Taking your own vehicle on overland or expedition travel is very different to backpacking or tour group travel.

Travelling great distances across multiple countries, variable terrains and experiencing diverse cultures is significantly rewarding, however the pre-trip preparation is paramount to avoid costly delays and/or re-routing.

These notes are to encourage the planning and provide a starting kit for DIY overland travel. Apart from personal experiences gained from our own overland travel, I have gleaned significant information from Googling logs and blogs of others who have driven similar paths. Publications such as Lonely Planet offer great insight to what to see and do, and the necessaries like visas requirements, however they lack vital information on vehicle border crossings and the necessary and sometimes copious paperwork and procedural vehicle requirements.

The following deals with the general planning for Overland Travel.

Once you have your head around this, the following link will provide information on country by country basis for border crossings, and individual country travel information.


Some great planning information is also provided here: www.overlandsphere.com

Once the decision is made that expedition travel is something you want to do, the easy part is putting a thick black felt pen line through the dates on the calendar. The hard part is keeping it there to meet the desired departure date. A time frame of 12 months is a good model. Longer than that, the departure is too easy to continue to delay, and too short makes the arrangements more logistically challenging. That 12-month time frame also gives you a good overview of current weather conditions in the area of travel.

Research to do before you go:

  1. What type of vehicle

  2. Group or Individual Travel

  3. Travel Timeframe in relation to Distance and Weather.

  4. Carnet De Passages

  5. International Driving Permit

  6. Import/Export a vehicle to/from Australia

  7. Containerisation or RoRo

  8. The Shipping Process

  9. Foreign Border Formalities & 3rd Party Vehicle Insurance

  10. Visas and time the vehicle is allowed in the country

  11. Vehicle preparation and what to take and not to take

  12. Navigation and GPS  Devices

  13. Communication whilst travelling.

  14. Fuel - Petrol or Diesel, Sulphur and Altitude Driving.

  15. Food and Water

  16. Camping, and toilet facilities en route.

What Type of Vehicle:

Whatever you decide it will always be a compromise!

As an international travel vehicle you will be travelling in crowded cities (China, Mexico), on rough roads (Mongolia, Russia), endless switchbacks (Tibet, Morocco), and cruising down long highways (USA, Europe), hence a vehicle must be able to accommodate these variety of situations. My first strong suggestion is no to Trailers, Caravans, 5th Wheelers and the like.   Apart from many other downsides, in my experience, it is always the towed vehicle that inevitably fails.

Thus we arrive at a single vehicle that should ideally be a 4x4, not only because it can handle a variety of terrains from rough roads to ice and snow but because generally a 4WD is built stronger.  The choice would also be a vehicle which you can live in, or camp out of.

We met this truck in Morocco. It was so big that the owner stated he had to chainsaw down trees to get along some of the roads!

I do not propose to recommend a vehicle, as always in the end this will be a very personal choice relating to many factors.  This is a also a subject that has and will continue to be discussed by others at great length.

This is an excellent article on the above subject by Stephen Stewart:


In addition to Stephens comments I would add:

That container shipping is by far the safest method. It avoids pilfering and the vehicle is not exposed to salt water corrosion. I have designed two such vehicles that are commercially available, and a third based on the Iveco 4x4

For more information on containerisation and other methods of shipping see below

Thus a vehicle ideally should fit the following dimensions:

  1. High Cube Container Sizes: 20Ft (40Ft)

  2. Length 5900 mm  (12,000mm)   Width 2350 mm   

  3. Height 2900 mm  and 2580mm at the door entry

  4. For a complete list of Container sizes, Shipping Platforms and Flatracks see:

  5. http://www.australiatrade.com.au/shipping/containersizesales/index.html

The above restrictive size limitations are also ideal because parking, traversing bush tracks and city roads make for a more pleasant travelling experience.

A bigger ‘Look at Me’ type of vehicle also brings unwanted attention and can lead to unnecessary price increases. Height and weight restrictions may apply on some lesser roads and in the USA some National Parks have a 20Ft length restriction.

Overall weight is a serious consideration.  Driving a 12+ ton monster over remote bridges can pose problems.  This bridge on Brazil’s BR319 gave way under the weight of this Unimog Camper.

See: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2040498/Britons-Lesley-Norris-Bruce-Scott-Amazon-crash-say-travelling.html

The other comment I would add is avoiding the use of LPG for cooking and water/air heating. LPG is nearly impossible to obtain in third world countries. Even if one does find it, the connections will never be correct. For cooking we use a marine type stove that runs on Metholated Spirits (also called De-Natured Alcohol), in addition we also use the Coleman duel fuel stove for larger volume or for quick coffee making . It gives good fast heat and uses Coleman Fuel or petrol.

For air and water heating the Webasto diesel heater is ideal, reasonably fast water heating (1/2hour for the Dual Top and 1-2 Minutes for the Thermo Top) and massive air heating with the fuel coming directly from the vehicle diesel fuel tank.

Group or Individual Travel:

Group travel shares the experience and allows you as a group to push the adventure limits beyond where you would perhaps not go individually.

  1. A GPS crossing of the Gobi Desert, something you would not do, unless in a group.

  2. We had three of our four trucks bogged to the chassis, eventually winching them out using the spare tyre as an anchor.

From my experience it is the size of the group that is critical. Two to Four vehicles is an ideal number, more than this, the group will fractionalise and become two or more groups within itself.  We have found that the smaller the group, the more interaction you will experience with the locals and the more invitations you will get to see beyond the road.

Only after a week to ten days will you really know those you are travelling with.

Ask yourself :

  1. Do these fellow travellers have the same vision as me?

  2. How will they handle not having a shower for a couple of days because of being bogged down in deep mud on an isolated track?

  3. How will they handle a lengthy delay at a border post because the paperwork is not in order?

  4. Should there be an unexpected financial expense, how will they react?

  5. Consider the ramifications should one of the group vehicles become seriously damaged, an occupant seriously sick or one of the party need to return home urgently. How will the group handle the delay or even making the decision to leave that party behind..... very difficult

Try for a test time away locally before you become locked into a lengthy international expedition with people you really do not know.

Mark Twain once said: “I have found out that there ain’t no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them.”

What ever the situation, we are all different, accept that!

The group should have an ‘Operations Leader’ who overseers the general travel time frame, the border crossings formalities and is the group negotiator and spokes person when necessary. However within the day to day travel arrangements each vehicle should experience in turn the leading and the automatous decision making, such as selecting the lunch stops, camp time and camp spot etc. During our South East Asia travel we had four vehicles, and each took turn to lead the group through ‘their’ country. This included the selection of places to see, provide ‘tour guide’ information, selection of the camp sites, and managing the groups ‘collective money’ thus sharing around the experiences and challenges of the leadership roll.

We have found that by running a “Group Money Kitty’ it was much easier when dealing with collective meals, camp fees, tolls, tour guides and entrance fees when it all came from the one purse in the local currency. ‘Kitty’ was topped up equally amongst the group according to its needs. Individual vehicle fuel/repairs, personal purchases, personal food and the like were paid for independently.

