We are now well and truly on the countdown..! Just three short months before Jase and I embrace our bon voyage – shortly after celebrating Christmas and New Years. It occurred to me a while back that at some point I’d have to start getting serious about the preparations required to execute a trip of this magnitude. Packing two lives neatly into a few boxes for around 18 months is no mean feat. Namely from an administrative, financial, physical, marketing, logistical, geographical, transportation, bike and kit preparation and foremost psychological perspectives, things need thinking about. Man alive, where do we even start?
So how do we transition from online research in the comfort of our lounge, verbalising ideas to one another and accumulating advice to proactively taking that ‘bull by its horns’ and make this adventurous dream become a reality?
On and off for the last two years, we’ve attended countless overland travel / biking events throughout the UK from small ones in South Wales to casting the net a bit wider at the BMW Garmisch one; superb atmosphere amid 40,000 bikers in Germany. I think Horizons Unlimited was the most valuable for us and our trip, acquiring solid contacts making some great friendships at the same time. Although all presented perfect opportunities to seek out those who were in a position to add-value and offer practical advice to us.
It’s been useful to make a beeline for people with experience of having already done big or small trips on two wheels, particularly those that have conquered the Americas and ridden similar bikes to ours. That’s not to say I haven’t learnt from others that have ventured through other parts of the world such as Africa or Mongolia, or advocate much smaller and lighter bikes than the F650gs. However, I already accept that although I’m comfortable off-roading – even when fully loaded up – my bike will still dictate the level and scale of off-roading I’ll be able to accomplish. Hopefully my skill level will improve and I’ll overcome any fears I may be harbouring…will stay open-minded.
Carrying a notebook around with me 24/7 is something that’s significantly contributed to my current WIP ‘To Do’ List. I’ve split responsibilities between us based on what we’re good at when it comes to the ‘Who, what, where, when and how’. Really don’t have the time to worry about duplicating effort; my ever-evolving spreadsheet has captured most of what needs to be done prior to 4 February 2014 and an A3 print out has given a visual, prompting other tasks to get done along the way.
Now we’ve secured our passage across the Atlantic, the trip has all of a sudden become tangible, very real. The egg timer is trickling sand through at a sure but steady rate, and I’m going to some lengths to ensure things are in place as much as they can be for what will still be a full-on time to our imminent departure date. I have a strong focus at the moment, relish ticking through the checklist and gaining confidence now I’m half way through the jigsaw of activities.
It may interest you to read what sort of things we’ve been up to:
– Sold the house – boom!
– Learnt to ride a bike – check.
– Selling most of our possessions, furniture, white goods, car and van (I’ve no idea what I’d do without eBay).
– Jumping on a Spanish course and trying to absorb Michel Thomas’ audio Spanish (this is brilliant…more time for this on the boat).
– Getting all of my family 2014 birthday and Christmas cards written (can’t forget about my little nephews while I’m away).
– Cancelling all the utilities and other direct debits, managing our banks (accounts, pensions, tax), doctors, dentists etc. and declaring our bikes as SORN upon departure (can’t wait to get my bike unrestricted too).
– Sourcing the right credit cards, travel / specialist biking insurance, technology such as a quad-copter, Nikon D800, Go Pro 3 cameras, Macbook Pro laptop, iPad, iPhone etc. to best suit our needs whilst overseas.
– Taking key contact information on our desktops and emailing the same information (e.g. insurance claim line, banking details, etc.).
– Applying for International Driving Permits through the Post Office (cheapest way) and ESTA visa waivers although not researched this properly yet.
– Photocopying all our paperwork such as passports, registration documents, both parts of our driving licenses, Yellow Fever certificates, laminating some key documents so we don’t need to hand over originals to the ‘officials’ at border crossings as well as emailing scanned copies of everything to ourselves and a few friends and family in the event of an emergency.
– Leaving some signed, blank cheques with our families – you never know…
– Setting up an account with Motorworks so they can FedEx across any ‘hard to get’ bike parts for us from the UK.
– Increasing our website’s ‘Search Engine Optimisation’ and setting up the corresponding Facebook page (coming soon) to link to a wider audience, distributing our business cards in order to grow our global following of ‘Two Wheeled Nomad’.
– Investing in some choice travel books, music, eBooks, maps and apps.
– Making a mental note of the Dos and Don’ts at border crossings – the last thing we want to do is ruffle their feathers for hours on end!
– Getting all of the required travel inoculations including Yellow Fever, Polio, Tetanus, Hepatitis A and B, Typhoid, Diphtheria and Rabies and months worth of anti-malarials (opted for Doxycycline as these have worked well for us on past trips).
– Slowly acquiring heavy duty boxes (free from our local MacDonalds) and vacuum seal bags to start packing up the few things we are holding onto; managed to meet a kind lady that has offered to store our non-perishables in her garage for a fiver a week – I know, wow – so chuffed as she lives next door to a police officer too (must be Karma).
Honestly and admittedly, it gets to a point where each research session for life on the road wades you deeper into places you don’t necessarily want to be, so we just stopped researching..!