Get ready to start planning your next overland adventure! The Overland Trip Planner and guide will help make sure you are prepared to hit the road with everything you need for successful exploration.
What might feel like an overwhelming process at first can be simplified when placed into a single organized plan. Read on to learn more! And check out the PDF trip planner download at the end of this article to help you get started.
The first step is to get the lay of the land for your trip. Here are starting points:
- Trip duration
- How many miles round trip
- Elevation change expected
- Terrain types expected
- Weather forecast
- Farthest distance traveled between gas stations
- Current state of trail/roads and what are latest reports?
- How many travelers?
Think about your route, and where the road will be taking you. Find a map, download GPS files or checkout a resource book specialized in the area you’re heading to. US Forest Service Stations are one of the best resources to get local maps of the area (often for free).
Check the weather reports often as your departure date nears. The next task is to research the historical highs/lows/precipitation for the region you’re traveling. This is crucial to calibrate what type of clothing and gear is needed, especially if heading into more extreme climates and elevations.
Sleeping & Shelter
Whether you run a Rooftop Tent, sleep in your vehicle or you’re packing a quick set up ground tent, make sure to check your shelter options and sleeping gear before heading out. Are all parts present and accounted for? Are the materials and fabrics dry and in one piece? The first night on the trail is not the time to realize there’s a leak in your sleeping pad.
The recommended amount is 1.5-2 gallons (6-8 liters) per person per day. This may seem like a lot, but consider this is the water you will be cooking with, and more importantly, water is a non-negotiable resource when you’re headed off-road. There’s no harm carrying more than you think you need.
How to shop and plan meals for the road less traveled is topic of its own. Meal planning and preparation are strongly informed by personal preference. (We’re looking at you, trail foodies.) Here’s a method that is tried and true for those starting out:
Dry Goods + Fresh Foods = Simple
Build out a simple dry goods container of essential items like spices, hot sauces, olive oil/vinegar and canned ingredients like diced tomatoes, black beans, dry pasta and pasta sauce. Think basic items that can be added to fresh ingredients to make a more well rounded meal.
When you have these meal building blocks set, you can integrate fresh foods and meats into the mix without having to carry additional perishables. A simple cooler can go a long way keeping food fresh if you minimize opening and closing the lid. For those wanting more space and control, consider investing in a fridge. Companies like Dometic offer a wide variety of mobile fridge options and sizes.
And for those evenings when you pull into camp after dark, a few MREs in your dry goods case can make life easier.
Vehicle Preparation & Maintenance
First things first – Keep your vehicle on a maintenance schedule. Don’t miss oil changes, tire rotations, alignment checks and brake inspections. Don’t wait until the last minute for that overdue oil change only to find out your brake pads are within a millimeter of their life.
In the weeks leading up to your departure date, pay close attention to any rattles, vibrations and hums that catch your attention. If your vehicle is about to hit a major mileage milestone (100K, 200K, 250K, etc), make sure it goes through a proper tune-up and maintenance check.
There is no shame if you do not have mechanical experience with your vehicle. Trip preparation is a great opportunity to get to know more about what’s under the hood and learn the basics of repairs and maintenance. A little research and a few questions can go a long way.
Go online and find overlanders who have traveled down the same route you’re planning and get their advice. Start to cultivate the websites and communities/forums you trust to give the best insight and advice. Not only does this help prevent ‘analysis paralysis’ and endless google searches, but it also helps to create friendships online and in the real world.
Overland Bound Members can head to the Resource Map to connect with other members in the area. Reach out to someone local so you can ask specific questions about trail conditions, access updates or what local destinations are a must.
Double Check Your Final Check
Create and maintain a checklist for the very last stage of packing. Get a visual on the items in each category and check them off as you pack.
- Food Water & Kitchen
- Shelter & Clothing
- Camp Basics
- Vehicle Recovery & Tools
- GPS Comms & Electronics
- First Aid & Emergency
Learn As You Go
Remember, each trip is the opportunity to innovate and build on the experiences of the last one.
A few years back we developed our own checklist based on our travels down the road. Over time it has expanded it into 3 sections: Pre-Adventure, Adventure and Post Adventure.
It is now a 4 page system that takes you through the process, and as you stack the pages together, you’ve created a seamless planner that moves from one adventure into the next without stopping. This planning checklist works in conjunction with the Ultimate Overland Checklist.
We’re offering this planner as a PDF file for free! You can open up the file and download to your computer below. You must be registered on this site to see the link.
Overland Bound Trip Planner PDF for Registered Users*:
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