The other advantage of group travel is sharing the shipping, border crossing expenses and tour guide charges. Shipping, handeling charges, customs fees etc of a 40’ container is only marginally more than a 20’ container yet with two vehicles the cost is half. Because of the cost of our obligatory tour guide for 45 days in China we would not have considered this cost ourselves, but divided by 4 couples meant it was very economical.

If you are looking to add people to your group or to help fill a container you can try these overland web sites for information and travelling companions.

http://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree/index.jspa  Part of the Lonely Planet book group

http://www.horizonsunlimited.com More bikers but also overlanders

http://www.drivetheamericas.com A very active Central and Sth America following

http://www.4x4overlandtravel.com An overlanders site

Travel Timeframe in relation to Distance and Weather:

What ever is decided things will change.

Unavoidable events like flooded roads, landslides, road construction, sickness, all have and will affect the travel plans. In 2010 the roads in China were undergoing country wide reconstruction and one could expect considerable delays. In most cases the construction road is just closed without detours causing long traffic jams, eventually the road opening only dusk to dawn.

This landslide and another bridge collapse in Tibet meant a seven day delay and a re-route and for us unfortunately missing Lhasa.

Leave time in the schedule for invitations that are received along the way, these can turn into some of the best experiences of your travels.

An unusual invitation in Magadan, Russia. “Would you like to go on a boat?”

We did not know it at the time but we went King Crab fishing followed by BBQ King Crab on the wharf.

A great day.

The moral of the story:

“Say YES more often”

Add a couple of days for servicing/repairs and for all important lay days. Finding a great spot means, sometimes it is just nice to sit and take in the surroundings.

We try to minimise daily travel between 250 and 300 Kilometres (150-180 Miles) and start looking for a camp site from 4.30pm. Inevitably it will not always happen but it should be the plan.

International weather can be found from a number of sources, so do some research and plan accordingly. Unless the vehicle and occupants are uniquely equipped travelling in Alaska, Canada or Russia during their winter in negative 30 degrees it is crazy. Likewise crossing the Australian Central Deserts or the Sahara in high Summer is deadly. During the monsoon season in South East Asia most roads will become impassable, and the oppressive rain, a drain on the travelling spirit.

In relation to weather we always carry a lightweight rain coat in our day packs and a more versatile rain protection, handy in the vehicle cab. We both have broad brimmed hats for sun protection. Buried in our long term storage stuff in the vehicle is our cold weather gear that can be called on should the temperature unexpectedly drop to below zero.

International Driving Permit (IDP):

In Australia the International Driving Permit or License is issued by the Australian Automobile Association (AAA). It translates the Australian Driving License into a format that is standardised and recognised internationally, verifying the category and validity of your license in 9 different languages.

An IDP is printed in an official standard format which is widely recognised by traffic authorities around the world and allows holders to drive without further tests or examinations and is valid for 12 months.

Be aware that in Australia you can drive a vehicle up to 4495kg on a standard Car Drivers licence, however an IDP will only allow you to drive a vehicle up to 3500Kg. Weights above 3500Kg on an IDP require you to have a Light Truck Licence.

After driving all the way from Vladivostok this vehicle weight issue caught me out on the Russia/Latvia border. The Customs Officer continued to say “You go back Ruski.”

It was 3 hours of intensive negotiation before we finally were allowed to continue into Europe.

I since have a Light Truck Licence and my IDP updated.

Internet IDP Warning

Counterfeit IDPs are being offered for sale on the Internet, usually at inflated prices. These forged IDPs are illegal and can get the holder into a great deal of difficulty with traffic authorities in various countries. 

For more information see:


Carnet de Passages en Douane (CPD):

In short a passport for the vehicle. 

The Carnet de Passages de Douane or Carnet (pronounced car-nay) is French for ‘notebook’ and is a document used to identify the vehicle.  It is a set of vouchers or pages that Customs simply stamp and remove one each time you pass in and out of the country.

It is valid for 12 months from the date of issue and allows visitors to temporarily import their vehicles for a limited period of time. This allows a minimum of formalities and eliminates the need to make a cash deposit at the frontier in local currency, equivalent to the Customs Duty and import taxes of the vehicle. A Carnet is essential for the temporary importation of vehicles into some African, Asian, Middle East, Australian, New Zealand and South American countries. A carnet is not required for motor cars, camper vans and motor cycles entering most countries in Europe or the Continent of North America for touring purposes.

In Australia it is the Australian Automobile Association (AAA) that is the signatory to the AIT/FIA Carnet network which guarantees to Customs authorities around the world payment of Customs Duties on motor vehicles, temporarily imported for touring purposes.

With your application form for a carnet you must provide a security customs bond in one of the following forms:

  1. Undertaking of an Indemnity executed by an approved financial institution eg. bank, building society, credit union. ( e.g. Bank Guarantee)      

  2. Sample https://dl.dropbox.com/u/86578260/GoannaTracks%20WEB%20links/How%20to%20Explore/AAA%20Bank%20Guarantee.pdf

  3. A banking institution can provide a bank guarantee for the Carnet provided you have a suitable asset to put up as security. That can be either cash deposited in a fixed term account for the period of the guarantee or a mortgage against a property or the like.

  4. Cost is about A$375 to arrange plus an annual fee of A$175.  If a term deposit is used as security it would earn interest during the period. The Bank Guarantee can be cancelled early should the Carnet no longer be required. See below

  5. A cash deposit by bank cheque to AAA representing the security required

  1. By paying a premium for a special indemnity insurance policy.  The special indemnity insurance premium is based on 2% of the market value of the vehicle with a minimum premium of $300.00 and a refundable deposit of $250.00.

The amount of security required depends on the countries to be visited and the current market value and type of vehicle. This security will be released when the Carnet has been discharged by the overseas Customs authorities and the Carnet documents returned to the issuing agency from where it was obtained.

As a guide the security, expressed as a percentage of the current market value of the vehicle, is required for the following countries before a carnet can be issued:

  1. Australia            100%

  2. New Zealand       50%

  3. Egypt                  200%

  4. Singapore           200%

  5. India                    400%

  6. South Africa       150%

  7. Indonesia            200%

  8. Japan                  100%

  9. Sri Lanka             400%

  10. Malaysia              200%

  11. Middle East         150%

  12. Trans Africa        200%

  13. Trans South America   300%

  14. NOTE: I have now travelled all through South America and a Carnet is not necessary for South American country )

A Carnet fee in Australia is $400.00 in addition to the amount of security required.

The vehicle must carry current local registration while overseas and have a country sticker fitted near the rear number plate. The Australian motif is a white oval sticker with ‘AUS’  black lettering.

When crossing borders it is your responsibility to have the Carnet documents signed and stamped. Become familiar with the process as in many cases you will know more about the process than the Customs officer on duty.  An unstamped page will bring significant problems at the next border and will impede the refund of your deposit.

I have found it is possible to cancel a Carnet and receive back the security deposit whilst the vehicle is still overseas. For example a Carnet is the only method of getting a vehicle into Malaysia & Singapore. The Carnet is signed off by Malaysian Customs when driving out of Malaysia into Thailand, and for countries further north and all the way to Europe a Carnet is not required. From Bangkok I FedEx’ed the Carnet back to the AAA in Canberra and my bank was then notified thus releasing my guarantee.

