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So things are getting kind of serious and the “sail away” option might finally happen this year.  But as international borders are a bit sticky at the moment, I’ve been thinking about options for overland travel, as a supplement to cruising.

When I first started The Plan, I figured that the folding bicycle and light camping gear would take care of that.  But hell, I’m going to be over 60 overly soon.  That might not last for long.  And the dog might go along.  So what other options do people enjoy for a tour around the continents?

A land yacht is out.  That’s what the yacht yacht is for.  The solution should be cheap, easily driven, long-range capable, self-sufficient.  When I’m on a long trip, I want to be able to just park and roll into the back for a few hours sleep without setting up camp.  

Prolly shouldn’t have ever sold the old 85 diesel suburban. Except that it was worn out.  A new diesel suburban costs as much as a 40-foot yacht.  Current Jeep Wrangler is fun but has no room to sleep and not impressive range.  I could drag a trailer behind it, though that doesn’t seem ideal. And it might be nice to drive something actually manufactured in this century.  

But also: storage.  The bicycle can be carried on board. A vehicle would have to be stored somewhere.

Just wondering what anybody else is using for overland trips and logistics?

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1 hour ago, toddster said:

So things are getting kind of serious and the “sail away” option might finally happen this year.  But as international borders are a bit sticky at the moment, I’ve been thinking about options for overland travel, as a supplement to cruising.

When I first started The Plan, I figured that the folding bicycle and light camping gear would take care of that.  But hell, I’m going to be over 60 overly soon.  That might not last for long.  And the dog might go along.  So what other options do people enjoy for a tour around the continents?

A land yacht is out.  That’s what the yacht yacht is for.  The solution should be cheap, easily driven, long-range capable, self-sufficient.  When I’m on a long trip, I want to be able to just park and roll into the back for a few hours sleep without setting up camp.  

Prolly shouldn’t have ever sold the old 85 diesel suburban. Except that it was worn out.  A new diesel suburban costs as much as a 40-foot yacht.  Current Jeep Wrangler is fun but has no room to sleep and not impressive range.  I could drag a trailer behind it, though that doesn’t seem ideal. And it might be nice to drive something actually manufactured in this century.  

But also: storage.  The bicycle can be carried on board. A vehicle would have to be stored somewhere.

Just wondering what anybody else is using for overland trips and logistics?

If you want to do any real traveling, you either need a car you can sleep in night after night or you need to plan to stay in hotels/motels/airbnbs/friends couches/etc.  If you want to avoid the expense of finding lodgings, I guess a minivan would probably be the cheapest approach.  You can fit a queen size mattress into the back of most of them.  A proper camping van could be fun, but that's not a small investment.  That said, camping in a van is a lot less pleasant than an equivalently sized sail or power boat, in my experience...  it's much harder to find nice places to park, etc.

If you're sleeping outside of the car, then all you need is enough trunk space.  Good fuel efficiency might be nice too.

If your ultimate plan is to "sail away" in a year or so, any land vehicle will become an albatross.  A car becomes useless when its parked in another port.

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4 minutes ago, MFH125 said:

If you want to do any real traveling, you either need a car you can sleep in night after night or you need to plan to stay in hotels/motels/airbnbs/friends couches/etc.  If you want to avoid the expense of finding lodgings, I guess a minivan would probably be the cheapest approach.  You can fit a queen size mattress into the back of most of them.  A proper camping van could be fun, but that's not a small investment.  That said, camping in a van is a lot less pleasant than an equivalently sized sail or power boat, in my experience...  it's much harder to find nice places to park, etc.

If you're sleeping outside of the car, then all you need is enough trunk space.  Good fuel efficiency might be nice too.

If your ultimate plan is to "sail away" in a year or so, any land vehicle will become an albatross.  A car becomes useless when its parked in another port.

