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Beating The Cold

January 14, 2016 2 Comments

Donna and I decided just after Xmas to fly back home due to cold conditions in Turkey. We really love the camping aspect of this trip however -4 degree temperatures do not do well in a roof top camper.

Snowing in Turkey

Is there a car under there somewhere?

So after spending a great Xmas day with the Taylors at a place called Gerede in a nice resort in the mountains outside of Gerede we decided to fly home with them. The further we go into Europe the cold would be the same. And in places worse so its best to catch the rest of the Aussie summer and go back to Europe in the beginning of their spring.

We arrived home on the 2nd of January to lovely warm weather in Sydney. Spent a few days with our daughter,  Donella, husband Geoff and kids. Was great to see them. Bit of a surprise for them as they did not know we were coming home. A few days later we drove to Port Macquarie (our home town). We were met by no. one daughter, Xanthe. A few days later we caught up with her boys.

I picked up another Ford Ranger ute to drive home in and to use until we head back to Turkey in May this year.  Hasn’t taken long to get back into the work scene. We purchased an old home in Wauchope and will add a secondary dwelling in the back yard as soon as we settle the purchase and get the development done and dusted before going back to Turkey.

The Trip

Almost 10 months have passed since leaving Port Macquarie on 16th March 2015 time has just flown by. Alan and Lynn will fly back to Turkey early April and will do their own thing. Donna and I will head back at the end of May. I think the Taylor’s will head quickly to Portugal and look at shipping their car to New York.

Donna and I want to spend some more time in Turkey and then head to Bulgaria, Croatia and so on into Europe. I believe Croatia is spectacular so we want to spend time in the hot spot of this country. We have some friends in Denmark that we want to visit and we want to visit for the first time relatives in Ireland. My father came to Australia when he was 2 years old from Belfast. So we should be able to catch up with some folks there. We have people we know in Scotland as well and want to do England and Wales. So there’s plenty to do and see. May get back at the end of the year – will come home when we are done.

I must take this opportunity to thank Alan and Lynn for their great mateship and company. I think we have all learned something from each other on this magic journey. We really do appreciate their friendship. There is probably no one else we could have done this trip with.

Many people say to us it must be difficult with the organisation of a trip like this. I say it is like most things in life, if you don’t make a start you will never know. We commenced organising this trip 12 months prior to leaving in March 2015. Here’s some tips for those that may consider doing this.

Preparing for a Trip like this:

Decide if you want to do the trip on your own or with other people. I suggest doing it with another couple with similar interests – more fun with 4 in lieu 2.

If you choose going with others make sure the selection of friends is really well thought through, remember you live together at close quarters almost 24/7 so the mateship must be well understood. No princesses or mates with personality issues.

Split the organisational tasks between the two groups so all members take on the paper trail and not just one. Alan and I did this and it was very successful.

Prepare your vehicle well in advance so you make your travel as comfortable as possible. Here’s some hints.

