I’d be lying if I said that a week goes by in my life where the overbearing sense of wanderlust doesn’t captivate my wandering mind and briefly detach me from the sheer reality of reality.
For most people, until the point that they find themselves sipping a pina colada floating around an infinity pool at an all-inclusive resort travelling is nothing but a chore, but for others the journey is the destination. Don’t get me wrong, pack me off to a fancy hotel on the side of a mountain where I can ski all day then spend the afternoon relaxing in the spa slowly digesting a stack of books before digesting a three or four course gourmet dinner and I certainly won’t complain, but the whole way there I’ll be soaking up the changing terrain with the fascination of an eager child be that in a car, on a train, watching the crowds rush past whilst I stand on the airport travelator or through the compact porthole window of an aircraft. It’s all part of the adventure, and those books I mentioned – you just know they’ll more than likely be about other people’s overland adventures so that I can live their lives past vicariously in complete comfort whilst being somewhat envious of their discomfort at times, curiously. I must be a masochist. In my mind, there are three levels of overland wanderlust:
‘I’m just popping out to get a bottle of Rioja… From Spain’
Or some other similarly absurd excuse revolving around a different commodity that’s commonly available locally. It’ll taste better when sourced from where it’s produced, trust me. That’s an excuse, yes, but one where you have at least a small chance of arguing and coming up trumps. The first stage involves a motorbike (or a pushbike if you’re a true glutton for consistent and unrelenting punishment, as rewarding as the success of a full day’s cycling somewhere is in reality), a car ferry to the European mainland and some incredible roads. I’ve driven the Stelvio pass in Italy and instantly knew I’d be back for more one day on two wheels, be that with or without combustion engine. It’s places like this that fuel your thirst for more and when the trip can be made 100% on tarmac and with plenty of decent accommodation available en route there isn’t an excuse not to, really. Europe’s on our doorstep, border crossings are painless and there’s a diverse enough culture mix just waiting to be consumed.
Sun, sand, and oases
I suspect that there comes a time when driving on roads no longer presents enough of a challenge, and if the risk of injury or death presents itself solely in the form of other road users your trip won’t ever reach the required heights of adrenaline induction. This is likely the point at where you begin to invest in more serious overlanding equipment and prepare to sleep in a tent on the roof, shower from a bag and carry enough fuel on-board to burn down a moderately sized town. Central Africa has remained fairly consistently dangerous over time as far as I understand, but with enough people still travelling south and now we have the internet to compare notes and arrange travel convoys isn’t the draw of absolute silence in the middle of a desert as you stare at the stars and doze off to sleep an attractive one?
Sell the house, I’m never coming home
Expert level. Serious dedication to preparation, previous experience probably essential and an undeniable financial investment will be required to live a life on the road, but it’s definitely been done and is happening somewhere right now. Of course, you can do this in a small off-roader, but for that extra bit of personal space and a relative level of comfort to avoid the almost inevitable meltdowns at any moment that travelling companions experience from time to time you’re going to need a truck. If it’s going to be your house, it might as well be the size of a house and house its very own proper kitchen and separate bedroom. What they lack in manoeuvrability and lightweightness they seriously make up for in off-road ability, and if you don’t believe me, go to your preferred online video streaming website and search for Unimogs, MAN or for the particularly extreme oversized overlander base vehicle look toward Russia and for a Kamaz, Maz, or anything built similarly simplistically and ruggedly enough to survive the Siberian taiga.
If you need any more inspiration for a never-ending trip, a trip to the death, the trip of a lifetime (quite literally) look no further than Gunther Holtorf, who spent over two decades visiting 172 countries and covering a distance of 823,000km (the equivalent of 20 times around the planet) in his trusty Mercedes G-Wagen, Otto. Mercedes Benz have allegedly agreed a price of around 300,000€, the estimated cost of Otto’s entire record breaking trip, to preserve the G-Wagen in their museum. A fitting tribute to such a momentous journey, I’m sure you’ll agree. So what are you waiting for?