Travel Hacks: the three C’s of Travel

2 years and 9 months ago we left the Netherlands behind and started our great overland journey! You can prepare all you want before the start of your journey, but what you really need or how to make things easy while being on the road, you will only find out when you are already traveling. We’ve decided to give you the chance to get a little head start! Below you will find our 3C’s (Car, Cooking and Camping hacks). Some of our tips, tricks and camping hacks you’ll probably want to steal from us for your next trip!
Stay Organized: You’re dealing with a tonne of crap when you’re camping. We found out that it’s really easy to lose stuff, which is really hard to replace once you’re on the road. Having a well thought-out system for where you put stuff in the car means you don’t risk losing things. You want to think of some kind of method where things are accessible but not in the way.
We found that the key for us is strong, foldable plastic crates. We use a cabinet holding 4 crates in the shape of a block and our drawer system holds another 4. We have one crate extra, stored in a folded position which makes the system dynamic. Someone invites you inside for a night? load some clothing, your pillow, toothbrush and favorite shampoo in the spare crate and you’re ready to go. Not needing the spare crate? use it as stepladder, table, workout bench or quick seat if it’s getting too crowded around the campfire that you just made with your newly learned fire starters (find below). It happend to us that we needed to do a 4wd recovery, or that the car needed to go to the workshop but the mechanical bridge could not carry the car’s weight. No worries, just quickly stack the crates next to the car and you pull out an easy 300kg of weight in supplies, spares, tools and kitchen stuff in no time.

Clothespins/clothes-pegs: forgetting things is quite human right? fresh cup-a-coffee on the bonnet in the morning, fuel caps on top of the fuel pump where you just got gas, your favorite pair of thongs at your previous camping spot on the beach? It will help if you stay organized but you can not see everything. For the things that we keep on forgetting and can’t directly see we’ve marked clothespins with a permanent marker. 3 Plastic, bright colored pegs you’ll find marked with; “tires low”, “hubs on”, and “Benzine for stove”. In normal conditions they’ll stay hidden behind the sun visor but when one of these 3 is active you’ll find it on a central place in the middle of the dashboard.

Plastic sealable containers: To: Save leftovers, pack the fridge efficiently, keep food from uninvited quests, keep products fresh, cook and prep food for a couple of days. store nuts and bolts, store electronics, make omelets in, prepare pancake mix (shaking with the lid on). We’ve tested quite a couple before investing in a load of different sizes of containers. The brand ClipFresh is by far our favorite!

Foldable water bladders: We are using good quality 10L foldable water bladders for fresh water. Amazing, but even better because we don’t only use them for storage of drinking water! They are black so put them in the sun for a little and transfer it in to a warm outdoor shower, fill them to a certain level and use them in the fridge to fill the empty space and get the fridge to run more efficient & have cold water to drink and then there are those born with cold feet. Fill one of the bladders with hot water and throw it in the bottom of your sleeping bag before bedtime. Awesome!
Cooking efficiency trick: What for; Using one stove for preparing a multi dish meal, trying to save gas, or seeing the sunset before dinner while everything is ready and cooked? How: After preparation roll your hot pots and pans in a towel or wool blanket before putting them in your down sleeping bag! For instance, we cook chicken curry on the stove, but we want to make rice to go with it. Using one stove, the rice will be cold by the time the rest of the dish is ready. A good way to keep the rice warm is to wrap a towel around your hot pan before stuffing it in your sleeping bag, blanket or swag. This way your sleeping bag will work as a insulator, it will keep on simmering while you cook the curry on the stove or enjoy this wonderful sunset. Even uncooked rice, potatoes or pasta will finish cooking in a blanket after it has been cooked for a short while on a stove.In South Africa we even saw a sort of cushion in the camping stores, especially made for slow cooking dishes after cooking! see:
Fresh bread: Fresh bread is hard to find and fresh brown bread is definitely one of my personal favorites. This is why we make it ourselves: Make a small campfire, Mix flower with water and yeast, let it rise, turn it in to a ball and put it in a Dutch oven(heavy metal pan), put some hot burning coals on and underneath the oven, wait 45 minutes and your fresh bread is ready! Interested? find the full recipe here
Cup-A-Tea: nice to keep you hydrated and warm, even better if you throw a couple of washed unboiled eggs to boil with it. Makes a nice in between snack.
Eggs: Having a problem keeping eggs unbroken or simply not having place in the fridge? why not storing them broken? A small empty water bottle will hold 8 eggs for the perfect omelet!
Looking for a snack? Popcorn works great on the campfire and pizza is easy to make in a dutch oven. Find the recipes in our blog

