The Overland Traveller overland travel checklist
Preparing to travel overland is an exercise in downsizing. You have to carry everything you need but you need to be prepared for everything.
Dodgy bus? No problem, I’ll use my chain to secure my bag to the luggage rack. Irate border guard? This thoughtful little present will smooth the way. Bone-crushingly uncomfortable train seat? Here, prop your head up with my pillow!
If you wan to make your journey as pleasant as possible, don’t clamber on any form of transport without making sure you’ve got these essential items with you:
A little bit of home away from home. A pillow can make uncomfortable journeys bearable and comfortable journeys positively blissful. I’m not talking about those plastic, blow-up strangley things here. I mean proper (but small), stuffed cushions that you can use as a lumbar support, tray or to stop your head vibrating against the window. Make room in your luggage for it and you won’t regret it.
Items of intrigue
I once managed to cross the Chinese/Vietnamese border two days before my visa was valid. All it took was a smile and a couple of two pence pieces - one of the border guards collected foreign coins. Oh, and the US$40 bribe probably helped too.
Every traveller’s best friend: useful for waterproofing, fixing holes in bags, padding a rubbing shoe, waterproofing and emergency bikini waxing. (I made the last one up, but if you’re desperate/hairy enough to give it a go, I’m pretty sure it’d work. But you really should be ashamed of yourself.)
Be prepared. Knowing exactly what you need to cross borders will save you a lot of hassle on the road. For example, finding out you need a letter of invitation from a sponsor in the country before applying for the visa at the embassy will save you time and stress. For the most thorough and up-to-date passport and visa information, check embassy websites or take the time to phone them direct. World Travel Guide is also useful.
Whilst we’re on the subject, take multiple photocopies of your visas and passport to stow in various spots in your luggage. And it (almost) goes without saying – keep your passport safe at ALL times.
Top ten pages on OT
1. Five alternatives to South America's top destinations
2. Hang gliding in Rio de Janeiro
3. Responsible travel on the Inca Trail
4. The Ten Commandments for night bus travellers
5. Touring the Pantanal with the world's most hardcore guide
6. The two month slump: Colca Canyon, Peru
7. Images: South America roundup