The Accidental Overlanders

TripSavvy describes overlanding as a style of travel that involves “covering long distances in a motorized – usually off-road – vehicle, with the emphasis placed less on the destination and more on the journey.”

Dunes on Corolla Beach in the North Carolina Outer Banks.

About a year ago, we found ourselves driving from the Outer Banks of North Carolina in our 2009 Dodge Ram 2500. This trip was like many we’d taken before, except for one important difference: we didn’t have any power steering.

Wrestling that massive hunk of metal more than 400 miles home to the midlands of South Carolina was the beginning of our overland journey, though we didn’t know it at the time.

After several fruitless attempts at resuscitating the old goat, we realized we had some important decisions to make. Ultimately, we decided it was time to cut our losses, give her an honorable retirement, and begin the hunt for a new vehicle.

We looked at every 4WD truck for sale in South Carolina (ok, that might be a very slight exaggeration), but we couldn’t seem to find the right fit for our growing family. We started asking ourselves, do we really need a truck?

At first the thought of driving something without a tailgate was too much for Steven. As a former bull rider and ranch hand, driving a truck was part of his identity. However, having hung up his spurs and begrudgingly moved to the suburbs, even he knew times had changed.

Slowly, the idea of driving an SUV became palatable, but his search became comical as one vehicle he went to test drive got stolen from the lot while he was on his way to the dealership and another got hit on the lot and heavily damaged.

Then the power steering on the Dodge went out. Again.

At this point we were ready for this particular saga to end. The dealership who couldn’t seem to fix our truck offered to give us a good trade-in offer and a good price on a car on their lot. I was more than a little skeptical. A point I (and my pregnancy hormones) made clear to the salesman. But Steven, not wanting to sink more funds into the truck, agreed to hear them out.

We met on the lot, and discovered the 4WD options in our price range were limited. The one vehicle that seemed to tick off all of our boxes was a 2016 Toyota 4Runner. After giving her a quick test run, I left the decision up to Steven.

Later that evening, to my surprise, he returned home with his first non-truck.

We began watching vlogs featuring 4Runners and became more and more excited about the capabilities of our new ride. We started hitting local dirt roads and trails (did I mention I was four months pregnant?!). Before long we were loading up our toddler and taking mini-adventures every weekend. 

We became passionate about making the most of our time together. Hitting the road gave us an escape from the daily grind we hadn’t even known we’d been seeking. Now, as a family of four, we’re continuing our quest to unplug, explore, and make memories.

So, I guess you can say, we didn’t find overlanding. It found us, and we’re so grateful it did. 

We can’t wait to see where the road takes us next! See you down the road (or maybe off the road)!

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