Fire starters: reduce, reduce and recycle! Our used cooking oil goes, cooled down in a plastic container which is filled with toilet paper, napkins, or small pieces of cotton. It will soak up the oil and once soaked it will work as a great firestarter.
Ducktape: Wrap ducktape from the roll thickly around your water, fuel or whatever bottle. instead of having to use the roll this way saves space and might save your life one time.
Saltwater: Do you never really feel clean after washing with salt water? Helga says; “After washing in salt water I know I’m clean but my hair feels like rope and the salt still clings to my body” “When travelling in WA I met an old Australian couple that had been travelling along the coast for years and were still catching the occasional wave. They taught us that you don’t have to leave your wild camp spot to feel fresh. Just buy a bottle of Selsun, anti-dandruff shampoo. Wash yourself with this and then dry yourself. You’ll find out when you are dry almost all of the salt has somehow washed off” Selsun is a product sold at your local Chemist. Chemist Warehouse sells a bottle for $5. We can’t explain the magic behind this but we do know that Selsun contains Selenium Sulphide 1%. Other antidandruff shampoos like Head & Shoulders for example does not contain this and so won’t work.

Overlanders travel advice

Today 2 years and 8 months ago we left the Netherlands to discover the world. We crossed borders, crossed deserts, slept next to crocodiles, been in a couple of road accidents, got stuck, recovered, got stuck again, solved breakdowns, drove through when police stopped us twice, got chased by police, sweet-talked officers for hours but never payed a bribe, made lots of friends, slept in dodgy hotels, camped in tremendous winds, got chased away, got sick, broke a foot, had to flee for ticks as big as nuts, got attacked by Australian bull ants, mosquitos, buffalos, bees, sandflies, bats and elephants, got harassed by kids, pushed donkeys and cows off the road and did not wash for weeks.

We just arrived in country number #26 on this amazing overland journey and decided to collect some travel advice for everyone who likes to go camping, is thinking about doing an overland journey, likes exploring, spend time in the bush or just likes a good read-up. Don’t see this as the holy grail of overlanding. Everyone needs to make his own journey. It’s just a short collection of tips we picked up having been on the road for so long.
One: Don’t plan too much in advance. Be flexible, everything changes so fast on earth. We experienced this traveling through Northern territory hitting the wet season; Roads turn into seasonable hazards, streams turn into rivers and being outdoors loses its fun. You’ll have to be flexible, adjust or wait. We also experienced this traveling the African continent; political situations, public tension, closed borders. You’ll just have to deal with it although this could mean having to adjust your travel itinerary. Plan a general route, be flexible and let the road and your experiences guide you. Take the advice of others, but bear your own abilities and desires in mind.
Two: Less is more….the urge to overpack is strong. Definitely take less than you think you’ll need, except wisely selected spare parts, tools, and (in certain parts) fuel + water. Always carry back-up food if you’re away from civilization but definitely don’t try to carry months of stuff…plan to use local sources to re-supply. We carry a week’s worth of non perishable, dry-freeze food, (light, small and lasting) which we keep separate for emergencies. A Water filtration system like MSR or an additive like Katadine helps with getting safe drinking water from local sources.
Three: Keep everything as simple as possible and don’t overcomplicated things. Packing, unpacking, setting up sometimes can be fun but also gets boring and a simple waste of precious travel, explore and relax time. Don’t bring anything that take too much time to set up as it will either stay in its permanent setup or you’ll never use it.
Four: It’s all about the people you meet. Often the country’s highlights are the people and their extreme generosity. Read up on the cultures you pass through. Don’t be afraid to stay with locals. Go to the museum. Talk to people. Don’t drive through in a bubble of your own culture. Have faith in the people you’ll meet along the way, it might by times be a little overwhelming (Pakistan, India, Africa) but the world is full of beautiful people who want to help you and share time with you. The interruptions ARE the journey!

