Overland Expo East 2018 is coming up fast! This will be our first time at an Overland Expo event.
If you’re new to all of this overlanding business and wondering what I’m talking about, Overland Expo is the premier overlanding event in the United States. It takes place biannually. The WEST version happens in Flagstaff, AZ in May and the EAST version takes place in Asheville, NC in November.
This year, Overland Expo East 2018 will be at REEB Ranch south of Asheville, NC on Nov. 9-11, 2018.
As a first-timer, I can’t tell you anything from experience–that will come in another article after the event. But what I can tell you is what I’m most excited about.
So without further ado, here are the top 10 things I anticipate most about Overland Expo East 2018.
1/ Camping With Other Overlanders
Meeting like-minded folks is one thing. Camping with them is another.
Really being able to listen, talk, and engage with other people of like mind is invaluable. Based on what I hear from veteran attendees, this is where the real joy of Overland Expo takes place.
I’m a member of Overland Bound. On the forums there, I’ve connected with a bunch of folks who invited us to camp with them at this year’s event. We’re meeting up at a restaurant in Asheville, then all rolling in together so we have a spot at the campground together.
Protip: Campsite reservations are not available. If you’re hoping to camp with friends at Overland Expo East 2018, then meet somewhere in town before heading into the camping area together for registration.
2/ Touring Epic Overland Rigs
We really love our overlanding rig, though it isn’t a Unimog or Earthroamer. We’re starting out by traveling in our Jeep, but we’re keeping our options open for the future. We have aspirations of traveling the globe and want inspiration. I think we’ll find it at Overland Expo East 2018!
Imagine being able to see a massive collection of various rigs equipped for overlanding, and then being able to talk with the owners and maybe even get tours of the vehicles themselves. This alone is worth the price of admission, in my opinion.
It’s like an open house on all of the amazingness that is overlanding. We’re so in.
Honestly, it’s a little nerve-wracking because my wife is a bit out of control. We were in Jackson Hole, WY earlier this year when she spotted a really cool overland rig, and had me pull over to take a photo. She told me point blank, “This is what I want.”
So y’all epic overland rig owners: fair warning. If you see my wife creeping around your vehicle at Overland Expo East 2018, please know that she’s friendly and harmless…fairly harmless. Just point her back toward our Jeep and tell her I have wine. That should do the trick.
3/ Checking Out Vendors
If touring epic rigs isn’t enough, then there’s also a plethora of vendors and exhibitors that will be onsite.
Have you seen the list!?
We’re really excited about meeting the vendors we’ve been following online for awhile. We’re also ready to discover ones we’ve not heard of yet.
What surprises await us this year?
Overland Expo East 2018 will be a literal showcase of the latest and most innovative gear available to the overlanding community.
Some vendors we’re personally looking forward to include:
- Patriot Campers
- Expedition Overland
- Expedition Portal
- Turtleback Trailers
- Goose Gear
- Overland Bound
- Blue Ridge Overland Gear
- Lifestyle Overland
- Method Race Wheels
And so many others. The list is massive! After the event, I’ll let you know which exhibitors and products impressed us most.
4/ Getting Deals?
We’ve heard many of the exhibitors and vendors at Overland Expo East 2018 will be offering expo-only discounts.
We have lists of stuff we need, stuff we want, and stuff we’re considering. So we’ll definitely be on the lookout for any show-specific deals.
With some of the items we want, we don’t see the vendors listed on the exhibitor list. So we might be looking at alternate vendors for the types of products we want.
If you’ve been to an Overland Expo event and know what type of show deals are typically offered, then please leave us a comment here on this article. We’d love some feedback from veterans of the event.
5/ Location-specific Panels
One of the carrots that enticed us to head all the way from wherever the heck we are in the western United States at the time of Expo, all the way to Asheville, are the regional panels that will be taking place.
Our understanding is attendees will be able to participate in a round table-style discussion format with experienced overlanders who have been to places we dream about going.
Our first international overlanding trip will be to Mexico in January 2019. With that said, any panel on Mexico is at the top of our list. We’re not as interested in Baja as we are the interior, so we’re hoping to find a panel talking about the interior specifically.
We have aspirations of hitting about 185 countries total in our lifetime. So I’m sure we’ll tag along to several other location-specific discussions!
We look forward to being sponges and soaking it all in.
6/ Specific Classes to Attend
There are various levels of participation at Overland Expo. For us, it came down to two options:
- The Overland Experience: This ticket is the one with all the bells and whistles. It gives you access to everything. We didn’t opt for the Overland Experience this year, as we really want to spend time soaking things in, and not feel pressured to try and cram everything in because we paid the premium price.
