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  • Writer's pictureBreena Litzenberger

From Overlanding to Sailing - Why we Changed our Dream

After our fist boat, Spencer and I decided that we enjoyed sailing, but that there were a few things we weren't too happy about with that form of travel; you go slow, you can only get to coastal towns, storms are scary, weather watching can be difficult, etc. We decided to remedy all these issues by striving to go overlanding. Overlanding, for my water babies out there, is a road trip that spans multiple countries and often includes a lot of off road routes. We sold our boat and moved back home, got jobs and started work on the vehicle.

We chose a Toyota FJ40 land cruiser to overland in for no other reason than Spencer already had the car. By "had" I mean he bought 2 in high school, took them completely apart, put all the pieces in a trailer and, I can only assume, shook the damn thing so that everything was impossible to clearly identify. We were living with Spencer's parents which helped us save money but also meant we had the help of his family on the project, which we couldn't have completed without them. It took us two and a half years to rebuild every nut, bolt and knob on that car and outfit her for our trip. After she was ready in October 2012 we took our hefty savings of $70,000 and drove out of Alaska with the goal of getting to Ushuaia, the tip of South America.

We weren't pioneering a new trail by any means, there were a few overlanders that had come before us and who were setting off at the same time as us, so we had lots of dream fuel in the form of blog posts and facebook feeds (YouTube vanlifers weren't even a THING yet!). Through the eyes of these intrepid travelers we imagined a world of culture, language, good food, exotic camping spots, bustling cities, and friends on the road to experience it all with. We especially loved the blog by Desk to Glory (here). Between Richards photography and Ashley's writing they painted a beautiful world of wanderlust. We were pumped.

Pumped, until that is, the first night out of the towns that we were familiar with. We had pulled over on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere, Alaska and set up the tent. It was cold, the stove top would not heat the can of soup all the way and as we were watching a movie in our tent a black bear attempted to climb our bumper to get to some soup remnants. I knew already that I was not enjoying this. Spencer on the other hand is a laid back, go with the flow kinda guy and was having a pretty good time. I went along with his notion that things would get better as they got warmer! All we had to do was cross that Mexican border into Baja and we would be plummeted into the dreamy world of Overlanding!

Now I wont go into too many bitchy details of why Overlanding was not for me, but I will delve into some that I think pushed us back to sailing.

ONE: The cost. Overlanding turned out to be incredibly expensive for us. Fuel was at all time high and our rig got 13-16 miles to the gallon. On top of that I was so anxious and not myself that I couldn't sleep "off the beaten path" so we stayed in campgrounds and campgrounds in Central America are not cheap. The locals have caught on to these American Millennials driving through and campgrounds are priced similar to camps in the US. We were spending $50-$70 a day!!!! Yes, you read that right! That did not include any extra curricular activities or tickets or even souvenirs. We were burning through our savings at an alarming rate. TWO: The living space. Of course we chose the rig that we drove down, but to me everyone's rig was pretty similar and everyone battled finding their own space. We did everything outside, cooked, fought, bathed, and read. My entire life was on display to people who I did not want to display it to. There was no privacy, no picturesque solitude. THREE: It's not all in your power. This may sound a little control freaky, and it might be, as I am definitely not one of those laid back, walk through towns barefoot kinda traveler. Overlanding did offer us a reprieve from a lot of the hard aspects of sailing; fixing things all the time, weather watching, storms and navigation but those were all things that, as we learned, they got easier or at least we knew why the trip was sucking in that moment. When it came to overlanding I felt like a lot of the trip's difficulties lay in the hands of other people. Police pulling us over, a campground being too full, traffic, border closures. It all felt like too many external factors controlled our trip and when we came to the realization that this was one of the main reasons we weren't having a good time we started boat shopping. We had dwindled our finances down but we had enough to buy a boat, drive the truck back to the US and to sail for 6 months. So we found our boat in Guatemala and bought her for $16,000.

Since that trip we've owned 5 sailboats and have cruised over 12,000 nautical miles. Overlanding was instrumental in getting us back on the water and while most people go overlanding and have a wonderful time (enter Desk to Glory!) it wasn't for us, but without it we would never have appreciated the good and the bad in sailing. It gave us an entirely new perspective on a lifestyle we love. Find out more about overlanding by listening to our podcast where we interviewed Desk to Glory! They loved overlanding and we talk about what traveling has meant to them and how it changed their life. Check it out here

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