Five: On an overland journey using a vehicle? Take care of your vehicle and it will take care of you. Take records of the distance you are traveling and the service history of the vehicle. Check or replace things at certain intervals. We are servicing our car every 5K. Being on the road: check for loose bolts on rough dirt tracks and walk around the car regularly to check its condition and your load. Keep weight down and low in the vehicle, this prevents you from rolling over. Take good (self) recovery gear, you can’t and sometimes just won’t rely on others to save you. But first prevention from getting stuck is not getting stuck, engage 4×4 on time, know the abilities of your vehicle and turn back when necessary. Especially if your trip is through Africa, plan your traveling days with short distances, which completely removes the stress of the drive. Travel slow, prevent accidents and see more!

The Brave Man – stories from the Karamojong

When we visited the Karamojong we were incredibly lucky in capturing two amazing stories. Stories which are told by the Karamojong on the long and dark evenings to entertain each other around the campfire.
This first story was told by Matthew Toyo from Kautakou and tells us about how being brave can save your life.

An old man with a wrinkled skin is sitting in the tall grass in the shade of a large tree. He looks up at the sky. The clouds are congregating in a thick blanket above him. “ Will it really rain?” he thinks to himself. It has been dry for so long. He looks around. His spear made out of wood, with a sharp, solid point, stands next to him against the trunk of the old tree. The tree which, just like him, has been around for a while now. This morning he led his cows out of the village and herded them to his favorite spot, a place where there always seems to be grass, at the old tree. He loves this tree. Normally one of his sons joins him, but today he is alone. His son went to town a few days ago to sell some things as he hasn’t returned yet. This is very common he knows, his son will not return before he gets a good price on the market and found himself transport back to the village.
He starts to count his cows: 1,2,3,…,16,17,…19,…28,…32…this is the last one he counts before his eyelids start to droop and he falls sound asleep. The moment he wakes up, he hears the raindrops fall on the leaves above him and onto the ground next to him. He wipes a drop from his face. “This was probably the drop that woke me up,” he thinks. He gets closer to the trunk of the tree to shelter himself from the sudden heavy rain. With every raindrop that falls on the dry soil he can see a little bit of dust blow up. “ About time,” he sighs, the rain is late this year.
In the distance he can see the familiar sight of his cows. They are taking shelter too and turn their backs into the storm of rain. “Ah good,” he thinks, “ This way, I don’t have to herd them all together again”. He lets himself slide down again and waits until the rain has stopped. Luckily, he doesn’t have to wait long. The drops turn into little drops, and the little drops turn into minuscule drops before the rain completely stops as sudden as it had started.
He gets his spear which is still leaning against the old tree and starts to walk towards his cows. The grass is still wet and he enjoys the feeling of cold wetness between his toes. Sand sticks to his feet. He looks at the earth below. His father was a good shepherd and an even better tracker. His father learned it from his father. He never knew his grandfather, but he has heard the stories. He has tried to teach his sons,but they are more interested in women and trips to town. Maybe they will care to learn later, he secretly tells himself to keep his hopes up.
The old man gets on one knee in the wet sand. With his fingers he reaches to the ground. That is strange, he thinks to himself, while he looks at the print in the soil. That is a hyena print and it has been a very long time since I have seen a hyena in this area. He presses his palm against the print. It fits. It’s a front paw, a male alone, possibly pushed off by the rest, possibly wounded by fights with other males. Wounded animals are dangerous, everyone knows that. They look for easy prey and are constantly prepared to attack. They will not hesitate.
With a sudden jolt he looks up towards his cows. They are still grazing peacefully, close together. On hands and feet he crawls closer to the animals while taking in his surroundings. The cows will not react to him at all, he knows that, because they are used to having him around. Another fresh print on the ground, he knows he’s getting closer. He gazes over the tall grass, his hand tightly holding his spear and he looks at the sharp point. It’s still undamaged and razor-sharp. His heart is in his throat. This is not the first time, but he doesn’t have the strength of a young man anymore, he knows that, he has to be smart this time.
