An adventure begins

Have you ever wanted to do something to find out if you could – to see what kind of person you are?
Have you ever wanted to actually live your dreams instead of watching them hover just out of reach?
Have you ever wanted to do something so crazy you were almost afraid to say it out loud?

Next week, I’m setting out to drive my Jeep 50,000kms on The Pan American Highway from The Arctic Ocean in Northern Alaska to Tierra Del Fuego, the southernmost point of South America.

I’m going to record my whole trip here with stories and photos, but more than that, I want you guys to join in too. Remember those “choose your own adventure” books where you got to make up your own story? I’m going to make my trip the same for you. Whenever I get to a fork in the road, or I can’t decide if I should detour to see some ruins, or stick around another week, I’m going to ask you guys. The choices will be put to a vote – the choice with the most votes wins and I’ll do it.

Maybe you’ve always wanted to hike to Macha Pichu or to drive Bolivia’s “Road of Death”. Here’s your chance. If it gets voted up I’ll do it. You’ll be able to read all about it here with trip reports, adventure stories and photos.

I think the whole trip will take twelve months, but that’s just a guess – let’s say plus or minus six months to that.
Updates will come shortly on my Jeep, gear, medical requirements and more. In the mean time, checkout my completely made-up route north/south and the Jeep looking pretty excited simple smile


an adventure beings 360x480

Dan and Jeep ready to go.

the road chose me made up route 409x480

Completely made up.

32 Responses

  1. Kiwi Kris says:

    Hey man,ive just been through your entire blog seeing what you’ve been up to. Looks like you’ve been having an awesome time. Thats one epic trip you have planned!! Are you purposely avoiding Columbia?

  2. Pikajabroni says:

    If your equipment holds up, I think that you can make the journey. Have fun.

  3. bobterwilliger says:

    Take pics and post for us so we can see what its like. I’d love to see your photos.

  4. bsdboy says:

    I think you’re being extremely optimistic.

    Your entire post goes on about a piece of plywood that’s somehow going to magically protect everything you own. I don’t know if you’ve ever been to central or south america, but you’re going to need more than plywood for protection.

    What precautions have to taken with the Jeep? Any type of selectable locker or spool? Any spares? Are you still running the dana 35c in the rear? Do you know what happens when a c-clip axle shaft breaks? Do you know how difficult to find parts and how expensive it’s going to be to fix your Jeep in Honduras?

    Don’t get me wrong, I wish you the best of luck.

    You’re going to need it.

    • Dan says:

      Thanks for the comments – You’re right, I am being extremely optimistic.
      Anything can (and will) happen to me along the way, and I’m just going to have to roll with the punches.
      I’m taking nothing I can’t afford to loose, so that when it all goes, I can re-assess where I’m up to and what I can do from there.
      I’ve done nothing major to the Jeep – no lift, no winch, no lockers, stock diffs, etc. I’m not planning on any crazy off raoding – I mean, unsealed roads and pot holes sure – but if I need a winch, I’ve gone too far off the beaten path.
      The Jeep only has 130,000kms on the clock and I’m pretty confident that if I keep the basics right (oil, water, etc) and treat it gently, it will make it with no major problems.

  5. RIch says:

    I’m jealous…

    Any more details on the trip? Staying in hotels, with friends, campgrounds? Are you going alone? What are you taking with you? Did you quit your job, sell your house, etc to do this?

    • Dan says:

      I’m planning on camping 9 nights in 10 – just stay in a hostel every now and again to do laundry and re-group food wise.
      I’m going alone, only because I don’t know anyone that would come along. Hitchhikers will feature a lot I’m sure.
      My next post will include my full gear list and yes, I’ve quit my job and sold everything I don’t need for the trip.
      I’m already a long way from home (Australia) so I don’t have a whole lot tying me here.

  6. Dr. Marneaus says:

    who has time for that?

  7. CorndogDuff says:

    I want to do this, if i could do nothing else in this lifetime id take an adventure like this one over anything

  8. ionakana says:

    I would stop at the U.S-mexico border myself, I know a guy who attempted that several years ago when Mexico, Central and South America were a lot safer and more American friendly than they are now. He barely escaped with his life, there’s a lot of open roads with banditos out there and the federalis won’t waste any time looking for you if someone reports you missing because you also have to worry about them. Just my 2 cents but it’s sounds like fun, good luck. I’ll be checking out your trip from time to time.

  9. tyguy says:

    The girlie man’s going up to the icy north! “What I don’t understand is how do eskimos build igloos with their paws”? (ignorant american girl) bahaha maybe you can let us all know how they do that. Wish I could be your Robin on this one Batman, maybe for christmas break I’ll travel with you for a few weeks! ps i’ve got a few travel tips for you:

    1. central and south americans don’t like jeeps so its ok to leave your keys in at all times
    2. take all the monies you own and keep them, along with your passport on the dash – but be sure to put them in a ziplock bag so they don’t get wet
    3. what the hell is a condom???
    if you need more tips, just let me know…

    good luck ya bum, i’m jealous of all the street meat you’re gonna get to try

  10. Jason, friend of Liz says:

    I see you’re making a detour for the Grand Canyon – well worth it!

    • Dan says:

      Hey Jason – not necessarily the grand canyon. I’ve actually been there before. It’s just that I’ve done both the east and west coast entirely, so I want to go somewhere new, namely down the middle.

  11. rebecca says:

    hey dan, just found your blog today. what an amazing adventure you have ahead of you!
    best of luck, will keep up with this blog as to live vicariously through you, since i have no idea how to camp, and have never been :]
    stay safe!

