There are some questions lots of people ask. These are often called ’Frequently Asked Questions’ or FAQs. Here are some answers to the most popular questions we have been asked.
What animals have you seen?
While we were travelling in Central Asia (that’s Kazakhstan, Mongolia and Russia) we saw lots of animals you might have seen in England. We saw cows, sheep, goats and horses. The main difference is these animals are often walking through towns or along the side of the road which does not usually happen in England. That meant we got to see them really close up.
We have also seen yak (looks like a cross between a cow and an American bison with a big hump on it’s back) and camels. In Mongolia we also saw lots of a small animal called a Marmot that burrows in the ground and an animal that runs very fast called a gazelle. Both these animals are very shy and run away very quickly.
We have seen spiders, flies, ants, ladybirds, crickets, lizards and beetles. But we have also seen a special beetle called a dung beetle that lives in the desert. It collects dung (animal poo) and buries it in the sand where it makes a nest. We saw a strange cricket called a spider cricket. That’s because it’s legs make it look a bit like a spider.
There are lots of birds everywhere too. We have seen lots of black crows. We have seen a few birds of prey, like the eagle. We even saw some vultures once. They were sitting watching a dog eat something it had killed and were waiting for the dog to finish so they could eat the leftovers.
We saw lots of different animals in America too. We saw reindeer, elk and moose, mainly when we were in Alaska and Canada. Although these animals look quite alike some are bigger than others and their horns are slightly different shapes. We saw Wood Bison (sometimes called Buffalo) and foxes in Alaska and Canada.
On Antelope Island we didn’t see any Antelopes, but we did see a Jackrabbit – he looks like a very big rabbit with black tips on his ears. And we saw chipmunks at the Hoover Dam. At a place called Death Valley we saw a coyote (like a wild dog). We also saw somthing called a Burros there – this is a wild horse and tends to be a bit smaller than the horses we might see normally.
In the warmer southern part of America (California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas) we started to see snakes. We saw lots of different lizards, including a Texas horned lizard, Black Widow Spider nests and a Gila Monster (looks a bit like a lizard but bigger with brown and orange colours on his back). We have also seen something called a Javelina which is like a wild pig. It is smaller and darker in colour than the pigs we normally see in England. We have seen some white tailed deer in the Gila Mountains. And a Cheetah in California (he wasn’t wild though, he was on a leash helping people understand about how Cheetahs live in Africa).
We have also seen lots of cattle and horses everywhere in America, as well as some mules and donkeys, and different birds such as a Red Cardinal, a tiny Humming Bird, lots of eagles and lots and lots of black Ravens.
In South America we saw lots of Guanaco, Vicuna, Llama and Alpaca. They are all what are known as Camelidods. That means they are a type of camel.
We are looking forward to seeing lots of very different animals in Africa.
How much fuel have you used?
The answer to this question changes every day we drive and depends on the type of roads we are driving on. Landy uses more fuel when we are driving on bumpy tracks. On average Landy travels 9 kilometres per litre of fuel (diesel). By the time we had reached Vladivostok we had driven 20,012 kilometres. That means we had used about 2,224 litres of diesel up until then.
Where are you now?
Sometimes we might stay in the same place for a few days. Sometimes we might travel every day. This means the answer to this question often changes.
But there are also two answers to this question. One is to tell you the name of the country we are in and the names of any towns near to where we are. We try to do that when we write our blogs so you might find the answer to the question there.
The second way we try to answer this question is through our map page. If you click on the button on the right called “See Where We Are” you will see a map of the world with a red line that shows where we have travelled so far. When we write a blog we put in ‘map co-ordinates’ that update the map.
The map page doesn’t tell you the name of the country or town we are in but you can see from the map lots more about where we have been. Look for the blue circles on the line. They are usually places where we have camped or stayed overnight. On the left of the screen you can see a white bar with + and – signs. These allow you to zoom in and out on the map. If you click on the – sign you will zoom out and be able to see the whole map of the world and where we have been. If you zoom in (click on the + sign) you can see the the detail of the area where we stayed – it might be in the countryside, or in a town, or by a lake, or in a forest.
What different types of money have you used?
So far we have used: Euro (Belgium and Germany); Zloty (Poland); Hyrivnia (Ukraine); Tenge (Kazakhstan); Tegreg (Mongolia); Rouble (Russia); Canadian Dollar (Canada); United States Dollars (United States, also in El Salvador and Panama which are in Central America, and Ecuador which is in South America); Mexican Peso (in Mexico); Cordoba (Nicaragua); Belize Dollar (Belize); Quetzal (Guatemala); Lempira (Honduras); Colon (Costa Rica); Colon (El Salvador); Colombian Peso (Colombia); Balboas (Panama); Sols (Peru); Boliviano (Bolivia); Chilean Peso (Chile); Argentine Peso (Argentina); Rand (South Africa).
Even though the money looks a bit different to what we are used to it’s still a mixture of notes and coins just like we are used to. The only difference was in Mongolia where they do not use any coins at all.
The difficult bit is that each different type of money has a different ‘value’ compared to the pound, and often that value changes a little bit – sometimes every day. For example, while we were in Russia most of the time £1 = 47 Roubles. So when we paid 26 Roubles for some chocolate it cost us about 55p.
