Choosing an Overland Vehicle
As I mentioned in the First Post for Overland Malta, this is going to concentrate on how to choose an overland vehicle.
I do believe that I am not the only one, I tend to go to the most expensive and overkill rig out there and fall in love. However in this case, such an overland vehicle can go up to several tens of thousands of euros. So soon I accepted the fact that I had to build one myself. Something I am comfortable with and that fits my needs and current budget. The beauty of this is, that any budget is enough to go overland and have an overland vehicle.
Types of Vehicles for Overland
Below are some examples good for overland vehicles at different budgets.
This an amazing way to travel. Advantages, very cheap, low fuel costs, in contact with your surroundings and easy to maintain. Disadvantages, not much luggage and cargo space, exposed to the elements.
Any car is good enough for overland, Hatchbacks, two seaters, convertibles, and mini vans. Advantages are much larger choice according to comfort and budget, easier to travel long distances, easier to maintain and mainly can blend in the city without exposing you as an overland enthusiast or tourist. Disadvantages that I can see is that it is a bit small, but that is something anyone can work around according to the kind of equipment, and the kind of overland travel done. For example, ground tents or hostels for accommodation can be an option.
Ranges from cheap to relatively expensive vehicles. Advantages, there is a bit more space and power to play with, can go to more remote places. Disadvantages, increased fuel consumption, more maintenance to take care of, still not much space inside to “live” in and no easy bathroom options. This option is less conspicuous, showing everyone on sight that you are in fact an overland enthusiast.
Range from relatively cheap to very expensive. Advantages are space to have some sort of transformable living/kitchen/sleeping quarters inside. Also it can be easily camouflaged as a normal van without showing the overland aspect. Disadvantages are higher fuel costs, more maintenance and relatively large vehicle. Regarding size this may start to be an issue when crossing borders and shipping from one place to another, since size and weight are definitely important factors.
This has the whole spectrum, from very basic and very cheap, that have a tent or some sort of drawer system with it, up to a home on wheels. Advantages are that you can leave this at a campsite and still use the vehicle, highly adaptable depending on budget and can be attached to almost any vehicle that has enough torque. Disadvantages is increased drag on highways, resulting in more fuel consumption.
Advantages are comfortable living, sleeping and kitchen area wherever you go. Another advantage, which can be a huge plus, is easy bathroom access. Disadvantages are relatively high cost, high fuel and maintenance costs, very large vehicle especially for city and some country roads.
Depends on the base cost is either relatively high or very high. Advantages are highly customisable, off road capabilities without compromising comfort. Disadvantages are, very large size of vehicle, high fuel and maintenance costs. Base of such trucks are either military surplus vehicles(which are considerably cheap) or brand new commercial trucks.
Budget for Overland Vehicle
A few notes to consider for the budget of your vehicle is not only to consider the vehicle itself, but the equipment that you desire and its long term running costs. It is useless to go broke on a vehicle, then realise that you cannot invest in the needed equipment. Also it is valid to consider your mechanical knowledge and know how. I personally am doing a mechanic course, to have a basic idea of what is going on and how to fix some issues myself. I have met some people that one of their main concerns was the ECU, therefore they opted for an older car, mostly land cruisers and Land Rover Defender 110s, for the reason that they have very limited electronics and can easily be fixed without any specialist tools.
Aim for desired Overland Vehicle
It is very important to do a lot of research beforehand. If comfort is a priority, and budget is no issue, consider a motorhome or an expedition truck. If it is a luxury that can be spared, and the need to go to remote places is high, go for a 4×4. Then if top priority is the experience and to travel light weight, consider a motorcycle. Age of vehicle will affect reliability and also how easy it can be fixed. Modern engines have ECUs and most have specialist tools whilst older models would require more ongoing maintenance.
Apart from budget there are certain issues that one has to keep in mind too. Diesel is being banned from most cities, some trucks over a certain weight are not allowed in some countries, some countries do not allow right hand drive cars (like mine), I have not heard of any restrictions on left hand drive cars though.
I hope this post set a bit of a clearer picture for anyone out there looking to build a rig. Do you guys have any more suggestions on what to consider for an Overland Vehicle?
Next post will be about the Overland Adventure Show 2017 at Stratford-upon-Avon, that I managed to go last September. I will talk about the experience of going to such an event, expectations and if it was worth going.