Overland tours have some seriously huge advantages; Namely, you don’t have to book your accommodation, work out how to get places, and in some cases figure out food etc. It also means you get discounts on activities and get to see some more off the beaten track places. You also get to see a whole lot of one continent for a very reasonable price.
But before you go and book that 25 day Overland Safari, have you read our 10 Golden Rules (with input from people on our tour)
Don’t Be a Dick.
This right here, is the big one. Imagine there are 20 of you on a bus for 3 weeks. There are plenty of ways to be a dick. Taking the water someone took the time to buy in bulk without asking. Unplugging someone’s camera battery to charge your phone 3 hours before you all go on safari. Generally just being mean to someone who you decided you don’t like. Not washing up your peanut butter stuff when there is person with a peanut allergy. You don’t have to love everyone – in fact its statistically likely that at least one person you meet will annoy you – but just ignore and be better than all that
Everyone is different.
Some want to go to bed at 8pm. Some want to drink every night. Some like to chat to everyone and some don’t. Some hop to a different tent every night. Some want to watch all 3 Lord of the Rings Extended versions on the bus. If your expectation is that everyone you meet will be like you, then prepare to be disappointed. Embrace difference and you will have an amazing time.
Electronics are your friend
You need to find every portable power pack you have and take them with you. The trucks have access to power when they on most sites, and there is a power strip you can use – but there is 10 ports at most and there are upwards of 20 people on a truck so you can’t expect to have access all the time. One guy had an awesome solar panel that folded up really small – if you can find one of these, get one. There are many long driving days and entertainment is needed. Download a shit ton of movies and series and books. Conversely, when these electronics go inevitably wrong, have a backup in the form of a) actual books and b) a pack of cards.
It gets cold – even in Africa.
A girl on our tour was carrying on to Lesotho. She posted a picture on social media of SNOW where she was. SNOW! Even the bits that don’t get snow require warm clothes in the Southern hemisphere winter (the Summer for us from the Northern Hemisphere). Even some places that are warm by day get cold at night. Remember your warm clothing. Pack a decent sleeping bag (not just a sleeping bag liner!) and when your tour guide tells you the upgrade to a room is $8 a night bite his arm off for it!
Your Tour guide knows best.
Try and remember they are there to keep you safe. So if they tell you not to take photos at a border point, or of policeman, or not to walk on the grass, they are really trying to keep you out of trouble. Keep in mind that they will probably end up paying a fine as well as you if you break the rules. Also, try and remember they are away from their families for months at a time. Try not to treat them like a tour guide all the time. In our case we spent 5 weeks with one tour guide and driver, which is more time than we’ve spent with anyone this year except each other, and 2 of the tour group! If you’re spending that amount of time with someone, you should be treating them as a friend.
Be on time
A 10 minute delay at the beginning of the day can have a big impact on a long drive day – and there are plenty of them. There is very little that is more frustrating than everyone being ready on time except that one person who didn’t get up in time, and starts putting their tent down 5 minutes before you are due to leave. Also ,try to factor in that everyone else needs to get into the lockers etc in the morning. So even if you only need 10 minutes to get your stuff sorted, if 20 people think the same thing that’s a big queue at 10 minutes to breakfast. If you don’t mind getting up a little early do it and save yourself the headache.
Do your research
Do you know what you booked or where you’re going? If you booked a camping overland trip don’t be surprised when you get given a tent, and have to sit in a bus all day at least a few times. Be honest about how much you are willing to chip in. I hate washing up for example, and one guy didn’t like to cook. So we took each other’s washing and cooking shifts – both of us were happier as result. Remember that you don’t have to rough it if you don’t want to – there are often options to pay extra and sleep in an actual bed if you are tired of camping. There are also accommodated versions of many of the tours – though I think upgrading on a Ad hoc basis worked better for us.
Ignore Fear of Missing Out (FOMO)
One of our nicest, most chilled days was when everyone else went snorkelling and we didn’t. I dyed my hair (long overdue). Used a hairdryer for the 1st time in 6 months. Put make up on. Steve even put his one and only shirt on. We met everyone in the evening for drinks and had a great night. In Livingstone, everyone else was Bungee Jumping. I almost did it – until Steve reminded me that I cry on rollercoasters, so jumping off a bridge was probably going to give me a heart attack. FOMO nearly drove me to jumping off a bridge. IGNORE FOMO
However many drugs you think you will need – take twice as many
Remember those long driving days? They can play havoc on your body. Not least because the roads aren’t great and you sat down for 12 hours at a time. At least three of us were surviving on painkillers alone by the end of the trip. However, you can buy most prescription drugs over the counter so its not all bad news!
You don’t have to be the last one in the bar every night. You don’t even need to drink, or play drinking games, or go out to dinner with everyone, but really, what’s the point of going on a group trip if you aren’t going to meet new people? We were fortunate enough to meet some really cool people on our tour that we will definitely be seeing again. If you stay permanently glued to your Smartphone you can easily miss out on making some amazing new friends.