Preparing For The Bailey #SaharaChallenge

Ahead of the Sahara Challenge we look at what needs prepping

By William Coleman

The Bailey Of Bristol Sahara Challenge is just 3 days away and the prep work for myself and the rest of the CaravanTimes team is well under way. But how does one pack and prepare for a tour that will cover multiple continents?

Over the 20 days of the upcoming Bailey adventure several different members of the CaravanTimes will be joining and leaving the tour and covering many different aspects of the trip. We will be sending 3 of our media creative team who will be documenting the trip and myself who will be covering the trip from a media and journalistic angle.

CaravanTimes are no stranger to the Bailey tours as this is the third trip we have documented for the Nation’s Favourite caravan and motorhome manufacturer. You can see the Arctic Adventure and the Bristanbul Part 1 and part 2 which we took part in.

So, by now we should be pretty efficient at getting fully prepped for this tour and would be able to pack with our eyes closed, right? This is not the case!

The reason that we cannot just pack and go is that each Bailey tour is so different from the last that you need to basically start from scratch. A great example of this is the kind of camera equipment we will be taking, not to mention a variety of different clothing and accessories.

Adapting Camera Kit To Different Climates And Countries

Our camera team has to do a heck of a lot or work when it comes to preparing for a normal shoot on a caravan site or inside a motorhome, so now consider how much needs to be checked when we will be crossing several different countries for a 20 day documentary shoot.

When we went on the Arctic Adventure with Bailey the kit had to be weather tested to see how it would handle extreme sub zero temperatures. In some cases the kit just does not hold up in such harsh conditions that a lot of extras are needed to ensure they survive the trip.

This time round we are facing the polar opposite of weather. We will be trading snow for sand, which presents it’s own list of challenges.

As any traveller knows, sand will find its way into every nook and cranny imaginable so we need to make them “sand tight”, not a technical term.

One very important aspect that the camera crew needed to consider, having learnt from past experience, is to look at the style of travel and locations we will be driving to. This trip is going to be heavily focusing on outdoor living and the nomadic lifestyle of areas like Marrakesh and the Sahara. This means that the kit needs to be slim lined to make mobility a lot easier.

During the trip there will also be a lot of outdoor activities taking places that require video documenting so bringing several large camera cases, battery packs and tripods will make the whole process quite difficult, not to mention time consuming. So a lot of time has been spent splitting the kit into a mobile set up and a static set up.

Different Countries Different Clothing

The trip will start, as always, at Bailey’s HQ on Sunday 8th of March and will end Bilbao, Spain, so as you can imagine between Bristol and the Sahara there will be quite a lot of different temperatures and environments.

With a multitude of changing environments comes the need for a good variation in clothing. In keeping with the true nature of nomadic living there will be times where some of the crew will be sleeping in tents, especially when we get to Marrakesh and the Sahara.

Once the sun sets in the desert the temperatures plummet and your nighttime garments need to be able to keep you warm, but then when you wake up you need to ensure your shorts and t-shirts are ready to go.

For this trip I will be having a mixture of shorts, jeans, boots and loose fitting t-shirts that can get me through several hours of driving without getting uncomfortable.

Permits, Passports & Paperwork

Anyone who is an international tourer knows the sheer importance of having your paperwork in order. On the previous tour we had an issue with electronic forms of paperwork when entering non EU countries that lead to quite a few hours spent just sitting on the border of countries. These occasions where border control staff took their time getting their heads around what they were looking at added many hours to what we’re supposed to be short driving days.

If you are thinking about following the footsteps of this tour or any before it be sure to pop to a post office and get an International Driving Permit, or IDP for short. Different countries fall under different permits so always mention to the person behind the counter where you are travelling to and to look at the lists of different permits. Each permit is £5.50 so for the sake of £11 you know you will be totally covered.

As always, make sure you keep all your car’s paperwork, passports and driving documents all together in the glove box. I have been in situations where I thought it would be ok to not stick to this and ended up throwing away my car’s registration document out with a hand full of empty fast food wrappers. Easily done but has a huge impact on the rest of your trip, especially if you are crossing border checks or are topped by local authorities.

Off Road Driving And Towing Expectations

One thing you can only prepare for mentally is what you think you may encounter, which I guess is always worth doing as thinking ahead is the whole basis of pre-planning.

I for one foresee some very tricky roads, especially in the Atlas mountains, where there is a chance the convoy of two caravans and one motorhome may have to slow to a crawl. Ahead of this all you can do is mentally prepare and use Google maps to try and see as many of these paths as possible before driving them.

When it comes to normal day to day or weekend towing I feel confident and comfortable getting from spot to spot. Now throw in mountain roads, in parts of the world which are not known for their road safety, and you’ll end up with a possible bead or two on your brow when towing.

It is the driving side of the trip that we do need to be most aware of when it comes to the tow cars and caravans. We will be driving very well made Ssangyong tow cars and we know how durable Bailey’s motorhomes and caravans are, but this does not mean that the uncharted territory we will be driving will not throw some curve balls at us.

To ensure we do not get stranded in the desert Bailey have support staff from their factory on the trip who can carry out repairs should any damage occur and we also have a support vehicles following the convoy to ensure everything runs smoothly.

As aspect that the whole team have been made aware of prior to leaving is the crowds in central Morocco and rural Sahara. Seeing as we will be in a convoy with heavily sign printed caravans and motorhomes we may stand out a tiny bit. It is here where you would need to be able to deal with crowds flocking to the van, both while driving and parked up.

By now I can safely say that both myself and the rest of the team are fully prepared to embark on yet another epic adventure with Bailey. All I need to do now is pack enough socks and pants for my time abroad and then off we go!