We’re no strangers to Overlanding and Van Life events. We’ve traveled across the country to attend some of the biggest events the community has to offer, so you can imagine how excited we were when the Southeast Overland and Offroading Expo made itself the first event of its kind in our home state, Florida. The Van and Overlanding lifestyle has gained a lot of traction throughout the nation, with the most popularity out west, but this event proved that this community is prevalent and thriving in the southeast!
The First event of its Kind in FL!
It takes a lot to put on an event like this. Coordinating vendors, scheduling seminars, and providing a location for campers is not an easy feat, but Alissa pulled out all the stops and was able to create an epic event that provided a place for people to learn, build relationships, and find supplies needed for their adventures. The expo hosted a variety of overlanding options, motorcycle and dirt bikes, off roading vehicles suited for camping, pop-up tent trailers, and of course us, the Adventure Van. It was awesome to see almost every option showcased in one event, it really showed how there is no one way to participate in “overlanding” it’s all about what fits the individual camper best based on their own interests and plans for adventure.
Sense it was a first year expo, the event was smaller than others but where it lacked in size it made up for in an atmosphere that felt tight knit. This allowed vendors, exhibitors, and attendees to take the time to make intentional connections and solidify relationships within the community by spending more time at booths and campsites. We personally got to spend more time with each person who came to our site and answer their questions intentionally, show them around Riptide, and get to know them a little bit, which you can’t always do at huge events due to the amount of people and exhibits to see. We can’t wait to see this event gain more traction and become something like Overland Expo, but it was awesome to be a part of its maiden voyage and experience the newness of the event.
A standout, and probably the most fun feature was the off roading course. Most of these events don’t offer stuff like this! It was awesome to see everyone show off their rigs. Both campers and vendors took to the course to show what their vehicles were capable of. Sadly, riptide is too massive to fit on the course, but we saw a few van lifers get after it! At an event pretty much dedicated to lifted trucks, jeeps, and subarus, it was especially cool to watch sprinter vans show what they got. We did send out our guys who have off road capable rigs. Just because Riptide couldn’t take on the course doesn’t mean we didn’t get to participate in the fun, we sent our personal off road capable rigs out and had a probably a little too much fun.
We were the only Van Life specific people at this event, which was a super unique experience. Usually at overland specific events, we aren’t alone in the crowd, so it was different for us to be the main resource for the Van Life Community! We think we represented pretty well, we hauled out all our gear, gave tours of Riptide, and showed people what the van lifestyle has to offer. We even had a few people come out just to meet us, talk about making us feel special. We had our friends from Backwoods Adventure Mods and Blue Ridge Overland Gear make the trek from Virginia, previous customers came down with their rigs in tow, showing off some of the work we’ve done for them, and we met plenty of people who were interested in our company and were looking to get their van life journey started with our help!
For a first year event the turnout was epic! People from all over the region came out with the same excitement. The overlanding community in Florida showed out for the event with the campgrounds packed out with car campers, popup trailers, vans, and traditional campsites. Everyone got to explore each others’ different set ups and get new information and inspiration from each other, not just the vendors. There were people with all different levels of experience from newbies looking to get started with their first set up, to long time overlanding experts, which made it fun for us because there were some people we got to teach and share our knowledge with, and others that we could talk shop with and learn from each other. The true sign of a good event is the ability to draw out people with all different levels of experience, it means that everyone feels comfortable and welcomed to participate.
Our Final Thoughts
I think its obvious how excited we are that this event happened! Based on this year, we can see this easily gaining more traction and more popularity as van life and overlanding continues to become more popular in our neck of the woods. Being apart of the first ever overland and off road event in Florida will go down in the FVG history book. It will be fun to watch this event grow over the years, and we’re excited to continue to be apart of it!
We’ll be making our way out to more events and expos across the country this year! We’re pumped that expos have made their return in 2021. Check out our events page to see where we’re going this year.