We spent a lot of time going around the various companies in the Uk who provide services for overlanders and 4x4 owners. Certain companies just want to sell you the product that they have bought in bulk rather than the product that is best for you, others seem more concerned with the latest gadget, image, bling and extreme off roading accessories. Pre sales service is normally excellent but be warned, post sales service can be a different story.
We were more concerned with practicalities and comfort but found it very difficult not to get sucked into the “expedition image” especially as we had no experience and were totally reliant on others for advice.
To be frank—talking to people who only do extreme off roading and spend weekends in Wales are not the best people to get advice from when you are planning a long overland trip. Get your information from people who have just completed a long haul trip and therefore have had the opportunity to put the equipment to the test- they are the real experts.
As soon as you mention “expedition” the prices seem to go up. Our water tank was a classic example of this; we could have bought a water tank that space saved and sat up by our cargo barrier or had a tank made with baffles to fit in our dead space behind the rear wheels, both were great ideas and good products in their own right but came in at 3 and 12 times the price of the tank we settled for. Our tank has worked a treat and at £35 did the job nicely thank you very much.
The only company we spoke to that did not try to sell us the expedition image was www.foleysv.com don’t get me wrong, if you want an all singing all dancing bespoke vehicle they will happily oblige, but it was very refreshing to be told by someone that has overland experience that you don’t need all the products others are trying to sell you. The other company we would recommend was www.footloose4x4.com as they seemed to be as interested in your journey as they were in your vehicle, have overland experience and a superb reputation.
On our top tips page you will find a list of companies that you could look at but be warned being on our list DOES NOT mean that we recommend them!
I guess we are obliged to say that some companies have bad days, you however are not obliged to believe that statement.
This is the document that you need to legally import and export your vehicle through your chosen countries without incurring fees ie. import and export taxes, which can be up to 800% of the value of your car! It is the equivalent of a vehicle “passport” and must be stamped on your entry and exit from each country. The idea is that you take out a bond with a company, promising to return your vehicle to it’s country of origin with it’s “passport” fully stamped. This system effectively stops you from driving into a country, selling your car and jumping on a cheap flight home having dodged taxes.
This was another area that caused us weeks of debate. When we first started to look into our options, everyone raved about Sue at the RAC and the great service she gave however, as with all things good they rarely last and, Sue seems to have disappeared. In her place is now Paul, who is almost impossible to get hold of as you always have to leave a phone message, which is invariably not returned or you can email him which is minimally more successful.
The other option is Karina at ADAC who, being a German based company are, of course, super efficient.
The biggest difference between them is that with RAC you can earn interest on your deposit whereas with ADAC you do not.
We chose ADAC because they were cheaper than RAC, always on the end of the phone , very efficient (it took only 30 minutes to pick up our carnet), more flexible with the time frame of our carnet and they give you a discount if you are a RAC member.
The easiest way to decide which policy suits you best is to review them yourself.
They both use the same company-RL Davison& co.
The information you get from the ADAC site is superb, with all the forms and charts you need to get a clear idea.
We have called them several times during our trip with queries and they have been excellent.
How much? It all depends on how honest you want to be about the value of your vehicle. If it gets stolen your main concern is getting the local police to fill out the appropriate form thus ensuring the return of your bond.
Actually seeing your vehicle again is not a realistic hope.
An example of how much a carnet may cost you is:
Let’s say your vehicle is worth €15,000 and you want to travel to India from Europe- then your bond would be €10,000.
Or your vehicle is worth €25,000 and you want to do the same route, then it’s a €15,000 bond.
IMPORTANT POST TRIP NOTE:
ADAC were superb, always at the end of the phone and led us by the nose when the Indian customs tried to claim our bond money. ( Apparently this is a common scam pulled by them!) We were very upset to find that ADAC no longer accept British registered vehicles, so much so, that we are considering registering our vehicle in Germany to stay with them for our carnet!!! Meanwhile, Paul at RAC has become a superb overlander friend– very helpful, knowledgeable and easy to contact now. Well done– just drop your prices please!!!!
