Posted: 5/15/17 | may 15th, 2017
I dislike driving. It’s not that I’m poor at it. It’s just that I do it so infrequently that it makes me anxious these days (I only truly drive when I’m on a road trip).
For that reason, so I’m always fascinated by people who travel by car.
Back in the early days of this blog, I satisfied a group of guys driving a trip around the world. They had crazy stories. A few months ago, I revealed we were going to begin doing more visitor stories to highlight a few of your crazy stories.
In our very first visitor spotlight, we’re speaking to Ryan who is driving from Seattle down to Argentina with his girlfriend! (Which, let’s be honest, seems like an amazing adventure!)
Nomadic Matt: tell everybody right here about yourself!
Ryan: I’m 33 years old as well as originally from Seattle, Washington, however after college I spent five years working in Washington, DC in the halls of Congress.
When my manager decided to retire in 2012 instead of run for re-election, I opted to take a yearlong sabbatical to road-trip across the American West as well as to hike as well as climb as much as I could. When the year came to an end, though, I wasn’t prepared to provide up the nomadic lifestyle, so I just kept going.
So exactly how did you get into travel?
My very first overseas travel experiences were thanks to studying abroad in college, with prolonged stays in Florence, Italy, as well as Sana’a, Yemen. Both trips instilled in me a sense of wanderlust that stuck with me with my years of working a desk job, as well as I believe they played a considerable function in ultimately getting me available on the road.
Where has this amazing trip taken you so far?
Following my yearlong road trip with the American West, I headed down to Colombia with a friend as well as we set out check out the country. We only made it as far as Medellín, where I settled down. I felt a requirement to sluggish down after living out of my truck as well as then a backpack for about 15 months — as well as then satisfying a excellent regional girl.
My sweetheart as well as I drove my truck from Seattle to Medellín, traveling overland with every country in central America as well as having an amazing time.
We had to ship the truck from Panama to Colombia since there are no roads with the Darién space (the missing link in the Pan-American Highway).
We stopped in Medellín for a bit once again to regroup, however we are now getting prepared to head out on part two of the road trip: driving all the method to the southern tip of Patagonia, which is a location I have long dreamed about visiting.
We will mainly be traveling along the Andean spine on this journey, as well as I’m looking ahead to immersing myself in the mountain scenery.
What made you choose to go on this trip?
My solo road trip across the American West was an absolutely transformative experience, as well as the seed of driving to Patagonia got planted in my mind as well as took root over a few years. I began to think, why just drive across America when you can drive across all of the Americas?
I likewise like checking out new cultures as well as foods as well as immersing myself in different languages whenever I travel overseas. I long to get a bit farther afield, to get off the well-worn tourist track, as well as that can be rather difficult.
I’ve traveled the backpacker circuit as well as schlepped my bag around vibrant bit towns as well as hopped on as well as off public buses — however when you’ve got your own wheels, a whole new world of travel opens up as well as enables you to get away from the crowds as well as immerse yourself in regional life.
What’s been the biggest lesson so far?
Just exactly how doable this kind of trip is!
When you take in the whole range of driving across central America — traveling into “dangerous” Mexico, dealing with corrupt cops or protests as well as blockades, as well as contemplating the logistical hassles of crossing eight or nine worldwide borders with your vehicle as well as then packing it into a shipping container to South America — it can all just be overwhelming. It seems almost impossible.
But when you break it down into a daily journey, it was all rather easy. One thing flowed from another, nothing was as difficult as we envisioned it would be, as well as we came out more positive as well as capable with every bit bump in the road.
What’s your number one piece of advice for a trip like this?
I’d state one of the very best parts about travel is overcoming difficulties as well as embracing the unknown, so just let go of the concept of waiting on things to be perfect!
In the overland travel community, I’ve seen countless people who plan for many years as well as years, investing more as well as more money into their vehicles as well as accessories, as well as costs more time as well as money on the “getting ready” stage than they do on the actual travel as well as adventures. It’s as if the planning becomes the substitute for really doing.
But as for more concrete advice for a new traveler, I’d highly, extremely suggest discovering as much of the target language you can before leaving.
The very first time I came to Colombia, I had the fundamentals of Spanish: ordering food, getting around in a taxi, other formalities. however my travels have ended up being so much more rewarding as my language skills improved as well as I might truly interact with the people I was satisfying on a everyday basis.
What are the logistics of a trip like this? Is it difficult to plan?
Logistically, there are a few fundamentals you should have covered, which would involve having the originals (and great deals of copies) of all the appropriate vehicle documents: your title, registration, etc.
But you don’t really requirement much more beyond your passport, as well as a general concept of where you are going (or in some cases, locations you shouldn’t go, for safety’s sake). however if you add in some devices to enable you to camp as well as cook, you’ll be much more flexible on the road as well as have more choices for saving money.
One incredible resource that at first planted the concept of driving all this method was the annual Overland Expo in Flagstaff, Arizona, where a few thousand people gather every spring to talk about all elements of overlanding.
They offer seminars as well as talks from experienced travelers on whatever from security as well as security to camp-cooking recipes to border-crossing tips as well as tricks. guests are a mix of people who have completed large drives across the Americas or Africa, people in the planning stages for a huge worldwide trip, as well as those who just like camping out of their vehicles in the USA.
Being around so many like-minded people who had “been there, done that” was what at first made me feel such as this was possible — though it was one more two years before I drove across the border into Mexico.
