Should I stay or should I go?

Many themes keep coming back in the motorcycle travel forums.

One of the things that seems to worry people is, coming back after travelling for a long period of time. How to find another job? How to quit work and maybe a successful ( if unfulfilling ) career? How to resume your life at the end of the trip?

Each traveller I have met (and I have met many!) is different and has different circumstances.  I can only talk for me in this subject.

The first time I decided to go travelling for a year, around South America, risigning was a tough decision to make.

It had been so hard for me to build some sort of career. I went through years of minimum salary temp. jobs in France, after university, unable to get a permanent job. In France, unless you know someone and are part of some Business school and its network, it is extremely hard. Youth unemployment was, and is still, huge.

Then, I moved to London, finally landing a permanent job, in a big company.  Through hard work and very long hours, studying and going through a lot of grief at work, I made my way from the bottom of the ladder to a decent wage… yes, resigning was hard. Would I find a job again? Ever? Would I get the opportunity to even resume a career I had spent over 10 years building?

It was scary. I hated my job, but I still needed to work after my trip.

I took the plunge, and Alistair with me. After a year around South America with the bikes, we came back home.

We found jobs, quickly and at the same level than when we left. Since then, we have come and go many times. We now both work as contractors, giving us much flexibility for our trips.

My CV has more holes than a Swiss cheese, and yet, I seem to be very much in demand, in my industry. At least for now.

What most overlanders will have is a sense of purpose, independence, problem solving skills, the hability not to panic when the SHTF… all qualities that are in demand. No boss wants to worry about their staff. Turn up on time, do the job well done with minimum fuss, don’t made demands, be nice to everyone and at all times, even the one you would love to punch in the face… That big gap in your CV should not be a problem.

My first overland trip changed me. I learnt a lot. It made me confident enough to apply for jobs I would have thought beyond “my level”….

Do you come back to your previous life? Not really. You may appear to… but everything will be different.

For me, the only way to keep my sanity at work these days, is to plan the next trip!

The hardest part of any first long trip is not the trip itself and its challenges. No, the hardest part is making the decision to go, making that leap unto the unknown, plunging way beyond your comfort zone. That is the very hard part.

As one guy, who had never done anything or gone anywhere, told me angrily, “anyone can do it”!  Indeed, anyone can travel overland by motorbike, yet, very few chose to. Why? Because that leap of faith, that jump into the unknown, is too hard for most to comtemplate. However, without risks, there are no rewards.

Can you jump?

With apologies….

I have been ruthless this evening ! since I incorporated wordpress blog into my website, I have been bombarded with attacks from spammers and hackers. I have also had many subscriptions that looked to me suspicious. Either I am incredibly popular in Russia or these are just robots spammers.

So my apologies if I deleted your subscription. You will find if you register again that my security settings have increased. It’s a learning process…

If your user name is something like ivan_Smithy2548732421 and then your email is something like…. i might think you are a robot. So I removed those.






Danger, danger!

Aren’t you scared? Isn’t XYZ country (take your pick) dangerous?  These questions keep coming when I talk about my motorcycle plans.

My answers are always the same: Colombia / Brazil / Russia / Kyrgyzstan and so on,  are safe. We avoid troubled places. Depending on the country / Town it is easy to know which regions / places to avoid. I would not go faffing around Dagestan, one of the Russian republics, for example; Or some parts of Colombia, or wander into an “unpacified” favela in Rio.

Our personal safety is my top priority. The safety of the bikes comes second!

I do a lot of research. Often, the best info is on the road. The police and military will be around. Especially in more volatile regions. Who best to ask? In Colombia they gave us good advice, in Central Asia, while making our way to Andijan (eastern Uzbekistan), the heavy police and military presence was enough of a hint to avoid wandering too far off the hotel in the dark.

Common sense applies at all times. We have lived in big cities, and we know there are places, even in London, Paris or Rio, where you do not go, ever; places you avoid at night.  The same applies when you travel. So far we never got into trouble with any mugger or gangs.


For Africa, I must admit, something had been worrying me for a while. So I had to ask a specialist.

Let’s introduce Sandy. I met her at Motorcycle Mechanics evening classes, back in 2005. She was planning to ride from London back home, to Cape Town, while I was in the early planning of our 1 year around south America. She did ride back home the following year, through the middle East, Egypt, Sudan etc… all the way to South Africa. Then, in Cape Town, she created a motorcycle tour company. She knows the region very well, and as a biker, she understands the risks. So I sent her a message. I am a bit concerned about wildlife. I certainly do not want  to be eaten by a lion!

You see, we often end up travelling across very remote roads, and on the bikes, we are “out there”, very vulnerable. Namibia is very sparsely populated, so my question is not that daft. The answer came fast. Lions in Namibia are very wild, but she never saw any while riding there. She gave me valuable advice: avoid wild camping, stay in campsites as much as possible. If wild camping, have a fire going all night. Do not walk at night in remote places, do not go for a swim, unless someone who knows what s/he is doing tells us it is safe (crocodiles and all that!).

So, reassured, of sort. The bit about not camping wild is tricky. We are always at the mercy of a mechanic problem. I suppose, in such case, we could hide the broken down bike and ride 2 up on the other. We did that once, in Kyrgyzstan, when Alistair’s bike died. We hid it in a ditch and came back the following morning.

So I guess we will have to wing it and improvise. My plans are vague. I know by now, that the day we get on the bikes, my plans will last about 24 hours, before we have to make changes!

“Wildlife” encounters in Kazakhstan were a little less intimidating!

New Blog platform and ready for our next adventure!

Goodbye Google blog and hello the new integrated website blog!


Hopefully it will be more user friendly once on the road!

Now, if you remember, at the end of our last trip, after 3 months crossing Europe, Russia, Siberia, Kazakhstan and exploring Kyrgyzstan, I did promise Alistair that next trip we would go to a civilised place!

That is why we have chosen…. Africa!

Let me explain. The plan is to ship the bikes to Cape Town and explore the lovely countries of south Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique, Lesotho…. all very  touristic places (I think!) and with lots of wild life.

What could possibly go wrong?

So next trip is this summer, planning 4 months!  The old Blogspot will not be updated as it is not compatible with my iPad and we do not plan to take a laptop.

More details will follow.