Posted August 12, 2020 in Red Oxx Overlanding by Jim Markel
Overlanding guru Scott Brady, CEO of Overland International and Chairman and Publisher for the recreation’s leading publication “Overland Journal,” returns for Part 3 and the final segment of our interview. In Part 1 Scott covered why travel matters and how it can improve our lives. Continuing in Part 2, Scott discussed what types of bags are ideal for Overlanding (hint – soft-sided bags).
Here in Part 3, Scott and long-time Red Oxx bag tester and E-business Coach, Inc marketing consultant Patrick Pitman chat about how anyone can get involved in Overlanding and what resources are available to them to learn more about this exciting outdoor adventure lifestyle.
Just a reminder, Red Oxx and Scott go back a ways. Scott has toured seven continents with our bags, from scalding deserts to the frozen continent of Antarctica. Scott has been so impressed with Red Oxx bags he proclaimed them Overlanding Gear of the Decade.
“Where can someone learn more about overlanding? How can they participate in the kind of things you’re offering today? Where should they go to explore and learn about this?
Scott replied, “So someone that looks at our Instagram account, and they think, ‘I would love to be in that place with that cool Land Rover, defender or Land Cruiser. And I’d love to have that experience.’ One of the one of the best things they can do is use the vehicle they have today and go try a version of that experience on their own. I would never want to give the impression that people need to spend a bunch of money on equipment or to have a highly specialized vehicle to have an experience as an overland traveler.”
“In fact, it’s been well-documented in several occasions of people buzzing around the world taking passenger sedans from London to Singapore, or some simple version of that.
“So it’s very possible even with a totally stock Honda CRV, or any good quality vehicle, so long as it’s reliable. I think it’s really important just to start with what you have. And then find out what doesn’t work as you go along. That way you’re spending the money on the experiences, not spending your money on the vehicle and equipment. Believe me, it’s very easy to spend $100,000 on a highly specialized vehicle that can go the same place that a stock Ford Explorer can go.”
Scott continued, “Then start to create relationships with people who are fellow travelers that have traveled to the areas that you want to go. Get on social media and find groups that focus on the areas that you’re interested in traveling to and find people who have been there. Ask them questions, find out what you really need. By developing those relationships, it’s amazing the kind of feedback that you’ll get. It’s amazing the kind of information and support that you’ll get as a traveler doing that.”
“I think oftentimes about the backpackers that I’ve encountered around the world; I remember I was at the border of Uzbekistan into Tajikistan, and there was a teacher from Russia who was traveling on her own with just a backpack. She left Russia with the equivalent of $5 in her pocket. She wanted to see as much of the world as she could by working at hospitals and restaurants, or teaching English classes. It was amazing to see her resilience and her focus on wanting to have this experience. I think that’s the most important thing. Anyone who’s new to Overlanding, just go have an experience and see what doesn’t work, and then only make investments from that point.”
Patrick asked Scott about his website and the forums available there. Basically, what are the kinds of resources people can find that Scott publishes?
“We have a couple different tools that are good resources for the overlanding beginner. We have Expedition Portal, which is our longest running media property. It has a forum community with about 180,000 unique members that actively participate in discussions and can answer questions. And then we have editorial on the homepage. And we probably have about 3500 unique articles that cover a wide range of topics and recent news related to the industry. And that’s a great free resource that’s available online to anyone. ”
Scott continued, “If you go on YouTube, there’s a group called Expedition Overland. Clay and his team does a great job assembling inspiring and educational video content. We have a print publication Overland Journal that comes out five times a year. It’s a premium-bound, 140 plus page periodical that focuses on the adventures and on in-depth equipment tests that help people make good purchase decisions.”
Patrick was curious as to how long have Scott has been in the Overland Journal and Expedition Portal business.
Scott replied, “Expedition Portal I started in 2005. I started my small personal blog before that in 2002 which ran for a few years. But then we started overland rallies and that inspired Overland Journal in late 2006. We also helped start the now hugely popular Overland EXPO which tied into all the overland rallies popping up across the country. It’s been a long and exciting journey. I think the thing I’m most grateful for is the fact that I’ve been able to continue to travel through all that growth.”
“You’ve been able to combine something that you love with the work that you do. Is that right?”
That’s correct. And it’s such a rare gift to be able to do that. I’ve been doing doing this full-time for 15 years. And every morning I get up and it’s never a Monday, it always feels like a Saturday morning, instead of going to work, because I’m excited about what I do. There’s always going to be some version of an adventure or some challenge overcome or some topic to write about and share with our audience. So I do feel super lucky. And and I also have great people that I work with, they’re an awesome team.”
Patrick asks, “What can we expect coming up for you? Is there something that you look ahead to in the coming year; the next thing for your business? As you look ahead what could you share with us?”
Scott replied, “I think for me personally, as a traveler, I’ve spent quite a bit of time in Africa, but I’ve not driven from the south to the north. I think that’s a trip that I’d like to do on a motorcycle in the next couple of years. That’s pretty exciting to me. I just finished a big expedition crossing Greenland along the long axis, which had never been done before, by motor vehicle. I did that with with Expedition 7 last year. There’s going to be a great film on that trip. ”
“I think from from the perspective of the business right now, the sun is really shining on this industry. it’s very clear to me that this industry has not only been growing very rapidly, but now it’s become popular in the general consumer space. And more importantly, in the outdoor retailing space. We’ve started to participate with the Outdoor Retailer show in Denver, and have seen tremendous success with that show. The outdoor industry makes the four wheel drive industry look like a local mom and pop grocery store. So it’s exciting to see the general outdoor industry so enthusiastic about overlanding.”
Patrick wanted to know from where did Scott credit his enthusiasm for Overlanding? What are some of the trends that Scott has seen that are helping to explain why Overlanding is growing and vibrant?
“I think there’s a few things that are happening. Experiential travel is the fastest growing segment of travel and one of the fastest growing segments of the economy globally. People are looking to have experiences and overlanding is a great example of that, because it allows you to travel oftentimes less expensive, or travel at your own pace, or the direction that you want to go that day. And I do think it comes down to those genuine experiences that people are looking for. ”
“I think as an industry, the outdoor industry needed something new to talk about; it needed something that would get people excited. I think that olive branch between vehicle-based accessories, and the outdoor space, and someone who’s a mountain biker can easily get behind the idea of putting a roof tent on top of their Tacoma. Then they can camp at the trailhead, or they can do a longer ride and come back and camp out. So we’re seeing people that their primary passion is maybe rock climbing, but they also consider themselves an Overlander because it serves so many functions for them.”
Is there one more thing that we haven’t had a chance to talk about? That you’d like to mention?”, asked Patrick as he closed out the interview.
Scott summarized, “If I was to say anything encouraging towards the reader it is to get out and do it. Do not see the vehicle as an obstacle or the things that you have as an obstacle. It’s most important to start to have the experiences because that’s the reason why we do it to begin with. And you don’t have to have a Land Cruiser to go explore the world. You don’t need to spend $20,000 on a motorcycle to go down to Argentina.”
“Take what you’ve got and go have that experience.”