Have you had any accidents / broken down / had any problems with Landy?
We have had several questions like this. Paul has written a special blog about some of the problems we had with Landy when we were in Central Asia (Kazakhstan, Mongolia and Russia) and how he fixed them. Click HERE to read more.
Where do you sleep?
Most of the time we sleep in our big roof tent on top of Landy.
In very warm countries we might sleep outside underneath a mosquito net.
We also have a spare tent that is very small that we might need to use if it is very windy. A very small tent is also better if it is very cold as it easier to keep warm in a small space.
Sometimes we have stayed in hostels or cheap hotels. People we have met have also invited us to stay with them sometimes. In America and Mexico we have been invited to stay with friends for a few days.
How do you go to the toilet when you are travelling?
Where there are public toilets we use those.
In open country, deserts and jungle areas we need to walk away from the car and find somewhere private to ‘go’.
We need to be very careful to avoid places close to water (streams) or fields where food is being grown.
In most places we can dig a hole and bury ‘poo’ and burn any toilet paper. But in very hot dry places it is better to leave it to dry and rot on the surface of the ground.
Landy has a shower cubicle that can be put up providing some privacy in areas where there are people about. But we will have to use a bucket and then find somewhere to empty it.
Are you scared about travelling in strange places?
Not so much scared. We know there are dangers and we try to avoid them. We try to make sure we camp in safe places where will not get robbed. We also keep Landy locked when we are not in him.
What if you get bitten by a snake or other animal, and what if you fall ill?
We will try to make sure we don’t get bitten and we hope we don’t get ill. But just in case we do get ill we have had some special medical training to help us work out what is wrong with us. Some illnesses we can treat ourselves, just like at home. If not we will try and find a doctor who can help us. If we get really, really, ill we might have to come home to get better.
How will you get fuel? What happens if you run out of fuel?
We will be able to buy diesel in every country we will visit. Sometimes garages might be many miles apart. Because of this we have extra fuel tanks and so will be able to carry much more fuel than most cars. In very remote areas people usually help each other so if we run out of fuel someone is likely to stop and help us.
What about your carbon footprint?
Because we both worked from home and drove a lot in our jobs our carbon footprint at home was higher than most people.
We think our carbon footprint will be reduced by about a quarter from 13.25 tonnes each per year to about 9.5 tonnes each per year. Most of that will come from running the engine on the car. The engine will not just provide our travel it will also give us some extra heating when we need it.
We will also have a lot less rubbish to get rid of. That will be better for the environment too.
Do you speak any other languages?
Not really. Helen can read a little Russian. Paul can speak a little French. We have both learned some Spanish while we were travelling in Central and South American.
We have a book with pictures we can point at. It has pictures of different types of food, hotels, toilets, shops. All the things we might need. We will also use lots of mime.
Will you have a TV or computer games?
No. We will not have enough room to take a TV or computer games with us. We expect to spend more time talking with the people we meet. We also have books to read.
Why did you choose the Land Rover Defender as your vehicle?
It’s the best!! Seriously, the Land Rover Defender is very good at driving where there are no proper roads. Other cars are not so easy to repair and look after in the kind of places we will be going to.
What happens if you break down?
When we have had mechanical problems Paul has been able to fix some of these. Sometimes we have had help from local garages in the countries we have been visiting.
We also carry spares of many the parts we are most likely to need, including a spare wheel and two spare tyres. A couple of times we have arranged for spare parts to be sent to us from England. We have also been able to buy new parts that we can use in the countries we have been in.
How will you cross rivers and how will you drive where there are no roads?
Landy can drive through water up to 1.3 meters deep (that’s as deep as the top of his bonnet) because he has a special air intake that means his engine can continue to work under water for a little while. Land Rovers are specially designed to allow them to drive over rough ground, that means we can drive in places where there are no roads.
How will you cross the sea?
We put Landy in a big container. Just like the containers that are carried on the back of big lorries. The container holding Landy will be put on a big ship to travel from one country to the next. We will either travel on the ship with Landy or fly to the next country and wait for him.
How fast can you go?
Landy is a big heavy car. He is also carrying lots of extra weight, such as the tent and spare parts. He is very strong and can carry that weight up very steep hills and over rough ground. But that also means he cannot go as fast as some cars. He can travel at about 65 miles per hour.
How long did it take to plan your journey?
We had been thinking about it before but it took about two years from the time we bought Landy.
What will it cost to go on your trip?
Landy cost £6,500. We spent about £15,000 making changes to him and buying special things like tents, extra fuel tanks and water tanks. We also spent another £5,000 on things like special training, passports, visas, extra warm clothes.
In some countries it is cheaper to buy food and fuel than in other countries. Prices will also change while we are travelling so we don’t really know how much the total will be until the end. But we have allowed an average of £50 per day for the whole trip. That has to cover fuel, food, accommodation and any other things we need to buy like clothes, toiletries and even souvenirs. That adds up to a massive £30,000.
What are you looking forward to the most?
Meeting new people. Seeing what other countries look like.
Have you visited any other countries before?
We have visited a few countries before but during this trip we will visit a lot more countries than we have ever visited before.
How do you think you’ll cope with spending 24 hours a day with each other for so long?
We think we will be OK. We will tell you more in the blog when we are travelling.