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Overlanding can get expensive. Really expensive. This is especially true if you invest in a new overlanding rig and trick it out with all sorts of features like a solar power system, refrigerator, locking diffs, and so forth. While these accessories are certainly valuable from the standpoint of overlanding comfort and capabilities, the costs can add up.
So how do you overland on the cheap?
Let’s review a few tricks of the trade to help you keep the costs of your overlanding adventure to a minimum.
Overland on the Cheap By Using What You’ve Got
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While I will admit that there’s nothing quite like having brand-new gear, if you already have stuff that works, there’s no reason to spend money on newer stuff.
This goes for just about everything you might need for overlanding…
If you have a vehicle that’s reliable and offers the storage space you need for your trip, you don’t need a new car.
If you have a tent that’s still waterproof and provides you the shelter you need, you don’t need a new tent.
If you have a roof rack, a rocket box, an outdoor shower, newer tires, and a camp stove that are all in good working condition, there’s no need to upgrade them either.
The point is that if you’re already good for gear, save your money and put it towards things you don’t have or that you’ve worn out. This is the single best way to overland on the cheap!
Work While You Travel
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If you have a job in which remote work is possible, you might consider working while you’re overlanding.
Doing so allows you to maintain an income stream while you travel which will help offset the costs you incur as the journey continues.
For some, this means traveling for a few days, then settling down in a location to work for a few days. For others, this means traveling for longer periods of time – weeks or even months – and then heading home or finding a place to settle in for a few months while you work.
Whatever strategy works for you, it could be your ticket to cheaper overlanding!
Overland on the Cheap by Getting Sponsored
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Let me start by saying that getting sponsored isn’t as simple as calling up a company and asking if they want to sponsor you.
However, if you’re a good salesperson, you might be able to convince a company to sponsor your trip by offering them some good marketing in return.
For example, you might approach a rooftop tent company about a sponsorship in return for featuring their tent in your social media posts as you travel.
But as a new member of a company’s team, don’t expect to get a ton of free gear or to get paid. Getting a single product is a good goal to begin with, then as you build your online following and prove that you can provide solid marketing for companies, you might find yourself having multiple sponsors, and, eventually, might even get paid for your troubles.
This would be an ideal situation, for sure, but bear in mind that this is the least likely option on this list to help you overland on the cheap.
Stay Close to Home to Keep Costs Down
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While trekking around the world in your FJ80 Land Cruiser sounds like an awesome time, doing so would be extraordinarily expensive.
So, to cut costs, perhaps you stay closer to home…
If you live in Utah, for example, there are a wealth of overlanding options (including five national parks!). Take a weekend to explore Bryce Canyon. Spend some time in Moab. Go out for a week to overland in Zion.
The point is that you don’t have to travel long distances for weeks or months to have a great time overlanding. If you stick close to home, you can satisfy your need for adventure while not spending a ton of money on transportation costs, campground fees, park fees, food, and so forth.
Overland on the Cheap by Understanding How the System Works
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You can often save money simply by knowing how to take advantage of how the system works.
For example, if you want to overland in national parks, enter the park at night as most entrance stations are not manned, so you don’t have to pay a fee (or you can just get an annual National Park Pass for $80).
As another example, understanding that everything from food to gas to camping is more expensive in tourist locations, take plenty of food with you, gas up well before you get to popular locations, and plan to camp someplace other than tourist traps and national parks.
If you want to explore Grand Teton National Park, staying in the park will cost you the entrance fee plus campground fees. But, if you camp just outside the park in a dispersed site on national forest land, there are no fees to camp.
Again, just being aware of how the system works and understanding what you can do to make the system work in your favor will help you to overland on the cheap.
This is not an exhaustive list of all the things you can do to save money while overlanding, but hopefully it will get you headed in the right direction!