motorcycle

A Christmas Gift & The Rules

This year my sister got me possibly the coolest gift that I have recieved in a long time. Those who know me understand how important maps are to my life. Along with a good photo, they are in my opinion a fanstistic form of art. So this past season my sister got me a map that allows you to scratch off the places you have been to.

Scratch Map gift from my sister! Best Gift Ever!

Now the question is, What determines where I have been? Some countries are small enough that visiting one or two major cities would be enough to say you have been there but in the large countries such as Canada this just is not the case. So in order to know where I should scratch there needs to be some rules.

In order to determine if I have visited a place I need to have spent a night there or have traveled through it via some land based transportation (on my motorbike trip to Alaska I rode across Manitoba twice without staying the night…. I think I can still count Manitoba on my list of visited places though!). For countries large enough to show up on a world map with separate provinces or states entire countries can not be crossed off. This means that while I have been to the USA many times there are still some states I need to go to still as well as some provinces and territories in Canada. The final rule in this process is that there is no time frame that restricts this, in other words my travels as a kid with my parents count.

And so, today I have spent an amazing time scratching off the places I have been. Each place has a story based on fond memories. And what have I learnt? Well beating my sister in our race to get to all 7 continents first will be a challenge and second is that for a person that some think travels a lot there is way too little of the world that I have been.

If you are interested in your own map check them out at scratchmap.com

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Overlanding Research

Amazingly enough it seems like the idea of Overlanding is not that well known in popular circles where I live. I guess that the type of travel I want to do is the thing that most people will never be able to accomplish due to time or expense. That said, there are many people driving the Pan American Highway or heading to more out of the way places. Many of these travelers have been writting about their adventures and they are where I have been getting much of my information. Here are just some of the websites that I have found useful.

Horizons Unlimited

When I first started traveling by motorbike I found this community. The website and forum on this site are run by Grant and Susan Johnson who have a wealth of round the world tripping experience. They also run meet ups in various places around the world and have a how to series of videos about travel by motorbike.

Life Remotely & IOverlander

This blog is a very interesting one. When the idea of heading south along the Pan American Highway I found a website with the ebook ‘Don’t Go There. It’s Not Safe, You’ll Die’ free to be downloaded. At the time that I downloaded it there blog was talking about how they were in the process of creating a travelers app. I have had the app on my phone for a while now and it is an amazing resource for on the road information such as the locations of campsites, hotels, food, propane and fuel, mechanics, shipping companies. There is not much info for the area around me but in other areas there is a lot.

WikiOverland

This website is your typical Wiki. I am not sure who runs it or why but it seems like an interesting site. The info seems to be well edited and in terms of other sites limited but that also means that it is not as overwhelming. The other nice thing about this site is that it seems to be keeping track of an on again, off again ferry service between Panama and Columbia which would be very helpful for all sorts of travelers between the continents.

Expedition Portal & Overland Journal

The Expedition Portal is a forum and online magazine that supports overlanding. As with all forums there is a series of posts on travel methods and destinations. The Overland Journal is a print magazine that is published 4 times a year, I haven’t recieved my first one yet but I am looking forward to it.

Truck Camper Magazine

Having started to look into truck campers more seriously I have stumbled across this site. The site is an excellent source of info for camping with truck campers. The most interesting articles have been about modifications to the campers that people have made. The website seems to have links with many of the major truck camper manufacturers so it will be a place to help determine what rig to get in the end.

Overlanding Vehicle Part 1: The Dream Vehicle

I guess I come by the idea of travel over long distances by vehicle honestly. Most summers when I was young my parents took my sister and I on a trip. While most of my friends were on their way to Grandparents houses or off to the cottage we headed out to explore North America which really means we headed south of the border to places in the U.S.A. We would pack up the stationwagon, hook up the pop up trailer and head off. Mom would navigate, Dad would drive and my sister and I would load up the back seat with books and music to spend the time between camp sites. Once a trip my father would get angry at us for having our noses in our books. “I brought you all this way to see this and you are ignoring it!” he would say.

Border between British Columbia and Yukon Territory on the Stewart-Cassiar Highway

My recent trips have allowed me to see more of the world. I still love the idea that getting there is part of the experience and the enjoyment of travel. My motorbike has taken me to Alaska, Vancouver Island, James Bay and all across Europe. Overlanding on the bike is a fanstastic way to experience where you are. You are open to all of the sights, smells and elements of that place. If it is warm outside so are you, if it is raining you are wet. It means that you are very much in the moment at that place.

So should I take the bike to South America? There are many reasons why this would be a good way to go but this time I think that I will go in a different vehicle. All of my past trips have lasted about a month and I find that even in that length of time I do grow a little tired of setting up and tearing down my tent every day. Even if I spend a few days in one location it is hard to feel that my things are secure in a tent and that means I tend to pack a bunch of things onto my bike even if I am not putting away the tent.

What do you think? Travel South America in style? My favorite part of this is the tent!

So the search for the perfect vehicle begins. Type Overlanding Vehicle into Google and you get all sorts of different ideas of what that will look like. There is an amazing range of setups from the very rustic, small and lightweight to the massive truck made to go anywhere in epic style. So if money were not an object what should I get?

UniMog Camper.

Unimog: These trucks are amazing. Mercedes-Benz trucks and chassis are modified into campers by companies all around the world. They are very popular in Europe where the idea of traveling around the world is not new. The massive wheels and hard core suspension can deal with most everything and the campers are designed to be self sufficient for extended periods of time.


Earthroamer:
Unlike the Unimog which is a chassis that many different companies modify, Earthroamer is a company that make high end overland truck campers. These vehicles seem to be very well built and have luxuries that I wouldn’t even have considered. They can even have a tv larger than the one I have at home on the outside of the camper.

EarthCruiser: Just like Earthroamer, EarthCruiser is a company that builds overland vehicles. I would have to say that I think I am most impressed with the design and thinking that go into these trucks. The design that allows for travel anywhere in the world seems to show that the owners actually do travel with these themselves. I would love to see one of these up close some time soon.

So…. what would you want to go in for a year away?