  12. Jessica says:

    Saw your thread on I’ve wanted to drive out to Colorado from New Hampshire for so long. So far I’ve only taken the Jeep to Maine. :( I take my dog with me usually I don’t know how you can go it alone. He keeps me company and it’s great to hike with a companion! Well Good luck and live it up for those who can’t! 😀 lol

    • Dan says:

      Jessica, don´t say you can not, that is crazy talk!
      If you want to, you can. That is the most important lesson I have learnt on this trip for sure!

  13. Julia B says:

    I’m going to start reading your blog. I’m so happy i caught it quick enough that its still happening. :) Like most i was brought here while reading “Into the Wild” and i’m not done with it yet but i am very moved by it so far. I’m setting out on my own cross country road trip in May from east cost to west and back again. I’m very inspired by your trek so far.
    Reading “into the wild” and your blog are giving me crazy ideas :) hahah! Who knows what i’ll end up doing after i finish this undergrad degree! but it seems anything is truly possible.

    • Dan says:

      Julia, I’m really happy to hear I’m giving you crazy ideas! I just met a couple driving quite literally around the entire world in 2-3 years, and they’re giving me HUGE crazy ideas. haha!

  14. Sarah says:

    Dan – do you have an email address? I’d love to get into contact with you concerning a few questions that I have. My friends and I, adventure-hungry college kids, are planning on taking a road trip from Massachusetts to Alaska next summer. We’d love to hear some advice! – Sarah

  15. sue bell says:

    Hi Dan – Happy Birthday and Happy Australia Day. Hope you are well and that you and all the family had great Christmas together. We have spent the day at Matts – his little boy is 1 on Friday so we have his party today-they were still going when we left a few hours ago. Have had a look at your travels – awesome. Have great admiration for you. Take care and stay safe. Lots of love. Sue and Rob.

    • Dan says:

      Hi Sue & Rob,
      Wow! It’s great to hear from you guys.
      During Christmas I peppered Mum & Dad with questions about the entire Bell clan, it’s amazing to hear everything. I clearly remember going to Matt’s birthday at your place when we were about 8 or 10, and now here you guys are at his little boy’s birthday. Amazing.
      Thankyou so much for the birthday wishes, It’s cool to hear from you.
      Take care & say a huge hello to the whole crew from me!

  16. Andres says:

    Hi Dan !

    I have made to the boarder of costa rica and it has been interesting.
    If you dont mind and if you know anybody who is driving south and would need to share a container from Panama to colombia preferably before christmas or after , Please let me know.
    There was a guy who is traveling a bit ahead of me but I have lost hes coordinates.

    Best regards


    • Dan says:

      Hi Andres,
      I don’t know of anyone that is approaching the Darien Gap right now. All the Overlanders I know of are just leaving the USA now, so they are too far behind you.
      Have you tried the Container matching service on Drive the Americas?

      I’m sure you’ll find WikiOverland, the encyclopedia of Overland Travel useful as you go along, and it would be fantastic if you can take 10 minutes and update the gas prices for the countries you recently passed through (I’m sure they’ve changed by now). (You can just click edit in the top right of any page to change stuff)
      Thanks, Enjoy your adventure!

  17. Rebecca says:

    This. Is wonderful. My best friend and I just decided to one day drive from LA to Santa Catalina, Panama. Granted we’re 17 and 18.. SO its NOT happening anytime soon(I.E. After I graduate from college and we have guys to go with us for safety reasons :P).. but its really inspiring to know, for a fact, that is it SO possible. Thanks for making all of this. I feel so thankful and blessed to see people with similar dreams make them happen. One day mine will too… until then, Spanish lessons from the co-workers. 😉

    Thanks and God bless.

  18. Guy Butcher says:

    Hi there!
    I have just found your site and the wikiOverland sites; wonderful!
    We have been planning our adventure for some time but there is a great deal yet to do.
    Thanks for the incredible detail; it will certainly help in the final planning process.
    You will see that we are to travel in a 1930’s Austin 7 (which is pretty small)
    We hope to use the adventure as a fundraiser for children with special needs and there families.
    I hope you might offer help/advice if we get stuck on some of our planning?

    • Dan says:

      Hi Guy,

      Wow, what a fantastic trip you are about to embark upon.
      There are quite a few Overlanders currently making their way south. so wikioverland will be continually updated.
      Hopefully you can update info as you pass through countries.
      I’m more than happy to help out in any way I can. In fact, you’ll be passing right by my house when you’re on the Alaska highway (I’m in Whitehorse, Yukon) so absolutely you are welcome to stay with me, and I’ll offer any help/support I can.
      All the best for the beginning of the journey, drop me a line when you are in the great white North :)

  19. Hello , I just read your story and wow what an adventure. me and my family did a trip like that back in 1987, but we drove from Orlando.FL to Paraguay in 30 days and we logged approx 12,000 miles on the Ford Van , The only country we did not go through was Columbia, we put the van on a train in Panama and shipped it to Ecuador, In 1987 Panama was not to good for Americans and Columbia was even worse. We sold the van in Brasil and flew back to Orlando,FL.

    • Dan says:

      Hey Jasonn,
      That must have been quite the adventure in ’87! (I was only 5)
      Do you have photos or your story online? I’d love to read about it.
      Keep those adventures going.

  1. July 5, 2009

    […] just love it when we get these types of entries. Dan wrote in to tell us about his plan to drive a Jeep 50,000kms on the Pan American Highway from The Arctic Ocean in Northern Alaska …. Bloody hell, that’s a long drive. But how […]

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