Overland Journal

Skills: Driving Through China's Red Tape

It was early September. After months of organizing, preparation, group calls, and visa applications, it was still an arresting moment to exit Mongolia and drive through the barriers at the Chinese border. To drive from Europe to China still seemed inconceivable, even though we were right in the middle of doing so.

When my girlfriend, Evelin, and I were preparing for our Budapest to Singapore (exclusive land-based) adventure, significant time was spent organizing our crossing through China, focusing on the less-traveled regions in the west. We were expecting complicated and lengthy bureaucratic hassles. Still, no matter how much we tried to educate ourselves, nothing could have prepared us for the level of bureau-craziness that awaited.

The first tasks for anyone planning to overland through China are finding travel companions and a tour guide; preparations should start about six months in advance. A tour guide for overlanders—meaning anyone traveling with their own foreign-registered vehicle—is mandatory. Hiring a tour guide is expensive, so take time with your selection. It will likely be advantageous to share or break up the cost; hence, you should seek out overlanders with roughly similar plans. Getting both things right is imperative since eventually, you’ll be spending several weeks with people you’ve never met before.

Trying to find a group of people with like objectives to travel with may initially sound hard, but joining overlanding groups on social media platforms and different online forums reduce the difficulty of this job. You can either post in these groups or look for others trying to find

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