It depends which continents. You can find decent cheap hotels all through Latin America, South & SE Asia etc. Northern Europe, Oz, NZ, Canada, USA are more expensive... but if you are thinking of overlanding, a boat isn't the obvious choice to arrive in-country.

Cheers,

               W.

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The past year has resulted in record sales of RV’s.  Coupled with the work from home options, a LOT of people have the same idea. My thought is A) They’re making and selling a half million new RV’s of one sort or another.  Are they making new camping spots???  (I suspect not). More people will try the, well, let’s call them ‘non-approved’ campsites, parking spots, etc.  There will be a backlash.  Nope, even though currently pretty much boatless, I’m avoiding the land cruising option.  Besides, she who would want to come along with me is NOT into camping.  “Been there, done that” she says...

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Not sure where you plan to go but when we were off cruising we would do land trips of up to one month if we found a secure place to leave the boat - Ecuador/Peru, New Zealand, Australia, and South Africa come to mind. In some places (Ecuador/Peru) we travelled by bus. In Ecuador bus trips were about $1 per hour. in others rental cars made sense. In Oz, we rented a camper van and went from Darwin to Uluru in the middle of the country. In South Africa we rented a car to visit national parks and historic sites and a 4wd pickup to go into Lesotho. We stayed in local hotels or in hostels that offered private rooms. Really enjoyed ourselves.

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Fully understand the appeal of a land cruise. For an overland trip, have been attracted by the Arctic for a couple of years. Would be cool to splash a boat in the Arctic Ocean now that the road north is open https://www.cntraveler.com/story/canadian-road-trip-3-days-on-the-inuvik-tuktoyaktuk-highway

Alreadyhave a 98 GMC 2500 diesel that I can sleep in (wife says no way--never again!), and could either tow the tri there (sleep/cook on board), or forget the tri and just throw the sailboard and camp stove in the back. No interest in spending $ on motels or campgrounds.

But, no way I'm going to be a suspicious vector for COVID into those northern communities. So, maybe next year. Same reasoning for a trip to the Maritimes. No interest in heading for the West Coast, and have done the trip south to Mexico many times already.

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So, will be happy to sail locally this season.

E-bikes--now that opens up some interesting road trip dreams :) 

 

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We use a Dodge Caravan with the seats out and a bed built into the back, with enough clearance under the bed for stowing everything in totes. (Short totes, or you're too close to the roof while sleeping.) Got it as a very-low-mileage, spotlessly clean vehicle for a screaming deal (friend's widowed mother wanted a sports car, sold us her late husband's van for its trade-in value). Been across Canada a couple of times. In 13 years, we've probably spent 800 nights in it.  It's now high mileage and not so spotless, but it still does the job. Gas mileage sucks, but still way cheaper than hotels.

One advantage of a minvan or cargo van is that it doesn't scream "tourist." You can park discreetly on city streets and spend the night. My wife's favorite trick is to park near a house under construction (easy to find in Vancouver) because there will be a portapotty on site.

After years of using a backpacking stove, we broke down and got a propane Coleman. A lot more practical. The biggest issue is refrigeration. We use a well insulated cooler and freezer packs, which means you have to find some place to re-freeze them every few days. We carry a 20L water jug, which gets topped up whenever possible. The ability to string up a tarp makes rainy periods bearable.

And after living in a minivan, sailboats will seem palatial.

 

 

 

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For a bit more privacy you might look at something like a Ford Transit Connect.  There are oodles of them, ex-cargo service, with panels in the back, for under $10k; decent ground clearance, fleet maintained, much better fuel economy than an old Suburban, small enough to park anywhere, and a flat load floor.

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A used low mileage, 4WD Toyota 4Runner is the way to go. Easy to haul stuff in or on it. Super reliable and it will take you anywhere. I picked one up a few years ago for ~$23K with 35,000 miles on it. Now I have 130K miles on it and I've had no issues with minimal expense on maintenance. I think the Old Man Emu suspension upgrade cost me more than all of the required maintenance combined. 