Due to the sheer scale as well as uncertainty of a monster trip like this, it can indeed be difficult to plan whatever out in advance in terms of where to go, where to stay, etc. before leaving, we organized in broad strokes the path we would take, about exactly how long we believed we would take in each country, etc., however we were available to being versatile throughout the journey.
Luckily there have been many travelers who have documented their trips on their blogs as well as can provide a great frame of recommendation on border crossings, where to camp, security concerns as a driver abroad, as well as so forth.
One of my preferred resources while on the road was a website called iOverlander.com, where fellow travelers add prices, descriptions, as well as GPS coordinates to whatever from free campsites to affordable hotels with secure auto parking lots. It has ended up being the go-to resource for overland travelers.
What’s been the most difficult part of your journey?
The hardest part as well as the simplest part are both the same: traveling with your vehicle. An obvious foreign permit plate can draw in interest, both great as well as bad: friendly locals will take notice as well as chat you up about your travels — as well as more unscrupulous people may target your vehicle for the valuables inside.
Traveling with your own vehicle provides added concerns at times. You must always be somewhat mindful of the general security of your vehicle so as to not subject yourself to prospective break-ins when auto parking on the street — or even in some auto parking great deals — as well as there are the added difficulties of traveling into little colonial cities with narrow roads. then there’s discovering a hotel that likewise offers secure auto parking for your vehicle when so many cater to the backpacker crowd.
That being said, we had no break-ins or anything like that on the whole journey, as well as while we were cautious, we weren’t excessively so or paranoid.
The simplest part of this trip, though — once again — is having your own vehicle, which means you are free to bring rather a bit more stuff than if you were backpacking. We travel with gear for chilly as well as warm weather, for general camp comfort, as well as for cooking, in addition to rather a few electronics: laptops, cameras, a little solar panel, etc.
We likewise have the flexibility to go when as well as where we want, without being connected to public transportation or the traditional backpacker circuit.
So there are two sides to the exact same coin, however I’d state the benefits of “overland” travel such as this far outweigh the negatives.
Does this expense a great deal to do? exactly how do you keep costs down?
The huge up-front expense for overland travel is obviously the vehicle. Vans, trucks, or SUVs are generally the vehicle of option for most overlanders, provided their size as well as the capability to producea area to sleep inside the vehicle (or on top of it, with a roof-top tent).
If you already have a truck or van, you’ve overcome the biggest cost. I utilized my old 1991 Toyota 4×4 pickup — the exact same truck I’ve had since high institution — as well as it served me well with the addition of an elevated canopy as well as a simple build-out of the back to produce a sleeping platform as well as storage system.
If you have to purchase a vehicle, you would do well to look for an older rig that is offered around the world, like a Toyota, so you won’t offer with more obscure vehicle brand or engine parts that may be difficult to find by in other parts of the world.
If you’re looking to buy, you might likewise join overlanding groups as well as try to purchase from a fellow traveler who has just recently completed the trip as well as is looking to discharge the vehicle at a affordable cost rather than ship it overseas to their house country. They normally offer in Panama, Colombia, Argentina, or Chile.
There are people who have done the trip with a traditional cars and truck as well as many who total the drive by motorcycle or even by bicycle — so don’t let the truth that you don’t have the “perfect” vehicle stop you from this adventure.
In terms of the actual costs during the trip, it can vary a great deal from country to country as well as depending upon the exchange rate, however I’d state our general rule of thumb for the entire trip therefore far was about $75 USD per day, as a couple. That cost is general for everything, including gasoline, hotels or camping, food, etc. As always, you might do it for either less or more money, depending upon the private traveler.
The cost breaks down to around $20 USD/night for lodging, $20 USD/day for food, as well as $35 USD/day for vehicle costs (gas, toll roads, paid parking, maintenance, etc.). however those everyday averages can vary a great deal from location to place.
Sometimes a country, like Mexico, is so affordable to travel in that we discover ourselves eating out often as well as discovering budget plan hotels. however other times a country is so expensive, like Costa Rica (for gas, lodging, food, everything!), that we spend virtually all our time camping as well as only sometimes eating out. Our strategy for keeping costs down is to sleep more commonly in the back of the truck at affordable or free camping areas as well as to cook a bit more often.
Surprisingly, there aren’t many costs connected with bringing your vehicle into each country. Some countries need you to purchase insurance, others don’t; some have little charges ($10-15 USD) connected with bringing your vehicle across (temporary import permit, insurance, fumigation), some are free, some are type of expensive, like Honduras ($40 USD).
But general it is rather affordable to cross worldwide borders with a vehicle, as well as your biggest costs stay the routine costs of gasoline as well as maintenance.
If you want to comply with up on Ryan, he is the author of huge Travel, little budget plan as well as the blog writer behind desk to Dirtbag, outlining his travels as well as outside adventures after leaving his Washington, D.C. desk job. comply with his adventures on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.
Book Your Trip: Logistical tips as well as Tricks
Book Your Flight
Find a affordable flight by utilizing Skyscanner. It’s my preferred browse engine since it searches websites as well as airlines around the globe so you always understand no stone is left unturned.
Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, utilize Booking.com as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses as well as hotels.
Don’t fail to remember travel Insurance
Travel insurance coverage will protect you against illness, injury, theft, as well as cancellations. It’s comprehensive security in situation anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to utilize it many times in the past. My preferred business that offer the very best service as well as value are:
SafetyWing (best for everyone)
Insure My trip (for those over 70)
Medjet (for extra evacuation coverage)
Ready to book Your Trip?
Check out my resource page for the very best business to utilize when you travel. I listing all the ones I utilize when I travel. They are the very best in class as well as you can’t go wrong utilizing them on your trip.