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Forgotten Essentials of a Road Trip & Overlanding

Updated: Aug 16, 2019

We Have been doing the most interesting thing, Road trip for over two decades now.

It’s important to remember that a trip is not just about your final destination but the journey you take to get there.

Hitting the wide open road for a long vacation brings excitement and the promise of adventure. If you’re not well-prepared for the journey, however, the experience can turn into one filled with feelings of boredom and regret. Pack a small bag with items of necessity and leave it in the car. Having these items at arm’s reach means you won’t have to stop frequently to pull things out of your suitcase in the trunk.

Road trip to sikkim
Sikkim by road from delhi


If you can get your head around it layering is great. A Sleeping Bag. Brilliant on early morning starts on the truck, just wear it and go back to sleep, or use it at night whilst sitting round the campfire. Combine it with a mat to get extra warmth when heading for colder climates.


An item that will sit in your bag and rarely be used. Take a Expedition Poncho. It covers more of you. It’s breathable because it’s not close fitting but the main benefit is its versatility. Use it as a ground sheet to sit on, rig it as a Sun awning or wrap it round your sleeping bag for a night under the stars.


There are now packable options that are extremely light. They have a distinct advantage over a traditional fleece. The main being they are wind proof. On open, exposed areas wind chill can be a problem. They are also versatile will pack down into an inner pocket to form a small pillow. Not having a pillow is the scourge of the Overlander, nothing worse than waking up with a stiff neck. If the temperatures really drop at night you can wear it inside your bag, this will increase the warmth dramatically. Now… what to do about a pillow?


There is an obsession with head torches! Great if you want to be hands free but a pain for others sitting around at night being blinded by each others torches and an attraction to flying insects and the lights between your eyes! I still pack a head torch, one that has the benefit of a red light (doesn’t attract insects, destroy your night vision or blinds those sitting around you! It takes small button batteries so you can pack plenty of spares. My favourite torch, though, is the Fenix torch. It has an amazingly strong beam and it can be turned into a candle light for the tent. You will use a torch a lot Overlanding so carrying two is sensible.


The sarong is probably the most versatile clothing you can take. A dress, headdress, face wrap from dust, a pillow cover and even a towel! Pack one. Actually I don’t but I do pack a bandana. Made of cotton it’s is a mini sarong. Not quite as versatile but packs away so small it will fit in a pocket.


This isn’t so much a look at what is versatile or multi -purpose as at what is fit for purpose and practical (though it would be great if someone could invent a bag that turned into a tent!) .You’re living out of this bag, often moving on each day so to have one like a rucksack that you need to unload to get to the bottom just does not make sense. The basic to go for is a duffle with a large zip opening. They are relatively cheap, easy to stow on the truck and can take being thrown around. More of an investment would be a travel pack. They open like a suitcase, usually come with a day pack attached and have a back system (shoulder straps and hip belt) that hides away. This should be considered if you are travelling on from the truck or your next trip might be independent travel. Whichever bag you go for try to organise your bag using dry bags and packing cubes. They will just make your life so much easier.


Top of the space saving list is the multi purpose soap. They will clean you, your hair, your clothes and you can use them to shave with all in concentrated form.


You won’t need a huge multi-tool with saws and all but there are some essentials to look out for scissors, bottle opener and corkscrew come to mind. Victorinox Climber+, nothing to do with climbing, but it takes these essentials and adds a tiny pen, a pin and a sunglass screwdriver. All very useful.


Years spent travelling and sleeping under the stars have made me an early riser. Travelling in a group is a lot of fun but sometimes it’s great to spend some time on your own. What better than to take off and watch the sun come up with a brew now and then. All you will need is a Compact Solid Fuel Cooker, a stainless steel drinks bottle (to boil some water), a cup and the brew stuff. It can set you up for the day!

So what are you waiting for, Pack the essentials and get on a road trip.

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