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It’s that time of year again! Van life and Overlanding Expo season is hitting its peak as we move into fall. After the craziness of 2020 leading to shows and expos being cancelled, its safe to say these events are coming back stronger than ever in 2021. With the surge in popularity of van life and overlanding throughout 2020 as an alternative means of travel, there are probably a lot of you venturing out to these shows for the first time! Expos are filled with excitement, learning, and community for both the newcomer and seasoned expo attendee. Between classes, off-road courses, vendors, and camping, it can be overwhelming coming into one of these events with no experience. If you are feeling underprepared in any way, don’t worry! We’re coming at you with tips and tricks to make your experience worthwhile.

Choose Wisely

There has been a massive uptick in the amount of shows, expos, and meetups this year. Everyone is anxious to get together and experience events after being apart throughout 2020. With a rise in events, it can be difficult to plan your expo season, especially if this is your first time participating. On one hand you don’t want to miss out, but on the other you don’t want to overwhelm your schedule or burn out by going to too many events. Our advice is to narrow down what you are looking for out of an event. Make sure the event fits your needs. Check out Vendor lists to make sure the people you want to see will be there. Do your research about how the expo is run, what the camping set up is like for attendees, what types of adventure rigs are usually highlighted, and what courses are offered if at all.

You also need to evaluate what you want. Do you want the hustle and bustle of an event like Overland Expo, where the world of outdoors and overlanding are at your fingertips? Or do you want a more community centric, experience focused meet up such as Van Life Asheville? We personally love the bigger events, but that doesn’t mean they’re everyone’s thing. Don’t get too bogged down in what it seems like everyone else is doing and do what is best for you. 

Classes and Courses

These shows are goldmines for education. From off-roading courses to photography, gear reviews to survival training, there is something for everyone. The downside is, with so many options, it can be overwhelming to choose the right classes to attend. First things first, take a look at what each event is offering ahead of time, evaluate what you want to learn more about and go from there. Don’t overload your schedule with classes and seminars, while everything is interesting and educational, there is only so much you can retain in a day and only so much time at the event. You simply can’t do it all nor should you feel like you have to. Expo is a great time to learn new things, but don’t forget that there are other features to participate in as well that will round out your experience.

Rain or Shine

No one ever advertises that the weather might not be ideal for a weekend of camping and being outside at Expo. I mean who would? Nevertheless, the weather never does what you want it to, and there’s always a chance of cloudy skies. Bring clothes for all conditions. The last thing you want is to be stuck without rain gear or be unprepared for chilly weather. Bring layers, rain boots, and clothes you don’t mind getting dirty. Most importantly, don’t let the threat of rain scare you off, we’ve done expo in the rain before, and we still had an awesome experience!

Ready for Adventure?

While shows can be a lot to take in, remember each event is what you make it. The best thing to remember when attending for the first time is just to slow down and take it all in, you’ll get to go to a lot of expos, but you only get to go for the first time once! Take the opportunity to learn new things, meet some awesome people, and enjoy your experience. You may feel a lot of pressure to go to classes, participate in courses, and visit everyone in vendor villages, but at the end of the day these events are supposed to be FUN. So don’t put too much pressure on yourself and participate in what will make the weekend the most enjoyable for you. 

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