(Note: This is not possible if you have taken the special indemnity insurance, as it is a payment for a full 12 months, and no refund is applicable for early cancelation)

It is also possible to have a Carnet re-instated after re-providing the appropriate security to enable onward travel to another Carnet Country e.g. Europe to Morocco.

An active carnet can be extended by a further 12 months.

Vehicle valuation: The carnet application form states you need a vehicle valuation. I have never supplied an independent valuation but do put a ‘reasonable’ figure on the form. It should not be too low but ‘reasonable’. If your vehicle is a motorhome I would describe it as a camper truck - it sounds less expensive.

You can download the AAA Carnet application form here:


For more information on issuing Carnets in Australia see:



If bringing a vehicle to Australia see the above as well as:


Some countries are not signatories to the carnet agreement. Russia, Mongolia, South Asian Countries (excepting Malaysia), China and now many South American countries do not accept carnets, and as such  a carnet is an un-necessary expense. Thus driving Australia/Asia/China/ Russia to the UK. Only Malaysia needs a Carnet.

Import/Export of a vehicle to/from Australia:

Exporting a vehicle from Australia is far less complicated than re-importing it. The selection of a freight forwarding company who knows the system can save you time and  $$$’s.  We and our friends have always used Colless Young Brokers and found them very professional. http://www.collessyoung.com.au

Colless Young have recently started (2013) a new company that specialises in shipping cars, trucks, caravans and boats worldwide. Talk to Allan Colless at Alliance Intercontinental Unit 3/7 Miller St Murarrie Brisbane QLD 4172 Australia.

Phone: +61 7 3166 8268    Email: allan@aiau.com.au    See: http://www.aiau.com.au

Re-importing is a real nightmare and an expensive one at that. The form below is the starting point when an Australian Compliance plate is fitted to a vehicle that is to be re-imported. This only applies when the vehicle originated in Australia.

Note very important you need a photograph of the Compliance Plate that is attached to the vehicle. Without this the department will not even look at the application. All replies take 7-10 days and they will not communicate under that time. The process is slow and tedious, here  bureaucracy reins supreme and you are just the pawn that must pay!



This is a small part of the procedure one must go through:

Instruction from the Ozone Department -


Copy of receipt from Freight and Handling

Copy of Bill of Lading

Declaration of air conditioning, refrigeration and fire extinguisher in truck to Custom Broker.

Authorisation of release from Shipping Company to Custom Broker + identification

Authorisation for Custom Broker to act on your behalf

Fill out 4 pages of Unaccompanied Personal Effects Statement (B534 )+ Packing / contents list in vehicle: http://www.customs.gov.au/webdata/resources/files/b534e.pdf

Vehicles Import Documentation

Packing Declaration (about treated or non treated timber in container by shipping company)

Count on around A$3,000 !!

If your Australian originated vehicle is still under Carnet - The above form is NOT required.

Here are some blog stories:


The information is constantly changing so research these sites and follow up with a good Forwarding Agent.

Importing a vehicle for temporary travel in Australia you will need a Carnet from your home country.

Information about importing a vehicle into Australia see:





For more information on actually shipping a vehicle see: Shipping a vehicle from Australia

Containerisation or RoRo

Shipping a vehicle in order of security can be done three ways and will depend on the size of your vehicle:

  1. 1.Container

  2. 2.Flat-Rack

  3. 3.Ro-Ro.

For a complete list of Container sizes, Shipping Platforms and Flatracks see:



As stated earlier this is my preference. In most cases you can load and unload the vehicles yourself however with todays wharf security this needs to be pre-arranged with the forwarding company or customs agent. For this to occur the container may have to be moved to a specific loading/unloading area and may incur additional charges.

When you are issued a container for loading, first check it for rust holes that will allow sea water to enter. Also check the tie down points, sometimes they are broken and these are critical for the security of your cargo. Most ports steam clean their containers before reuse, so ensure the container is dry before loading otherwise your vehicle will be covered internally and externally with mould on arrival.

Remove small items of value or interest from the immediate vicinity of the drivers seat should customs or someone else need to drive the vehicle out of the container at the delivery port. The start key is left in the ignition, with other camper and locker keys retained by the owner. Hand break on fully and in gear. Both Vehicle and House batteries should be disconnected or isolated.

You may be asked to sign an indemnity stating you have disconnected the battery and the fuel tank is empty. With a diesel vehicle we always leave enough fuel in the tank for the drive into and out of the container and a short refuelling distance.

This is a sample of the indemnity letter:


The vehicle should be strapped down using appropriately rated ratchet straps.  Attach one strap on each corner of the chassis of the vehicle and down to an appropriate tie down point. It is also possible you will need a ‘D’ shackle because some ratchet strap hooks will NOT go through the container tie down points. The straps should be placed on the outside extremities of the chassis to eliminate vehicle movement. Take up the tension on the straps compacting the vehicle springs as much as possible.

Important: Lock the ratchet in its fully closed position.

Once the doors are closed the container will
be locked and sealed with a numbered customs seal.  At this point of time take note of both the container number and the Customs seal number. You can also attach your own lock however Customs will have no thought of cutting off this lock should an inspection be required at the arrival port and you or your agent not be available with a key.

The container number looks like this in the picture at right.

It is possible to track the progress of your container by looking on the web site of the shipping company. For example for Maersk Line see:


or for 101 different Shipping Companies at:



This is similar to the above however when shipped the vehicle is exposed to the elements.  The vehicle is also subject to pilfering of external items like spot lights, radio aerials etc. The cost of shipping is also higher as it is only a top stack.


RoRo is roll-on roll-off and is the most expensive method of shipping simply because the vehicle is not stackable. Costs Brisbane, Australia to Lima Peru by RoRo is A$15,000 as compared to container A$4,500.

The vehicle is also totally in the hands of others.

I have been told that a vehicle sent RoRo must not have personal effects inside. I imagine this is to stop pilferage but impossible when shipping a vehicle for Overland Travel.

Shipping from Europe to South America or North America, Africa and Australia

Here is an option to start in Europe and finish in South America or the other way around. 

See: http://www.grimaldi-freightercruises.com/indenen.htm

I also believe there may be options for Africa, Australia, and New Zealand


Another company is Sea-bridge – The members of the UK Silk Route Motorcaravan Club used this service to organise their Canada-Europe shipping and give it a good rap. One attraction being they can organise RoRo where your goods remain in the camper.    

See: http://www.sea-bridge.de/html/shipping.php

The Shipping Process:

Obtain two or three quotes and be specific that you are always asking for the same conditions. Eg Unloading in the foreign port, unpacking fees see ‘The Process’ below. Endeavour to include all the costs associated with the arrival port in your local quotation.

Try to negotiate a shipping rate well before travel date so you are not time pressured.

Note the sailing time to the port of destination and timeframe for loading before the sailing date.  Be aware of the date that the demurrage (excess wharf fees) begins at the port of destination. With this information you can arrange your arrival date, customs clearance and movement of the container from the wharf before these additional charges start to accumulate.

