As I'm writing this as I'm about an hour away from getting on a ferry that will take me from Sydney, Nova Scotia to Newfoundland - just off the coast of Canada. I've spent the entire last week of my life driving literally all day to reach this point. I've driven as far east as possible, and my end goal, the Easternmost point of North America, cannot be reached without a ferry. But it has made me reflect, what do you actually need to drive around the world?
There's no doubt that the trip I'm taking part in is a legitimate expedition, in the truest form of the word, it's not a weekend camping trip, nor an overnight trail run. This adventure is a coordinated effort by several team members, using several expertly prepared vehicles. The route for this leg, even though 95% percent of it is on pavement, is still exiting, and presents it's own challenges. Driving hundreds of miles day after day while still attempting to work daily from the road isn't easy, and I'm exhausted. My fellow team members have begun to joke with me that I'm suffering form narcolepsy, as they all have their various photographs of me passed out in random places - usually with my laptop or cell phone in hand.
While this trip may have three heavy hitting overland vehicles, packed and kitted to the gills, none of it is necessary if all you wish is to get out and explore the world. You may think that in the middle of a Panamanian jungle lockers and 35 inch mud terrains are required, but you'll be sorely disappointed when you roll into town and a local taxi has gotten everywhere you've wished to go. I talk to countless people that are constantly asking me for advice - "Matt, what do I need to drive around the world?"
While I've never driven around the world completely, I've gotten some pretty fantastic advice from people who have spent their entire lives traveling the world. I'm going to try to pass along that advice the best that I can.
Don't forget this - time is the most valuable commodity you'll ever have in your life. You can always make more money, buy more stocks and bonds, and purchase more possessions. You'll never get time back, and you'll never be able to buy it back. Finding time is often the hardest, and most challenging part of traveling around the world. If you can prepare yourself to not waste another moment of your life sitting at your desk, you're on the right track.
2.) A pocketful of cash
Unfortunately, traveling around the world, especially by vehicle isn't cheap, the reality is that it's going to cost a lot of money; you need to work hard to play hard. I'm not saying you need millions in the bank to take off tomorrow, but don't expect to be successful if your pockets are looking pretty empty. If you're on a budget, plan accordingly, often times more fun can be had with a older economy car, look at the guys who just drove around the world in a London Taxi. They went places most of us could only dream of; from Iran, to Everest base camp they proved that there's plenty of adventure that can be had on backroads, even if they're only somewhat paved. Choosing a gas-guzzling 4wd vehicle for the sake of taking a few muddy backroads here and there could end your trip prematurely if your budget doesn't really allow it. If your budget allows it - the possibilities are endless.
3.) A rough game plan
Now, this may be a little bit of my own personal taste, but I'm not a fan of precise planning - there's a time and a place for it, but one of the greatest things about wandering around the world is the serendipity of how things often fall together in the best of ways. Allow yourself a little more time to stop and smell the roses and you'll never know where it will lead.
4.) An open mind
If you're going to travel around the world and attempt to interact with locals, leave the wall street persona behind the minute you walk out of the office. There's no responding to work emails anymore, no Crackberry, no suit, and no tie. People always have preconceived notions of how life on the road will be, more times than not, they'll be left disappointed. The value of having an open mind reflects in how people perceive you, which means that the local who started talking to the friendly world-traveller might just tip you off to some great hotspots you'd otherwise never have known about.
5.) The correct vehicle
Here's a fact, you can drive around the world with some of the most basic, cheap, and economical vehicles ever built. I've read about people who have traversed the globe with such vehicles as: a Citroen 2CV, a Vespa, a VW Beetle, a Geo Metro, and a many more obscure quirky vehicles. Ask yourself what you'll realistically be doing on your trip, and find the right tool for the right job. Just because there may be a few hundred miles of unpaved gravel roads doesn't mean that you'll necessarily need a huge lifted 4wd to traverse it when you have considering you'll also have 40,000 miles of pavement as well. Look at what the locals drive in 3rd world countries, on horrible roads to say the least - it's definitely not a new Land Rover Defender, and they get by just fine. I just wouldn't recommend taking a Vespa on the Canning Stock Route...