Once we started to get an understanding of what we were letting ourselves in for we became more and more aware of the mountain of things that needed to be sorted out and the lack of information we had on a number of subjects.
To try and maintain some semblance of order we broke the ‘to do’ list down into a number of headings;
- Vehicle Security and Vehicle Modifications
- Vehicle Maintenance & Repairs
- Vehicle Recovery
- Health & Wellbeing including Personal Security
- Destination & Route Planning
One of the first opportunities we had to gain a better insight to all of the above headings was at the Adventure Overland Show in Stratford-Upon-Avon in September 2018.
Our main reason for attending the show was to meet with some of the Overlanders whose blogs we had been reading and to attend the seminars and presentations. These covered a wide range of topics such as shipping vehicles, border crossings, corrupt officials, buying fuel in different countries, places to camp and even where to go to the toilet!
Whilst we were like sponges soaking up all the information we could get we did want to get answers to some specific questions and we were fortunate enough to meet and chat with Jen and Gav (www.rubythelandy.com) who had recently completed a two year expedition of South & North America and we had throughly enjoyed reading their blog.
It soon become apparent from talking to Jen and Gav that they were in our shoes a few years earlier and from our discussions with them we picked up on a couple of things they had done as part of their trip preparation, which we thought were excellent ideas.
One was the attendance at a Bush Mechanics training course in Devon run by a very knowledgable gentleman called Dave Gunning. No sooner said than done we had booked ourselves in and attended a three day course at the end of September 2018. The purpose of this course was to learn how the vehicle works, identify what each of the vehicle parts are, what they are made of, what their function is, how they can go wrong and what to do if they do go wrong. The course also went into detail of the benefits of regular maintenance in an attempt to minimise and avoid catastrophic failures and breakdowns.
The course covered the tools, spares and recovery equipment you should consider taking and gave you the opportunity to get hands on with different recovery equipment. You also got to carry out some of the typical repairs likely to be done on the road such as mending a tyre puncture, replacing brake pads, replacing bushes and rubbers, replacing a wheel bearing etc.
The pictures below were taken in sunny Devon on the three day course
The other ‘gem’ we picked up from Jen & Gav was to attend a First Aid Training Course, which given our previous experiences of travelling in foreign countries, was a very good idea.
The one other course we attended was a Land Rover Experience day in Eastnor where we were shown the ropes on how to properly drive and control the vehicle in a number of different off-road terrains such as mud, rocks and also water crossings. We and the car were put through our paces on the day and it was both informative and very enjoyable.
This section of the website could go on forever if we were to run through all the information we have learnt and all the decisions we have taken in respect of personal safety, vehicle recovery equipment, camping and cooking equipment, what spares to take, what tools to take.
I will just say that everyone we have spoken to has a strong opinion on every subject. In particular people will wax lyrically about the pros of a high lift jack or a winch or even what type of shovel you should take.
Likewise there are many stories around the dangers and perils that you could face and how, for example, to deal with corrupt officials and bandits. Then after telling you all the things that may go wrong they finish by saying “we didn’t have any problems” and “just remember 99.9% of the people you will meet are good people”.
We would recommend speaking to as many people as possible about as many subjects as possible, take what everybody says with a little pinch of salt, and then make up your own mind.