There were a number of things that we had to get done before we could start our journey:

1) Route planning
Planning the route was fun but we had to make several changes to original plans. We wanted to go through Syria, Jordan, Egypt and onwards to Europe in our original itinerary. Sadly, due to current situation in Syria, we had to drop these countries. We hope to be able to travel this route on our return journey next year if situation improves.

2) Maps and GPS
(i) Europe & UK – Garmin GPS Nuvi 1490LMT and 2012 Philip’s Multiscale Europe Road Atlas.
(ii) Asia – maps we printed from Googlemap for Iran and Turkey. We will also be using detailed maps of Iran from our previous trip.

3) Vehicle preparation – as our dear Sorento is touching 9 years old now, there were quite a bit of things that needed to be done. We took her to a KIA service centre for a complete check and assessment and got a to do list. The entire suspension system was replaced and a new set of AT tyres put on. We also changed all brake pads (and kept the existing ones as spares since it still had quite a number of distance to go on it). We changed various hoses and other parts as advised. We also changed all oils / fluids and did a final round of servicing prior to shipment. We are bringing along some common parts (oil filters, air filters etc) for scheduled servicing along the way. Safety equipments (eg. fire extinguisher) and tools were not forgotten.

4) Passports, visas and international driving licenses

5) Carnet de Passages en Douane (ie. passport for our Sorento) – getting the carnet from AAM was pretty easy. Now we’ll just have to remember to get it stamped and signed properly at all entry and exit points.

6) Insurance – we have to purchase 3rd party insurance (or green card) for all the countries we will be going through. So far, we haven’t managed to get them online and most blogs / forums mentioned that we can buy them at the border. So, I guess we’ll have to do just that.

7) Checking shipment details and bookings – by far this has been the most tedious task. It has been two months since we started to check on shipment details. At the start, our options for starting the journey were either Kolkata (India), Mumbai (India) or Bandar Abbas (Iran). However, we decided against starting from India due to time constraints. We are hoping to reach Glasgow before winter starts and we would rather not rush through the journey, preferring to take a leisurely drive through the country sides as much as we can.

It’s been a further 3 weeks now. So far, we have missed two shipments to Bandar Abbas as we have been asked by some local shipping agents to contact the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran in KL for advice. They were concerned about whether our shipment could be cleared in Bandar Abbas. After several calls, we managed to get in touch with an embassy official. He was very helpful and he went out of his way to help us make contact with a shipping agent in Tehran (we had previously written / e-mailed to a few agents in Tehran without success). After some checks, the shipping agent in Tehran agreed to help us clear the shipment in Bandar Abbas. For now, our local agent is awaiting confirmation from the shipping principal to ship our vehicle to Bandar Abbas. If all goes well, we will be on our way soon.

8) Country specific planning – reading up on overland/travel blogs and forums, travel books etc. The internet had loads of info and we managed to compile a list of places of interest and local food that we would like to see and try along the way. However, most of the journeys originated from the UK/Europe and heading towards Asia/Oz and we could not find much of the other way around. Nevertheless, it gave us a feel of what we might encounter along the way. Experiences by these overland travellers at border crossings, check points, camp sites and accommodations were especially informative. We too hope to share our experiences in this blog.

9) Downloading various apps on Iphone – we mainly downloaded apps for language / translation, weather, currency exchange and some travel / country specific apps.

10) Summer / winter clothing and shoes – it’s quite tempting to bring my entire wardrobe since the car has space but we kept to the advice of halving the clothes. Instead, we doubled the food and snacks we are bringing along.

11) Medical supplies, first aid kits and prescription medications for mum and dad

12) Camping gears – looking forward to wild camping and hopefully we’ll stumble upon fishing villages and farms along the way so that we can buy and cook fresh produce. We’ve also got the old fishing rod handy for a spot of fishing.

13) Food – we brought canned food (can’t leave home without the usual sardine, tuna and baked beans), instant noodles, nuts to munch on, biscuits, coffee and tea and bottles of mineral water to see us through Ramadan in Iran.

14) Setting up direct debits instructions and letters of authorisation
for our commitments (don’t want the banks, telco etc to be calling us whilst we are on our trip). Leaving a photocopy of all important documents at home, just in case.

15) Last but certainly not least, setting up this blog to document our journey. In the past, we had been relying on the old pen and paper and pictures to record our travels. Giving the blog a go this time.

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