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On this page you will find information and travel tips about my tours. How I planned what issues and what organizational preparations I made. In the last two years I have been asked about those preparations again and again. From travelers who want to go for such an Adventure as well. Of course, if you are often on the road with your caravan yourself or you have always planned your trips by your own and you know the Internet&Co., you probably don’t need to read any further here. But especially a lot of young people, who also want to go on an adventurous road trip from Australia to Europe, have “punched” me with many detailed questions, which I would like to summarize here.
I have spent the last months answering emails from nice people who asked me for advice on this or that topic. I have (hopefully 😉) sensibly summarized my answers to these questions from many mails on this page and offer them for download in .pdf Format. This should be better than writing here page by page which you would find very difficult to download and print. A .pdf file, on the other hand, can be downloaded quite easily and then sent to a printer even in remote parts of the world in a hotel, business center or similar.
Therefore I would like to ask you to keep on asking questions – but if possible only if they are not answered in the downloads here. Or if it comes to very specific problems.
The order of the downloads listed on this page corresponds to the order on my page myTravels. So first you will find an info about sensible planning for a trip to the Australian Outback. And further down then information about a road trip from Australia to Europe.
The information and travel tips listed here are the result of two trips to the Australian outback in your own vehicle. If you rent a car for such an adventure tour, the car rental company will surely give you different tips and advice about your planned tour. However, it is not certain that you will be allowed to drive into the outback with a rented car at all. The car rental companies will often ask you to sign a statement that you will not drive around in the outback (off sealed roads), or at least not on certain roads there. You can of course ignore this and drive into the Outback anyway (as long as the car is not equipped with a GPS by the rental company!). But I would strongly advise against that.
Because if an accident happens to the car there, you will have to pay all costs of recovery, retrieval, repairs etc. yourself. After all, even a Full Comprehensive Insurance taken out in addition to the rental fee should initially refuse to pay for the vehicle damage. After all, you have not kept to the signed rental contract. Incidentally, whether something happens to you in an accident in the outback on a street that was excluded in the rental agreement is relatively irrelevant to the car rental company. Therefore, you should take out an international travel health insurance before such a tour.
A trip into the ‘real’ outback is only possible with your own car! And once you have bought one, the first thing you have to do is. But I can only briefly touch on that here. For details, google to ‘Car Insurance Australia‘ or the state where you want to insure your car.
Your car must be registered, i.e. have a so-called Rego. With this Rego, a personal liability insurance for damages that you cause to other people in an accident (‘Third Party Personal Insurance’, TPI) must be compulsrily taken oute. In Queensland and I think also in New South Wales this insurance is called CTP (Compulsory Third Party). And at least in Queensland there is the special feature that you can choose the insurer yourself.
Next is the voluntary insurance for your vehicle. As seen above, the CTP only covers damage that you cause to other people with your vehicle. It does not pay in the event of an accident in which you damage property or a vehicle. For such damages you can take out a ‘Comprehensive car insurance’ or ‘Third Party Property Insurance’. I would also recommend this, at least if you are more likely stay in cities and larger towns. It is easy to make a scratch on a foreign vehicle …
If you also want to insure your own vehicle against damages, a ‘Full Comprehensive Insurance’ is recommended. Mostly this also includes the previously mentioned ‘Comprehensive car insurance’. In any case, it is advisable to read the insurance Terms and regulations of the respective provider carefully. Whether you want to take out full comprehensive insurance, you will certainly depend on the value of your car and your own budget.
However, car rental companies, like all Australians, see life as rather relaxed. During our 2013/14 trip, we rented a car in Cairns, a normal mid-range car. One day before the car was returned, we were on the northern beaches around Trinity Beach and parked it there in a forest car park while we were on the beach. When we came back, hundreds of ants (termites?) were running on our dashboard from left to right. We couldn’t catch all of them with our towels and so I confessed the invasion when we returned the car next day.
After all, I wanted to prevent that still weeks after our return an additional car cleaning fee be debited from my credit card. But the friendly employee of the car rental company only said: ‘No worries mate, that’s Australia’. And apparently also the funniest damage reports come to the table of the Australian car insurers, see picture. My son sent it to me from Australia in 2016.
How quickly damage to your own car can happen without anyone else being involved shows a little story from our first road trip to Australia in 2016. Back then we drove with a very old Mitsubishi Pajero, on the Capricorn Highway and the Barkly Highway from Rockhampton to Camooweal. By the way, these are roads on which you can also drive a rented car.
It was the best weather, no visibility problems and – thank God – little traffic. Above all, hardly any oncoming traffic. There were two of us, my son as the driver focused on the road and I as the co-driver had the roadsides left and right in my eye because of the kangaroos. Despite the bullbar (the crash bar on the front on many Australian SUVs) we didn’t want to have any of them in front of our car. But we had not expected any other danger at all. Suddenly there was a shock, the car started to roll. And despite my son’s immediate countersteering we landed briefly on the oncoming lane until we were back on our lane and stopped immediately. What happened?
