Thanks to Hollywood films, good infrastructure and a magnificent landscape, overland holidays in the US are, and always will be incredible popular.
Stretching from its chilly border with Canada down to tropical Mexico and incorporating thousands of small towns and mega-metropolises along the way. There’s more variety in this vast country than the pick and mix counter at Woolworths.
But if you’re planning an overland holiday in the US you have a dilemma to face, to rough it or to road it?
With the human-to-car ratio now at around the 1:1.5 mark in most western countries, you could be forgiven for thinking that the entire world is turning into one big car park.
But there are still some roads where the sound of horns honking and breaks screeching are blissfully unusual. Roads where you would be lucky to even see another driver, let alone get stuck behind one.
In 1986 Life Magazine named the Nevada section of Highway 50 as ‘The loneliest road in America’. The route earned the dubious honour thanks to the very few signs of civilisation along its length and the scale of wilderness that it traverses.
If the drab grey concrete of the city is getting you down, you’re planning on packing up your vehicle and heading out into greener surrounds, then half of the fun – alright, maybe not half, but definitely at least a tenth – is in the packing and prepping of your off road survival kit.
Your exact kit list will of course depend on the length of your intended trip and the climate and terrain you plan to cover. But there are a good few items that no one should be without.
Before you start, think about how much space you want to dedicate to your survival kit. Too big and you end up with half a repair shop and the pharmacy section of Boots in your pack. Too small and you may find yourself lost in the wilderness trying desperately to remember what it was Bear Grylls said about escaping from bears.
When you’re planning a once in a lifetime road trip, there’s really only one destination to choose: the USA. There is something magical and mysterious about routes across America and the great American road journey.
But with so many routes and roads to choose from, just how do you go about picking one?
And why go East to West, when you can drive North to South?
In 1989, as the Berlin wall was about to crumble, German airline executive Gunther Holtorf and his wife Christine were setting out on what was supposed to be an 18-month tour of Africa in their Mercedes Benz G Wagen. Twenty-three years and 800,000km later, Gunther and Otto (as the car is now affectionately known) are still going strong.
In what must be the definition of Wonderlust, Holtorf has now visited 200 countries including North Korea, crossed the Sahara desert and has even made it 5,200m up Mount Everest, all without a major breakdown.
There is something incredibly inspiring and hopelessly tempting about such an open-ended trip. The only limit to where you can travel next is your imagination and perhaps the ferry timetables. There won’t be any holiday-blues, when the overland holidays never end.
When planning a long car trip, you can’t help but fantasize about your journey’s end. Mandalay, Timbuktu, Tipperary – all famous destinations that conjure up all sorts of exotic and colourful images.
So where better to have as your journey’s goal than Nepal? This remote mountain state, sandwiched between China and India, has long captured the imaginations of explorers and adventurers alike, as the gateway to Everest and the Himalayas.
There are many routes into Nepal, most obviously by air. But by driving from India in to Nepal, you get a chance to appreciate how the landscape and people change as you travel from the vast India sub-continent into this relatively tiny Himalayan country.
Having established itself as one of the Tiger Economies of the East, Vietnam is fast becoming the jewel in the crown of Southeast Asian travel. Overlanding Vietnam, its provinces and cities, jungles and mountains, deltas and plains, is the way to gain a real insight into a compelling yet still lesser-known culture.
Vietnam’s mix of ancient feudal heritage, more recent colonial and military history, and contemporary buzz gives it immense depth – you could spend a year here and still not see everything.
More likely you’ll have a couple of weeks, so let’s sketch out an itinerary that’ll take in as much of the gold as possible.
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