The Not-So-Sexy Half of Planning an International Road Trip

Whenever people hear that we’re planning an international road trip, their eyes light up. “Wow,” they say. “That must be so fun to plan! Are you excited?”

Yes, we’re very excited. But there’s a not-so-fun side to some of planning an international road trip.

Kayla is a huge planner, so she’s tackling the lion’s share of the planning our international road trip. That’s got its downsides, though. She gets to dive deep into scrutinizing coastal villages and finding festivals to make detours for. But she’s also not very good at just letting things roll. Since we’re trying to keep our plans open, that’s a challenge at times.

There really is a good, a bad, and an ugly to planning an international road trip. Let’s break down all of our to-dos. We hope this will help future international road-trippers keep the bad & ugly planning in mind!

The Good of Planning an International Road Trip

Wow, can this process be fun! The planning that Kayla considers “good and fun” includes:

  • Packing lists. It’s fun to decide what to get to bring! We’ll publish all of our packing lists in full once they’re closer to finalized, but check out Barley’s packing list here.
  • Shopping lists. As long as they’re not too daunting, it’s a blast to come up with the items you’ll need. There’s safes and roof racks, there’s duffel bags and backpacks for Barley. This is a blast!
  • Sale lists. We’ve got a lot of stuff to get rid of, and it’s pretty fun to come up with all the stuff to sell. Selling it? That’s not quite as fun. It’s a headache!
  • Routes & people to visit. This might be Kayla’s favorite part of planning for an international road trip. The people, places, and events to visit are just endless.

Don’t worry, all of these relevant lists will make their debut in later blog posts.

The Bad of Planning an International Road Trip

There’s the vaccines and the visas. The stuff that’s just technical and time-consuming.

  • Car maintenance. Planning for maintenance is necessary but not fun. We made a big chart of schedule maintenance (something we should have done when we first got a car). We also Googled common problems for 2006 Saturn Vues so that we can keep an eye out for warning signs and purchase parts ahead of time if that makes sense. Turns out that for our car, that’s not a great idea – but it’s worth checking out for your make & model.
  • Barley’s logistics. We’re absolutely thrilled to bring Barley with us on this trip. That said, there seem to be endless forms and vaccines for each country. Many of the government websites are hopelessly boring and technicalities about. For example, some paperwork must be typed. Other must be handwritten. Some has to be completed no fewer than 10 days before crossing a border. The list goes on. This will definitely be a separate blog post – once Kayla has it all figured out.
  • Insurance. For the car and for us, this is no fun. We’re still working on researching the best international car insurance policies and international health insurance policies. Stay tuned.
  • Visas. Most countries will be relatively easy Visa-wise, but this can get hairy if you’re planning on staying in the countries for longer or going to less-American-friendly countries like Venezuela or Bolivia.

We’re not done with much of this list, probably because Kayla keeps putting it off and working on routes and places to visit instead. It’s so easy to get sucked into that fun planning and neglect the bad planning.

The Ugly of Planning an International Road Trip

Wait, it gets worse than car maintenance and dog vaccines? Yes. There’s the DMV.

  • Car titles. Currently, Turtle is only registered under Kayla’s name. We need to add Andrew to that title. Anything to do with the DMV falls solidly into the “ugly” category.
  • Car registration. Yep, that’s the DMV again. We need to register the car to an address that’s not our apartment, since someone else will be living here. We’re still working on this one.
  • IncomeThis to-do flips between good (we did say Kayla loves planning) when we’re projecting expenses. Then it can get ugly when we argue about the intricacies of the budget. About 2.5 months from launch, Kayla is starting to dive really deep into job hunting. That can be really fun – or totally terrifying and frustrating. It really depends on how much money stresses you (and potentially your partner) out.

This post isn’t meant to make you question whether or not we’re excited. We’re thrilled. But just remember that there’s a lot of bad and even ugly planning that takes place behind the scenes. We’re not just hopping into our car and driving south in some whimsical fairyland.

As promised, most of these lists will make an appearance lately.



Author: Kayla

Kayla is a biologist, writer, and web designer. She’s passionate about animal behavior, the science of habits, and anything outdoors.

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