Logistics planning can throw a few curve balls at your route.

And it’s fair to say that everything you think you know about a place and how it works can quickly be turned on its head when you arrive. Our broad approach to logistics is one of ‘macro detail for the whole route’ with an increasing amount of detail planned into the immediate place and the next country, or maybe two, depending on the timeline.

But the most important logistics to get squared away (as much as you can) before departing home is the fundamentals – things like medical requirements, awareness of visa and any other border-crossing requirements or other factors you really should be aware of in particular countries, and of course emergency plans including how you will get in touch with anyone in the event something goes wrong.

Medical

The staff were rather amused by the bill we’d racked up and the goodie-bag we walked out of the travel doctor with. But in this rare instance, it felt like a proud moment rather than a rip-off – we’d been dosed up and stocked with medical supplies to explore every country on our list!

In essence, we rolled into the doctor with our list of countries and timeline and they layered all the vaccination requirements, some requiring multiples which we’d squeeze as much as we could in before our departure. At the end of our visit, Nic was pressing for whatever drugs we could get our hands-on, knowing we would be very remote in some places. I was comforted by knowing Nic was trained as a combat medic during his time in the special forces.

Sick in the Mauritanian dessert

Emergencies

Having a plan for what to do when something goes seriously wrong gives a little comfort not only to us but to family and friends. We travel with a SPOT Tracker which gives us the ability to both keep our family (or others) in tune with our location and also the ability to trigger notification to the international emergency rescue should it be required.

Our approach is to set up more than one person with rules and guidelines for emergencies and to maintain agreed communication patterns, for example, in a country that has a risk of kidnapping or other violent acts, if our tracker moves significantly off route for Y amount of time, notify Z authorities. Obviously, you do not want to send your friends, family or team into a spin just because you jumped on a bus because you had an irreparable mechanical failure so it’s important to consider these scenarios. In this instance, we had spare batteries for our SPOT (so no excuse for a flat battery) and would be able to send an automated message via the SPOT letting them know we’re on an altered plan but all okay.

We also logged our travel dates with the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade.

Oh, and travel insurance. You want to take a look at what you’ll be up for in the event of an emergency – there are enough troubling stories of medical bills in foreign countries. We were pretty happy with the coverage provided through our credit card which came at no additional cost provided we booked our flights on it.

Visa applications

Visas

“Wire the money to this Swiss bank account and don’t mention visa or Iran”, oh how we laughed when we received this direction from a travel agent, and sometimes you’ve just got to make a good ‘ol judgement call, in this case, it was genuine and got us what we needed for the visa.

Visas can seem unnecessarily complicated.

We initially engaged a travel visa company to do the work for us on this front but unfortunately they didn’t turn out to be very knowledgeable and certainly didn’t operate with the degree of urgency we were feeling as our departure date closed in, so we managed them ourselves.

I collated all of our documentation and worked through the requirements for each country on our list. Some did not require a visa at all and those that did had varying requirements, at the extreme end needing a ‘letter of invitation’ and evidence of accommodation and onward travel. I sorted the first few countries before our departure and then planned to address the remainder with enough lead time en route. In essence, we were pretty sorted through to Iran and would hold up in Tehran to resolve visas through to China, and then the remaining countries would be straightforward.

Camping on a boat from Italy to Greece

Transfers

Our planned route has significantly more transfers than your typical GWR attempt and is due to the educational component of our journey (as mentioned in The Route).

Before departing Australia we booked our transfers as far as Dakar, Senegal.

  1. Sydney, Australia > Los Angeles, USA (stopping over for a visit up to Ventura CA, the home of Patagonia’s original workshop and head office)
  2. Los Angeles, USA > St.Kitts & Nevis, West Indies (official start/finish location)
  3. St Kitts & Nevis, West Indies > Porto Alegre, Brazil (the cycling begins)
  4. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil > Dakar, Senegal
  5. Tangier, Morocco > Paris, France
  6. Bari, Italy > Patras, Greece
  7. Athens, Greece > Cesme, Turkey
  8. Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan > Ulan Bator, Mongolia
  9. Shanghai, China > Taipei, Taiwan
  10. Taipei, Taiwan > Cairns, Australia
  11. Brisbane, Australia > Edmonton, Canada
  12. Colorado Springs, USA > Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
  13. Bogotá, Colombia > La Serena, Chile
  14. Rosario, Argentina > St Kitts & Nevis, West Indies
  15. St Kitts & Nevis, West Indies > Sydney, Australia