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How to Plan for a Long Journey

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Q: How do you go about planning for a long overland travel journey? What factors do you take into account — such as visas, methods of travel, environment, seasonal climate change, security of countries en route, current events — and how do you overcome/ prepare for these hoops to jump through and obstacles to avoid? Have you had situations in your journey from Portugal to China in which you had to double back and look for another way through, so to speak?

A: Many of these factors will depend on your nationality. An Israeli will have many problems traveling overland in some areas in the Mid East, whereas a European may not. Or an Asian in Europe will have more visa concerns and expenses than if they were traveling in their own region. So, the answer here is going back to my map suggestion.

Sit down and draw a line along the route you want to go. Once complete, look up each country and their entry requirements. If you run into a solid wall and a country will not let you in, you now need to redraw your line around that country and look at it’s neighbors as alternatives.

Climate depends on you, your method of transport and of course if a country has extreme weather at certain times of the year. I was trapped in Nepal during February due to snow storms in China. I could have crossed the border into Tibet. But, later on I would have been stuck as many trains were delayed for weeks. In this case I waited it out, and gave it an extra two weeks just to be sure.

How to plan for overland travel?

If possible check the news two weeks before moving into a new country overland, they usually hype everything up, so you’ll be getting worse case scenarios. Which is good for preparations.

My route took me through Iran and Pakistan during a very politically tense time. My back up plan was to head north into the Stan’s and bypass these countries should I not have gotten either visa. My back up plan to that was Russia, and if all else fails, retreat to the middle east and try again a few months later. Most of this is actually marked out on my overland travel maps. Including the back up plans. My final detailed overland travel map will show you the full route until today, zoom into to see even the paths I walked.

Dave from The Longest Way Home had taken the long road across planet earth, and traveled overland from the Atlantic coast of Portugal to the Pacific of China. Currently in the Philippines, his journey has lasted for over five years, and is still going. Ask Dave your questions about overland travel atAsk a question about overland travel

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Filed under: Border Crossing, Travel Preparation, Visas

About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 76 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to Forbes, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3048 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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Wade Shepard is currently in: Polis, Republic of CyprusMap

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