1. Carnet de passage, This is a car passport needed in most of central Asia Call NRMA to organise this
2. Shipping from Australia, We used ANL Shipping be prepared to lose a bit of time here and be mucked around a little
3. International driver license, not a must but I suggest having one. I think you would get away with a current Aussie License but you never know
4. Car registration papers, this is an absolute must we were asked for this all the time. Take several copies and make sure the car does not run out of rego
5. Passport, make sure you have heaps of time on your passport and take 2 dozen copies of it
6. Take a dozen copies of your drivers license (both sides)
7. Passport photos be sure to have at least 2 dozen of these
8. If you are on medication make sure your doctor gives you a letter to cover all the medication on board and be sure to carry in excess of what you need
9. Take a good first aid kit with plenty of tablets to stop Diarrhoea, headaches etc
10. Be sure to take out good quality health care travel insurance
11. Communication can be cost effectively carried out by purchasing sim cards in each country. I took a sat phone and it was not really required
12. If you go through China you may have to have a guide. I have heard of people travelling through China without one however I think it best to check this out. We used a company called NAVO in China and our guide from this company was great, a really nice young lady. China is probably the only country you may need a guide. You will need an accurate itinerary and make sure it is not too tight on times. We were under too much pressure in China best to see less and enjoy more, and that was our fault not the guide’s
13. Take 2 x terabytes 1000gb hard drives to transfer your photo’s off your phones and cameras
14. A dash cam is a good way to get some video footage, downloading photos etc for the blog can be time consuming however well worth it when the trip is over
15. Take a good camera
16. You need water, more than just drinking water. We built 100 litre tanks into the cars
17. You need good storage, we built large slide out drawers in the back of the cars. Donna and I had one drawer for food and cooking gear and the other for cloths. Alan and Lynn used both drawers for cloths
18. Good lighting, we used strong led lights running off the axillary battery
19. Awning for protection from the elements between the 2 cars and a side wind tarp to protect against winds
20. We both had 3 to 4 lage plastic lock down boxes about 750mm long x 350mm wide and 400mm high, these worked very well and kept dust out
21. We both have roof top tents, they are comfortable and pretty water proof. Taylor’s had a much better thicker mattress than us however ours is ok
22. Plenty of warm covers like sleeping bags opened up or doona’s, some blankets and sheets along with the usual pillows. These all stay up in the camper when you fold it away each morning before hitting the road.
23. Solar system, Donna and I left Australia with a professionally fitted solar system that kept the axillary battery charged which ran extra lighting and fridge. Alan and Lyn had a system installed in Mongolia, they have had some issues with it due to lack of understanding of a good system by the people that installed it
24. Cooking, we use small cheap gas cookers, cost us about $20 each. These are good however can be difficult to buy gas canisters for them in some countries. When we return in May we will purchase a more conventional gas cooker with a traditional steel universal gas bottle
25. Cloths, keep them to a limit, we took way too many and ended up bringing a couple of suit cases full of cloths back and will not return with them. Make sure you do have warm cloths, even in summer in various places the nights can get cold just the same as Australia does out back
26. Tools, ropes and ancillary bits of gear. We took an 18 volt battery drill bits and drills, Alan thought this would be a waste of time however we both used it so often. This drill got us out of some tight spots with repairs at times, a good spanner set, pliers, multigrips, hammer, shovel, a variety of ropes, a variety of screws nuts and bolts, a good all weather mat to lay on when getting under the car and the obvious screw drivers etc
27. Spare tyres, we took one spare on a rim and a spare tyre up top on the roof rack, Alan and Lyn had one spare. We used both of our tyres at one time so that was good planning
28. Storage, we have a 1.1m x 1.1m aluminium roof rack that served us well carrying spare tyres fuel and a spare tool box, even a porta potty (that has never been used)
29. Our Glind hot shower unit has been excellent runs off a heat exchange unit and can provide hot water anywhere so long as you have water this unit runs off the car radiator water
30. Bull bar is essential due to crazy drivers and giving you a sense of security in congested traffic areas.
31. Music a must, we only had CD’s that we soon got sick of. I recommend what Alan and Lyn had – a USB stick with heaps of music on it. You need an MP3 player plug in to operate this system
32. Good pull down blinds on passenger and driver side window. Because you spend considerable time in the car, protection from the sun is a must. Do not tint any windows, in a lot of countries it is illegal, ask Alan and Lyn they paid a heavy price to corrupt police
33. Try and have your fridge assessable from inside the car. Ours wasn’t, Taylor’s was and had better access to drinks food etc whilst driving along
34. GPS is not a must however a very handy bit of gear in countries like Mongolia and in some Stan countries. If you need to find a place in a country with not many roads or fences the GPS will get you there
35. Compass is a must, you will be pulling it out on a regular basis
36. Hard copy maps really do make life easier
37. Download an app called Maps.Me it is free and the best navigation gear to get you to your destination each day with ease, it really is a fantastic bit of gear.
38. Lonely planet books are a must. Lynn read from these all the time and was able to find places of interest on a regular basis
39. If you do travel with mates decide on each day who will lead and who will follow
40. 2 way radios another must, make sure they are high quality. In the early part of our trip we had cheap radios, they were very difficult to hear. We ended up with high quality and communicated well each day on the road
41. Have a back up plan if you are travelling in areas that may be easy to be split up in, like big cities etc
42. Make sure you know what visas you need and what time frames to allow on each visa this is so important

The Cars

Contrary to what has been said in previous blogs taking the p*#%  out of each others vehicle (some light hearted sport) Both cars performed incredibly well with over 43,000km put on them on some of the world’s worst roads. In Mongolia we crossed paths with a Canadian fella travelling 7 of the world’s worst roads. I think we could have shown him some doosies in counties like East Timor and Indonesia, China, and Laos.

Both cars are going extremely well, a lot of thanks must go to Alan, he is pretty anal when it comes to maintenance. I probably am the opposite and fix things when they break. Alan takes steps to ensure he eliminates issues before they surface. I know I did take the p*#% out of you mate but I did appreciate your actions.

When we decided to fly home from Istanbul for the remainder of our Australian summer we had to find a place to store our cars. It was a concern for all of us to ensure we found a secure place. We tried parking stations however they were too low with their head height. So we decided to try Ford or Toyota and asked if they could store them in their yards. Alan punched Toyota into Maps.Me and bingo up came a Toyota location only about 6 or 8km from our location. So we drove the Ford over to this marked spot on Maps pulled up at the security gates in front of the building. It turned out to be Toyota head quarters for Istanbul. A guard came up to us and we asked to speak to a manager. They took a card from us and rang the manager, 5 Mins later a communications / marketing senior manager (Umut) came to greet us. He spoke perfect English and listened to our needs. He not only agreed to store our cars under cover for up to 5 months, Umut also said he would have staff start the engines on a regular basis. Umut also wants to do a story on the trip. Not sure he would want to do a story on a Ford though. Time will tell. The story will go in the Turkey Toyota magazine.


What a wonderful place. It is a real toss up between Turkey and Mongolia – we loved both places and can not wait to get back to Turkey in May. The people are so generous, polite and go out of their way to help foreigners. I think Aussies and Turks have a real close affinity with each other since World War II. The food in Turkey is great, the accommodation is very good. Just got too cold for us and that is why we decided to fly home for a few months. They received 300mm of snow the day we left. Our plane had to be de-iced prior to the flight. This was the first snow in 25 years in Istanbul.

On a parting note, people in all 12 countries visited to date have been excellent. When you do a trip like this you constantly get reminded the issues in the world are not created by the general populations, it really is corruption in governments at all levels, bankers and religion. The general populations are just fantastic everywhere we went.

Well folks until May we won’t have a lot to post accept boring old building work etc, so will leave that alone. Until we go back to our cars cheers!

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Comments (2)

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  1. Judy Veitch says:

    Welcome home, Barry, and thanks for the update!
    Hope you and Donna are both well and enjoying being warm/hot again.
    Good luck with the build and with your further travels too.

  2. Keith Harvey says:

    I’ve really enjoyed reading about the travels of you four. And what an excellent list for anyone contemplating a trip like that

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