I’ve been preparing to go on an intercontinental overlanding expedition from Africa to Argentina … and it’s every bit as daunting as it sounds. Here are 10 tips I’ve learned while preparing for the adventure.
1. Be ready
Are you really sure that you want to do this? Really, really sure? Do not forget that you will be sleeping in a tent for an extended period of time; that you cannot take your Simmons Super Sleep 10 000 Turbo with you; or your shower, loo and TV. The call of the wild and romantic may seem irresistible but getting there is usually everything but wild and romantic. (6 steps to quitting your job and travelling the world). Be prepared to find a home for your pooch/cat and the look of betrayal as you wrench him/her from your children’s tear and snot streaked arms. Be prepared to put everything material you have worked so hard for into cold wet storage, safe in the knowledge that you will return eventually to a large green mass with which you will rebuild your life. Be prepared for hidden expenses and a month of sleeping in your step mothers study after you have, essentially, become homeless.
2. Be brave
Be brave … and be stubborn. Your wife and kids will be soooo excited about the idea. They will have visions of freedom and joy. After six months those visions of freedom and joy will have morphed into contempt and utter discontent. The wife who said ‘there is only one choice, we must do this’ will have sobered up and then hit the bottle again. Accusations will fly. Instead of hearing, ‘You are the man’ you will become accustomed to hearing ‘It’s your fault’. But you must be brave and realise that you have a vision and you must be stubborn because once you have gone on Facebook and told the entire known universe that you are going to drive from Pole to Pole and save all the Polar Bears, you have to do it. You can not back down. If you do you will be unfriended by everyone but your mother and that guy who died. And you will never believe in yourself again.
3. Be sure
Be sure about your finances. Drawing up a budget (five tips for kitting out your overland vehicle on a budget), taking into consideration all the money your business is owed, how much your business is worth, the possibility of an unexpected inheritance and the combined glorious total of all your credit cards can be deceiving. Especially since your planned departure in February will be put off until May and then when everyone has lost faith in August you eventually leave in September. That’s an extra few months of rent you weren’t budgeting for. And groceries, DSTV, life insurance, school fees (in more way than one) petrol, medical and dental. Banks will not give you money because, as you know, they will only give you a loan if you dont need a loan. Older, ‘more established’ relatives will become more distant and where once you were a favourite now you can’t even get a seat at the adults table after grannies funeral (and no, there was no unexpected inheritance).
4. Be friendly
Invest in your relationships. Unless you are a self sufficient bachelor you will probably have to travel with a spouse, on paper or not, and a couple of kids. This is the price you pay for not actually saving and travelling when you were 23, instead spending every cent you had on beer. In Tel Aviv. For an entire year. That trip you did a few years ago where everyone got along and the kids never fought and you all developed so much as people, is in the past. You are older and fatter. Your wife has long since tired of looking at you through the last nine months of upheaval and she is beginning to doubt that you are the man who will in fact take her to the moon and back. Now, even though you don’t have the time or the energy, is the time to speak reassuringly to everyone, make it known that you are in charge and responsible, cook everyone’s special dishes and stay out of the beer bottle. (Which travel buddy are you?)
5. Be patient
Don’t expect too much from sponsors. There is a recession going on and all those huge, powerful and wonderful corporations who made it on your ‘definite sponsors’ list will be impossible to contact, uninterested in your amazing overland expedition and most won’t even open the sponsorship proposal PDF which you spent six months researching, planning and preparing. Those who do will have a need you need to fill, will want to establish your credibility and have 20 other amazing opportunities knocking down their door. Align yourself with brands you believe in and be patient.
6. Believe in yourself …
… because no one else will. Remember why this is your dream and that the only difference between you and Bear Grylls is youth, wealth, health, talent and good looks. Believe that whatever the road throws at you will be fun compared with the crap you have had to put up with for the last long months and remember that fortune favours the brave and if all else fails at least you can sleep in the car.
7. Invest in the future
Apparently the future it is all about social networks. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and even Google+ … if you can figure it out. You will need the gadgets, one for everyone of course, and learn about SEO, Google Analytics and tweeting. All you need is to be unique, just like everyone else. It’s all about relationships and trust, numbers and likes and retweets and shares and credibility. Retweeting is amplification, apparently. What the hell does that mean? Even though you are a dinosaur you need to drop the growls and spanners and be social, friendly, likeable and followable. I am none of these things. This is why I travel. (10 travel blogging tips)
8. Be healthy
Have your health checked. Because an unzipped rip in any part of your anatomy and a bad tooth will only be piddle on the parade.
9. Have fun!
Yes, this is the most important tip.
10. Paint that picture
Picture yourself doing what you dreamed. For me going to Machu Picchu is a dream. For a poor South African boy to be able to drive there with his family only going to the moon could be more impossible. Ask the guys I went to school with, they can’t believe it. I can hardly believe it! There are so many things that I want to achieve on this overlanding trip. I want to lose my domestic layer of fat, I want to be fit, grow a beard, get a tan. I want to surf, kayak, hike and explore places I had only seen in books or on a screen. I want to learn to speak Spanish and cook like Maria. And I know that my family wants the same things.
Follow the adventure:
Want to do it the easy way? Check out these exciting overlanding trips with Getaway Adventures.