand Pumping Gas

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Contrary to popular belief, your overland budget does not need to be spent on your vehicle. 

However, it needs to be spent on fuel, food, vehicle maintenance, toll roads, and accommodation. These are the expenses you can’t avoid but can reduce.

The cost of the above aspects depends on your lifestyle, vehicle of choice, whether you are alone or with other people, and even the country you are traveling through.

Overlanding on a Budget – Travel with Company

Young couple using a map on a roadtrip for directions

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Traveling with a friend or significant other can drastically reduce expenses and help you undertake overlanding on a budget. 

Think about it, if you travel with another person all your expenses are divided by two. Therefore, you will be paying half as much for fuel, tolls, vehicle maintenance, and many other expenses. 

This can enable you to travel further, for a longer time, and through more destinations. 

In our opinion, it is also much more fun. Sharing the unique experiences of adventure and exploration with other people is a great way to develop life-long friendships while also having more fun along the way. 

Overlanding on a Budget – Wild Camping

Overland Camping in a tent

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Imagine driving across the country and staying at a hotel each night. Granted, it will be comfortable, but also expensive. 

Wild camping can be a great solution as it costs no money to find a stunning place and spend the night there. 

I believe it also makes you a better adventurer and stronger person. Spending the night in the woods can be daunting to some. However, if you do it multiple times with good company, you will soon get used to it. You might not think about it this way, but the skill of overcoming that fear will transition to your day-to-day life while also making you a more capable adventurer. 

For budget overland camping gear, we would suggest checking out Coleman.

Overlanding on a Budget – Cook Your Own Meals

Cooking over a campfire in a Dutch oven

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Personally, the part of camping I cherish the most is cooking and eating around a fire. 

Ready-made meals just don’t feel the same. 

This is great as it enables me to eat on a budget while staying healthy and making the most of my camping trip. 

A simple camp oven meal, some meat on the grill, or just a salad is a great way to improve your cooking skills while following your overland budget. 

Many believe that the thrill we get from overlanding is routed to our ancient instincts of survival and a campfire meal is a prime example of that. 

Overlanding on a Budget – Drive Less Per Day

overlanding on a desert road

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This overlanding on a budget tip is more focused on people who want to undertake expeditions that will last multiple months.

Dividing a 1000-mile journey into more days will lead to spending less money on fuel per month as you will be traveling less. Combine this with some wild camping and a second person, and your monthly costs are drastically reduced. 

This would work great if you had no time constraints; however, with a certain time frame in mind, the best thing you can do is save up the money needed for the distance and duration of your adventure beforehand.

 Overlanding on a Budget – Make Money on the Road

Young woman using laptop on a beach

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This isn’t a tip on how to save money but on how to make some while traveling. At the end of the day, the more money you have, the less important your budget becomes. 

A great way to have some income while overlanding is to undertake a freelance job. This can be something as simple as writing for a website from home.

Another common income stream is posting your adventures on YouTube. However, you must keep in mind that the competition on the platform is huge; therefore, you must post content of high quality in order to be seen. 

If you want to learn more about how to make money on the road, we have a whole article dedicated to this topic. 

Best Overlanding Vehicles on a Budget 

overlanding in the desert

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For starters, your best budget option is the vehicle you already own. Whether this is a 2wd sedan or a 4wd SUV throw some recovery gear in it and get out on some trails or forest service roads and experience overlanding yourself.

If you are aware of the vehicle’s limitations, you should have zero issues exploring some incredibly beautiful areas.

If along the way, you decide that you want to take the activity a step further, it may be worth modifying the vehicle you currently have or replacing it. 

Some good and relatively cheap options for overland vehicles are:

The above options are the first that spring to mind. However, there are plenty more on the market. What you are looking for here is a capable and reliable vehicle that is cheap to buy and run. 

Overlanding on a Budget – Final Thoughts

overland camping in the woods

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As you can see, overlanding on a budget is relatively simple. If you think about it, our ancestors used to cover continents by horse and foot; therefore, traveling cheaply in the era we currently live in shouldn’t be all that difficult. 

Plan your adventure cleverly, and remember that you don’t need a brand-new vehicle with thousands of dollars in accessories. Do this, and we can guarantee you that your overland adventure will be far cheaper than you think. 

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