The Process:

When sending cargo overseas you will normally be dealing with two forwarding companies. One locally who will organise the customs export of your item and all the logistics of obtaining the container, loading, and moving it to the ship side. They would also provide a quotation for the loading of the container on to and off the ship and the actual shipping transport costs.

There are also handling charges at the destination and the filing of the documents with your or their representative at the receiving port. These may be charges that you can have included in your total figure at the time of export. In my experience it is best to attempt to get an all inclusive price eliminating financial surprises at the receiving end.

At the destination port you will be dealing with another forwarding company who would handle the logistics of your customs paperwork clearance, and the movement and unloading of the container. With a vehicle this forwarding company should also arrange any 3rd Party Vehicle Insurance, or vehicle inspections that may be obligatory.

When choosing a forwarding or shipping company at the foreign port make certain that the company is capable of releasing the vehicle at the destination in the manner in which you choose. LCL or Less Container Load means that your container is opened and unloaded inside the port, and you pick up the vehicle from inside the port, and the container is returned to the shipping company. Should your paperwork not be in order or you can not collect the vehicle immediately, you will be paying storage fees from the day it is unpacked. Remember others are unpacking and driving your vehicle!

The other method is FCL or Full Container Load. This means the container is stored in a customs sealed area until your paperwork is completed. Once the clearance is given the locked container is moved to outside the port area to a holding yard where you can unload. This is much safer however you are paying more for storage of the container (normally you get a couple of days grace) trucking to the external facility and trucking of the container back to the port. Customs and Quarantine may also have to be present at the unloading.

Sometimes we have been able to unload at the port however ideally this needs to be clarified with the forwarding company at the receiving end BEFORE you ship the container.

Bill of Lading:

This is the shipping documentation showing your name as consignor/shipper and the contact/delivery address of your agent.  You are also the consignee - your name C/- the receiving customs agent in the foreign country.

This important document will also show the ship name, voyage number, port of loading, port of discharge and the details of the cargo. ( Vehicle description,vin number etc).

Only after the ship has sailed you will be issued the Bill of Lading. It is this document and the signed carnet (or details of the export) that you or your agent will need to send to your customs/forwarding agent in the receiving port so they can process the import of your vehicle.

The following Shipping Terminology terms will help:

BAS-Base Rate

BAF- Bunker Adjustment Factor

CDD- Submission of Cargo Declaration Date Fee

DHC- Handling Charge at Destination

ODF- Documentation Fee at Origin

OHC- Handling Charge at Origin

OPA- Transport Arbitrary - Origin

PSS- Peak Season Surcharge

SER- Carrier Security Charge

LCL and FCL- Less Container Load and Full Container Load

DAP - Delivered At Place

DAT - Delivered At Terminal

Container Insurance:

One may wish to insure your container contents during transit. Although we have never done so, I have had reports that MIDAS insurance is very good. Their pricing is cost effective and about 1.5% of the value of the cargo for each leg.  This compares to between 1 and 4% of others.  It is not cheap, but one may consider it better than losing the value of the container in transit

Andrew Gordon     Assistant Marine Executive

Midas Insurance Brokers

Phone:1300 664 272 (Aust) +613 9334 2511 (International)

Fax: 03 9334 2500 (Aust) +613 9334 2500 (International)

Email: andrew.gordon@midas.net.au

Web: www.midas.net.au

Foreign Border Formalities & 3rd Party Vehicle Insurance.

Each time you leave a country, just as your passport is stamped, the vehicle must be exited/exported from that country. Similarly as you enter a new country the vehicle must be imported into that country. This import may be by the way of a Carnet, a temporary import document or some other method that allows the country to control the procedure.

For planning purposes it is best to have all your vehicle/s and personal information consolidated. In some countries you can pre-arrange the vehicle  import documents so it is handy to have a spread sheet listing your and your groups detailes.

VEHICLE DETAILS: Owners Full Name, Registration Number, State/Country of Registration, Make, Model, Year of Manufacture, LHD or RHDrive, Colour, Engine Capacity,  No of Cylinders, No of Seats, Chassis (VIN) Number, Engine Number, Weight, Fuel Type, Value.

PERSONAL DETAILS OF ALL TRAVELLERS: Full Name, Sex, Nationality, Date of Birth, Place of Birth, Country of Birth, Address, Occupation, Passport No, Date of Issue, Place of Issue, Expiry Date, Home Country Driving License No, IDP License No.

Do not have  or show this at borders, some times too much information is problematical.

VEHICLE REGISTRATION PAPERS: Do not have the vehicle registered in the name of a company or partnership. In some countries, like Russia you will need a signed statuary declaration stating that you can use the company vehicle.

It is also better to be registered in one name rather than jointly.

Australian Vehicle Registration Papers are very ordinary and not a government looking piece of paper. It is also not a proof of ownership. In Australian we do not have a proof of ownership papers. I make it a regular policy to cut off very carefully the statement on the botton of the Australian Registration paper that says “A Registration Certificate Does Not Prove Ownership”

If Travelling with a group it is better to have the vehicle descriptions the same if the vehicles are the same style. We had 3 similar vehicles in our group when travelling into Mexico and it caused some questioning. There were two Mitsubishi Fuso & one Isuzu and all ‘camper trucks’ however one was listed as a motorhome & commercial, one a tray truck and private, and the other as truck van and commercial. This confused the officials somewhat, but in the end it was accepted as OK. You just do not need the potential problems if they can be avoided.

Every country has its own methods in dealing with the import/export procedure. From our experience unless it is a regularly used crossing, most border patrol personnel do not fully understand the procedures, or because of language difficulties simply bi-pass the requirements.

One must do some research beforehand in regard to each country’s import and export requirements because in the end it your responsibility. The value of your vehicle and/or your security guarantee may also be at stake should you neglect to get Customs to sign off the Carnet or you enter the country without 3rd Party Vehicle Insurance.

And yes it can be stressful, particularly without knowledge of the foreign language. The picture is going into Cambodia and learning the system!

Our experience is willingly shared here on a country by country basis:  DIY Kit for Overland Travel

At most borders the personal immigration (passport) is done separately to the vehicle paperwork. Sometimes this is even handled in a separate building and to find this and the formalities may take some diplomatic questioning on site.

Third Party Vehicle Insurance is a requirement of most countries. In well frequented crossings this can be found easily, sometimes it is handled via the vehicle import process, other times by a separate private company either internally or externally of the Customs Control Point.

We have yet to use this contact but they come highly recommended for worldwide 3rd party vehicle coverage. It can be purchased on a month to month basis by country.

  1. Contact:


  3. Assurantiekantoor Alessie

  4. Eliotplaats 174

  5. 3068 VL Rotterdam

  6. The Netherlands

  7. Tel. +31-10-4555946

  8. Fax. +31-10-4555948


  10. Mrs. Maria M. Alessie

  11. E-mail: alessie@alessie.com

  12. http://www.alessie.com/oldsite/index.html

This company can also provide Comprehensive Vehicle Insurance however it does not come cheap. About A$9,000/year for a vehicle 'stated' as $90,000.  There were also many exclusions, like countries that are 'politically unstable' etc.

