When we chose to drive around the world we also chose to take an endless list of risks in doing so!
Most people would be scared off by just thinking about the risks. If you’ve ever planned a road trip you’d know what we’re talking about… now multiply it by a million when you think of driving around the world.
To be honest, when my husband Alex explained his idea to me, I thought he was crazy. My mind ran at a thousand kilometres an hour thinking of all the things that could possibly go wrong on a road-trip of such dimensions.
Some of the risks include exhausting all our savings and running out of money in the middle of no-where, driving through unstable or unsafe areas, risking our relationship by living in such close quarters 24/7, crashing our car somewhere along the way, suffering from extreme homesickness, negatively impacting our careers by taking 3 years off work and breaking down in the middle of no-where.
However after almost 2 years of preparations, we now believe that if we’re smart and prepare ourselves as best we can (including making back-up plans for all possibilities) this trip will be one of the most worthwhile experiences of our lives.
Of course, at the same time we are (or at least hope we are) rational people. We fully understand the law that if something can go wrong, it will (thanks Mr. Murphy). That’s why we’ve put so much time into properly preparing our van and, psychologically, ourselves for the trip.
So, if like us you’re also considering a road trip or large overland journey, we strongly recommend you go ahead and do it – don’t let your fears stop you from doing something amazing!
And if you’re still a little worried about it all (like me), here are some snippets of advice on preparing your car and yourselves for the adventure.
1. How to deal with driving through unstable or unsafe regions
Yes, we don’t deny that driving through parts of Central or Southern America and Africa in particular is not something to do lightly. Our first step in dealing with this issue was to spend hours and hours deciding on the best route that ideally would take us through secure areas and avoid those that are unstable. After constant research and talking with locals from such areas we’re secure that our (link: http://www.overlandway.com/en/the-project/itinerary text: current itinerary) does just this.
After growing up in South America himself, and with experience driving through some of these countries already, Alex has some idea of the precautions we must take. These include always driving during the day, taking an emergency satellite beacon with us and listening to locals for tips on specific areas to avoid. We must always be aware of our surroundings and trust our instincts in all situations. If we ever feel unsafe or insecure going somewhere we’ve planned, we plan to make an alternative route or organise other transportation options straight away.
2. How to deal with each other while living in such close quarters 24/7
Getting frustrated, annoyed or angry at one other happens naturally in everyday life. Once we’re living in a 6 square metre van and spending all our time together it’s bound to happen even more often. We don’t want to risk our relationship because of this, so plan to take personal time when we need it. Time to just be by yourself with you own thoughts is more important than many people think!
We’ve also set the van up so that we can customise the internal space to our needs and feelings. For example, all the seats spin 360 degrees which create separate working and relaxing spaces. We also have the extra space of the rooftop tent if we want it!
Although this trip is important to us, our relationship is more important and takes number 1 priority.
3. How to deal with crashing into another vehicle in the middle of the unknown
This is one of our biggest fears. Who knows the consequences if something like this happens in a country that we don’t fully understand the law or culture. We’ve already been involved in a crash in the van here on home ground, and have used this experience as an opportunity to learn. To reduce the risk of confusion, legal battles or injury we have prepared the van immensely.
Firstly, we have installed front and rear cameras that constantly film the van’s surroundings so that if we do crash into something or someone else we will have proof of what happened.
We have international third party insurance to make sure that if we injure someone in such an event, we can afford to pay for their rehabilitation and care.
Before entering each country we are also required to buy a carnet (or temporary driver’s license) and understand the road rules and requirements of that country. We plan to pay attention to these rules, not drive at night and be ‘granny drivers’ to avoid any such scenario.
4. How to deal with breaking down in the middle of nowhere
Again, this is another horrible situation that we hope to never find ourselves in. Unfortunately it could be an eventuality and so, we have planned for this in advance.
We know our car like the backs of our hands. After researching common problems that Delica’s have, we have done every amount of preventative maintenance we possibly can, and then some more. This includes a low coolant alarm, engine temperature alarm and a completely new fuel pump and injector system.
We will undergo regular servicing and check ups while we’re on the road and drive our car with care and love (this also helps to improve fuel efficiency).
If we somehow do break-down, we have a list of contacts to call on all around the world for help and advice. If we’re completely isolated we have enough food, water and supplies in the van to last a week, and an emergency satellite beacon to call for help from local authorities.
5. How to deal with running out of money in the middle of nowhere
This was one of my biggest problems with the trip. With the amount of money we will spend in diesel, shipping, flights, insurances, maintenance/repair and the thousands of other costs we’ll incur, we could almost buy a small apartment, or at the least spend many luxurious holidays in exotic places.
Add this to the fact that we want to settle down and have kids after the trip, it was quite difficult for me especially to see the value in driving around the world and spending all our savings money to do so.
However, money is money and we will always find a way to make more. We only get one chance to see the world in such a unique way before we start a family, and the time is now. Furthermore, we plan to use the different nature of our adventure as a form of generating a small income while we’re on the road and as a basis to create a business in the adventure travel/tourism industry when we return.
Our plan is to create a small name for ourselves, make a documentary, write a book, give lectures and even film/photo weddings or sell pancakes from our 4-wheeled kitchen along the way if we have to in order to sustain ourselves. Of course we’ll also have an emergency bank account with money to get us home if we need it.
As I said before, we’ll always find a way to bring money in and money won’t hold us back from a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. We’re sure that after such a trip, and after meeting so many people along the way, we’ll have more opportunity at making our money back in the future than what we have currently.
Sometimes risks are worth taking
These are just a few of the difficult scenarios we may find ourselves in over the coming two to three years while on the road. Although it is extremely daunting, we still believe these risks will all be worthwhile.
We get hope in knowing there are billions of good people out there that will help us when we’re in need and that we’re not the first crazy couple to drive around the world. Such an adventure has been done safely and successfully before, so we feel more than optimistic it’s not only possible but extremely rewarding and worthwhile to do so!