Birds of prey held their lunchtime in the high grass on the meadows to our left. So far we hadn’t paid much attention to them. But full as they were they had a hard time getting into the air. And one of them collided with our roof rack exactly on the corner between left side and front. With an estimated 5-10 kilos of bird weight, this already has an impact on the car… I don’t want to think about what would have happened if a car had come towards us at that moment, maybe even a 52 meter long ‘road train’. It could have been just as bad if the bird had hit the car just 20 cm lower and had possibly landed in the windscreen… In short, even a fully comprehensive insurance for your own car is also worth considering, depending on the value of the car.
So now you have your car, your Rego (or its Rego 😉) and its insurance. Yes, you read correctly, it is not your insurance in Australia, because it is not issued to you as in Germany, but to your vehicle. Now you want to take it into the Outback. I am not talking about the hinterland of e.g. Brisbane, but about the real outback in the interior of Australia or Cape York. What you should consider, plan, buy or install before your departure, can be found in the information and travel tips .pdf file.
You will expect that the information and travel tips for an 8-month road trip are actually longer than the information for a 3-week off-road trip in Australia above. And they are. But not here on this page, but in the .pdf file for download below. Otherwise this page will be too long and confusing. So here are just some basic hints.
Actually I wanted to go on a completely different route from Australia to Europe. I planned a trip from Singapore via South East Asia, India, Pakistan, Iran and Turkey. You can find the reason why I decided differently in my blog. In any case, before you decide on a certain route, you should inform yourself very well about the countries on your route. And about the possibilities to cross them by car. You should also take into account information about the weather during your trip (temperatures, rainy or monsoon season, duration of daylight, etc.).
Three to four months should be sufficient for preparation. I have heard of travellers who have had planned a tour around South America with their motorhome. Including every single overnight stay. Costs: US$35.000. Not for the trip itself, but only for the planning 😉 But for the money the motorhome is not yet in South America and hasn’t driven one kilometer … You can do so, but you don’t have to. I had about 10 weeks time for preparation. In retrospect it was a bit short. A four weeks longer preparation time would have been more relaxed.
On the other hand: If you have too much time, it’s not perfect as well. I have noticed that I then tend to put off central decisions. Especially at deadlines that I am bound to later or that I can only change at additional cost. For example the date for the car shipment from Australia to Russia. And the period for the Russian visa is adjusted to this. The most difficult thing was to coordinate all these dates in advance. There is something about the saying, that the first step on a journey is the most difficult one.
But I can assure you that your planning and considerations will be easier. Once you have decided on the cornerstones. And above all, once you’re no longer dependent on the services of others companies. Of course, even then new questions will arise again and again: About money and fuel supply, about car insurance and spare parts, about communication (SIM cards), about border crossings and traffic regulations in the next country, about accommodation and food every single day and about your further detailed route. But believe me, with every day you are on the road and with every new country you come to, planning becomes easier and more routine.
Take enough music with you on your mobile phone for long driving days when you are alone on the road. Because you will often not have Internet access outside of towns and villages during the day. So there is no internet radio as well. Also, if available, it would cost you megabytes on your SIM card. And there is often no FM reception on the radio either. On the whole distance (4.000 km) from Vladivostok to Ulan Ude, always along the Russian-Chinese border, there was only on medium wave a Chinese station outside the villages with only word contributions, which I of course could not understand…
Something you should not underestimate on the way is your mental health. At least when you’re travelling alone. After I drove the whole day alone I tried to meet people at the place where I stayed overnight and to get in contact with them. At dinner in a restaurant or sometimes in a bar or on a market or on the street. These social contacts are very important on such a journey.
Nevertheless, you will ask yourself at some point what am I actually doing here and why am I not sitting somewhere else with friends now. Then it’s good to have a destination. I don’t just mean a physical destination but a very personal target. What is the purpose of your journey, why do you do it at all? Maybe you want to take pictures or you want to get to know a certain country and its people well. Or you want to experience a landscape or a culture.
I had the goal to bring my son’s car safely from Australia to Germany. And that’s exactly what I remembered in such situations. For example, when in Mongolia at noon after crossing a mountain range, the next one in the distance was in sight. And in the afternoon, when I had crossed that second one, there was still a third one in front of me. And that one was higher than the previous one. But somehow everything looked the same. And I asked myself: Did I really made progress on my trip?
This thought leads me to one last clue at this point. Every country has its own traffic rules. And they are not always immediately understandable for you or you think they are rather nonsensical. Stick to them anyway! It doesn’t matter if you have to drive through a 40 km long village in Kazakhstan at 20 km/hour speed, because there is a sign with a speed limit at the beginning of the village. Or whether you have to stop before every unrestricted level crossing. And stopping here really means stopping.
Even if the local population sees these rules more relaxed you should better follow them. Otherwise it can become quite expensive for you as a tourist… In such cases with – well, dubious – regulations and traffic rules I said to myself: You are here voluntarily, nobody forced you to drive here. And you are a guest in this country. No matter how unpleasant the traffic regulations are for you at this moment.
All information and travel tips for your road trip from Australia to Germany can be found now in the .pdf file below.