On the insurance matter, at home your household and home insurance policy normally only covers a period to a maximum of two months when the home can be unoccupied. We arranged for friends or family to live in for a couple of weeks and to keep the surroundings in a ‘lived in’ condition during our extended time away.

Money Changers are not always available within the Customs Border Zone so keep some funds of both the exit and entry country available. Sometimes there are charges for Quarantine spraying and the like. Do not be surprised to be asked to pay for ‘Overtime’ as an attempt for some extra cash from travellers.

Paperwork: Have extra copies of your passport, vehicle registration papers, international drivers permit and passport size photographs on hand, it will save you considerable time when filing out the paperwork and providing copies when necessary. Many smaller border posts do not even have a photocopy machine even though they require copies of your documents. (We normally carry 6 copies of each, for our travels through Central America we used 15 copies of each even though we crossed only 6 borders.)

A Vehicle Inspection at borders is inevitable, be friendly and helpful.  Often with an overland type vehicle the officer is just interested in your vehicle and travel stories.  It is particularly beneficial to have some family photographs inside the ‘camper’, it promotes discussion and the inspector can relate you as ‘real’ people.

I also find that a world map on the side of the vehicle showing your past travels helps discussion, understanding and invitations.

Bribes: Throughout our travels we have to date never paid a bribe, however we have been asked a number of times. Paying bribes only encourages the situation and makes it worse for fellow travellers. We do however always carry small Australian souvenirs as a thank you for friendly service both for officials and the locals.

Should there be problems at a border, be patient, do not get upset, relax, this is all part of the adventure. Maybe ask for a higher authority, tap your shoulder indicating more stars/strips; show some family photographs, read a book, offer the officers Coffee or Chai.

For more detailed procedures by country see  DIY Kit for Overland Travel

Hint 1: If you have extra currency left over, particularly if it cannot be converted, before you cross the border purchase vehicle fuel.

Hint 2: Arrive early at border crossings  - at opening time if possible. Some can take 3 or more hours. Often they are closed for tea and lunch. You do not want to be driving in the dark in a foreign country looking for camp sites.

Final Note:

At any police stop, inspection point or border crossing your best asset is your smile.

Visas and the time the vehicle is allowed in the country:

Generally the time the vehicle is allowed as a temporary import is equated to your entry visa time frame or less.

In Europe and the UK we were able to leave the vehicle there for 18 months whilst we commuted back home for family visits and to keep away from the northern winters. In the USA and Canada although we personally could stay for only 6 months at a time in each country our vehicle could remain without limitation. We have to date, left our vehicle in Devon/UK, San Diego/USA, Canmore/Canada, Boston/USA, Panama City/Panama and Montevideo/Uruguay.

See our country by country information at DIY Kit for Overland Travel

Vehicle preparation and what to take and not to take:

The vehicle preparation depends on the type of adventure you are about to undertake. The depth of preparation will depend on if you are travelling the highways of Europe/USA or tackling the ‘Road of Bones’ in Northern Siberia.

During the process it is best to have a hands on approach. During the vehicle service know how to remove the oil, fuel and air filter and have the correct sized implements in your kit. Ensure all grease nipples actually work and use the grease gun you are taking. Check over a clean chassis for cracks, check the fuel and water tanks for leaks.

Check the tightness of every bolt on the entire vehicle, noting the spanner size used. This way you are only taking spanners that you will actually use. When attaching aftermarket accessories, auxiliary fuel tanks etc use only the same type of bolts. All metric or all imperial.

With the vehicle fully loaded as if ready to go, take a pre-trip expedition along dirt, corrugated and dusty roads. With the radio off, window down then window up listen for noises; squeaks, bangs and knocks. All are tell tail signs where attention is needed. The newer the vehicle the more critical is this pre-trip travel.

Know your vehicle.

  1. Tyre pressures for highway driving will be different to gravel road, and lower again for sand. Ensure you are able to measure the tyre pressures and be able to pump the tyres up again. Do not economise on price when purchasing a tyre pump. Can the compressor hose reach all tyres? Can I repair a tyre, plug a hole, patch a tube, do I have the equipment and knowhow to break the tyre bead, take off a split rim?

  2. Fuel. Know the driving distance you will achieve for different types of travel. ( Highway at 100KPH, 80KPH, Gravel road at 45KPH, and hard 4x4) Am I carrying enough fuel for the distances required.  With some of the new Euro5 and 6 generation motors can they use 3rd world fuel. Do you know how to de-water the fuel filter? Can I change the fuel filter? Ensure any auxiliary fitted tanks have adequate filtration. See notes below re Sulphur in Fuel

  3. Is my vehicle equipped for high altitude driving? For example in the Fuso Canter over 4500metres the foot break will be half normal and at 5000metres you will have no foot brake. Do I need to fit exhaust brakes? Power will be also about 20% less. In the 2010+ model Isuzu Light Trucks the engine will shut down to limp mode when the computer recognises a lack of oxygen above 3500metres. See notes below re High Altitude Driving

  4. Note the distance interval between services and allocate time and place for either you or a mechanic to do the vehicle service. Can the fuel, oil and air filter be purchased at this place or must they be carried with you from your home country. Take note of the part numbers of each so they can be ordered in, and/or replaced in your supply kit as needed.

  5. At most borders, Customs will want to check your Chassis Number (VIN number) and your engine number against the registration and/or the Carnet Import/export documents. Be familiar where these numbers are stamped on your chassis and engine block. It will save considerable time at borders.

Pre-Trip Planning and What to take:

Whether you plan to travel for one week, one month or a year or more the amount of ‘stuff’ you take will be about the same. The biggest mistake, and even I am guilty of this, is the more space you have the more inclined you are to fill it up.

By doing  pre-trip travel for a couple of weeks reconsider on your return whether the items you did not use you actually need. Coming from my competition side Rob Marks (my navigator) and I were always very conscious of weight. We used to joke that we should cut our toothbrushes in half to conserve weight. Seriously though, everything you carry unnecessarily uses extra fuel, makes you slower up hills and means a longer distance to stop. Do not take spare spares.

Leave about 10% of your space for what you will find along the way.

Check the heater and cooling system of both vehicle and camper. Check if the camper is going to develop heavy condensation during cold climate sleeping.

Is the bed confortable over many nights?

Prepare an in vehicle cloths line so cloths can be dried on the move.

As for the vehicle tool kit only take what you have knowledge to use, it is no point taking a 12V welding kit if you have never welded. I find it very handy to have a small and very basic tool kit in the cab. Screwdriver, Pliers, 3 x Small Spanners, Zip Ties. With that 90% of the quick fixed can be attended to without digging out the major tool kit.

If you are planing to do your own servicing and/or if travelling in isolation take: Grease Gun, Grease, Small funnel for filling oil (double as fuel filler), Oil Filter and removing tool (ensure it actually fits), Engine Oil (you can substitute in Differential and Transmission if urgent), Air Filter (and air gun for intermediate cleaning), Fuel filter (main and any auxiliaries), Break Fluid.

I always carry steel putty for fixing fuel tanks and radiator repairs. When in Morocco Lyn broke one of her front teeth off the post and I used the steel putty to fix it. Five years later it is still good and the dentist will not touch what is still not broken.

