How to Overland Across North America in a Remodelled School Bus

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Awesome Tips   Bucket List Worthy  

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By Natalie Morawietz

Have you ever heard the term overlanding? Most likely, but what does it mean exactly? You are going over land, across land, traveling long distances and the journey is the principal goal. For me it’s one of the best ways to travel and see the world! I recently took a journey overland across North America.

The Overland Vehicle

Typically, overlanding is accomplished with mechanized off-road capable, all-purpose vehicle that is kitted out to be self-sufficient for several consecutive days. This can lead to amazing camping spots and hiking in totally remote places. It allows you to leave the normal tourist haunts and activities, and most assuredly take you out of your comfort zone.

Overlanding in Africa and South America is quite common as the terrain and the roads less traveled call for it. But what about North America? North America has many beautiful remote places to visit and long distances to cover (especially in Alaska and Canada where there are still many gravel roads). Why not do it comfortably in a vehicle that has more space and is perfectly equipped for being outdoors and camping?

Having spent the last few years working for an overland adventure company in Africa and South America, I realized that the North American travel market was missing overland vehicles. Most adventure companies in the US are running around with passenger vans that have trailers attached. I thought: Why not build a vehicle that can carry more passengers, have more space and is more like a “home” for everyone? Bigger windows, spacious seating, viewing platform on the roof, and tables to play cards or write your journals.

So I took a yellow school bus and remodelled it into an overland vehicle. This is “Atka” – the guardian spirit in Inuit – on her maiden voyage from Arizona to Alaska.

One the way!
On the way!

Group Travel

You don’t  face a bear by yourself? Understandably so! Overlanding-style trips offer the right mix of groups of like-minded people and freedom to make your own choices about the adventure. You can start the campfire yourself if you like, but you can also rely on your tour leaders to take care of the things that you don’t want to deal with. And you not only get to know the culture of the country you are visiting, but will also befriend like-minded people from all over the world.

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Relaxing by the fire.

The Outdoors

If you like outdoor activities and nature and want to explore the amazing culture, landscape and animals of Alaska and Canada or concentrate on the beautiful National Parks in the Western US, I believe going on an overland trip is the best way to do it. You will be right out in the wilderness: trailblazing, spotting animals and enjoying evenings round the campfire.

Yes, sometimes you might lack a shower or a proper toilet, but what’s more rewarding than waking up in the middle of nowhere, the sun shining on your face, listening to the wind gently moving the bushes around you. There is nothing more peaceful than leaving civilization behind for a few days and slowing down the pace. You’ll return home nad appreciate your bathroom, bed, kitchen and realize that sometimes a little less (less information, less Facebook, less comfort) can make you appreciate what and who you have in your life.

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Sleeping under the stars.

Comments:

  • Travelling overland in North America sounds fantastic and what a great way to do it – in a converted school bus… love it! Would get some great photos of all those bears and other wildlife from the roof of the truck, never mind being out of the way of the grizzlies 🙂

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