About a year ago I downloaded an ebook titled ‘Don’t Go There. It’s Not Safe. You’ll Die’. This book’s title amazingly encapsulates the sentement of many of the reactions or questions I get from people I talk to about this upcoming trip. As the trip is two and a half years away I do have my nervous or doubtful moments.
The way in which people express their concern to me really does depend on our releationship. My father has the ability to be amazingly blunt and has expressed his concern for the idea of crossing into Mexico and the danger of the Cartels. The irony that my father has walked across this border isn’t quite lost on me but those were safer times, wern’t they? More recently my students found out that I would be traveling to this area of the world. Beyond their very touching anger that I would not be at their commencement ceremony they also wanted to know what would happen if I was kidnaped or left for dead in some ditch. My nonchalant response that I would deal with that when if it happened did not sit well with them.
The other question I get often is “Who are you going with?”. This question has been with me for as long as I have been traveling. My first real overseas trips were either done with friends and family but more recently I have done quite a lot on my own. In the beginning I spent quite a lot of time trying to convince people to come with me but for a variety of reasons (family, availability of time, not interested in that location or that method of travel) no one would come. I realized that if I waited to find company then I may never go where I want to at all.
I will say that I do have my fears. Gangs and drug smuggling, petty crime, robberies and vandalism, corrupt police and government officials are all things I should prepare for but my biggest fear isn’t any of those. I can be / am an introvert. My biggest fear is that I will travel all of this way but not make the most of it. Traveling through countries where you don’t know anyone can be quite isolating and not knowing the language does make things worse. After trips in the past, a month has been just enough and I have looked forward to friends, family and home. I worry that after a few months I will lock onto the end goal and miss the stuff inbetween in a rush to go home.
In the end I will just have to go and find out. Then again my answer to the question of company is …. You are welcome to come if you like, only you will need your own vehicle.
The trip feels so long off still but at the same time it seems like time is speeding up. So it is time to start planning out the next few years in order to able to head south with confidence.
So what needs doing?
1. Research and Purchase an Overland Vehicle – Whatever I have at the start of July 2020 will be what I live in for the next 14 months or so. This is the fun part as it is exciting to think about my first new vehicle in well 5 years and my first new car since 2009.
2. Determine what to do with my house – Sell or rent? From an investment perspective then renting it out is the best. That said who wants to be a landlord from 20,000 km away.
3. Learn Spanish – Knowing more than Ola would probably be a good idea. Plus how can I make new friends without that?
4. Paperwork – My paperwork is fairly basic but now I am importing a vehicle into and out of many different countries, not all of which like each other. Taking the Motorbike into Europe was easy because one set of rules governs everyone…. South America will not be the same.
5. What to Take – My kit will take some sorting. The balence is going to be between too much and not enough. Beyond personal gear will be recovery gear for the vehicle (don’t have any at all), electronics (want to blog, photograph and video my entire trip) and finally repair kits for the vehicle and me.
Thats all I can think of at the moment. So the plan at the moment is….:
1. Next summer I plan on heading out to the West Coast of Canada and rent a small motorhome to ensure that this is the right idea for me.
2. Fall of 2018 finalize and purchase the overland vehicle.
3. Summer of 2019 drive the Trans-Labrador Highway as a test of equipment
4. Summer 2020 away we go!
Looking forward to it!
So you have 14 months of time away from work, you have saved up so you will be paid for the entire time and you have a job that you will be going back to. What would you do with your time? For quite a few years I didn’t apply for a sabbatical as I didn’t have an answer to that question. I encourage my students to consider gap years, this will be mine.
I am about two and a half years away so plans are beginning to become solid.
My first and most solid plan is that I will be Overlanding. The idea is to head down the length of the Pan American Highway to the end in Ushuaia, Argentina. Once there I plan on seeing if there is a way to get over to Antarctica. My trips recently have at times centered on the idea of remote roads that end in amazing places and this is the next step for checking off some cool locations from the bucket list.
More specifically though a trip that includes the Amazon Rainforest, Atacama Desert, the Andes Mountains and Patagonia and has a turn around point at a sign that says Fin Del Mundo sounds like a fun trip to me. For many years I have been reading stories of other peoples trips and now I want to be there myself.
For the uninitiated Overlanding is self reliant travel to remote places. Usually self reliant means that you have all of the stuff you need to sleep, eat and get out of any issue you may find yourself in as a part of your vehicle. From that point on everyone ‘overlands’ in something different. There are people overlanding on motorbikes, in Jeeps, RV’s and even massive trucks turned into homes on wheels. In all of the research I have done so far the sky is the limit for how people are getting around the world from the most rustic to ultra luxurious.
So thats the plan at its most basic. Now for some serious planning.