If travelling with a group share the carrying of some items between the group.  One may carry the community camp oven, another a large wok, another the mess tent. Take always the basic items like fan belts, radiator hoses, cloth tape, electrical tape, electrical wire, joiners (and crimper), and tyre plugs for tubeless tyres or a spare tube and patches if you are using tubes.

Try to have two or more uses for the same item. Our screw top lidded bucket is also the cloths washer whilst driving.

Vehicle Security:

Outside of personal preservation, vehicle preparation should be addressed. Lockable fuel and water caps. Security screens on the windows, particularly those where you are sleeping. The main camper access door should have a window so you can check outside before opening the door. 

A hidden engine kill switch is handy when leaving the vehicle plus also a steering lock. I also have two isolation switches to isolate the house and vehicle batteries. Handy for security and for saving the power during storage and containerisation.

In poor countries like Venezuela it has been known for vehicle batteries to be stolen so ensure they are secure.

When considering tinting the vehicle windows upgrade to a tinted security film. Should the window be broken it will still hold together preventing theft of vehicle contents.

Have a hiding place reserved in the vehicle cab for cameras, wallet etc when you have a refuel, toilet stop etc. Remove GPS, computers etc from view when sightseeing away from the vehicle.

A UFH or CB radio for communication between the travelling group is good security and provides safe driving by pre-warning of oncoming traffic, road potholes, and photographic opportunities. Also handy are a couple of hand held units when the group is split up in  country markets.

Look at the addition of a hidden vehicle safe to keep money and passports etc. See: http://www.hide-away-safe.biz/index.shtml

I like to keep some old credit cards and some useless foreign cash in an old wallet ...just in case you need to hand something over.

GPS & Navigation Devices:

I still like paper maps, particularly for the planning stage.  A good selection of these country and province maps are available from International Travellers maps - www.itmb.com

In planning I write on the paper maps a number system of 1 through to 5. No1 being we “must see” and No5 “only if we have time” or it is close by our chosen route. Next to the number, I write a page reference or note about the waterfall, temple etc. It is then a simple matter of joining the highest priority numbers to make the route.

On the road I use three Navigation devices, a Garmin GPS, a Garmin Nuvi and more recently Lyn and I both use an i-Pad loaded with an app called ‘Pocket Earth’.

The GPS:

The advantage of a GPS is that you have a directional arrow for co-ordinates when doing cross country driving.  A GPS is also more flexible in being able to download externally available topographical maps, retain tracks, way points and can co exist with programs like Ozzie Explorer. The topographical maps are handy when looking for example, small track up river valleys to find isolated camp sites.

The Nuvi:

In the Nuvi we use the Garmin Micro SD cards City navigator. In South East Asia and City Navigator China, I found that almost every road and track we travelled was listed, not just city streets.  With the voice commands whilst travelling in Thailand and Cambodia it was great being able to hear the directions in spoken english using the Thai/Cambodian  street names. Similarly in the USA voice commands for multiple lane freeway driving will make driving more relaxing for both you and your partner.

GPS and Nuvi maps:

Downloadable maps and SD card maps are available from: https://buy.garmin.com/shop/buymaps.do

If you drill down on the Garmin site you will find many Third Party maps of the more isolated countries. I have found ‘GPS TravelMaps’ very good for GPS maps that can be run on Garmin devices. They have good coverage of Central America, Laos, Cambodia, and  countries in South America. All of which Garmin do not provide. http://www.gpstravelmaps.com/index.php

LINK TO GARMIN FREE MAPS: . http://garmin.openstreetmap.nl/

Go to site, there are dropboxes and you select the Country/State/Province etc and it is easy to download.

If you want a group of countries - like Central America, you select the countries on a world map that has grids and select the countries, they will send you an email to a link when they are ready for download. 

There are instructions on the site but here are the instructions I follow.

Free Garmin Maps instructions.pdf

Pocket Earth:

This is the most valuable navigation tool I have found. Both Lyn and I use it independently whilst driving. The maps are downloadable when on line, by continents, countries or provinces and totally usable off line. The maps we have found have more detail than both the Garmin GPS and the Nuvi.

The added advantage is it also has Wikipedia ‘W’s, and these give details of places, towns and monuments with connection to a brief Wikipedia information. There is also a search facility for shopping, fuel, rivers, monuments, museums etc by distance from your position or from a predetermined point.  Moving position, Tracking, etc is all available off line.

You will however need internet connection for Wikipedia links for further information and course plotting.

Just brilliant, and just $2.99



Communication whilst Travelling:

Many overseas countries do not have english radio stations, if you like to keep up with the world news and news from back home consider the addition of a Short Wave Radio. 

You can also download news and other articles from i-Pad apps.

An I-Pod or MP3 player also helps the distance go by.

Internet Connection:

Keeping in touch with family back home makes being away more comfortable. The internet also provides valuable travel information along the way so knowing where to find WiFi or connection is critical. Internet Cafes are in most countries even through Mongolia, China, and Central America. Look also for WiFi at libraries, information centres, and eating places. If in doubt where to find - ask a teenager !

With an increasing amount of free WiFi available I have researched two products:

  1. 1. A Ubiquiti product called a PicoStation M2 that strengthens the WiFi signal to our Apple Mac.  Coupled to that I have added another 2.4Ghz panel antenna increasing the range up to something like 15kms. The set up was a bit of a challenge from the Apple side but now that is mastered it works well, but is somewhat cumbersome to use.. To save others the trouble here is my set up procedure for the Apple Mac. https://dl.dropbox.com/u/86578260/GoannaTracks%20WEB%20links/How%20to%20Explore/Setting%20up%20the%20Nano%20on%20a%20Mac%20for%20Internet.docx

Fuel - Petrol or Diesel, Sulphur and Altitude Driving:

The easiest fuel for expedition travel is Diesel, primality because of its distance to volume ratio, lack of flammability, and the engine service costs.  The down side is that it is thought of as a trucking fuel and at times it is not always available at some service stations. This I found particularly so in the USA.  In some countries the diesel pumps are very dirty and it is handy to have a rag or a pair of gloves for filling.

Travelling in dusty conditions it is handy to have a sock or similar over the fuel filler. This keeps the dust further away from the inlet particularly when you remove the cap for refilling.

For fuel in places like Russia you have to pre pay for fuel. One can buy by an amount of currency or by litre volume.  Place the fuel hose into the tank then go to pay, just in case the delivery switch is broken. Where language is a problem write the amount either Litres or value in currency on a piece of paper to show the attendant.

You will have to be familiar with the volume of fuel your tank will take, because in some cases the pump will continue to run until the amount you have paid for is completed. I find it ideal to have pre-calculated a spread sheet of fuel volume and distance like this:    https://dl.dropbox.com/u/86578260/GoannaTracks%20WEB%20links/How%20to%20Explore/Fuel%20Usage.xls

You will notice on the same document I list the vehicles oils and quantities and also the vehicle size both in feet and metres. Height being your most important. I have laminated mine and keep it handy on the sun visor.

