Planning for Overlander Project Trail Ride

I found out about the Overlander Expedition Overlander Project in October of 2023 while reviewing a comprehensive list of potential events for BundutecUSA to attend in 2024, I did not pull the trigger on this event until now. Why? Because this is a Sold-Out event, it could have big implications for BundutecUSA. So, I waited until November, when I secured my spot with a ticket and spoke to the event coordinator, John. After speaking with John, I better understood the terrain we would be traveling on, which helped me determine which vehicle I should take. It is one thing to take my truck that I am starting to rig up if I have the potential to break something because of extreme off-road conditions, then take a company vehicle that we will need the rest of the season for other events. After learning it is light off-road and Forest Service Roads, I was confident I would be safe taking either and would make that decision closer to the event. After I registered, it was on my internal calendar. Still, I didn’t start to think about it again in detail until around the time of the S.A.V.E Expo, as it would only be about five weeks between my return from FL and when I would hit the road again to NC.

Spring is always busy for me and the company – inventory, new unit deliveries, etc., and after my return from the S.A.V.E Expo, I started looking at Google Maps for the best route to get me to my destination in April. While at the FL Show, I discussed places to camp with a few people, and they recommended I check out Hipcamp.com; this is a free site to join and create a profile on, so I did, and while searching travel areas I found a vast amount of options to choose from so I decided to book my first stay in Frankfort, KY on my way to the NC event. I found booking a site was easier on HipCamp than on other sites I have tried. Many HipCamp hosts are local landowners who have opened secluded spaces for campers. I have found in my research that the hosts who are working farmers will also offer products such as fresh eggs and firewood or even share knowledge of agriculture, machining, welding, etc., whatever they are knowledgeable of in their trade. I thought this was an added educational opportunity for anyone of any age, and my first booking in KY has a host that offers fresh eggs, worms for fishing, and firewood. While I am not a fisherman and only stay one night, I purchased eggs to help support their homesteading. Some HipCamp locations even offer cabin or tiny house locations to stay for those who are more “Glamper”
than a camper.

When using HipCamp, you can search for a location by city and state on the map. However, you will not receive the exact address or directions until you book your site. Booking a site is like booking a hotel room. Each location provides information on the type and size of camper it can accommodate, along with details about amenities such as campfires, pets, and toilets. Additionally, you will find important check-in information and whether you need to meet with the host upon arrival. Any additional services or features offered by the host will also be listed.

I booked my first night for this event and contacted my friend Tom to see if he wanted to attend the event with me and meet up the day before to camp. He agreed and I suggested HipCamp to him, and he planned to check it out. Meanwhile, I was mentally planning for the trip, looking at route options on Google Maps, and so on. Tom lives in NC, so he has less travel time than me and knows the area better, which will be helpful in finding a good location for us to camp the night before the event. Tom has been a Bundutec product user since he purchased a BunduAwn in 2018, and since then, he has also bought a BunduTop.

He has become a good friend and customer advocate ever since.

I was glad he was interested in attending the event with me so I would have a “buddy”.

While I am an extrovert, I am just as much an introvert and get nervous doing new things with people I don’t know; with Tom at the event, I will know someone, which should ease some of the mental anxiety of being “alone.”

While things came together in my brain regarding the game plan, my list-making began…

As I started on my lists, I revisited the event site to find it is now SOLD OUT. I think this is great and hope it will be a fantastic event, but I also noticed that it is said to plan for wheels up at 3 pm Sharp and a potluck-style meal for Saturday. Potluck, no problem. My mind started thinking about whether I wanted to try and make something that would travel well or try and make something when we settled in our nighttime location.

Then the “panic” of not yet getting an email on where the central group meeting spot is hit me… at 17 days away from leaving, did I miss an email? Am I overthinking it? Should I just wait and see if something comes??? With all these thoughts, I reached out to Tom to see if he had received anything yet. He said no in a much more relaxed tone. As I was now actively trying to plan, my brain could not just “wing it,” so I reached out to the event coordinator, John, again, and he was gracious enough to provide me with the location; my brain panic eased!

I also sent this information to Tom, who said he would investigate areas near there through
HipCamp and see if he could find a place for us to meet. So, I went back to my planning.

While planning continues, I need to decide which vehicle to take…

BunduJeep
OR
Toyota Tacoma??

While the decision was mine, and I am comfortable traveling in either vehicle, I spoke about it with Rory and Tom and concluded that I would take the BunduJeep. This was for a couple of reasons… First, the Tacoma is outfitted with a BunduClam; this is a “manual” version of the rooftop tent and opens clamshell-style, as you can see by the photo. This was a prototype tent for us to try and determine if we wanted to list it on our website; while it seems to be a great tent, the price is so close to that of the BunduTop we have decided to stick with only the one tent that style, while I can order a BunduClam if someone wants one, I think it is best to immerse myself in the Trail Run experience in a product that is in stock at the warehouse rather than a special order item. My Tacoma is also not outfitted with an awning, and while I am not sure if we will have time in the evening or if I will want to deploy an awning, it is, again, excellent to showcase the variety of products we offer.

The other reason is that Tom and his trusted sidekick Howie are still using the new BunduTrail for demo and evaluation purposes (we are hoping he decides to make it his permanently so that Howie doesn’t have Howie to bunk in the Jeep overnight when traveling). With me taking the BunduJeep, Tom can remove his BunduTop so he will decrease some vertical weight for the trip, open some space on the interior with the storage in the trailer, and allow us to continue to get the BunduTrail shown in the off-roading/overlanding community in the US.

I won’t be working at this event, so there will be plenty of space in the Jeep for CJ and me without booth space supplies and items needed. The Jeep is like owning a boat…there is always something to add, and I’m adding a few things to make the interior of the Jeep more organized for me. These items include a Passenger Storage Tray, Organizer Grab Handle Accessory, and JeCar JK Storage Box Gear Tray Auto Transmission Storage Organizer. I placed both of these inside the jeep and will see if they work out how I hope they will, so stay tuned.

Another addition I bought is for my iPad; I purchased an OHLPRO Tablet holder for the car dashboard, and while my phone works great for directions, it uses a lot of battery life and tends to make my phone hot! I used my iPad on the last trip and enjoyed Google Directions much more, but it was hard to see. I hope to mount it above the passenger grab handle and be able to tilt it toward me; I know that Bulletpoint Mounting Solutions makes some great attachment options for this, but they are much more expensive. I hope this OHLPRO will mount and function as I want, and then I can quickly transfer the mounting from the Jeep to my Tacoma without purchasing multiple mounting platforms due to its suction cup attachment design.

With the significant decision of which vehicle I will be taking, the packing and list-checking will continue as I rush through the next 13 days to ensure I am ready to go. I aim to write as I go on this next trip, making it easier to account for my adventure and share it with you more cohesively.

Talk Soon,
~Jenn & CJ