Lone Traveler

Many people dream of leaving their careers to pursue their true passions, but most never take the leap. As for George Fernandez, he followed his heart and found his true calling in the outdoors. After ten years of owning his own successful business, he decided it was time to sell it off and chase his dream of working in nature.

“There’s just something about long road trips and spending long days away from the normal eight-to-five routine that truly brings the appreciation of a simple life on the road.”

Fernandez’s father introduced him to the great outdoors from a very young age. They would travel all across California in a 1979 Ford Granada in search of adventure, often taking weekly trips to explore, whether at a national park or a deserted dirt road. These experiences stuck with him and were where a fondness for off-roading would take root.

Fernandez decided he needed a truck that would be capable of taking him on extreme trips through varied landscapes and climates. His goal was to build a vehicle that would allow him to stay off the grid for long stretches of time and with no limitations. He inevitably came across the overlanding community and instantly knew this was the direction for his truck, which has now allowed him to travel and explore eight states across the toughest of terrain.


Fernandez determined a Toyota Tacoma would be the perfect platform for his adventure-ready vehicle due to its off-road capability and performance, along with the bounty of aftermarket parts readily available. He’d be no stranger to modifying the vehicle, as he grew up in the sport compact import tuning world, where he built vehicles for car shows and for racing.

He elected for a 2017 Toyota Tacoma TRD Off-Road edition, which is quite capable from the factory with its 3.5-liter V6 engine and four-wheel drive, but to better suit his needs and style he would of course take things up a notch. New Work Meister S1HC wheels were added for style and wrapped in Toyo Tires Open Country A/T III tires for enhanced performance and traction. Fernandez added Deaver Stage III leaf springs along with Locked Off-Road 2.5 shocks with external adjustable reservoirs and Total Chaos Upper Control arms for additional stability.

“The more I travel, the more I understand the importance of not only using quality gear but also efficiently prioritizing space usage in and out of the rig.”

Over the course of five years, the vehicle has undergone a few different transformations as Fernandez learned through trial and error what works best for him and his style of travel. The goal was to improve accessibility and overall functionality. He made sure to include quick access to first aid kits, recovery gear, firearms, and other items needed for survival or in case of emergency. Everything else was added as an amenity, including solar panels to provide additional power, a Dometic CFX 35 portable fridge, an iKamper hard-shell roof-top tent, and an awning to enhance the experience and make setting up camp a lot easier after a long day on the road.

Interior and exterior storage is important for a self-reliant traveler to ensure everything is accounted for and protected. Within the interior, Fernandez opted to remove the rear seat with a Goose Gear second-row delete to create more space for items like the fridge, a jack, and slew of Pelican cases that hold everything from his firearms to his photography equipment. The top of his rig is equipped with a Front Runner Slimline II roof rack and bed rack, which houses not only his roof-top tent but also more storage in the form of a Pelican Cargo BX140 and Pelican V730 case.

“Traveling solo is all about fulfilling your goals and overcoming that fear of the unknown or the risk involved.”

Fernandez often travels alone. He’s used this time to challenge himself and unwind from the daily routine. Yet he’s always prepared for the unknown and any challenges that may arise. Accidents do happen and damage may be incurred, so he’s equipped his rig with a pair of recovery boards in case he gets stuck, along with a Warn Zeon 10s Platinum winch to help himself or others. A full-size spare wheel and tire is easily accessible and mounted with a RIGd Supply Ultra Swing tire carrier. Protecting the body of the truck itself is a C4 Fabrication Overland Series front bumper, Rago Fabrication lower control arms, and undercarriage skid plates along with rock sliders. The truck was most recently wrapped by Beyond Wraps to help keep the factory paint protected, and it also gives him the option of replacing or simply removing the vinyl if it gets damaged on the trail.

Additional safety is provided by a collection of LED lights from Baja Designs located on the front bumper, roof rack, and bed rack. These powerful lights help illuminate the road ahead as well as when he’s parked and setting up camp.

“With absolutely no formal education or training in videography, I somehow managed to capture unfiltered outdoor experiences, which changed my life forever.”

Once the truck was built and ready for action, Fernandez discovered that he had a desire to share and document his trips with the world. This has led him down the path as a filmmaker and videographer, who now works with various brands by creating content and sharing his experiences via his YouTube channel, Bustabeatgeorge. He spends half the month on the road exploring new places and re-visiting old favorites; his last trip spanned six weeks and took him to the far-flung recesses of Nevada, Utah, Colorado, and Arizona.

Fernandez’s advice for anyone looking to follow in his footsteps would be this: “Build the rig to meet your needs, whether it’s hunting, overlanding, fishing, and so on. Narrow it down to the key components that will improve your vehicle while you’re off the grid, prioritize functionality, simplify the vision—and build from there.”

Text by John Pangilinan and images by George Fernandez

Follow along in George Fernandez’s tire tracks @Bustabeatgeorge

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