For keeping a note of fuel economy and fuel and service costs etc this is a great app from apple for the i-Pad or i-Phone. http://itunes.apple.com/au/app/road-trip-mpg-mileage-fuel/id298398207?mt=8 There is also a free version with less information.

Sulphur in Fuel:

It is a concern because all current Euro 5 and 6 built vehicles have engines that are designed for low sulphur content.  Apart from purchasing an older Euro 3 type vehicle we have no choice.

The sulphur in the fuel is there as a lubricant, and reducing the sulphur content is good for the environment but poses a problem within the high tech motors. It is the water in the fuel that turns the sulphur into sulphur dioxide and it is that, that damages the injectors. Furthermore if water gets into the high pressure fuel pump that really bad because the lubrication is gone. The chemical effect is actually secondary.

The fitment of a high quality water filter is the answer. Racor supplies water filters to current model vehicles used in Afghanistan and Indonesia to helps combat this issue. The key is removing the water so that is where a quality aftermarket filter will help.  The use of aftermarket fuel additive lubricants is also ideal.

Running diesel with higher sulphur levels, I have been told will break down the engine oil faster than with low sulphur fuel.  So to be sure perhaps also change engine oil more regularly. Engine oil is relatively cheap compared to a destroyed engine. Use a reputable brand or at least one you recognise. We changed our oil between 12 and 15,000 kms.

Here is a world map showing the Diesel fuel sulphur content:

High Altitude Driving and Smoke

Our highest drive to date was in Tibet at 5,300metres. For our Euro3 Fuso Canter it was not an issue other than about a 20% loss of power, and the braking performance before mentioned.

For later Euro 4 and 5 models particularly in the Isuzu, the altitude effects the engine management system shutting it down to a limp mode. Modifications also to the vehicles ECU will be required and are challenging. I do know that the new Iveco Daily 4x4 has an altitude fuel management system and apparently experiences no problems.

Higher altitude means less oxygen, and the higher you are, the less oxygen is available to give you complete combustion. This means unburnt fuel and carbon gets blown into the sump via blowby, and it is these blowby byproducts that contaminate the oil. Another good reason to change the engine oil more regularly.

This unburnt fuel also creates smoke:

Black smoke/carbon is a sign of too little air (oxygen) in the fuel/air ratio, either high altitude or an air restriction in the air intake system.  What happens is that you have enough air to burn the outside of the fuel droplets leaving them carbonised, but the heavier fractions remain unburnt.  It is this unburnt carbonised fuel that gives you the black smoke. If you feel black smoke you will find it has an oily feel to it. 

Black smoke can also appear because of too large fuel droplets caused by faulty injectors.  

White smoke usually occurs when there is not enough heat to burn the fuel. High altitudes are normally much colder, so the unburnt fuel particles go out the tailpipe and typically produce a rich fuel smell. In this case your motor normally runs rougher as not enough fuel is being burnt to even produce carbon. The unburnt fuel is going straight out the exhaust, feel this white smoke and you will find it is less oily. 

Thus you will find for cold morning starts at altitude may take a bit more starting than normal and expect a fair bit of white smoke until engine warms up.

A good idea is parking with engine bay facing the rising sun and lift bonnet first thing in morning to warm up from the solar a bit for an hour or two, that will help.

Also when coming down and using the engine as a brake, expect a lot of white smoke, engine is idling more and too much fuel with not enough oxygen hence smoke.

When climbing you may notice the engine warmer than you are used to, the answer is to fit an electric manual control override switch for the fan. Not labouring the motor and changing down a gear will also help.

In summary for all the reasons above, black or white smoke is a indication of poor fuel economy.

Food and Water:

I always like to try the local food and do enjoy shopping in the street markets for our fruit, vegetables and meat.  This will be perhaps your most interesting one to one contact you will have with the local traders and villagers.

One must be a little adventurous with food and explore the culinary delights of different countries. It is no point going to foreign places and insisting that you eat as you would at home.

For cooking we use a marine type stove that runs on Mentholated Spirits (also called De-Natured Alcohol), in addition we also use the Coleman duel fuel stove for larger volume group cooking. It gives good fast heat and uses the Coleman Fuel or petrol.

As an emergency back up, we carry 4 or 5 of those freeze dried meals. They will last up to 24 months, they are very tasty and at the end of a very late night drive provide a quick no mess meal. Just boil some water and tip it into the foil bag. Nothing to clean up.

See: http://www.backcountrycuisine.co.nz/bcc/

When travelling as a group, the food is purchased collectively using the ‘Groups money’ This we normally prefer to cook outside on an open fire...weather permitting.

It is inevitable that you or someone will get travel sickness so be prepared.


In our first vehicle we had only 60litres (16 US gal) and this was only just satisfactory even for a 10 day desert trip and on our first Vladivostok to the UK and Morocco travels. However we had learnt to economise. 

Now we travel with around 180Lts. This gives us 9-14 days of showering and general cooking water. Always when the tank is half empty we start looking for a refill.

For expeditionary travel, a water filter is critical. Forget the cheap ones this is your life.   The best in the world is the Seagull IV X-1F from General Ecology. This is the same one they use in all international aircraft. We have now travelled over 250,000kms through Asia, Russia, North Africa, and Central and South America and to date have not been sick from drinking our water.



or in Australia - http://www.purifiersaustralia.com.au/menu.php

Water can be obtained from a number of places. Service Stations, Car Wash places, and road side rest areas. We have drawn water from mountain streams, springs, wells  and from snow melt. It is comforting knowing that contamination by bacteria such as Salmonella, or parasites including Cryptosporidia and Giardia are not a problem with a quality filter system.

When in isolated towns in China, Tibet, Mongolia and Russia look for the local well. As none of the houses have reticulated water, watch for the children carrying containers and follow them to the local well. Some towns have water pump stations that sell water to the locals. There you will have to pay the person in charge for the quantity of water you take.


Finding a camp site at the end of the day is sometimes challenging, so start early whilst there is still daylight. Start looking at 4pm for the ‘perfect spot’. After 4.30 start looking for an ‘OK’ spot, after 5.00pm almost anything will do. Looking for a site is significantly  more difficult in the dark.

The following list of options may help:

  1. Behind Service Stations, although often noisy, it is safe. You also have access     to toilets.

  2. Look for truck stops, truckers restaurants.

  3. Car Parks of Tourist Attractions. Busy during the day but empty after closing time.

  4. Hotel Car Parks. You may have to pay. Occasionally we have taken one cheap room and shared the washing/toilet facilities and cost between the group.

  5. On major roads -  Rest Areas.

  6. Look for the Original Road Construction Camps used when the road was built.

  7. Quarries that were used during road construction.

  8. Drive lesser roads so you can get off the main road.

  9. At River Crossings and Bridges many times you will find a side track that was used by road/bridge construction crew and/or as a local fishing/camping spot.

  10. On crests of hills and mountain passes, often a fire trail follows the ridge line leading to a quiet place.

  11. Deserted Buildings,  Closed Roads.

  12. Private Land but ask permission.

  13. National Parks. In the USA the BLM ( Bureau of Land Management) http://www.blm.gov/wo/st/en/prog/Recreation.html sets aside land where you can camp for free.

