Sackville, New Brunswick, Canada
Reason for taking this trip:
We looked at the end of our parenthood responsibilities and planned a new adventure. With an empty nest, we had to take our dog, as no kids were home to love him. It would be safe to say that this is a midlife shake up.
Why did you decide to drive?:
We've always loved road trips. Driving allows a reasonably close up view with the bonus of endless choice. We would be free to go where the wind blew.
What type of car are you driving?:
2006 Toyota Tacoma, 6 speed four wheel drive with a 1989 Palomino Bronco mini-L pop up camper, a combined unit that we affectionately call the Poptart.
Did you make any modifications to your car for this trip?:
We added Firestone airbags. We also turned it over to our trusted mechanic for end to end pre-trip service. We also add a 2 inch receiver to the front and a cart rack in the back.
How did you save up or finance your trip?:
We were able to participate in a deferred leave program from our jobs, in which we had a smal percentage deducted from our salary for five and one half years, buying us the remaining six months of the six years and maintains our salary and careers. In addition, we saved some play money for that same time.
We also sold one vehicle to offset the purchase of the Tacoma . We wanted reliability, but at a low investment, so that if for some reason we had to jump ship, it would not hurt financially too much. Thus we bought a good used Tacoma and an old but serviceable camper.
How long do you plan on traveling?:
We have eight and a half months to travel, but will likely be home after seven months.
Where do you plan on driving? :
We have driven from Atlantic Canada to Alabama, then across the southern USA to Baja California. We crossed to mainland Mexico and then went over to the Yucatan Peninsula. From there we visits Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and stopped at the Panamanian border in Costa Rica.
From there we have returned through Central America to Arizona, making our way from Califronia up the Pacific Coast to Homer, Alaska.
We our now on our final leg, crossing Canada on the northern route from west to east.
We have travelled more than that the equivalent of around the world at the equator on this trip.
What were your family’s and friends’ reactions when you told them about your trip before you left?:
3 parts concern, 2 parts enthusiasm, 2 parts curious interest, 1 part disbelief
What languages do you speak? Will you learn more on your trip?:
Douglas : English, functional Spanish, some French
Paula: English, functional French, keyword Spanish
Finn: Ph. D in sniffing, Good English, functional Spanish, a bit of French
Do you have a favorite place that you've visited?:
Many! White Sands,NM; Carslbad Caverns;Playa Tecolote near. la Paz, Baja; Reserva Mariposa Monarcha, Mexico; Patzcuaro, Mexico. Mexico, Mexico, Mexico! Northern Arizon and Utah were also beautiful.
Top of the list however, was flying and landing on a glacier facing Mount Logan, in Kluane National Park, Yukon, Canada. Just stupendously breathtaking and overwhelming!!!!!
What was the weirdest thing you experienced on your trip?:
Paula: meeting a colleague in a tourist info centre four thousand miles from home.
Douglas: Walmart boondocking.
What was the worst border crossing?:
Without a doubt, El Amatillo, El Salvador/ Honduras. We got stupid and used the Tramitadores, and found ourselves in a threatening situation in which we were extorted several hundred dollars.
Do you have any advice for others who may be considering driving the Americas?:
Don't let fear stop you, we had an amazing time.
Learn as much Spanish as you possibly can.
Eat local by watching where locals are gathered.
Take all your vaccines
Go with Toyota
Photocopy all your documents twenty times each and keep them organized.
Get an International Driving Permit
Read up on scam avoidance. This helped us considerably, especially with Nicaraguan Police and corrupt migration officers
Try really hard not. To hand over your original driver's license to police. Show them a copy and tell them you will show them the original at the police station.
Do not use any border helpers. Just relax and remember that in each country, you will need to do the following: import yourself ( get your passport stamped); import your car ( SAT office); import your pet if you have one; export yourself when leaving, and export your car, This means trips to multiple offices which may or may not be marked and may be staffed by people in uniform. You may also require vehicle fumigation and multiple signatures from a customs official and a police officer. Be patient, but persist. It probably won't get any more logical, but you will learn through experience. We found that screenshotting the border paged from liferemotely.com was very helpful.
Google Maps, Waze, and iOverlander have been invaluable apps. IOverlander for camping and such, the others for navigation.
Get the best paper maps you can afford.
Take pictures when you have the chance. A better one may come along, but it may not. Back up all your photos regularly.
Monday, July 4, 2016 - 12:42