I tried overlanding for the first time in a $375,000 EarthCruiser RV and and this tiny home on wheels takes going off grid to a new level of luxury

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Brittany Chang/Insider
I first attempted to overland with EarthCruiser in his $350,000 Terranova RV.
The EarthCruiser team and I spent a night in upstate Oregon teaching me how to operate the vehicle.
I now understand why travelers gave up their RVs for an Overlander.
One of the reasons I moved to New York City from Southern California was so I never had to test my lackluster driving skills on a bumper-to-bumper freeway again.
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I can't stand driving.
Brittany Chang/Insider
So don't ask me why I thought it would be a good idea to try an overlanding for the first time with EarthCruiser and his luxurious Terranova motorhome...
Brittany Chang/Insider
...a full-fledged home on wheels based on the Ford F350 that's priced more than my four-year college tuition.
Brittany Chang/Insider
I didn't even have RV experience to prepare for this trip.
Brittany Chang/Insider
And against all the odds, nervousness, jet lag, and every other excuse I can think of, the experience and guidance of the EarthCruiser team made me miss driving...
Brittany Chang/Insider
... and thought I could swap my cozy city apartment for a huge overland camper too.
Brittany Chang/Insider
I know I'm shocked too.
Brittany Chang/Insider
In late summer, overland vehicle manufacturer EarthCruiser invited me to visit their headquarters in Bend, Oregon, to see what it would be like when a customer is about to hand over their new build.
Brittany Chang/Insider
Ordering an EarthCruiser isn't like going to a dealership to buy a traditional car.
Brittany Chang/Insider
Instead, the company works with the buyer to customize their overland vehicle.
Brittany Chang/Insider
During the construction process, the team sends updates to their customers.
Brittany Chang/Insider
And when it's finally done, future EarthCruiser owners can travel to the company's Oregon headquarters and manufacturing facility...
Brittany Chang/Insider
...where the team will take her for a test drive and overnight overlanding experience in her new home on wheels.
Brittany Chang/Insider
I wasn't able to present EarthCruiser with $350,000 to buy my own overland RV.
Brittany Chang/Insider
Instead, they let me spend a night in their Ford F350-based Terranova motorhome, which has seen "significant demand" since it was first unveiled in spring 2021, marketing director Mary Balk told Insider in an email.
Brittany Chang/Insider
Prior to my trip, the company sent me a full itinerary detailing my daily expected schedule, drive, and mileage, similar to what real customers might receive prior to their visit.
Brittany Chang/Insider
When I lived in California, I drove 90 miles a day to get to work. With traffic, that was six hours of my life wasted every day.
Brittany Chang/Insider
Now the thought of driving for over an hour makes me shudder.
Brittany Chang/Insider
So imagine the nervous dread I felt when I opened up the itinerary and saw that my second day would involve driving 47 miles for up to 3.5 hours, some of it on off-road trails.
Brittany Chang/Insider
But I calmed myself and my fears that I would be in good hands with EarthCruiser.
Brittany Chang/Insider
Overseas, the company has been building Overlanders in Australia since 2008.
Brittany Chang/Insider
Here, EarthCruiser has been a mainstay in the US overlanding market since 2013.
Brittany Chang/Insider
And lately, business has been booming as more travelers learn about landings.
Brittany Chang/Insider
The company has had record sales for the past two years and is seeing "strong" demand again this year, Balk said.
Brittany Chang/Insider
She said EarthCruiser has sold "well into the hundreds" of its custom overland RVs, each taking between six and eight months to build.
Brittany Chang/Insider
And the company predicts this will continue to increase as more travelers explore the off-road, off-grid lifestyle.
Brittany Chang/Insider
Unlike traditional RVs, overland vehicles can take travelers to remote destinations that typical RVs cannot access.
Brittany Chang/Insider
And over the years, more and more people have begun to care about the off-grid promise: 75% of EarthCruiser customers have given up traditional RVs in favor of an overland vehicle.
Brittany Chang/Insider
In Kampground of America's (KOA) annual 2022 North American Camping Report, 27% of surveyors said they went overland for the first time in 2021.
Brittany Chang/Insider
And KOA expects that public intrigue to increase, as 46% of surveyors say they plan to attempt an overland this year.
Brittany Chang/Insider
Source: Campsite of America
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I now understand why the intrigues have grown.
Brittany Chang/Insider
After arriving in Bend, Oregon and being warmly welcomed by the team, I was given a brief tour of my tiny home on wheels and EarthCruiser manufacturing facility.
Brittany Chang/Insider
And before I could register the events before me, I found myself in the driver's seat of the huge Terranova camper van.
Brittany Chang/Insider
Just hours after landing in Oregon, I set off on a roughly hour-long drive into the Deschutes National Forest with EarthCruiser's Adventure Manager, Ellen Wayte, in the passenger seat...
Brittany Chang/Insider
... gave me the security and funny small talk I desperately needed to take my mind off my own anxiety.
Brittany Chang/Insider
I was nervous for the first few minutes as I followed Clive Watson, the company's customer experience and training manager, in his very own EarthCruiser.
