Africa is full of tribes. The same in Latin America & Asia. Travelling as an activity has its own share as well. Tourists & overlanders make up the two biggest “tribes” in the travelling industry in terms of numbers and market share.
If there are one million differences between tourists and overlanders, there are one million similarities as well.
It is true that overlanders spend more time than tourists, experience way more & different things, have a bit more complicated travel plan, allow more time to get prepared and equipped and so on.
It is true, also, that travellers on vehicles are way more flexible and mobile, have the chances to go visit places that tourists simply cannot, or they are not even aware. (However, for the locals, they are still the “tourists” who come to explore their untouched region/ national park/ reserve/ hiking trail etc.)
Plus, overlanders always complain about their budget and it is them who mostly bargain first. We have personally met overlanders with a minimum of 2.000 EUR monthly budget who complain about room and food prices or find activities of 50 EUR expensive!
On the other hand, tourists are always in a rush but with a bigger budget. They can afford almost everything because they are simply on vacations. It is literally a waste of time to bargain and they only want to have fun this week in Cancun, México or Santorini, Greece. Their travel plan (and of course their return ticket that most overlanders do not have) must be very precise especially when they want to visit and see certain things.
Both tribes have similarities as well. When in big cities or simply touristic places (which are countless worldwide), overlanders & tourists stay at the same places, eat the same street food, go visit the same popular sight-seeings and get the same activities packages which are mainly designed for tourists (and most of the times are a bit pricey).
The Mayan pyramids of Palenque in Chiapas, México or the Lake Louise in Banff NP, Canada are popular for a reason and it makes absolute sense to be always busy and crowded. The same goes for the festival of the Dia de los Muertos in Oaxaca, México.
There is a good percentage of overlanders (we have personally met lots) who feel so exceptional and unique that they get seriously bothered from “tourists”. They bitch & moan the whole time because in the same hostel they stay -which happens to be in a touristic place- “tourists” did the mistake to come spend their 10-day summer holidays! It is the very same people who market their long trips, show off their vehicles, make use of social media ephemeral power and usually add zero value to the travellers community. But for themselves, they are exceptional, unique or simply the best!
Guess what? At the end of the day, it is not about who you are and what are you doing; just put aside tags like overlander, tourist, traveliver. We are all passengers.But, for god shake, nobody is so special and will never be unless you are a scientist, an athlete or an academic.
The vast majority of long-time, seasonal travellers do not interact with their surroundings -despite the fact that there are some reasonable arguments-, they only travel to live and they usually chase WiFi, likes, subscribers and followers. Fair enough! The urban myth says that an overlander with Western background drove for 2 years in South America without speaking a word of Spanish. We can verify that it is not an urban myth! But, we hate when we hear from several overlanders: “The place was nice but unfortunately too many tourists!”
We are all tourists, idiot! Shut your mouth, be humble and grateful, enjoy your current lifestyle which allows you to wander around for a while (and is way more privileged compare to the tourist’s) and try to see the reflections in the places you visit and the new people you meet.
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