He looks around him, how would his father have solved this? Suddenly, he knows, the soft earth and he starts to dig in the soft soil. He digs deeper and deeper with his hands until he has dug out a narrow hole. He trusts his spear into it, backwards. He makes sure it is in a 90 degree angle with the sharp point facing upwards. He starts to fill the hole again with sand until the spear stands solid as a rock.
Now that the spear is in place, he starts to crawl further. Low to the ground as a predator, silent as a mouse, but wise, brave and unbeatable like an elephant. He spots the hyena in between the cows, exactly where he thought it would be. It is lurking around the mothers with young calfs, the easy prey. He crawls closer, closer, even closer. His heart is beating very loudly. He can almost smell the hyena by now. The grass gives him good coverage and the soft earth muffles his sounds.
Now, he is close enough. He grabs the grey tail of the hyena, gets up with all his speed and strength and starts pulling and walking backwards towards the spear in the ground. The hyena is totally surprised. His hind legs are partly suspended in the air and the front ones are not getting any grip on the wet grass. The speed with which he is being pulled completely surprises the animal. The sharp point of the spear is rapidly getting closer. Sweat streaks down the man’s face. With his bare hands he still holds the hairy tail. Just a little closer, he thinks to himself, the animal is roughly 60 kg he guesses. At that moment, the ground becomes harder, the hyena is getting his hind legs back on the ground and gets back his grip. The spear is only a few meters away. With all the power the man possesses he starts to pull again, he knows it is now or never, the hyena still hasn’t regained full grip. His hands and knees are hurting, back in the day this would’ve cost him no effort, but he doesn’t want to think about that right now. The hyena is not giving in at all.
He has to think of something and fast, his hands are hurting, but he can’t let go.The moment he will let go the hyena will definitely be after him, or worse, his cows. He needs these cows to be able to give a good brideprice for his sons future wives. Letting go is no option and the spear is too far away.
Suddenly, he sees someone walking in the distance. How lucky! “ Help me, help me!” he shouts as loud as his tired voice allows him. The young man has heard him and is coming closer. But the moment the other man sees the hyena he stops and flinches. The old man looks at him and says: “ there, two meters away from me, is a spear in the ground, take it and spear the hyena!” The man assesses the situation, thinks about it and answers:” No, that is way too dangerous! The hyena will eat me and then you.” “ Don’t be ridiculous”, the old man says, “ get that spear!”.
The other man walks backwards slowly and refuses to.
“ Allright” the old man says, “what if you take over the hyena’s tail and I get the spear and kill him?” The young man contemplates this offer for a few seconds and decides to help the shepherd. He walks over to the hyena and grabs hold of the tail, with fear still in his eyes and the hyena frantically trying to get loose.
The old man can finally let go and shakes his stiff and painful arms. He takes a few steps towards his spear and pulls it out of the ground before walking over to the hyena. But then he suddenly changes his mind. He looks at the man and the hyena and says: “ A lesson in life is to learn not to be a coward, I will give you this lesson and maybe you will have to pay a heavy price for it….You’re holding the hyena very well, though. Bye.”
He then herds his cows together and walks away.
The young man holds the hairy hyena tail tight with his sweaty hands. Now he is totally by himself. Afraid to let go of the tail he can see the sun slowly setting for the night. The moment he feels all the strength go out of his hands, the hyena gives one last pull. He cannot resist it and the tail slips through his fingers. The hyena, finally free, doesn’t think twice and runs as fast as his tired body can carry him. Away, far away to a quiet place for the night.
The young man falls down, exhausted, in the still damp grass. He’s tired, but relieved.
Moral of this story: when you are brave, you are able to safe yourself.


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