For storage you can stick it in a self storage garage space near a major airport. 

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Lotta good thoughts here.  

I did drive a 4Runner for 24 years. The only vehicle I ever bought new.  The problem was it was just too small.  The knees-up seating position was very uncomfortable after a couple of hours. Couldn’t drive it with my shoes on.  Not quite enough room in the back to lay down.  If two people sat in the front, there was always an extra elbow that didn’t fit anywhere.  I did get it up to 300,000 miles. My border collies loved it - it was their happy place.

The Suburbasaurus was a beater, but by comparison, was much more relaxing to drive. Except in city traffic.  (Although people would Get Out Of Your Way.)  And except for the noise when that old Detroit Diesel wound up to highway speed.  With a 40-gallon fuel tank, it had a theoretical 800 mile range.  

The parking space issue is a serious matter.  I’m thinking the American West - deserts and mountains, not interstates and Wal-Marts.  But there are stretches of BLM land that have become huge squatters camps.  Heck, there are half a dozen people living in cars and vans at my marina - not even counting the summer crowd.  

Years ago, for work, I did rent an RV for a month and set it up as a stationary base camp in the desert in New Mexico.  Then bicycled from there.    Couldn’t really leave it unattended overnight though, and I’d sure hate to drive that thing every day.  The cost was about the same as a motel room plus rental car.  Except that it was directly at my field site, instead of 50 miles away.  

Anyway, I don’t want to spend any significant amount of capital on a car this year.  I’m thinking that getting back to the boat will feel like coming home.  

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Toddster, the 4Runners have grown in size over the years. My 2007 is much bigger than the mid 90's one that my sister got over 500K miles out of before she "broke" it on a jeep road. The 2020 version that a friend recently bought is bigger than my 2007. If they still aren't big enough look at a Sequoia or the Lexus GX 470 and 460. Both are bigger, have V8's and are extremely capable and super reliable. The Lexus GX is known as the Land Cruiser Prado everywhere else in the world. 

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13 hours ago, toddster said:

Just wondering what anybody else is using for overland trips and logistics?

 

No photo description available.

 

2010 30' Airstream, now sold.  I spent 194 nights in it (kept a log).

 

No photo description available.

1971 Cayo C-11, also sold.  Probably about 30 nights in it.  I had it about five years after purchasing it as a project, and sold it for more than I had spent.

There are some great things about RVs as a form of travel or as a vacation lifestyle.  As with a yacht, you get the juxtaposition of a new scene outside your door whenever you move vs. familiar accommodations.  If you do it right, you keep the RV stocked and you don't have to pack before departing -- just stop at the grocery store on the road somewhere.  In many cases you can stay closer to whatever you're traveling to see -- there are campgrounds on the shores of lakes and oceans and on the banks of rivers.  You can enjoy evenings and nights in a way that you cannot from a hotel room or (in most cases) airbnb.  The overall cost picture can be favorable depending on the circumstances when you compare the RV to other forms of accommodation, particularly if you have a dog or kids or other circumstances/obligations that drive up costs of a hotel+restaurant sort of stay.  I bought the Airstream new and kept it almost nine years, and have no regrets.

There are some drawbacks.

Tow vehicle maintenance and depreciation (for a trailer or pickup camper), or chassis maintenance (for anything self propelled) is an enormous expense and in many cases will exceed the money spent on the coach.  It did for us.  Except for particularly lightweight towables, the size that are small even for a couple, you have to buy a pickup truck or one of a declining number of high-tow-capacity SUVs.

In most parts of the USA it is not feasible to stay anywhere except at a campground; don't fool yourself into thinking you'll crack the code and be different.  The only exceptions are the desert southwest and the mountain west.  Elsewhere there are both legal/regulatory and practical barriers.  Unlike boats RVs are not permitted to discharge greywater and cannot "make" their own water and this limits time in one place without services.  Most states now prohibit overnight RV parking in parks, trailhead parking lots, and rest areas with on-street and in-driveway parking restricted or prohibited on a municipality-by-municipality basis.

