Overlanding or Vanlife with a rental car


Even if you can only take two weeks off at a time, you can still go on great road trips on your own. You've probably already done that with a rental car.

In the article 4x4 Adventures in Laos at my Blog in German language, I tried to show how easy it is to do overlanding with a rental car. In this article, I would like to go a little deeper into the topic of overlanding with a rental car, going into what you should bring with you and what you can usually get on the spot.

With the new article category Travel Tip, I would like to show you that great off-road and overlanding adventures can also be done in exotic countries, such as Laos, without it being particularly expensive. Especially for those of you who have never travelled like this before, this gives you the opportunity to get a taste of this type of travel. But even the old hands with fully equipped vehicles will find the idea of travelling in this way exciting, without having to embark on a world tour.

With minimal effort, you can spend a night on a beautiful beach or in a beautiful spot in nature with a cosy campfire, without having to return to civilisation because you don't have a place to sleep.

While on a classic road trip you have to rely on a hotel, motel, hostel or similar in the evening, in exotic and remote areas, for example, you often lack the infrastructure, especially because you are always heading for remote places with 4x4s.


We have already touched on this topic here a few times. In the article Overlanding with a tight budget (german).and in the article on the best choice of vehicle for long-distance travel, it is already outlined that you don't need much for this kind of travel, that you can get by with very simple equipment.

In Europe, it is quite easy to rent a small motorhome or bus with a motorhome conversion and go camping for a few nights in a nice spot. In exotic countries, such vehicles are not available for rent. So what do we need to be self-sufficient for a couple of nights in exotic destinations?

Since we will be travelling by plane to exotic countries, our luggage is also the limiting factor. There are items that we should better bring with us and items that can easily be organised locally. We also have to decide what level of comfort we need:

Do we really want to take a cooker with us for 1-2 (continuous) nights in remote areas, or can we live on snacks such as crisps, biscuits and Bifi's and fruit and also have some biscuits for breakfast?

This is all quite individual, I am sure your packing lists and priorities will be different. But our packing list and approach should help you come up with an equipment set that suits you and your comfort requirements.

What to bring:
Tent, sleeping mat, sleeping bag, flannel, tie-down straps, cooker, frying pan, skillet, plates, cutlery, ladle, sponge, mini pack of dishwashing liquid concentrate, Ortlieb folding bowl, dry towel, multi-tool, tie-down straps, gas cooker, large lightweight plastic awning (replaces the awning, you can get them quite cheap at Obi for example).

Buy on site:
Passive cool box, water canister, fuel canister, shovel, tow rope (usually missing from the vehicles on site), gas cartridges (Campinggaz) if necessary, tub/box.


You already have a set-up that allows for some self-sufficient travelling and wild camping. However, the cooler needs new ice every second day, something that can usually be done without restricting your travels.

If you can do without a cold beer (or like wine), you could also rationalise the cooler with UHT milk & flakes & honey, for example, and still have a tasty breakfast. At dinner, however, you would have to do without fresh meat and instead serve a tasty salami, a can of fish or other delicacies. Now you might also be interested in our article on outdoor cooking - cooking on the road (german).

Of course, travelling is such a compromise, you miss a comfortable chair, a table - but you can't lug everything on the plane, and it's not worth buying locally. But the whole thing is just to enable you to travel to remote areas without having to be near a hotel or guesthouse again in the evening.

If you choose a pick-up as a rental car, you can simply buy cheap garden furniture on the spot and lash it to the back, for example.

We don't aim for more self-sufficiency with a rental car, because in the long run there is simply too much comfort missing, especially when sleeping. For travelling with our own vehicle, we do have a few wishes and demands: Our 8 most important overlanding equipment items (german).

We give away the items bought on site at the end of our trip, and so far we have always found someone who was very happy about the gifts.
If you have also travelled this way - please write a comment how you do it. We and other readers can certainly learn something and take some suggestions with us on our travels...

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