A new year is upon us, and if you haven’t already started, now is the time to plan what off-road and outdoor adventures you will be taking this year.
In order to make this trip planning process easier we’ve put together a few helpful tips for making this year the best you've ever had outdoors. A lot of these suggestions may be no-brainers but if you are new to overlanding and vehicle based adventure travel you may find some advice worth noting. If you are an old pro at planning adventures - let us know if we missed anything important.
1.) Start Trip Planning Early
This first word of advice may seem obvious but the earlier you start your adventure planning, the more time you have to be spontaneous. If your gear and vehicle are in order then you can fit in more trips throughout the year. If you wait to go through this process you may find yourself six months in and still sitting at home because things just got busy.
2.) Plan According To Length of Trip and What Season
The reality is your planning will vary according to how far you travel and how long you stay. What time of year you go will also greatly affect what gear you choose to take and how you prepare. There is some baseline prep work to be done no matter what the season is, but warm and cold weather will place different demands on you and your gear. If you are just starting out with overlanding and remote camping try taking shorter trips during more temperate times of the year. Small victories will give you courage to take longer and more daring adventures.
3.) Inventory Your Equipment
After the new year and the craziness of the holidays it’s time to slow down and take an inventory of all the camping and overlanding gear you have. Taking stock of what you have will help make clear what you need to replace or how you want to expand your equipment. It’s easy to go overboard so be principled in your approach to what you need. Keep it simple but you don’t have to be minimalist. Instead of minimalism, go for essentialism. What is essential for you to enjoy your time outdoors? Sometimes less is more and sometimes more is necessary. Just keep in mind: vehicle space is at a premium.
You also might want to approach your gear inventory breakdown topically. Make sure you have what you need based on a few possible categories: first aid, cooking, vehicle recovery, tools, personal items, technology, and navigation.
4.) Organize Your Gear and Vehicle
Once you have a clear picture of the overlanding and camping gear you have going into the new year, it’s time to get it more organized. It’s easy to have lots of equipment but using it well and reducing your frustration when on your trip is going to require developing a system of organization.
Many adventure travel enthusiasts use a mix of hard and soft storage solutions to keep their gear in order and their vehicle organized. From bins to bags and everything in between, it’s hard to know what to invest in. If you are going to buy bags and pouches make sure: they work as a system (the more modular the better - so they can change with you over time), they are built tough and come with a lifetime guarantee, and they are easy to label.
Fighting for space in your vehicle is always an issue when you are trying to pack in all your camping gear. Soft but rugged storage solutions eliminate the bulk of hard bins but even if you choose to use bins, organizing the inside properly will make for a more enjoyable trip. The goal is: “a place for everything and everything in its place’.
If you need help with ideas for organizing your overlanding and camping gear check out the Blue Ridge Overland Gear modular storage solutions that you can use to customize your vehicle, pack everything in, and still find all your gear easily.
5.) Vehicle Audit
Beyond normal servicing of your off-road vehicle it’s important to do a deep dive of your vehicle’s systems to look for any needed repairs. If you are not into rock crawling and extreme trails you may not need to go super deep in your audit, but two stages of assessment will go a long way in keeping you out of trouble when you are out in the wild.
The first stage of auditing your vehicle before being adventure ready is a self-assessment. Do a thorough walk-through of your rig yourself from top to bottom. The second stage of auditing your vehicle is to get a second opinion - take it to a garage to make sure you didn’t miss any hidden issues.
Once maintenance of your vehicle is fully addressed you may want to plan any upgrades. From light systems to body armor, tires and bumpers, and everything in-between - there are a million ways to dial in your off-road vehicle. Pace yourself and prioritize the upgrades according to your budget over the course of the year. There’s no need to do it all at once unless the trails you plan to take require more technical upgrades.
Vehicle based adventure travel is alot like life - make plans based on your goals - not just in reaction to what comes up. Being intentional takes time. Carve out time to prepare for a new year of outdoor fun and relaxation. It might feel like work up front but you reap what you sow. Do the prep work up front and you'll be ready to take full advantage of every opportunity for adventure.
Want more overland trip planning details? Check out our Overland Trip Planning 101 video series.