Two years ago, Delhi boys Tushar Agarwal and Sanjay Madan set out on the mother of all road trips. Over 15 months, they drove across 50 countries on six continents, covering 90,000km. It’s a trip that took them a year-and-a-half to plan and cost a whopping Rs5 crore.
As you’d expect, there was no dearth of adventure. They bribed border officials in Honduras, got robbed in Chile, and ate everything from spiders to ox balls (Sanjay loved them, Tushar claims). When money was scarce, they starved to save cash for fuel. And yet, they swear they wouldn’t change a thing (except being robbed, of course).
Tushar, a travel writer, and Sanjay, an off-roading expert, met when their passion for driving put them, quite literally, on the same page. After the Limca Book of Records listed two of their road-trips together, the two met and went on a few drives before launching themselves on this intercontinental adventure.
“When we started planning this journey, we didn’t have much savings,” Tushar says to us as we chat about the expedition. From Rs2 lakh in the bank, they went on to raise a grand total of Rs5 crore from friends, family and a bunch of well-meaning folk.
In order to hit six continents, the boys broke up the journey into different legs, and shipped their trusted Toyota Fortuner from ports across the globe while they planned the next leg.
The two drove through India and southeast Asia, hopped over to Australia to drive across the outback, explored Africa, South and North America and headed back to India via Europe. They saw the Northern Lights for four days straight in Alaska, drank themselves silly in Ecuador, and hung out with locals in Thailand who told them that the food there can’t get you pregnant (true story). In Chile, they were robbed of their camera, and Bolivia’s death roads tested more than just their driving skills. “If you can drive through those roads with someone and come out alive, rest assured you’ll be friends for life.”
Driving through Kenya, the duo was stopped and asked to pay a $2,000 fine for taking a U-turn. “When we tried to negotiate, these two policemen came up to us and put their guns to our heads. Of course they weren’t actually policemen, so eventually we got out by paying by $5.”
While the boys met a fair share of surly characters, there were others who restored their faith in humanity. “We were pretty much broke by the time we reached Africa and were wondering what to do for our accommodation, when we met a hotel owner who offered to host us, free of cost, for 22 days. It was literally a rags to riches moment for us!”
“A lot of people who want to do long road trips ask me for advice, but the only thing I say to them is–if we’ve done it, anyone can.” These voyages are not easy, Tushar warns. “It takes a lot of blood, sweat and tears. The only way to do it is just to dive in.”
There were moments when homesickness and self-doubt took over. But things eventually work out. “I’ve journeyed across multiple countries and terrains, and while I had a few bad experiences, the warmth and kindness I received was truly awe-inspiring. People who had barely enough themselves and their families offered to host us and share whatever they could offer, simply out of the goodness of their hearts.”
How do you fund a crazy road trip like this? Tushar and Sanjay break it down:
-Hey, if we could do it, anyone can. Just be persistent!
-You need to be obsessed and crazy. Don’t let yourself lose track of the bigger goal- the awesome adventure.
-Do what you need to- use your savings, sell personal assets, get some sponsorship. It might seem like a pain initially, but it’s totally worth it. “Would you believe me if I said we are still in debt?”
Tushar and Sanjay have since founded Adventures Overland, a travel company that organises road trips across the globe.