Preparing an overland trip is exiting and a lot of work at the same time. At this page we collected some highlights of our preparation, and added some first insights of our experiences while being on the road. We found it very useful to read other blogs on this topic, so we hope we to give back by sharing this information.
- Passport: check the date until which your passport is valid. Most countries require your passport to be valid at least 6 months after your visit to a country. It’s also possible to request an ID-card which you can use to i.e. check in at camp sites (so you can store away your passport somewhere safe).
- For most overland trips, you will need a Carnet de Passage. This is a kind of ‘passport’ for your car. In many countries you will need to show this CdP, where you will need a stamp when you enter and leave the country. The CdP requires a deposit, where the amount depends on your car and the countries you will visit. Dutch overlanders can request a CdP at the German ADAC. You need to fill in some paper work, transfer the deposit + sign up fee. After a few weeks you’ll receive the CdP via post. Make sure not to do this last minute, because it can take up to six weeks before you receive the CdP
- VISA: Check for the countries you plan to visit wether a visa is necessary. If you need a visa, check how long the visa is valid after date of issue. From there, you can calculate which visa you can arrange already in your home country (and thus is still valid when you enter the country), or which visa you need to arrange while traveling.
- Health insurance: Check the coverage of your health insurance. Are all countries covered? Are costs covered for the amount it would cost in your own country, or against the local amount (which might be higher) ? If your health insurance does not cover local costs, you can often add this to your travel insurance so that they will cover the difference.
- Health insurance: Considerate to switch to a proper (maybe extended) health insurance at the end of the year before the year that your travel starts. (In the Netherlands you can only switch every new calendar year). Costs of vaccinations (and other health preparation needs) can be really high, so it’s nice if that’s covered in your insurance.
- Phone: we brought a 3rd phone with us, which we will use for local internet. We buy SIM cards in the different countries and then use this 3rd phone as a hotspot for our own phones.
- Iran payments: If you travel to Iran, your debit- and credit cards will not work. To avoid carrying a lot of cash, we recommend using the MAH card. You can request the card online, you can pick it up when you enter Iran (i.e. in the first city you visit) and you can transfer money online. With the MAH card, you can pay almost everywhere in Iran + you can withdraw money from the cash machines. The service is quick, easy and they speak very well English.
- Community: we experience the Overland community to be very strong and helpful. We visited (Dutch) Overland weekends and are member of several Facebook groups, like Dutch Overlanders and Overlanding Africa. You can ask questions, answer questions, find fellow travelers, etcetera. Very nice and useful!
The car & on the road gadgets below are our favorites so far. You can find more technical & exterior/interior related preparations on the Car preparation page.
- Lifesaver watertank for 20L drinking water (in addition to our regular water tank)
- A Sand plate at the side of our car, convertable to an outside table using the Quick Pitch Trax Table. We are super happy with this one and use it a lot for a quick lunch on the road, or for cooking at night
- Country stickers for the countries we have visited via overland stickers
- Garmin Overlander which will be our onroad and offroad navigator, including info from Ioverlander and Tracks4Africa.
- Garmin Inreach mini, which will be our satellite communicator. Using this Inreach, it is possible to follow our route real time and to send text messages in remote area’s.
- Frontrunner camp kitchen utensil set
- Scrubba washing bag
- Cabinet dividers to make sure all stuff has a regular spot without shifting to much while driving. We mainly used these type of IKEA dividers which we will fix to the cabinets with velcro.
- Sea to Summit inflatable pillows. Compact and good ergonomics at the same time.
- From family we received little magnets with family pictures for in the car (i.e. via HEMA). We noticed people who speak to us while we’re in the car (police officers, people on the road, etcetera) really enjoy the pictures and ask questions about our families. It gives nice input for a small talk.
On the road
Since we’ve hit the road, there are a few things we use a lot/ are very helpful, which we’ll share underneath. Some points might be open doors for some, but – with the idea of giving back- we’d anyhow like to share these experiences.
- To find nice camp spots, we use iOverlander and Park4Night. These apps (on your phone or integrated in your GPS) give super nice tips of other travelers; a short description about the camp spot, price, facilities, and not to forget: the app can direct you there. Both wild camp spots and payed camp spots are included. The nice thing is that these apps are continuously updated by the travel/ Overland community and will get you to places you otherwise might never find. Although we love wild camping, we noticed that we also like the small camp spots where you camp in someones garden – rebuild to camping. By doing this you meet locals and you can sponsor them (by paying a fair camp price and sometimes with buying some food/drinks). And of course it’s nice to have a toilet and shower 🙂 For us, these small campsites are a good ‘in between’ wild camping and official camp grounds. It’s recommended to add a new place or leave a review on an existing place in the apps, so you can give back and the community stays up to date.
- We use Wikiloc to find nice offroad routes. Again, this is also community based and you can add routes as well.
- We planned to read books of all countries before we hit the road. But in reality, we were so busy preparing the trip that reading was not first on our minds. We found another way of informing ourselves upfront: podcasts. I.e.: when driving to the Balkan area, we listened to podcasts where historici gave insights about the country, the war, the history, etcetera. It might be al little less romantic than reading a book, but – since we spend hours and hours in the car- it’s a nice way to gain a little bit of knowledge about the countries we visit (next to speaking with locals). When we have wifi, we download some podcasts on Spotify so we can listen them while on the road.
- We found a stove for which both benzine and diesel can be used: the MSR extreme condition stove. Because gas tanks can be less available outside Europe, we found this to be a good back up.
- Because in many countries you will have no internet, we found it useful to shortly prepare every visit to a new country. So when at a wifi spot, we searched for: currency, exchange rate and diesel prices. At this way, when we entered a country, we understood the first prices we saw, estimated the amount of cash we wanted to bring/pin, whether we should tank before or after the boarder, etcetera.
- UNESCO app: here you can find great input for special spots worldwide
- Because you will probably not always have internet, it’s useful to download google maps for a specific area upfront. And an old fashion paper map is still a big plus: not only for details roadmaps but also to draw an (intended) route