Guest Poster, Ken from 30ForThirty.org shares some tips for overland travelers.
In the Overlanding world we are relatively inexperienced but have driven over 15000 miles through five countries and were asked to share a few tips and tricks that we’ve learned along the way.
1: Make Sure Your Vehicle is Up to Snuff.
First of all, to make all border crossings and military checkpoints go smoothly, you need to make sure you actually own your car – you’ll need the title and it needs to be paid off. Next, it’s got to be in good condition and ready for the long haul. There is a ton of info on overland websites to help you put together a checklist to make sure your vehicle is ready for the journey. Check out 4x4OverLandTravel.com to get started.
2: Gear Up!
Besides a good car, you’ll need good gear. If you plan on camping, you’ll want a decent camping camping gear. If you’re sleeping in the truck, make sure you’ve got a good set up. Have extra water jugs, extra gas cans, a good cook stove and a nice set of pots and pans, and make sure you’ve got the tools you need to do simple repairs while on the road. It can be hard to find some of these things while traveling though developing countries, so it makes sense to plan ahead.
3: Set a Date, Tell All Your Friends.
Pick a date that you’re leaving and stick to it. Tell all your friends so that you can’t keep pushing it back. You will never be ready! We planned a going away party months in advance and invited everyone – that way we couldn’t back out.
Once you get you mexico, cancel your American Insurance. You have to buy insurance in each country. Some countries don’t require insurance, so it’s worth looking into.
It’s all about community. If you have a blog and you read other people’s blogs you’ll be able to meet up with other overland travelers while on the road. Sometimes you can feel really alone. Driving in tandem is a big plus, but it also helps to connect with other overlanders through their blogs. It’s also a great way to keep your family and friends back home in the loop about your travels.
6: Have a partner!
If you can team up with someone it will not only cut your costs in half, but also divide the labor. It’s great to have a copilot to help you navigate the difficult roads. Choose wisely when considering your team mate – traveling can be seriously stressful, especially when things don’t go smoothly.
Figure out how much it’s all going to cost, and how much you can afford to spend. Make your budget and make sure that you stick to it. It’s fun, and fine, to go over budget some days, and go sailing in Belize, or get drunk with new friends in a bar pricey tourist bar, but remember that you’ll have to be under budget on other days to make it all even out in the end.
8: Have a Home Support System.
Besides having a good teammate on the road, it’s good to have a support system back home just in case anything goes wrong on the road. For example: If you get robbed or lose your credit card, you’ll want to have someone at home who can deal with the banks and mail your new card ahead. We had all our contact lenses stolen, and had to get have the prescription filled in the states and mailed to meet us in Belize – it was a strangely complicated process and having someone back home to help with the details was invaluable.
9: Be Safe.
It’s not all fun and games out there – there are real dangers. It’s good to check with other overlanders who are traveling ahead of you to see if they’ve had any troubles. Overall people are good all around the world, but the one who is not may be watching you set up camp. Driving puts you in places were other travelers are not, making you easy to spot. Having an expensive vehicle with foreign plates can make you a target – it’s smart to be vigilant and make sure you always lock everything up.
10: Have fun!
This is the trip of a lifetime (hopefully one many trips to come) and you’re going to have an awesome time. There is a lot of planning and hard work that goes into a trip like this, and there are bound to be some bumps in the road along the way, but remember – you’re on vacation. Enjoy it!