How do we plan for overland travel?
Or to explain more clearly, we absolutely will do a LOT of overland travel, but there is no booking of buses, trains and automobiles at this stage in our travel planning. It is not until we hit the ground that we will be able to compare the costs of train, bus, or ferry tickets for 4 travelers, against car rentals or hiring drivers (i.e. within India).
We fully foresee long bus drives, where we might pay extra for more comfort, and will occasionally avail of overnight bus trips to save on hotel expenses. We are excited to experience the craziness of the Indian railway system, and will be using all tips to make these trips bearable (i.e. – Goats On The Road’s Backpacker’s Guide to Transportation in India). We recognize that the fun part of traveling can often be the journey from point A to B, and are eager to introduce our children to rickshaws, tuk-tuks, and camel rides. In South Africa, we are enthusiastic about renting our own camper van with built in bedding and cooking gear, in order to have the freedom to explore the national parks at our own pace. I have found some companies that cater specifically to this independent kind of road tripping at very reasonable rates (i.e. Wicked Africa ).
The big test will be how our children adapt to looooonnnng bus, train or ferry rides. When Dan and I were traveling in South America, we got so used to long journeys from one city to the next, that we were surprised when any trip was LESS than 8 hours. I used this time to come up with a game-plan for our next destination, by researching accommodations, studying city maps, and highlighting some of the key places to see, and things we wanted to do. It will be interesting to see if any of the buses or trains have been modernized, and will now have wi-fi connection. With a guidebook-in-hand I could research anytime while “traveling”, but if we become more reliant on booking and planning via Internet searches, this on-the-road time might not be as useful. I do hope that our children will be able to do much of their school work (reading, studies etc.) while we are in transit, so we can maximize our time on the ground exploring.
Overall, our itinerary is loose. We know the regions that we want to explore, and will plan our entry and exit cities, but much of how we travel in-between will not be determined until we are physically there. How we zigzag across a country will be open to serendipity, paired with lots of on-the-spot research and cost calculations.