- The Weekend Pass and Camping package: We opted for this one. It felt right to us. It will allow us to camp on the grounds with our fellow overlanders, attend a number of classes, and see the vendors and exhibitors.
You can see all the ticket options here, if you’re interested.
There are a lot of classes open to general attendees. I’ll list a few, to give you an idea of what interests us personally:
- Middle-earth by Montero – With 4 kids: Two adults and four kids under the age of 5 tackle the world. Yes, we want to learn from them and be inspired.
- Campfires, Camels, and Corrugations: 1,600 miles of Australia’s most scenic, remote, and unpaved tracks. I’ve been to multiple Australian port cities through my time in the service, but overlanding in Australia sounds fascinating to me.
- Europe in a Big Truck – Spain and Portugal: I have dreams of overlanding through Europe and Brittany has considered getting a Unimog, so this sounds right up our alley!
- Experts Panel – Travel Medicine and Wellness: Did I tell you we’re going to Mexico? With a two-year-old? Yeah…this class is a must. They’ll be talking about the ins and outs of travel medicine and dealing with common ailments like traveler’s diarrhea. Not the most fun topic, but essential.
- Regional Q&A Mexico and Central America: We WILL be at this round table. Count on it.
7/ More Classes!
There are so many more classes open to general attendees. It would be unfair to exclude a few others we have on our radar:
- 10 Essentials for the Novice Overland Adventurer: If the shoe fits, wear it. Right? I think this is the only class we qualify for at this point. But we’re not above admitting our noobishness. We all have to start somewhere.
- Expert Panel – Borders, Checkpoints, and Bribes: We know bribes are a no-no and we’re cool with that, but we still need to learn how to best handle all three of these hurdles.
- Paranoid or Practical? Real-life Tips for Security on the Road: We’ve had a lot of folks express fear for us, knowing we’re going to Mexico. We’re not afraid, but we are practical. This session is definitely on my radar.
- Overlanding With Kids: No question little ones add a special element to the overland life. We know this from five years of full-time travel. But we’re never too experienced to learn from those who have gone before us. A must-attend for us.
Honestly, there are so many more classes I could list. But you get the picture. The classes are seemingly endless, the information valuable, and the time will be well spent.
8/ Overland Theater & Film Festival
What better way to be inspired than to see with your own eyes the adventures others have experienced? On Friday and Saturday night from 7-10 p.m. the theater event begins with an hour’s worth of short films, depicting overlanding trips from around the world. After the short films, a feature film will play.
Though I don’t think we’ll do both nights, as we really want to spend time with our fellow overlanders in the campground, I’m sure we’ll sneak in at least one of the two nights to get some visual inspiration from those who have gone before us!
9/ Kids Meet and Greet
Our son Caspian Theodore is 21-months-old, as of this writing. He’s been a full-time traveler since birth. He’s been to 15 of the 60 national parks and 32 National Park Service sites. He knows how to shake hands and give fist bumps.
It’s important to us to have Caspian get to know other kids who are living the same kind of lifestyle. Even at his young age, exposure to other kids who adventure travel is critical. We are doing this as much for him as we are for ourselves. Maybe more.
We’re really glad Overland Expo East 2018 has put an emphasis on kids activities. Though Caspian can’t participate in all of the events, the meet and greet is one he can definitely get down with.
In five years of full-time travel around the United States, Asheville is one of our favorite cities. If you haven’t been to Asheville, then plan to spend a couple of extra days exploring the city. It’s an incredible funky town with so much to do and see.
Here are two bucket-list-level things to do in the Asheville area:
- Take an entire day and make a trip to the Biltmore Estate.
- Drive the Blue Ridge Parkway all the way to Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Final Thoughts About Overland Expo East 2018
To be completely transparent, we went back and forth about whether to go this year. Not because we didn’t want to, but because of the logistics. We don’t know where we’ll be when we have to leave our RV behind and take off for Asheville. Our full-time client work still has to happen along our journey. Time is running out before we head to Mexico.
There were so many reasons NOT to go.
As a matter of fact, at one point I told Brittany we needed to just take it off the table. And we did.
A week or so later, I said, “I’ve been re-thinking this Overland Expo thing and I think we should make it happen.” A couple of days after that, I was napping and Brittany woke me up right before dinner with, “I got our tickets.” Did I marry well, or what?
After writing this article, I’m more pumped than ever to head out and meet our “tribe.” We’re both looking forward to this event more every day. I’ll be sure to write a recap article after we’ve been to the event, so stay tuned for that sometime in November.
If you’re going to Overland Expo East 2018, then please drop me a comment below. I’d love to hear from you and connect when we’re out there. We honestly love meeting people of like mind and heart.
Until next time, keep it dirty and wheels side down.