At Overland Expo East, we caught up with Alicia Hampton, one of our Overland Expo Foundation 2021 Overland Experience Scholarship recipients. Alicia joined us at Overland Expo Mountain West and at the East event to expand her offroad training and expedition plannings skills. In the spring, we’ll chat with Alicia about how she’s applied what she learned on her offroad and backcountry travels. 

Alicia Overland Expo Foundation recipient
Image by Alicia Hampton

Overland Expo: Since you’ve attended two expos in the last couple of months, what do you think is different about the two events?

Alicia: My experiences at each event have been different. Mountain West was larger, but since that was my first Overland Expo, I was nervous, and everything was new. Here at East, I’ve felt more confident on the trail course, and I feel like I’ve built on the skills I learned at Mountain West in my courses here. I have a stock 4Runner, but the instructors have helped me take it through each course. I trust them and my vehicle. Here I’ve been able to dive in, and check out the vendors and other areas of the expo.

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Overland Expo: What do you think has been the most beneficial part of your Overland Experience?

Alicia:  The low traction courses have been great because I travel solo, and I’ve learned what my vehicle can do to get out of muddy situations. Also, the advanced tire repair course was really helpful. They punctured a tire, and I got to plug it. I realized I needed to go to the gym because it requires a lot of upper body strength. It was taught by Duncan and Webb of 7P, and the hands-on portion was fantastic.

Also, the short films really spoke to different components in regards to how I’m feeling. Seeking clarity from the noise of everyday life, and how that peace makes you want to do it even more really resonates with me. 

Alicia Overland Expo Foundation recipient
Image by Overland Expo

Overland Expo: Have you made any connections with fellow attendees and travelers?

Alicia: Yes, I had stumbled across Sonya and Necota of Staples Intents on Instagram, and I got to meet up with them. We’ve shared some time in courses and had a little get-together at their campsite the first night. I also met the other scholarship recipient Candice, and it was fun to connect with her and to share our experiences.

The community is so welcoming, and it’s great to walk up to someone and just start a conversation about their rig setup or anything else. People are really willing to share their knowledge and information.

Overland Expo: You mentioned that your 4Runner is stock. Have you seen any equipment that you want to add to your truck before your trip?

Alicia: At Mountain West, I really tried to focus on the courses and training, so I didn’t get sucked into the gear. Through that experience and the courses here at East, I’ve identified some things I need to do to the 4Runner. I’m looking at rock sliders and possibly lifting the truck a bit. 

Alicia Overland Expo Foundation recipient
Image by Overland Expo

Overland Expo: For your upcoming trip, what other kinds of preparations are you developing? 

Alicia: I want to touch base with some people on planning a route. In previous trips, I’ve picked a destination and just kind of went there. For this trip, I know the direction, but I don’t know specific stops along the route. Previously I’ve stuck to campgrounds, but now I’m looking to get more into the off-road and dispersed camping side of things. 

I met some women in the Women’s Only Marshalling class who live within a few hours of me. We’re planning to get together to practice our skills, and while I like to travel solo, when I’m doing things that test the abilities of my vehicle, I prefer to be with someone else. So I’m looking forward to connecting with them when we get back home to practice more and to get some trips in. 

Alicia Overland Expo Foundation recipient
Image by Overland Expo

Overland Expo: To wrap it up, is there anything you’d like to say about your experience as an Overland Experience Scholarship recipient?

Alicia: Coming in willing to learn and not getting stuck in the flashy things is important. By focusing on the basics that you need first and then upgrading to the wants and creature comforts, you can build a good foundation. I’d also suggest that future recipients take all of the hands-on courses that they can. 

I also learned about the Rally for Rangers, and now I’m thinking that I’d like to learn to ride a motorcycle in the near future. 

Overland Expo: That’s great! Overland Expo can help with that as well. Thanks for taking the time to chat with us, and we look forward to catching up with you soon.