To Do List

Rough and partial list of stuff I need to accomplish before the end of the year, crossed out stuff is done. PLEASE let me know what I’m forgetting:

  • learn Spanish – I spent 6 weeks with an immersive tutor – learned a lot but I feel like I forgot it all already. So I enrolled in a conversational Spanish class locally that starts Jul-10.
  • lose 40 lbs  – lost 5 lbs in 2 months – totally *not* on pace
  • get stickers of every country to put on the car as I go
  • get map of my journey stenciled on the hood like this guy (anyone know anyone?)
  • car mods – rear tire rack, inside lock box, maybe some other things – explained below.
  • start blog – DONE!!!
  • get instagram account – do I really have to?
  • 500px – need to get Patagonia and Banff albums up
  • FJ cruiser forums – make thread about trip
  • shots – 5 weeks before
  • permits – this must have been something I read but I forgot what it means
  • car insurance?
  • rent place – either AirBnB or  furnished, I don’t want to hassle with moving and storage.
  • load up ipods
  • Get PADI certified – hopefully from my buddy Saif
  • health insurance?
  • locking gas cap, gas can, lug nuts
  • 12-volt air punp, fix-a-flat
  • small printer/copier for the road? – may depend on space left in the storage box
  • international credit card (low rates)?
  • post blog on expat forums – look for places to stay and co-pilots
  • find panama shipping agent
  • AAA – get front plate

The car shown is my FJ Cruiser – 100k miles and still a pup. Estimating I’ll put 20k miles on her on the drive to South America. I plan to add a rear rack above the tire and maybe a roof rack, some gas cans, and some kind if inside locking box that’s bolted on.

The box will be to put valuables in when shipping and also thwart smash & grabbers. I figure it may not always be possible to park in completely safe places. So once they break a window and the alarm goes off, they will be disappointed to find anything worth stealing in a locked steel box that’s bolted to the floor. Then it will just be a matter of finding a new window for an FJ – which could be rough.

Also when shipping you have two options: roll-on-roll-off (RORO) or container. Containers are a little more expensive and you have to find a partner – as they fit two cars. Or if you can’t find a partner they’re a lot more expensive. From what I’ve read, finding a partner can be a pain. Both options are a gigantic PITA of paperwork and bureaucratic treasure hunts to get all the stamps, inspections and copies of everything you need – worse on the Panama side than Colombia – all for the lack of a road over 90 miles of jungle.

Also from everything I’ve read, RORO means apparently that every boat and dock employee has access to your keys. Why this is the system and they can’t keep your keys locked up somewhere I have no idea. Do they really need to move the cars that much? So apparently it’s not a question that anything of value in your car will be stolen. Dirty clothes will be rifled through but probably not stolen. However if I get me a nice steel box that’s locked and bolted to the floor, I should be able to throw whatever can fit in there (stuff like my backpacking tent which wasn’t cheap). That’s the plan anyway. Anyone know a steel fabricator?


  1. Hey,

    I’m the guy with the map on the hood 🙂

    I measured the hood, then printed out a map at the right size and stuck all the pieces of paper together. From there I bought some tracing paper from an art supply store and traced it onto the hood, then finally drew over that with a paint pen.
    It was a few hours work, but I loved it.

    For my second round I simply had a decal place print it up on a big sticker with a clear back, and now I use a paint pen to draw in my route – like this –

    have fun!

    1. Hey Dan! Holy crap the internet is awesome sometimes. How did you even find me this fast? I’m still constructing the blog obviously – so I haven’t even really put it out there except on

      Thanks a lot for the advice. I will look into the decal as my arts and crafts projects tend to turn into disasters. Where do you get the paint pens? Is it some special kind?

      Please hit me up with any other advice and thanks for reaching out so fast!

      – Matt

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