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Europe/Asia and most places in between in a VW campervan

Travel Forums Round the World Travel Europe/Asia and most places in between in a VW campervan

1. Posted by louare (Budding Member 2 posts) 1y

Hi all, just wanted to say hello, my partner and I have just starting making plans for a mammoth 12+ month trip, we've talked about it in general terms since we met but after a lovely holiday in the New Forest a few weeks ago we finally made the decision to set a date, we're aiming to leave in September next year and will more than likely be heading straight to South East Asia for the winter, we intend to visit Thailand, Vietnam, Laos and China before heading towards India on our way back to Europe for Spring & Summer - we already have the vehicle and will spend the next 12 months doing some bits and pieces of necessary work (OH's department) researching and planning (my department) and both saving like mad :) I have no doubt i'll be asking plenty of questions on here over the next 12 months but as i say it's all quite new and we're at the start of researching everything so if anyone wants to give me some valuable pointers, suggestions of websites/books to read or just useful tips you think we'd need to know please feel free to share

2. Posted by Andyf (Travel Guru 675 posts) 1y

Hi there, and welcome. :-)

Sounds like you have an epic adventure planned.

Are you planning on going both ways overland? Do you have a route in mind yet? Whichever way you go it seems pretty challenging - through the middle east is difficult, or across Russia and down through China has its own problems - I read an account of someone who needed to either take a Chinese driving test or hire a driver, though I think I've heard they have liberalised things a little bit recently.

As for tips at this stage, my first port of call for planning is a website called Wikivoyage, it's like Wikipedia for travel, lots of useful country and city articles, I find it more use than guidebooks.

Good luck :-)

3. Posted by louare (Budding Member 2 posts) 1y

Hi, and thanks We're planning overland for the whole 12 months although we have toyed with the idea of flying slightly further afield and possibly spending a couple of weeks in Australia but otherwise only places we can visit on 4 wheels. Middle East is out it's just too risky we feel so we're looking at across Russia and then down - though i'm quite nervous of how cold it might be but hoping i'll cope! I'll look into driving in China given what you've said and i'll certainly take a look at Wikivoyage, many thanks for your help

4. Posted by berner256 (Travel Guru 563 posts) 1y

It's going to be a difficult undertaking. As Andyf mentioned, you will be traveling through some difficult countries; and not just in the Middle East. Before you embark on your trip, you should keep some things in mind: Driving in countries such as India require certain skills unlike those in Europe. Your vehicle will need to be in tip-top shape, as you will be going through a wide variety of environments, from mountains (some with snow) to desert, etc. You'll encounter lots of bad roads. Garages will be few and far between, so you will need skills to repair your vehicle. Don't forget to carry extra fuel tanks. A couple of spare tires also will help. Know that parking your vehicle overnight anywhere to sleep poses safety and security issues. Crossing borders, or entering certain areas, might require payment of bribes. There are many police checkpoints in some of the countries you plan to visit. I traveled overland from Europe to India and beyond in the 1970s; and gained from that experience. Next week, I travel overland from Morocco to Western Sahara to Mauritania and Senegal; and then by boat to Guinea-Bissau.

[ Edit: Edited on 30-Sep-2015, at 07:31 by berner256 ]

5. Posted by berner256 (Travel Guru 563 posts) 1y

Going through Russia may be easier, despite tightened visa requirements. But you'll need to take a look at a map. Going from China to India requires travel over the Himalayas. That poses a number of significant issues, including restricted travel in border areas. That also applies to the other countries you plan to visit. In short, it has the makings of a wonderful trip, but one fraught with difficulties and surprises.

6. Posted by Andyf (Travel Guru 675 posts) 1y

Russia would be my favourite option by far. Assuming you're white British heterosexuals there's only the language barrier to worry about. :-) A little time spent online getting your head round the Cyrillic alphabet will make life a whole lot easier; if you have the time to learn some Russian too, you'd be surprised how many places it is useful.

Normally a tourist visa for Russia is maximum 1 month, so you've a ticking clock there.

September may not be too cold in Russia - they have baking hot summers but cold winters; you're going in that uncertain time between the two when anything could happen - but it's probably the best month to go - spring being soggy as the snow melts.

If the middle east is too risky, central Asia has its own risks. There are terrorism and personal safety threats for westerners in parts of southern Russia, though by the sound of it you won't route that way. Your route will take you closer to the -stans, they're maybe not so dangerous but they'll be challenging.

A popular route is to stay close to the trans siberian railway as far as Irkutsk and Ulan Ude then drop down through Mongolia to Ulan Bator, then into China. The charity challenges do most of this, ending in ulan bator - look up Mongolia charity rally to see if you can glean any tips from what they do.

South East Asia doesn't have summer/winter seasons, they have localised dry and monsoon seasons, so check out the weather in planning your schedule.

India to Europe without going through anywhere too dodgy sounds tough to me - but then trying that is outside my experience.

7. Posted by jamesmartins (Budding Member 3 posts) 1y

Before you embark on your trip, you should keep some things in mind: Driving in countries such as India require certain skills unlike those in Europe