Only 3 days before the big start so I’ll try to cover documentation, maps (paper and GPS), my itinerary and budget in one post.
Let’s start with documents.
It is well known that the border crossings in Central America are saying, complex and several photocopies of documents such as passports, driving licence, registration. I’ll keep copies of those documents available.
I imported in advance my vehicle online for in Mexico to simplify the border crossing.
Website to import vehicles:
Note that it must also get a pre-authorization via this website:
The cost is about US $ 75 plus a US $ 500 deposit, refundable when you exit of the country..
The procedure is relatively easy, but it must be made up to 10 working days before the date of entry in the country.
Regarding insurance for my bike, there are several sites offering a multitude of plans. You can choose third party liability get full coverage. Prices vary slightly from one company to the other. I chose this one:
Their website provided easy navigation and their reputation is solid among North American travellers. I’ll stay in Mexico for about 30 days, but I still took the six months plan because the price was very similar. Moreover, in case of trouble, I’ll be able to stay longer or just to spend my winter there if I fall in love with the place!
I also made the reciprocity tax payment process for Argentina before online to simplify the process and have less cash to carry.
In terms of wallet, my credit cards, banking, driving licence, registration, I tried to play it safe. It is an open secret, law enforcement authorities in some countries can sometimes have some small problems with integrity. So I planned to provide only copies of my documents at first contact and keep the dialogue as limited as possible.
If they ask me the original, here is my plan.
I have organized my things to have 3 separate identical wallets hidden in 3 different places on the bike. If I have to provide my original driver’s licence and the officer asks me a sum of money to get it back, he can simply keep it as a souvenir because it is out of the question that I play this game.
This will also allow me to have peace of mind in if I lose my wallet. Fortunately, the bank with which I do business allows the emission of 3 ATM cards so that’s good redundancy right there!
In terms of navigation and maps (GPS and paper), I have the chance to live in 2016 when the technology available makes it easy plan your route and find yourself if lost.
My navigation will be done with my Zumo 550 GPS via maps downloaded for free via the web, except for Canada, the US and Mexico that are covered through the original maps from Garmin.
In Central America, I use the card www.cenrut.org and for South America, www.proyectomapear.com.ar and www.perut.org.
For these regions, there are also excellent maps from OSM (http://garmin.openstreetmap.nl/). In fact, the two sources will be used, because it is not all roads that are present in the most remote areas.
As for my iPhone, it will also greatly put use thru Maps.me where you can download full maps of each country, and especially Google Maps, which now allows downloading areas in order to use it in without cellular signals.
As for paper maps, actually, I’m not a big fan of this type of support. I am aware that it is possible to have a better overview. Sometimes, certain areas are more detailed. I have a copy for the majority of countries that I’ll visit, but I’m still not sure to take them along because of the lack of space and motivation!
My itinerary is pretty simple. A month in Mexico, one in Central America, because I have to cross from Panama to Peru on 14 November, then a few weeks in Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, possibly Bolivia, but still uncertain, then quickly thru the northern part of Chile and Argentina to concentrate on Patagonian later in February, in order to be back in Buenos Aires in early March and have a full month there.
For several months, even years, I religiously consulted blogs of people who have made this journey. Here are some good examples I read from one end to another, sometimes twice!
And, of course, websites such as:
With these references, as well as using Lonely Planet and other travel publications, I have identified hundreds of points of interest in Google Maps that I can easily find to organize my itinerary along the way. Indeed, I wanted to not have the path or any bookings set in advance.
I want my mindset, my encounters, the weather and the desires to discover things to be what dictates the path that will lead me to Tierra del Fuego. And in fact, it’s important to mention that it is an objective, but not an obligation in itself. Maybe in a couple of months, I will find the adventure too difficult or not being what I expected. But precisely because I don’t have a rigid plan, I will keep this freedom.
Quick trick, it is possible to export all these Google Maps markers in order to import them in a Garmin GPS device via https://takeout.google.com/settings/takeout by selecting “Maps (your seats).”
Finally, the budget. There are 3 major obligatory expenses. Health and car insurance for Mexico ($ 1,000), the crossing between Panama and Colombia ($ 1700) and finally the return to Canada by air ($ 3500). So I have planned these expenses from the start.
As for the bike, the it was purchased in 2010 so absorbed since. And in fact, I believe that this is the perfect time to use it for such a trip, because its value is much lower now, so less of heavy losses in case of an accident or theft. It is still perfectly reliable because it only has 54000 km.
For my motorcycle equipment, camping, clothing, tools, I spent about $ 15,000 spread over several years.
On average, I hope to spend $ 85 maximum per day for gasoline, food and sleep. Obviously, there will be days that exceed this limit and others that will be lower, but while trying to do my best to keep my spending within this average, it is not an obsession. It’s still the trip of a lifetime and I do not want the financial aspect to come in and darken the journey.
I will produce financial resume at the end of the trip.
And that is what completes the many preparation steps! The trip is set to start on September 11th!
2016 -09-12 - Day 1 - Montreal to Louisville, KY (1486 km - 16:00 hrs) 2016-09-13 - Day 2 - Louisville, KY to Austin, TX (1640 km - 16:00 hrs) 2016-09-14 - Day 3 - Austin, TX Finally, time to hit the road! After all these months (read: years) of preparation, ... Read more
I do not deny it, I love electronic gadgets! My iPhone, camera, GPS and laptop will be essential tools for me on this trip. My ongoing challenge is to bring only what is absolutely necessary while making sure to have the tools needed to communicate, navigate, picture, save and share ... Read more