How early before the trip one should start preparations? Last minute was always my thing but maybe this time we can start a bit earlier? Especially that Mila is still nicely sleeping during days.
There are different ways of getting prepared for a trip: some are sitting with map and planning every single day, some are reading reading reading, some are just buying ticket and flying somewhere far away. We are probably somewhere in the middle. While having kids, the level of responsibility is a bit increasing and there is a bit more things to do in advance. About our last trip around the Black Sea we decided just 3 months before. About next one, to Central America, we know already since February and we plan to start only in October. But what is really to be done before the big day of s.t.a.r.t.?
First thing is probably the route. Can be not easy to decide, when our beautiful world is so big! We chosen our Black Sea circle – because of the countries we were interested in, languages we could speak there and friends on the way. Central America is a bigger challenge (because it’s not as close as the Black Sea) but we also have more traveling-with-kids experience. And it is more different and more exciting for us. And even if we don’t have so many friends on the way from Mexico to Panama – now we know that people met on the way can very very fast become your friends (btw, any contacts in those countries are very welcome!).
When you have route you check how possible is to really drive this way. Are the borders open? Do you need visas? Is it difficult to enter some country with visa from another one? Those are very important things to be sure about. And I would suggest checking those issues in few different sources. On our first trip we had to drive additional thousands of kilometers due to not checking enough…
Security topics: are all those corners you have in mind safe? The answer for this question is of course very relative but always worth to think about. Maybe the fact that the war in this place has just finished doesn’t mean much. But maybe it does? Many people asked us about Georgia or Nagorny-Karabakh – if we were not afraid of going there. And that was the nicest and most friendly places of our trip. But for example we didn’t dare to visit Dagestan with our Hanna…
Another danger could be all the possible diseases. Vaccinations, medicines… Maybe boring but important!
Next thing is insurance. Health insurance and another one for a car. Also worth checking what are the rules in which country and which insurance will be recognized in which part of the world. Do you need the translation of car documents? Is it better to be officially an owner of the car? Last time we had quite some fun with those problems.
What we had during our trip was having all the important contacts in printed version in two different places. Numbers of insurances companies, numbers of Polish and German embassies, numbers to friends on the way. Both: laptop and mobile phone sometimes have no energy…
Contacting people is a nice part of the preparations. “Hello, we are coming, will you be in da town, will you find some time for us?” It’s good to know that there are some alive points on the map. When you are freely traveling it’s hard to predict the exact date of arriving here or there but what for we have mobile phones?
Not very exciting part (at least for me) is the preparation of the car. Repairing, checking, getting additional parts. Worth also taking into account if car you are traveling with have any car workshops in countries you are going to. Or if it is popular there. Or at least if it happens to meet any of them there. It can be very annoying problem to miss some small part. For half of our previous trip some part of the car (please, don’t ask me which one!) my smart husband fixed with good German scotch tape, because nobody in any car workshop had a better idea. And we survived.
Packing or preparing to pack things is fun. Thinking how to organize life for half a year in this relatively small space can be very creative idea. Of course practice makes perfect and second time we will be packed super professionally. Less clothes, more presents for new friends – that’s for sure (more about things to be taken for 100% I will write very soon: our very subjective guide).
Then… looking for sponsors. This depends very much on how you are popular, on your creativity, on charm and luck. But right now I will not get into details because that is exactly what is taking my free time now. Just one sentence: please, keep your fingers crossed for us!
Maybe last, but quite important issue is renting your own flat for the time of the trip. It cuts very big expenditure and can save you some money.
And additionally, maybe obvious but not for all, content preparations. Big research online, in libraries, travel blogs and travel guides – that all depends on the reason and idea of the trip. Do you want to know the opening time of some special museum? Or you want to just feel people and the way of their lives? Here again we are somewhere in the middle. Having a healthy balance between life still here, in Berlin, and already there, in Central America. Some maps and guides we already checked. But as I know us, the most we will read in the car, between point A and point B. Oh, I can’t wait!