Overlanders of the class of 2014, use love motels. If we could offer you only one tip for your trip, love motels would be it.
The long term benefits of a warm bed and clean shower have been proved by couples whereas the rest of our advice has no basis more reliable than our own Panamerican experience…
We will dispense this advice now.
Enjoy the power and beauty of your 4Runner. But never mind, you will not understand the power and beauty of a V8 until one ignition coil fails.
But trust me, in 20 years you’ll look back at photos of your car and recall in a way you can’t grasp now how much road lay before you and how tanned you really looked….
Your Spanish is not as bad as you imagine.
Don’t worry about where you are going to spend the night; or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to create a cool breeze in your tent with an empty box of cereal. The real troubles on your trip are apt to be things that no single blog mentions; the kind that leave you with no bags or shoes at 10am on some idle Sunday.
Do one thing everyday outside your comfort zone.
Don’t be reckless with street vendors, don’t put up with people who jump on your car “to help you cross a border”.
Don’t waste your time on trying to overtake a Mexican bus; sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind…the Panamerican Highway is long, and in the end, you’ll get to Argentina anyway.
Remember the sunset over the Pacific, forget the time you threw up in your car. If you succeed in doing this, tell me how.
Keep your Visa, throw away your American Express.
Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know the difference between a taco and a burrito. Most food you will eat will be in small comedors and feature lots of rice. The best food you will eat will have an unpronounceable name and be grilled over an open fire.
Make plenty of blog posts.
Be kind to your shock absorbers, you’ll miss them when they’re gone.
Maybe you’ll have a hot shower, probably you won’t, maybe you’ll find wifi, maybe you won’t, maybe you’ll sleep in a parking lot next to the highway tonight…what ever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much or berate yourself either – your choices are half chance, so are everybody else’s.
Enjoy your GPS, use it every way you can…don’t be afraid of it, or what other people think of it, it’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own..
Make love… even if you have nowhere to do it but in your own rooftop tent.
Read a travel guide, even if you don’t plan to use it.
Do NOT ignore speed bumps, they will tear your suspension apart otherwise.
Get to know strange animals, you never know when they’ll be gone for good.
Be nice to the man holding the stamp; he is the most powerful man in the universe and the person most likely to tamper with your frustration levels.
Understand that border crossings come and go, but a precious few you will never forget. Work hard to collect copies of every document you have because the further you get, the more documents need to be copied and stapled together.
Drive in Panama City once, but leave before it makes you hard.
Drive in Death Valley once, but leave before it makes you soft.
Accept certain inalienable truths:, bugs will fly up your nose, toilet seats will disappear, you too will lower your standards. And when you do you’ll fantasize that when you were home you had a clean bathroom, bugs were half the size and drivers yielded to traffic at roundabouts.
Yield to everyone at roundabouts.
Don’t expect petrol stations to have petrol. Maybe you have a large fuel tank, maybe you have an extra jerry can; but you never know when either one might run out.
Don’t mess too much with immigration officers’ lunch breaks, because instead of half an hour to cross the border, it will take you five.
Stand your ground with police officers looking for a bribe, but be patient with those who are genuinely trying to help you.
Don’t stress if you get pulled over by the police five times a day, it will make you feel safer in the end, you can have a small chat and continue to Keep Calm and Drive South.
But trust us on the love motels…
Merry Christmas and an adventurous 2014!
Marijke & Patrick