A little over two years ago, I chanced on a forum discussing overlanding from the UK to Australia. The idea was fascinating - slow travel, no airports and get to see places I had only read about. After a couple of months of reading, dreaming and trying to come up with any reasons why we shouldn't try this, the question came up - where next after we get home from Iceland?
"If I can get a year leave, what about overlanding from London to Australia?" Why not? So, in July 2012 we put a deposit down on Odyssey Overland's Istanbul to Singapore six month overland trip.
Over the last 18 months I've discovered that Canadians don't generally do things like this. It's been an ongoing exploration for the necessary pieces to make this happen. First was applying for a deferred salary leave at work (it's been in our contract for six years, but apparently I was the first person north of Edmonton to think I wanted to do it) and literally having to convince my employer that they wanted to create the process. Then it was finding medical and trip cancellation insurance for a year when you are approaching 60. I knew I had found the right insurance agent through the advantages of small town networking, when he didn't even hesitate to say that we could be covered for the journey and did I need terrorism insurance? We don't. Finally it was finding a travel agent willing to help with planning the last six months of our trip because apparently Canadians only travel for three months or less and directly from home :)
What has been fascinating is where and how you pick up knowledge by asking curious questions. One day I was looking at backpacks and mentioned we were planning to travel for a year, and got a great lesson in what kind of sleeping gear I wanted from a fellow who had just come back from backpacking in Nepal! Reading all the Lonely Planet books I could borrow from the library led to ideas for things to do in Australia or New Zealand that aren't in the regular tour guides. Sending emails to places got even better on the spot advice - advice I was given in 2009 when one of our guides asked why we hadn't consulted the area website before coming.
Since January, it's been a bit of a whirlwind as pieces fall into place. Now, with only 27 sleeps before we head toward the airport, it's down to the tiny details. Rescue the passports with their visas somehow from the Fedex office in Edmonton. Pack the backpacks. Confirm a few more hostels. Arrange to make the final payment for our last six months travel. Give house keys to our friends who will be watching the house and take the plants to their temporary home. Pray that the one unconfirmed trip will go as planned. Catch the plane for Istanbul.
Did I mention that we are missing winter next year? And that there will be no driving for a year.