Weekly Feature: Julie of Venturesome Overland

I have this crazy privilege to travel freely and choose to live for long stretches in a truck, and when I think about people who are migrants, or refugees, or forced to live in a vehicle, it can be hard to square my choices with the fact that so many people lack any choices at all and do everything they can to avoid this kind of life.
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I’m a freelance writer and photographer supported by my day job as a librarian! My home base is in (heaven on earth) Missoula, Montana but I’m currently living in Botswana and exploring southern Africa. I’ve overlanded all over the western US, southern Africa, and East Africa: by the time this is posted I’ll have been through 11 African countries.

In December 2018, my husband and I bought (sight unseen) a 1992 Land Rover Defender 110 that we named Toto. We flew up to Ethiopia to pick her up and then drove her through East Africa back home to Botswana.

As far as I know, we’re the only Americans on the road overlanding Africa right now, which is a bummer because it is AMAZING. Each country is unique and it is a great way to see things and meet people. I’m totally happy to answer any and all questions from anyone who’s interested in traveling here!


Who or what inspired you to choose overlanding?

My husband, Steve. When I think back on it, much of our relationship has been on the road. He used to drive an old VW Beetle when we were in college. Gas was cheap and there were miles and miles of amazing roads in Montana, so we got to know each other on the road. Four years ago he planned an overland trip through southern Africa and that was it – I was hooked. It’s a great partnership – his sense of adventure matches my perpetual restlessness!  


Favourite country?

My favorite country is always the next one I’m going to!


Favourite quote?

I love words, so this changes depending on where I am in life and in the world. Right now, it’s “Do no harm, but take no shit.”


I’m a badass woman because...

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Hmmm – I generally don’t feel like a badass. I think I would say – in radical honesty – that if I do feel like a badass it’s because I travel and overland despite a long history with depression and anxiety. I’ve written (a feature for She-Explores) about being a woman in the world with anxiety and depression, and how sometimes every step can feel like an act of will. It’s really hard when your internal voice magnifies all of those external voices that tell women to be afraid of everything. So I guess I’m a badass because I try to refuse to let fear rule me, even when I’m afraid. I love the world too much for that.


 Biggest challenge for women overlanders?

I think that a lot of the challenges women face in everyday life apply to overanding: sexism, toxic masculinity, safety issues, mansplaining, and on and on (and on and on and on). Also – the company of other women. I relate a LOT better to women than to men, so I miss that on the road, and I love that there is this international online community for women overlanders!!


Traveling has taught me…

Not to say “I could never do [that]” or “I would never do [this]”. One of the things I love about travel is that it becomes really difficult to maintain a rigid worldview, or a rigid self-view for that matter. You don’t know what you will do, can do, or are capable of doing until you’re doing it, and I love that. I’m learning, and recalibrating, every single time I’m out on the road or in the world.  

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Overlanding sucks sometimes because. . .

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Honestly, there’s not much about overlanding that sucks. I am better version of myself on the road than I am in “real life”. I think that what sucks for me is the psychological aspect of overlanding. I have this crazy privilege to travel freely and choose to live for long stretches in a truck, and when I think about people who are migrants, or refugees, or forced to live in a vehicle, it can be hard to square my choices with the fact that so many people lack any choices at all and do everything they can to avoid this kind of life.


 Simple life hack for the road?

Bring your own bedding! I hate synthetic camping fabrics and I really hate sleeping bags (free the feet!!), so we travel with our big down blanket. It takes up room, but it is so nice to climb into what feels like a real “bed” after a day on the road. That, and a tube of lipstick. I love overlanding, but I’m definitely a girly-girl, and some lipstick – especially for border crossings – makes me feel a bit more like myself!

 
You can find Julie online at:

Venturesome Overland

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She Explores Article: Fear and Anxiety on the Trail

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Taylor Pawley