Campsite availability has in fact been declining.  There has over the last 10-15 years been a switch from a first-come-first-served ethos to one where reservations are required in most cases.  In many states it is nearly impossible to open a new campground because of zoning and compliance costs, and growth of public facilities (parks etc) has not kept pace with demand.  Two private campgrounds near us closed due to regulatory disputes and one converted to a timeshare model and no longer offered transient accommodations.

Parking, even for a few hours, is a very serious problem in high-density areas, particularly urban areas and towns where tourism is a major draw.  Except for some unusually small van-based RVs you can't park in any parking ramp.  Even with the Cayo (truck camper) it was difficult to find large enough spaces in surface lots with paid parking.  We never took either RV to Key West but that would be an example of the sort of area where parking just to go to a museum or restaurant would be problematic.  With the Airstream parking within walking distance of Minneapolis or St. Paul was impossible, even for a few minutes during off-peak times, because city ordinance prohibits on-street parking of vehicles that will not fit into a single marked stall and the private surface lots don't allow trailers as a matter of policy.

Consider storage before you purchase.  If you own a house, you may find that your municipality disallows or limits RV parking even on your own land.  Where I live there is a 25' length limit that is sporadically enforced.  Other nearby communities limit parking to 14 days a year or require parking on a concrete/asphalt surface on a side yard.  Some nearby communities specifically prohibit installing any sort of wastewater disposal connection on a residential lot.  I have encountered commercial storage lots that accept boats but not RVs.  Storage situations may change; I had free storage for six years and then the situation changed and I had to pay $800 a year for a space at a commercial storage yard that was 30 miles away (again, many areas zone against them).  My Airstream was damaged by sloppy parking of a nearby RV; this isn't unusual.

There is a certain amount of effort involved in housekeeping.  After a 3-10 day trip it typically took us a day to wash clothes and linens, vacuum, restock nonperishable food items, and generally straighten up.  We did not find maintenance and repair to involve significant time or cost (except for the initial "projecting" on the Cayo, which mostly involved fixing leaks).   The fridge on the Airstream was failing by the time we sold it, and we had previously had problems with the air conditioning that required professional intervention.  That was pretty much it except for batteries, hoses, and other really minor stuff.

We still have jobs and ultimately reached the point where we felt that we had made all the visits we wanted to RV-friendly destinations within reasonable driving distance for a weeklong vacation.  As we started to pivot to boating-oriented trips as well as more distant locations we decided it was time to move on.  The rise of AirBnB and vrbo were also factors in our decision.

I would do it again if we were able to travel longer distances or had a new set of local destinations to explore.

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In my pre-homeowner days (i.e. when I still had "free" time) I used to keep some camping gear and a change of clothes in a box in the 4runner. Theoretically, I could take off at a moments notice.  Or just not go home from a day trip, if things were going well.

About 25 years ago, I restored a 1950's "canned ham" trailer for a vacation.  I found a lot of places wouldn't allow any RV more than 20 years old (sometimes 10!).  Of course, now it's a "classic" and in high demand.  Prolly just sell it as part of general liquidation.  It doesn't tow very easily on the highway, and as mentioned above, parking is a pain.  Alternatively, I could make my utility trailer into a low-profile camper that matches the Jeep and still be able to load kayaks, bikes, etc. on top.  But it's still a trailer. 

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VW Syncro - a 4WD VW campervan.  A bit of an adventure.  Gets us anywhere we want to go.  Fairly reliable if you stay on top of maintenance - our is 1987 or 35 years old.   Comfortable sleeping.  Propane furnace.  Stove and a modern 12V fridge.  Bike rack on the back.  We enjoy it for a few weeks in spring and fall.  Summer is too busy in parks - and that's when we sail!

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