Brittany Chang/Insider
But after a few miles, I realized that driving the Terranova was like driving a typical automatic car, just with a little more height and weight.
Brittany Chang/Insider
And by the time we hit unfamiliar territory—undulating gravel roads kicking up blinding dust—most of my fear had already evaporated and I was comfortable with this new path.
Brittany Chang/Insider
The Terranova is the largest vehicle I have ever driven.
Brittany Chang/Insider
But somehow it was intuitively easy to use. If anything, its size - easily fitting over the bumpy roads - made me feel more confident.
Brittany Chang/Insider
I may not disrespect EarthCruiser when I say this, but the vehicle was as easy to drive as my mom's Mazda SUV.
Brittany Chang/Insider
Eventually, after venturing deeper into the forest, Watson led us to a large clearing overlooking the surrounding mountains and trees.
Brittany Chang/Insider
This secluded place became our home for the night.
Brittany Chang/Insider
And I quickly wondered why I chose to live in a big city when I can have such views.
Brittany Chang/Insider
Like great hosts, Wayte and Watson quickly set up camp chairs, a table and a selection of snacks and drinks shortly after our arrival.
Brittany Chang/Insider
And I was finally able to relax after driving an intercity vehicle for the first time in my life.
Brittany Chang/Insider
I was admittedly nervous - seems to be an issue - spending the night with two strangers.
Brittany Chang/Insider
But Wayte and Watson were some of the most relaxed and friendly people I've ever worked with.
Brittany Chang/Insider
Despite spending almost 24 hours together, I never found myself in an awkward lull in conversation with them.
Brittany Chang/Insider
They reminded me of my California friends who constantly sought out the great outdoors and new ways to travel, a common thread I've noticed in other EarthCruiser employees.
Brittany Chang/Insider
And that familiarity immediately made me comfortable and confident in my unconventional workday.
Brittany Chang/Insider
It was clear they had a passion for EarthCruiser.
Brittany Chang/Insider
As we watched the sunset, gazed at the stars, and ate our delicious dinner of salmon—expertly prepared in the other EarthCruiser—Wayte and Watson remembered EarthCruiser owners as if they were talking about their old friends.
Brittany Chang/Insider
Staff would sometimes keep in touch with their customers, they said.
Brittany Chang/Insider
And the "family" is so close that many owners now go together on "EarthCruiser Adventures" - run by the company.
earth cruiser
Source: EarthCruiser
As I said in my previous review of the vehicle itself, it's easy to see why these travelers have flocked to EarthCruisers and embraced the lifestyle.
Brittany Chang/Insider
Source: Insiders
The Terranova has the same amenities as a studio apartment, only in a more compact space with a pop-top roof.
Brittany Chang/Insider
Inside there is a living and dining room that converts into a separate bed...
Brittany Chang/Insider
… a kitchen ...
Brittany Chang/Insider
...a raised queen bed surrounded by power outlets, reading lights and windows...
Brittany Chang/Insider
... and a toilet and shower hidden behind the front door.
Brittany Chang/Insider
The vehicle's well thought-out amenities, like all the hidden storage spaces...
Brittany Chang/Insider
... the entrance staircase, which lowers when the front door is opened ...
Brittany Chang/Insider
...and the secret staircase protruding from the kitchen to give travelers easier access to the loft bed...
Brittany Chang/Insider
... made me appreciate the craftsmanship and attention to detail of EarthCruiser.
Brittany Chang/Insider
And all of these amenities helped me settle into the Terranova quickly.
Brittany Chang/Insider
The functions of the house – such as setting the temperature and turning on the lights and water – were intuitive to use via the touchscreen control panel behind the kitchen.
Brittany Chang/Insider
I've been asked not to use the demo vehicle's toilet, but at least there's the option for travelers who buy their own EarthCruiser.
Brittany Chang/Insider
I'll spare you the details of my alternative bathroom.
Brittany Chang/Insider
But at least the bunk bed was pretty comfortable.
Brittany Chang/Insider
It certainly cannot be compared to my bed at home. But it's definitely better than a sleeping bag on the hard floor.
Brittany Chang/Insider
And I still fell asleep quickly.
Brittany Chang/Insider
I absolutely needed this rest.
Brittany Chang/Insider
When I woke up, I was greeted with a homemade breakfast from Wayte and Watson, coffee, a sunny day and my task for the day: learning how to ride and wind off-road. I really started with the bare basics.
Brittany Chang/Insider
After securing our gear, I got behind the wheel while Watson jumped into the Terranova's passenger seat to give me a crash course in navigating roads with steep climbs, declines and ditches.
Brittany Chang/Insider
Wayte cheering me on from afar reminded me of a proud parent and bolstered my bad morale.
Brittany Chang/Insider
And the Witching demo was shockingly easy, although I have to admit Watson pretty much did all the work.
Brittany Chang/Insider
My big takeaway from that day was “trust the vehicle”.
Brittany Chang/Insider
When we started the off-road lessons, I had trouble trusting both the Terranova and my own driving skills.
The story goes on

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