Whether or Not to go for Sponsors
Working out your budget is one of the most important pre-trip things you, as an overlander, will be doing. It’s vital that you do this with real thought or you could end up out there, having a ball, but running out of loot. What a disaster if you had to come home earlier than you intended. And, thinking about it, I hardly ever met an overlander who felt he’d been on the road too long.
The thing is, you almost never get your budget right. There are too many imponderables out there. There’s too much you don’t know, won’t be able to find out about in advance and, of course, you simply don’t know what will happen to you. Happen to you? Well, the unexpected could be a money-sucking disaster or an amazing opportunity. Both are on-the-road inevitabilities and hey, they are classic examples of why we go overlanding aren’t they. The unpredictable things?
Mark, a good overlanding friend, made it down to Ushuaia in Patagonia for Christmas. While he was there, a cruise ship heading for the Antarctic announced that they had some berths and they were going cheap. Though cheap, this absolutely wasn’t in his budget, but he reasoned, would he ever get the chance to do something like this again? He dragged his plastic out, and dipped into his emergency reserve. Knowing Mark his card was screaming and kicking, but he’s never regretted doing so.
Pre-trip, you’d be daft if you didn’t ask yourself if there were any options for supplementing your travel funds? The simple answer is, there are and a bit of lateral thinking can take you to ideas that can put a significant chunk of loot in your wallet. Innovation goes, or can go, a long way.
But I’m often asked what I think about trying to get sponsorship. Well, I have a strong opinion on this and it might surprise you. I think it’s a bit of an overlanding pipe dream. The search for sponsorship is time consuming, frustrating, can be expensive and it’s a route that you ought to think hard about trying to ride. But having said that, wouldn’t it be fantastic to have a chunk of your trip paid for by the big companies of motorcycling and the world of overlanding?
This idea seemed to be a darned good one to me when I set off to ride the length of Africa. I spent weeks of my valuable planning time trying to attract sponsors—most never replied. Of the four hundred approaches I made and followed up, only six got back to me; just a couple of them with offers of help. I should have been spending this time living on the edge of anticipation for the trip itself, not on the chance of easy money. I’d have done far better to stack up overtime hours! In my ignorance and in spite of my best efforts, I had no idea of what I was trying to get myself into.
The time and effort though aren’t the main dangers. If you actually are successful, there’s likely to be a big price to pay. The simple reality is that a company is going to sponsor you with loot or kit, if they are going to get big returns publicity wise in return. Some companies you’ll approach will be managed by overlanding enthusiasts who have an open mind to new opportunities; but even they will be hard-nosed businessmen and women. They have to be to survive in an extremely competitive world. If you can’t prove that they will make money as a result of investing in you, then your approach will probably end up in the bin, as so many of mine must have done.
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