London Bombay Cebu - Frequently asked Questions
Q. Why are you doing this?
A family has precious few years when the children are old enough to do something like this, yet young enough that it's still fun to hang around with Mom and Dad. It amounts to a very narrow window of just a few years. We have been planning this trip off and on for years, and this year the stars aligned sufficiently for us to give it a try.
Q. Are you sponsored?
A. No. We are not being sponsored by any corporate interests. The media you see here on Spectare is simply for the benefit of our family, friends and colleagues, who are following us on online.
Q. What are you doing about school for the children during the year?
A. Because Kirsten and Connor started school in Hawaii, they are almost a year younger than their classmates. Rather than make a difficult journey even harder, we decided to simply have them take a year off from school and pick up where they left off next year. We feel that this trip will provide tremendous educational opprtunities in its own right.
Q. What about communications? Do you have a satellite phone?
A. No, we decided that a satellite phone would arouse too much suspicion. We are using AT&T's new "World Connect" service, which provides global roaming with a GSM cell phone. So far, it works very well and we have had good cell phone coverage everywhere we've gone.
Q. How are you connecting to the Internet on the road?
A. We are using iPass, which is provides local dial up services worldwide, through a network of partner service providers. The nice thing about iPass is that there are so many POPs that you can usually find a local number to dial right from your hotel room. He have a collection of phone jack adapters as well as a tapping kit for clamping onto bare wires, if necessary. Finally, one of the most important gadgets we brought is the iGo "International Modem Saver Plus", which is a device that tests phone lines for safe connections as well as providing surge protection, and a variety of adapters to deal with polarity reversal, tax impulses, etc. A must have for the traveller!
Q. Did you completely plan your itinerary in advance?
A. Yes and no. We have a general schedule, with special pre-arranged "events" at certain points. We have made arrangements with outfitters for off-road trips in Spain and Morocco, as well as India. We also have guides to take us across Iran and Pakistan. In Iran, US citizens must be accompanied by a guide on a fixed itinerary in order to obtain a visa. We have also booked in advance for Switzerland, which is a must, since we will be there for the Christmas high season. Other than these arrangements, we are booking on the fly, using the Internet or by simply showing up at a likely hotel.
Q. Your route looks pretty dangerous. Are you concerned about security?
A. We are concerned to the extent that we will be a bit more exposed because we're traveling, but we do not feel the inherent risk is any higher in the places we are visiting than at home. It's always curious to hear this question from Americans in particular, since the US is really a rather dangerous place. You are far safer roaming the streets of most cities in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia, than you are in any given metropolitan center in the US. Even so, stick to major roads and towns, and always plan our days so that we are off the road by nightfall.
Q. How is the situation in the Middle East affecting your plans?
A. At this time, we are watching the developments in the West Bank, and hoping that the violence doesn't spill out, causing regional strife. We have tentatively taken Syria and Jordan off the itinerary, but may still go there, providing we can get Syrian visas, and things calm down in Palestine.
Q. Why did you decide to use a UK-based vehicle for the trip, rather than one from the US?
A. There are specialists in the UK that are familiar with outfitting vehicles for overland journeys like ours, as well as many other resources that can handle insurance, the carnet, etc. Officials along our route understand how to handle the documentation for a UK vehicle, which will make things easier at border crossings.
Q. Why did you choose a Land Rover? Seems like a Hummer would be a better choice.
A. We needed a rugged vehicle that could handle the rough terrain we expect to encounter and that could be serviced all along our route, if necessary. Land Rover has a well-established service network that can provide us with parts and service in the event of vehicle problems. Much of the Land Rover's design comes from the company's experience in supplying vehicles for expeditions and for commercial use in the 3rd world. As such, it is a tough, capable vehicle that is relatively simple to maintain and repair. It is narrow enough to fit on the narrow roads of ancient cities and towns, laid out in the days of the Roman empire. The 300Tdi turbodiesel engine in our Discovery is a strong, proven powerplant that can run on the poor quality fuels we expect to encounter along the way. Besides, can you imagine driving a Hummer, the star of the Gulf War, across the Middle East? You might as well paint a target on yourself.