Costs by Country

This is part six of a ten part series we are doing on overlanding advice. Future PanAm overlanders this is for you. They post each Sunday.

We’ve already spelled out our day-to-day budget in our budgeting and costs post, here we have broken costs down by country. Our overall average at the time of posting was $72 per day.

We found the costs below were more a function of our attitude than the country’s price index. For example, Bolivia is cheap but it isn’t half the price of Nicaragua. By the time we hit Bolivia we were in the wilderness-bush-camping, municipal-market-shopping zone. You might be in the dirty martini and live theatre frame of mind when you happen upon   Continue reading

Budgeting and Costs

Editors Note: this is part 3 of a ten part series we are doing on overlanding advice.  Future PanAm overlanders this is for you.  They post each Sunday.

Determining a long term budget for a trip like the PanAm is certainly the crux. Before this, our PanAm trip was still a wavering fantasy. Staring at the carefully crafted numbers was our moment of clarity, when we realized how attainable it truly was. These are our numbers to help you on your path to financial enlightenment.

 

Set-up costs

Probably the most variable of the cost categories, this is your truck and equipment.  Right now we’re parked in Northern Argentina next to a quarter of a million dollar Mercedes expedition camper.    Continue reading

Central America Overland

Editors Note: This is a recap of our 5 months overlanding in Central America and Mexico.  It was originally published on Expedition Portal.

From our 7,500 foot perch, the setting sun has just begun to paint the Boquete Valley a pale pink.  We stand halfway up Panama’s highest point, Volcan Baru, nestled in the Talamarcara range, having driven up 3,000 feet until the rocky trail warns us to go no more.  Before the warm glow of our campfire envelops us, we pass a bottle of Abuelo rum back and forth.  A few carefully placed words break the silence and shift our shared meditation:

Can  you believe we have just driven to Panama from our home in San Francisco?

Two   Continue reading

Bolivia Border Crossing (specifics for US residents)

The Peru into Bolivia Border Crossing at Yunguyo

Written by Logan and Brianna Pribbeno
More information at http://PanAmNotes.com

We crossed from Peru into Bolivia at the Yunguyo border town on a Sunday afternoon. This is a relaxed border mainly used for travel to Copacabana. There is a one hour time change between the two countries. We arrived at the Peruvian immigration office at 1PM (Peru time) and finished six minutes later. The Bolivian entry process was similarly quick, we were in and out in less than thirty minutes.

Drive all the way up to the chain barrier on the Peru side, park on the right. Get your tourist cards stamped at the police office (green building) across the street (left).   Continue reading

Latin American Navigation

It was decided at the start. We would rely on good old fashioned paper maps and a compass to route us through the Americas. That is to say no GPS solution had yet presented itself.

So, we navigated Mexico and Central America using the latest 16th century technology. It proved to be a valuable experience in patience, culture, and geography. We quickly learned Castallano for turn left at the tree and keep straight ahead until you pass a shack. More importantly we learned that Latinos will gladly and confidently provide directions regardless of their knowledge of the route.

We circled many colonial streets in confusion, cursing every municipality from Mexico to Honduras; the camper groaning with the weight   Continue reading

Review: Firestone Ride-Rite Airbags

10,000 miles since San Francisco and our lifeline overland equipment is well intact.  The Tundra and the Bronco 800, despite a few small maintenance issues, are holding their own.  When leaving California I had two major concerns: the weight of the payload versus the Tundra payload capacity and the structural integrity of the Palomino camper.

To deal with the payload issue I did what many with truck campers do and installed Firestone suspension airbags to help handle the weight on the rear leaf-springs.  They were considerably cheaper than adding an extra leaf and, as published, gave our overloaded Tundra a smooth ride.

10,000 miles later they’re falling apart.  Structurally, I’ve broken 4 bolts and found they need to be adjusted   Continue reading

South America Campsites Updated

While we sped through Colombia and Ecuador a few months ago, we’re finally slowing the pace here in Peru. We plan to exhaust our three month visa and, in fact, we are only a few weeks away from that point. As such, the camping list for Peru is much more extensive and we hope our fellow travelers find it useful. Also included in our How To section are a number of other road warrior camping lists. Buen viaje!

South America Campsite Listing Updated  Continue reading

Looking Back on Central America

Statistics:

  • Distance Traveled: 5,800 miles
  • San Francisco to Panama City
  • Average Mileage: 15 mpg
  • Number of Flat Tires: 0
  • Attempted Bribes: 3
  • Bribes Paid: 1 for $10
  • Bandits Encountered: 0
  • Robberies: 1 pair of hiking shoes – Guatemala border, 1 rosary – Colon Port
  • Breakdowns: 1 taillight out, 1 suspension airbag adjustment, 1 broken suspension bolt
  • Average Gas: $3.55/gallon
  • Percentage Miles on PanAm Proper: 32%
  • Average Cost Per Day: $39/person (gas, food, lodging, tours, etc)
  • Total Nights: 130
  • Nights Camped: 110
  • Nights in Hotel/Hostel: 20
  • Average Distance Two Americans Drive in 130 Days: 10,200 miles

Our impressions of Central America varied as often as the landscape. Leaving Mexico and entering Guatemala was as intriguing and mystifying as we expected. These   Continue reading

Economy

A lack of financial resources is the foremost justification in evading an experience like the PanAm. Whether you want to travel, start a business, or buy a house, money should never be the reason not to follow through. In our case there was no inheritance, no millions made in the dot com boom, we went about it the old fashioned way. We saved our money.

Most, being accustomed to poor financial advice, will instantly conjure up methods such as skipping a morning latte, homemade haircuts, and cooking rice and beans at home in your cold, lonely basement because you can‘t afford the gas to run the heater.  This is horrible advice.

Focusing on the big wins – We didn’t pinch   Continue reading

Pop-up Camper Expedition Prep

In four months traveling down the PanAm, we have seen a range of vehicles from rusted Econolines to Defenders equipped for safari.  Noticeably absent is is the perfect overland vehicle, “the one.”  The monster truck equipped with more amenities than a Hilton Garden Inn suite, prepared for anything mother nature or wily banditios can throw at it.  Extended travel budgets have been exhausted in many a garage.  Most people making this journey are on the road because they dismiss the very idea of a perfected ride.

Our acquisition of the Palomino Bronco 800 happened accidentally on purpose.

We waited nine months for the perfect aluminum-framed Four Wheel Camper (FWC) to come up on Craigslist.  I used every technological tool available   Continue reading