We also take a mess tent that is ideal for eating in a mosquito proof enclosure when travelling in Russia, Canada, Alaska etc. They are inexpensive and pack down to almost nothing.


Just as important as water is this end of the system. It has only been in our last two expedition vehicles that we have had an internal toilet before that, it was always a walk in the bush with a shovel.  Even with our first expedition vehicle we drove from Vladivostok to London and did not christened the chemical toilet until we got into Morocco.

However as we become more ‘mature’ and also travel in more challenging areas like China this does become a subject to discuss.

Chemical type toilets are the most appropriate. The toilet can be either a fixed unit or a portable unit, these are the best for overland travel. Toilets that are a vacuum type toilet only store the liquid and solid waste until you find an appropriate dump station to dump the raw sewerage. With the chemical type it actually converts the waste to a solution that can be dumped safely into a hole in the bush. Ensure to take the appropriate quantity of chemicals for the duration of your travel. It is also possible to use ‘nappy san’ type products as an alternative to the camping products.

On the road we have been able to buy replacement toilet chemicals from Boat Chandlers as the same product is used by boaties.

Within the DIY kit I discuss the toilet facilities where necessary. Here I do mention China because for such a rapidly growing and economic powerhouse the toilets are worse than discussing. In some service stations it was nothing to have maggots crawling across the floor...so be prepared!

We have always carried a shovel and still do for extracting the vehicle and covering the camp fire. However now a small garden spade is ideal for going bush. When water is scarce it is handy to have some ‘Wet Ones’ or Baby Wipes in the front cab for hand washing.

In Mongolia where there are no trees it was Ladies to the left and Gents to the right!

As they say “Take only pictures and leave only footprints”, I will add ....and cover your paper.

Health Issues:

The recommendation from our local GP was to consult The Travel Doctor (www.thetraveldoctor.com.au) as they are more up to date with health requirements world wide. Now that we have been through the process I have to agree. With the diversity of countries and regions we were visiting our final account was not cheap, however you can not put a price on ones health particularly in an isolated region. Another great service is they provide a variety of specific first aid kits built for local, regional, or isolated travel. This, plus the easy to follow First Aid Manual and any medical documentation for the necessary prescription drugs necessary for some foreign countries.

Travel Insurance:

For travel insurance we used Cover More Travel Insurance initially and found them competitive.  We also found that they were negociable particularly if you were buying a couple of policies  for your travelling companions at the same time.

Now I am paying for our airfares by an American Express card. A gold card will give you 3 months travel insurance and a platinum card 6 months insurance. The AmEx card was offered to us as a free add on to our Mastercard so there was no cost involved and it offered the above travel Insurance, double warranty on purchased and double points. The limitation is the time away. Travelling companions of ours did have a claim for stolen items from the truck whilst travelling in Panama and even without a police report, AmEx paid.

Here is a link to a comparison done by Choice magazine on International Insurance policies in Dec 2012: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/88485264/GoannaTracks%20WEB%20links/How%20to%20Explore/Choice%20Dec%202012%20int.Travel%20Insurance%20Comparison.xls

If you intend travelling for a longer period of time than your Travel Insurance Company or Credit Card Insurance covers you for, there is always “World Nomad Travel Insurance” that you can buy on-line. We thought it was fairly expensive and not the best cover, but it does cover you for the basics and you are able to buy it on-line whilst overseas. Check it out at http://www.worldnomads.com/?gclid=CIr89Zzkz7sCFcHwpAodkVIAOA#axzz2oedTjlJA 

Travel Money:

Gone are the days of Travel Cheques.

Now we carry an ANZ pre-paid travel Debit Card. On this card you can pre-load up to 6 different currencies. If you are in a country where one those currencies are not used it defaults to your chosen currency. The currencies can be pre-loaded when the exchange rates are suitable to you and re-loading is simple and safe via B-Pay. Being a Visa card it is accepted world wide.  You can also draw down local cash from ATM’s using the card.

See: https://www.anztravelcard.com

If you are looking for a credit card facility then this one has NO international transfer fees, NO foreign currency conversion fees & NO Annual Fee, then look at the GE Finances ’28 Degrees Credit Card. Find the details at http://www.28degreescard.com.au

Other than that we carry a small amount of local cash, and a few US$ in small denominations for border crossing expenses. Hidden away is a US$1,000 cash emergency money.

The above Travel Card and day to day cash I carry separate to my wallet in a small  zippered bag, eg small pencil case.   As a safety precaution against being held up, in my wallet is an old disused Amex Card/Visa Card and a couple of small local currency notes, and other stuff to make it look ‘real’. Not that I have had the chance to be test the theory but being prepared I am half way there, and more than happy to give away the ‘false’ wallet.

Other Travellers out there Exploring our Planet who we have met along the way:


  1.   Ron and Viv Moon in a Nissan Patrol + T-Van: http://www.travelpod.com/z/ronamoon

     Africa, Russia, Sth America.

  1. Robert and Clary Van Den Hoven: http://www.doubledutchworldsafari.com/ddws201/main.php  Some great travels through Africa, Europe, Russia, China, India

  1.   John and Lynda Pinder in a SLR  Motorhome : www.globalroamer2.com Sth America

  2. John Stewart & Elizabeth Burns in a Fuso Canter 4x4 Camper:  http://www.living-our-dream.com/www.Living-our-dream.com/Welcome.html  China, Russia, Nth America, Central and Sth America

  1. Rob and Robyn in a Fuso Canter Motorhome: http://wanderob.blogspot.com.au. Asia through to Europe.

  1. John and Jude in a Land Rover Defender 110: http://lost-and-found-adventures.com Asia via the Stans to Europe

  1. Jon and Amanda Williams in a Toyota Camper :

  2. http://www.travelpod.com/members/threeinatruck Road of Bones-Russia

  3. Justin and Jennifer Lewis in a Nissan Patrol Camper - Across Russia, Europe & Africa :


International Travellers:

  1.   Bruce Scott and Leslie Norris in a Unicat Unimog:  www.treadtheworld.com   

  2.   Renate & Bruno in a MAN  Motorhome  www.pepamobil.jalbum.net   

  3. Dominic & Belinda Geisler VW Camper: http://www.overlanders.info  some good info on   Cent & South America 

  4. Nico and Steph in a 1985 LandCruiser:  www.fern-weh.com From Germany, travelled all over Australia now heading towards China

  5. Susanne & Ernest Frohlich from Switzerland in a MAN: www.ernestfroehlich.ch or www.ernestfroehlich.com

  6. JP and Hannie Aalbrechtse from the Netherlands in a Global Expedition Vehicle, Nth to Sth America: www.jphannieontour.nl

  7. Marius de Clercq and Debbie Bolton from South Africa in a Toyota Landcruiser; www.landcruiserquests.com Sth America

  8. Herbert Fuss in his companies creation Fuss Mobile. www.fuess-mobile.de Africa, Asia, Sth and Nth America.

Return to TOP

Comments / Contact Us


Tibetan ‘Highway’

China/Mongolia Border Post

   Exploring Planet Earth in a Vehicle               Updated Dec 2013

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” Mark Twain