As the house and garden come closer to readiness for entering the competitive property market, the reality of my decision to set off and join the world’s nomads is sinking in. I’ve read Lonely Planet’s guides to all the countries of southern Africa from cover-to-cover and have taken notes of the places I believe I must see. Sure, not everyone is a fan of Lonely Planet’s advice but I think it’s better to have some idea of what might be interesting to see than to have no idea at all.
Sometimes I wish I could just pack up and leave tomorrow. I am so excited to hit the road and explore all Africa has to offer, especially now that I’ve decided to ride the whole country overland. But that’s not practical. I am not a “fly by the seat of your pants” kind of guy. I like to do at least a little planning. Besides, this is a major undertaking and lifestyle change and there are things I can do in the coming seven months to make my time in Africa more enjoyable. So, today I’m writing a pre-departure list to make sure I at least have some basic preparation under my belt.
- Join gym and start a strength program so I am physically strong enough to wrangle my motorbike over the mountain passes in South Africa, across the sandy deserts of Namibia, through the mud in Botswana’s wet season, and along the pot-holed and rugged overland route through the vastness of Africa.
- Open savings account and new bank account with cheaper overseas fees
- Buy maps
- Get back into bicycle commuting and touring so that my body knows how to handle a loaded two wheeled vehicle while under aerobic strain.
- Finalise my route so I can get quotes for travel insurance (quotes are not easy to get when you don’t know where you are going)
- Find out what visas I will need and how to apply for them
- Find out what hoops I will need to jump through to buy and register a motorbike in South Africa
- Find out how much it would cost to fly a motorbike to South Africa to work out whether that will be more practical and economical than buying, registering and getting a carnet for one in ZA.
- Finalise information about visas and motorbike purchasing options
- End of semester university assignments and exams
- Book flights if house is sold
- Start applying for visas for countries where I need them
- Find out whether I can use my restricted motorbike licence to get an international driving permit or whether I need to upgrade to an open licence (I am currently restricted to motorbikes under 650cc with a certain power-to-weight ratio and will only be riding a 125cc motorbike on my trip so my current class of licence in Australia is technically sufficient)
- Get travel insurance quotes
- Trial part-time work arrangements
- Keep applying for visas
- Organise open licence if I need one
- Start writing packing list
- Continue part-time work arrangements trial
- Take self-defence class (I am traveling alone so probably a good idea)
- Set up South African postal address
- Contact Honda dealership in South Africa about buying a motorbike
- Organise travel insurance
- University semester 2 starts
- Start trying to sort out South African transport registration number so I can register motorbike
- Finalise packing list
- Given gym 30 days notice of cancellation of membership
- Finalise all visas
- Pack gear
- Keep working on motorbike registration process (maybe I can’t do it from overseas but it’s going to be worth a try)
- Finalise all university assignments
- Get on the plane and just do it