The trouble with insurance is that it is so damned expensive, for example- if you were to insure your vehicle for it’s true value, of say, £20,000 with a fire and theft only policy it would cost you approx. £3,000 pounds a year. You could argue that if this is too much then you could down scale the value of your vehicle, which if you calculated the bare vehicle cost at £ 10,000, then your insurance should drop to approx. £1,600 a year. It’s still a big chunk out of a small budget. We have spoken to several overlanders and have not heard reports of stolen vehicles- that of course does not mean that it doesn’t happen. Another thing to bear in mind when making your decision- you have to buy insurance for each country as you drive into it, reputed to not be worth the paper it’s written on in several countries, but may ease your mind if you have decided against UK based insurance. Ultimately it is a decision only you can make.
Lisa, who works at Magic Carpet and who we suspect previously worked for Jackanory, failed to mention that anyone who has applied for their Iranian visa in the past 2 months has been refused unless they have a Iranian contact. As a result we wasted 7 weeks of repeated calls, 2 failed applications and having to listen to endless stories before she fortunately went on holiday and we got to speak to someone else. They put us right about what was required-our friend from Iran acted as a referee for us and sure enough 8 days later we received our reference number and are now on our way to collect our visa from the Ankara embassy.
It does mean that we are now 5 weeks behind schedule and are having to travel through Iran during Ramadan which is not ideal but we need to get to Pakistan before the snow.
It does raise the question: what did we pay Magic Carpet £100 for? We thought that fee was for them to supply us with a reference or invitation to ease the process.
See Iran page for latest news on this epic.
Here’s the complicated bit– you can do all your research then discover that there have been changes in visa laws or office locations.
The biggest problem is getting your timing right because a 3 month visa that starts from issue, when it takes 4 months to get to the country, is a bit of a waste.
We hope this table will help but cannot guarantee the information for the above reasons.
We have discovered that getting visa’s in Malaysia can save you up to 50% on costs!
We have bought enough to set up a mini hospital with the hope that we will never need it :
Penicillin 500mg tablets: multi use.
Ciprofloxacin 500mg tablets: good for chest, urinary infections, salmonella and some nasty skin infections.
Erythromycin500mg tablets: good for chest infections, diphtheria and tummy upsets.
Metoclopramide 10mg tablets: anti sickness tablets.
Senokot 7.5mg tablets: anti constipation tablets, a common effect of a restricted diet.
Loperamide Hydrochloride 2mg tab’s: diarrhoea stoppers
Rehydration sachets: pleasant to taste but not crucial as you can mix your own.
Cystitis relief: even if you are not prone, it is a very common complaint in female travellers, part due to dehydration and long stops between toilet breaks.
Antihistamine tablets and cream: several available on the market, beware some tablets make you sleepy.
Disprin: good for gargling if you have a sore throat.
Pain killers: mix of paracetamol, brufen and all our prescription ones.
Hydrocortisone 1% cream: great for inflamed and itchy skin.
Anti fungal : canestan cream and also buy the one off tablet for thrush, it’s a girly thing!
Anti indigestion: bought a wee box of gaviscon tablets just in case.
Sun block: loads and loads of factor 15 up to 40. Rose was diagnosed with skin cancer post trip- she doesn’t sun bathe, is usually covered and uses a sun umbrella. Make sure your clothes have a UV protection factor!
Dental repair kit: dentek, bought in Boots chemist.
Mosi guard : We tried several options including locally produced mosquito gels and creams but this British made product was without doubt the best. It worked for mossies, sandflies and leeches in jungles, on beaches and everywhere else. SUPERB.
© www.nessiesadventures.com, 2006-11, All rights reserved.
ODDS AND SODS:
Spray on plaster + lots of old fashioned plasters
Suture kit, one for face stitching and one for tougher bits
Various needles and syringes
Selection of dressings
TAKING IT A BIT TOO FAR KIT:
Blood pressure machine
Giving set for fluids
BNF book: it’s a book that lists every drug on the market and details of uses and strengths. Not to be used as an alternative to seeing a doctor but as a reference to ensure pharmacists are prescribing correct dosage and drug for condition.
OR look at emc.medicines.org.uk– a web page that gives comprehensive information on medicines.
Have seen the rough guide to travel health book, looks worth the money, covers every country in the world and it’s nice and small.
If your GP is half decent he will understand the need for a letter that states you are suffering from a condition that requires you to carry your prescription medication. I’m sure you’ve all heard the story about the woman being arrested at a border for carrying drugs that she had no formal proof of requiring, after 4 days in a jail her GP faxed a letter over to state that they were indeed prescribed drugs for a condition she had.
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Denotes what we’ve used after one year into the trip.