Games, Films, TV programmes, email, internet access. Need I say more !
2) Mosquito Net
It doesn’t matter how careful you are bloody mosquitos get in. When its hot you’ve got to sleep with the windows open and then they just swarm you. We’ve got a mosquito net that we can hang above our bed, tucking in under the mattress so we are 100% protected from the little blighters. Central America wouldn’t have been bearable without it !
Don’t let anyone tell you that the mosquito nets in Seitz windows work. These are near ubiquitous in European built campers and though the nets are great at stopping flies they just don’t stop mosquitos – it’s a common complaint when overlanders meet.
We seriously couldn’t do this without our GPS. You just can’t get paper maps which are detailed enough to drive round the towns and cities but every country in the Americas has decent maps available for a Garmin GPS – although sometimes it takes some looking.
We’ve even found ourselves 100km from the nearest paved road, on a track and the GPS is happily pointing the way.
Just don’t make the mistake that a couple of overlander’s we’ve met have and buy a Tom Tom. All the maps are available only for Garmin and Tom Tom’s are pretty useless in the overland world.
Books are dead. Long live E-Books.
Thank god for E-books and the kindle which is probably the best e-reader out there. Although to be honest its got a long way to go to be a truly great device. The big flaw in the Kindle is that they are damn fragile – just be really careful because the screen breaks far too easily. We would seriously recommend a hard case.
Carrying books on a 2 year trip in the limited space of a truck just isn’t possible. There are plenty of book exchanges around at various hostels but for some reason they all seem to have the same books and most of them are at least 20 years old – Jeffery Archer, Michael Crichton and obscure American Romance Novels.
5) Sand Ladders
We carry two reinforced fibreglass waffle boards which are around 2m long and can be used to give us traction in muddy conditions, help us out on soft ground or even bridge over holes.
They also double as levelling blocks if our campsite isn’t quite level.
6) BBQ and Dutch Oven
The dutch oven is amazing – it gives you an oven without taking up the space in the camper. A dutch oven is basically a very heavy duty cooking pot which can be used over a fire – its very important that the lid can be used to place coals on so you can cook from both ways (ours does this very well when inverted).
Our two favourite recipes are without a doubt Empanadas and Chocolate Brownies.
7) Fake Driver’s Licence
Before we left home we made some copies of our driver’s licences and laminated them up. When we’re stopped by the police we hand them these instead of our real licences and that way if they decide to hang onto them then its no big deal.
As luck would have it we haven’t had a real problem with the police so far, cross fingers !
8) Sterling Power ProCharge Ultra Battery Charger
Ok so not strictly an item as we installed it in the truck but this baby rocks. It’s a mains battery charger for the truck that is rated for 90-270v at 40-70hz. If it comes out of a mains socket anywhere in the world this thing takes it.
Our truck is set up at the UK standard 240v so this charger lets us charge our batteries both in the US, Central America and the North of South America where 110v is standard and also in the South of South America where 240v is standard. It also keeps charging when the power is less than perfect.
The Beast is a reliable starter. One turn of the key and it starts every time. However when the temperature drops below -5c overnight it becomes a bit reluctant.
The Beast has a special port that the army used to fill up with ether and there is a plunger in the cab which adds the ether to the cylinders for fast starting in seriously cold temperatures. We don’t have the proper adaptor for this so we have spray cans of ether (arrancador in Latin America). A quick spray of this into the air intake and the engine explodes into life.
This is way easier than lighting a fire under the engine – something some overland truck drivers have been known to do !
10) High Power WIFI Aerial
For those occasions when you’re just too far from a WIFI signal to logon. This aerial not only pulls in those weak signals but finds WIFI that just isn’t close at all. It means that you can get WIFI from in the truck much more often that otherwise and you don’t have to go and find an internet café. Ours is a 007GTi NextG USB-Yagi antenna (snappy name I know).
Some form of WIFI extender is an essential purchase for overlanding.
And one more for luck –
Ok I admit it, I’m obsessed with the temperature. In the both the truck and the camper we have a digital thermometer which gives us internal temperature and then at the touch of button gives us the outside temperature from a sensor on the roof.
I check this at least 10 times a day (probably more).