Time and Travel
We started thinking about time and travel during the preparations for our trip. The time you have to conquer the back roads is one important point that influences your trip. Take your time and read all about that here, and get some advice for your next trip!
Short time travel
There is no minimum of time that allows to travel overland by bike/car/truck. But the fact, that you cannot make thousands of miles a day requires a specific length of travel when you want to leave more than your own neighborhood. On the other side: When you have enough money you can ship your vehicle somewhere far in advance and fly there when it has arrived. Or you fly to your dream destination and rent a vehicle there. We are coming back to the Iron Triangle of Route Planning here!
Long time travel
Long time travel is more than being on vacation. It mostly implicates to quit your job (or go on a Sabbatical e.g.) and to have some savings in your bank account (and/or to work once in a while during the trip). A common period for long time trip is one year. It leaves enough time for relaxed travel but it won’t influence your carrier that much. But there is no upper limit for the period of travel. There are several people out there traveling for more than one year (up to traveling for their lifetime). Traveling will become your daily routine and hostels/tent/car your home. It allows you to get to know more places better.
One great thing about overland traveling is the little risk of getting a cultural shock. As mentioned in The World Trip, the speed of overlanding allows you to acclimatize slowly to new cultures and climates. You feel the small changes of countryside and people driving on the back roads without bumping into a hot, damp and loud wall at some destinations’ capital’s airports.
On long time trips it is always important to have some days or weeks off from time to time, to have a break from traveling and being on the road. There are some blog posts about the burn out from traveling and the most common cause is to drive every day and don’t stop to relax, breath and stay at one place for some weeks.
Stay flexible! If it is necessary to determine a period of time, calculate some time more and less. It’s easier to end a trip when you arrived at some point (geographically or in your mind) than be bound to be back in an exact period of time. On the other side don’t see it as a personal failure to come back after six months instead of the pronounced twelve when you are exhausted, homesick or just want to have a hot shower and a clean bed. It is more self reflected to admit that the time of travel is over at some point than to continue only to avoid possible immature comments.
We do not have a specific time frame. Obviously, we cannot drive to Australia in a couple of weeks. But it would be possible in about half a year. The most important thing for us is to stay flexible. We do not have an exact plan about our route and the time we will be in each country. We want to have the possibility to stay longer in places we like, and enjoy the local life. We saved money to travel for several months or a few years. If we travel on a lower budget we may continue our trip as long as possible, if we are exhausted, broke or just the Speedy Gonzales on the back roads we may come back earlier. We will see!
Time of year and seasons
Besides the allowed duration of stay in a country related to your visa, the most influencing part of time planning is the season in a specific country or region. There are some months all the guide books recommend for a country or region. But usually these advises are written to plan the vacations, to book a flight in the best season. For a long time overland travel it is difficult to plan the route exactly matching the actual climate. There are too many different (time consuming and hard to predict) variables influencing time planning (e.g. speed of visa organization).
It may be easier to plan when not to be in a region. The hottest/coldest/most rainy/snowy times will influence the route a lot. There are border crossings points, roads and mountain passes that are closed due to ice, snow or flooding. It is important to know these times. On the other side you do not want to be in a tropic region in the hottest season and melt in your tent.
We decided to start our trip end of April. We ended our jobs end of March. Therewith, we had some time left for our final preparations. On the other side, we started in a season in which it is possible to camp in Middle Europe without freezing too much. We still have enough time to arrive in the Southern and Persian areas before the heat will melt us. Depending on our speed we adjust our route while we are on the road – we will see if it is possible to visit Tibet and Nepal or if we have to head down to Southern Asia first for the winter season.
We will let you know all about the countries and regions we will visit during our trip – and our luck in time planning regarding to the season and actual weather!
Other things to consider:
Besides the season, there are other time related things that you should consider:
Political situation, elections: In times of elections, the safety situation may become unstable, especially in urban areas. Probably, you will not notice anything driving on the back roads. But it can influence, for example, opening hours of markets, embassies and border crossing points as well.
Festivals, public holidays and traditional festivities: Contrary to times when to avoid some areas there are days you might prefer to spend your time. Local festivals offer a great opportunity to get to know the traditions at first hand, to come close to the people and have a good time with them. Once in Jamaica, we visited a local carnival festival and it was a tone of fun to see everybody twerking to the extreme. On the other side, usually during public holidays, markets, embassies, post offices may be closed. Keep that in mind and enjoy a relaxed day!
Tourist season: For shorter trips, you probably travel during tourist season. Of course, you should make the best of your days, have the best weather and best travel conditions. One of many advantages of longer trips is the possibility to avoid times when the beaches, museums or roads are crowded. Right before and after the tourist season, the climate is usually pleasant but the prices are lower and popular sights less crowded.
If you consider these things, you may have the best time of your life, whether on a short or long time trip.
What is your favorite length of travel time? What do you think are the pros and cons for a long time travel? Have you ever been to a region at the wrong time? Write a comment!