Guest post: “Time is Honey” or “How Much Time do I Need to Drive the PanAmerican”

This post was written by our friends Brianna and Logan of PanamNotes.com. The post is part of our series of guest posts by fellow overlanders and travelers. Enjoy.

“25,000 miles . . . That’s not so far, certainly we could make it to Ushuaia in five months, nine months at a leisurely pace.” This is what we told ourselves back home, staring at the maps laid out on the kitchen table. Maps should have a warning like side view mirrors, this country is larger than it appears.

The PanAmNotes Rig doing its thing

Realizing this didn’t take long.  We spent hours ogling the trip reports of past PanAm journeys. We craved the surf in central America, offroading in Bolivia, and mountain climbing in Peru. We recognized the necessity of driving to a place, rather than through it. Before even shifting the truck out of park we decided nine months wasn’t going to cut it. We were still in the process of saving money and dug deeper shooting for 12 months.
We hit Mexico at our planned 12 month pace. Driving aggressively, averaging too many hours in the truck each day, we watched the country fly past. We spent over a month in Mexico and while we look back fondly on it, we know we missed damn near all of it with our exhaustive schedule.  After Mexico, we seemed to downshift a little bit more with each country, lingering longer, absorbing more, and living better.

Brianna “downshifting” to the proper speed

We maxed out our three month visas in Peru and had to admit it was a major part of the reason this country topped the list of our favorites. Peru had become familiar, a culture we could grasp, foreign not at all.  It was here we made yet another extension to the journey. The logistics behind the decision were still forthcoming.  Financially we were in the same spot as our previous January end date.  We didn’t have the money but we had a plan.  Living slowly makes life more affordable. Rather than arriving in town after an eight hour drive and embarking upon the executive two day see-it-all affair, you can spend a week or two wandering around soaking it all in. With less driving the gas costs diminish and the need for luxury and convenience become unnecessary.

We have found a happy middle ground in between the overstuffed tour bus takers and the long term apartment leasers (SprinterLife we’re looking at you). We stick around long enough to meet folks, hear the local gossip, and engage in arguments over the best brand of mate (without a doubt, it’s Amanda).

There seems to be a growing popularity of speedy efficiency among travelers, especially Americans. If I have a week I can see a country, if I have a month I can see a continent, if I have three months, I can see the world!

Driving the PanAm is a malleable journey, it can be whatever you want it to be. Whether you’re seeking immersion, volunteering to better other lives, or just looking for a period of introspective extroversion, there’s just nothing fast about it.

Logan peak baggin’


    1. Luis Author

      It is a good surface to scratch 🙂 The only problem is that it is a very hard itch to satisfy…

      We enjoy reliving our trip by checking out your blog 🙂

  1. Christian

    You guys are making it hard to finish the work on my house right now….just want to get back on the road….must wait…a few more weeks….

  2. What a great post! I so agree about Mexico! I thought I was going to do it in 45 days (only bought insurance for 45 days). Then had to keep extending it because I just couldn’t leave! And I still feel like I didn’t see it thoroughly. And I agree about the slower pace saving money, I ahve totally slowed down, and am really hoping to stay longer in places now!!

  3. 2 months in Mexico and we’ve missed so much. We know we’ll have to go back. Our trip has grown from 18 months to 2 years and we’re only in Belize – who knows how long it’ll be by the time we hit Peru. You’ve got to balance time with money and other life goals though. We love travelling and know that we’ll overland again but more than 2 years out of the job market and maybe its not so easy to get a job anymore – we need to earn the money to give us the time off.

    Everyone is different though – from the people who spent over 300k Euros on a truck to spend 4 years in San Miguel to those on a shoestring budget rushing the trip before they run out of cash. Great post though.

    1. Luis Author

      It’s funny we were just chatting with other overlanders just last night about the wide range of budgets (of both time and money) amongst us and how everyone experiences the Americas completely different. From boondockers to 5 star hotel stops, from a 3 month drive to a 20 year drive… in the end all that matters is that we all enjoy it our own way 🙂

  4. Liz T

    I love the photos and the detailed description of places visited but I really enjoyed reading about the personal experience and observations on life and travel. We spent 6 months in Mexico travelling with our two boys in a camper van. Even 6 months was not enough!

    I like to hear about the struggles, the hardships, the cost of living and the good times. Keep it coming!

    1. Thanks Liz, we think this is a great guest post from Logan and Brianna, we enjoy reading their blog precisely because they tend to write from the gut as well as the details of their trip. We have a bit of a hard time doing that, but we are trying 🙂

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