Overlanders Handbooks – Books on Preparing your Overland Adventure


“See the opportunities for adventures, not the constraints that get in the way.”
~Alastair Humphreys

Originally published May 2018 / Updated December 2018

When we decided to travel the world, we wanted to leave as quickly as possible. The reason it took eight months was that I, Karin-Marijke, had a house to sell and that took time.

Initially, we figured to fill our backpacks and fly to Bangkok from where we’d start traveling around the world. However, when we dug a bit deeper into the topic of what we really wanted, the main issues came up: freedom. Which made me wonder aloud:

“Do you have freedom if you depend on public transport and hotels?”

The short answer: no, not for lovers of the outdoors like we are.

From here it was a small step to changing our trip to an overland adventure, even though we didn’t know the word ‘overlanding’ existed yet, nor that there were overlanders handbooks. We just figured a car would give us more freedom, and it has.

Read More: The Journey

Having an Overland Adventure: camping in the desert

Preparing your Overland Adventure – Yes or No?

Then came the practical questions:

  • What about the practical part?
  • How do you prepare for such a journey?
  • Should you prepare at all?

Short answer: There is no perfect answer.

We bought a beat-up Land Cruiser, took two months of fixing the old rusty beast and to got it equipped, and left.

Others prefer taking their time to thoroughly prepare their trip. Since we have gotten so many emails with questions about this preparation phase – about the vehicle, the paperwork, the itinerary – I thought it would be helpful to put together a collection of overlanders handbooks that may help you along.

Read More: Books on Overlanding – Meet these Fabulous Overlanding Authors

Overlanders Handbooks to Get the Overlanding Vibes:

A free e-book in which we have interviewed overlanders who debunk myths to hit the road.

Free E-book – Overlanders Inspired

We interviewed overlanding veterans on:

  • Traveling with kids,
  • with a chronic disease,
  • with dogs,
  • without money,

They shared their stories in a photo-rich E-book.


Download the Free E-book Here

I Can, I Will; Women Overlanding the World

Without doubt I am biased about this book, as I was one of the 50 women interviewed for this fantastic, inspiring and colorful coffee-table book: I Can, I Will; Women Overlanding the World, by Sunny Eaton, Laurie Holloway, and Karin Balsley

Be careful to whom you give this book before you know it, that person may have bought an overland rig and is off on his/her own overland adventure!

Fifty women, with or without a partner, on a motorcycle, bicycle or by car, having driven around the world or across a continent… All stories are unique and may inspire you (or the spouse who needs convincing).

Find here: I Can, I Will; Women Overlanding the World

Dan Grec’s Story

Apart from his personal overland adventure through the Americas (The Road Chose Me), Dan Grec wrote two other books on distinct topics.

In Work Less to Live Your Dreams Dan Grec teaches readers how to be mindful of their money and to understand the true cost of money, enabling them to reduce or eliminate work so they can live their life dreams.


Find here: The Road Chose me

Find here: Work Less to Live your Dreams

Handbooks on Overlanding:

Dan Grec’s Handbook on West Africa

As mentioned above, Dan has written a couple of books. He is currently in Africa (follow him here).

Overland Travel Essentials: West Africa puts commonly-held myths to rest once and for all, and provides practical and real-world information and advice to successfully traverse the coastline in your own vehicle.


Find here: Overland Travel Essentials; West Africa

Travel the Planet Overland

The Bell Family traveled in Africa and the Americas, which they chronicled their first part of their nomadic life in We Will be Free, followed by Overlanding the Americas; La Lucha.

In 2016, Graeme Bell wrote Travel the Planet Overland, in which they share their acquired wisdom of life on the road.


Find here: Travel the Planet Overland

Chris Scott’s Handbooks

The Overlanders’ Handbook, meanwhile, has been available for a number of years and has been heralded by many overlanders as a perfect guidebook to get you started.

The newest edition dates from 2017. Expect topics on planning, vehicle choice, and outlines of routes.

The Adventure Motorcycling Handbook is the version motorcyclists most likely are looking for. Chris Scott hasn’t left it at that and has written a number of other books on overlanding that you may find useful and/or inspiring (find them here).


Find here: Overlander’s Handbook

Find here: Adventure Motorcycling Handbook

Tom Sheppard’s Guides

The Vehicle-dependent Expedition Guide (4th edition) by Tom Sheppard and co-authored by Jonathan Hanson are 600 pages on everything you need to know about undertaking an overland expedition, small or big.

Tom Sheppard has written more books on off-roading and Four-by-Four Driving is his latest.


Find here: Vehicle-dependent Expedition Guide

Find here: Four-by-Four Driving

Life Remotely’s Books

The authors of Liferemotely.com contributed to our free e-book Overlanders Inspired.

As we never traveled to Central America & Mexico, we never got around to reading their book about overlanding in Mexico & Central America, but many overlanders have shared it in the overland community because it has been so useful to them.

On that note, if you wonder how in the world you’re going to cook some delicious, but easy, diners along the way, Life Remotely also wrote Forks in the Road, in which they share some of their favorite recipes.


Find here: Overlanding Mexico & Central America

Find here: Forks in the Road

Americas Overland

Americas Overland; the Driving Handbook, by Donald Greene, is another book specifically written for overlanding on the Americas.


Find here: Americas Overland; the Driving Handbook


Overland Camper

Build your Own Overland Camper by Steven Wigglesworth may help you get started to building your rig into a comfortable and/or practical home for your great trip.


Find here: Build your Own Overland Camper

Motorhome Self-build

In Motorhome Self-build and Optimisation, Ulrich Dolde details in almost 500 pages with 1200 photos how he built his motorhome.


Find here: Motorhome self-build and optimisation


Check out: Our Bookshop

What have been great books for you to get started? Which ones did we miss? Please share in the comment section below. Thanks.


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4 thoughts on “Overlanders Handbooks – Books on Preparing your Overland Adventure”

    • Hello Martin, how good of you to hear from you. How are you doing? We are still going strong. Now in Russia and on our way to Mongolia.

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