Time is running out.  We all have a tendency to put off living our dreams.

The world's waiting. Don't let time run out on you.
The world's waiting. Don't let time run out on you.

First we’ve got to get a college degree to ensure a good job in the future.  Then it’s time to start a career and get ahead in life.  Next comes the new car and the fancy wedding.  Before you know it you’re tied down to mortgage payments on a large house in the suburbs.    After that comes saving for retirement and socking away money for the kids’ college fund.

Perfect Timing

The time to get away just never seems right.

And don’t kid yourself.  The perfect time to leave ‘regular life’ and set off on an adventure will never present itself.  NEVER.

There will always be good reasons to keep doing what you’re doing.

A job promotion on the horizon.  A need to top up the retirement fund. An addition to the house.  A new relationship just getting underway.  Family commitments.

It’s easy to let time slip away into a series of NEXT YEAR I’LL DO THAT’S which often become I WISH I HAD’S once we hit retirement.  Let’s face it, at 65 your bicycle touring prime is long past.

I’m all for being responsible in life.  Getting an education, contributing to society, saving for the future—those things are important to me just as they probably are to you.

Some things I don’t believe in

What I don’t buy into is the idea that we’ve got to be tied down to a steady job for 40 years. I believe in taking time out.  Getting some perspective on life.  Slowing down.  Finding the fulfilling and focusing on the meaningful.

If you’re reading this blog post, then you probably live in the developed ‘rich’ world.   Just by chance of birth, we have enormous opportunities.  We got the long end of the stick, so to speak.

The real key

If we are content to live simply, saving money will not be all that difficult.  I’m not saying it’s always easy, but it is possible in most cases.  I’ve met many people with only moderately well-paying jobs who nevertheless mange to save money for extended travel.  Teachers, students, waiters, postal workers, auto mechanics.

I don’t know about you, but when I really, truly want something, this something has a way of happening.

Of course, there can be setbacks.

roadblock

Back in 1995 I decided to quit my (moderately fulfilling) job with a big San Francisco bank and set off to explore the world.  I was 28 at the time.  Even though I was on a good career path and earning a decent salary, I had absolutely no real savings.

This is not an uncommon situation for many Americans.  Spending all that we earn (and more!) is one of our defining cultural characteristics.

But suddenly, I was determined to travel.

At the time, I lacked the discipline to pound out a sound budget and stick to it for a couple of years and watch my bank account grow.  I’m impulsive by nature, and at 28, two years sounded like eternity.

A slow start

So I did what a lot of North Americans do:  I went abroad to teach English.  Not exactly adventure travel, but a pretty good stepping stone.

Eventually that decision to give up a ‘good job,’ did lead to a pretty adventurous life.

But not without some setbacks.

An initial teaching job in Japan was a disaster.  The company was disreputable.   Three months after setting off for Asia, I found myself back in the US.  Waiting tables at the local German restaurant and living with my parents in Montana was a big step down from a corporate job in San Francisco.

After a summer serving Wienerschnitzel and Apfelstuedel, I picked myself up and landed a job in Korea.  My experience teaching English turned out to be much more successful the second time around.

I taught, I learned to enjoy the simple life and, quite naturally, I saved money.

After my one year teaching contract expired, I had enough in the bank to finance a backpacking trip around Southeast Asia and India.

This is where travel addiction sets in

Finally I got my first taste of the freedom of extended travel.  I loved it.  New cultures, new ideas, new languages, new people.

Of course eventually I came down from my cloud and there were more setbacks ahead.  Worse things to deal with than having to wait tables at a cheesy German restaurant.

But I think from the point I took that initial plunge and turned in my resignation at that respectable bank, I took responsibility for my life.  I decided, in a small way, that I could live life on my terms.

We can experience incredible freedoms.  We can take off and explore the world.

But in order to experience these freedoms we’ve got to take some chances.

We’ve got to be willing to step out of the box and embrace the unknown.

I truly believe the freedom of a long-distance bicycle tour is possible for the majority of readers of this blog. If you’re interested, that is.   Many aren’t, and this blog post isn’t for you.

img_2760-hombori.fatima

Sure, we’ve got to give up something in return.  I don’t have a beautiful home filled with lovely objects.  I’ve missed out on some important family events.  I can’t claim any impressive career achievements.

What I do have is a lot of memories of incredible experiences.  I’ve camped under star-filled skies in the Sahara.  I’ve shared tea with beduins in the Sinai.  I’ve coasted through California’s giant redwood forests.  I’ve cycled through the Alps and the Andes.

I’ve got friends from around the world.   And, most importantly, I’ve got confidence in the future.

I think it’s worth it.

Are you on the fence, considering a long-distance bicycle tour in 2011?  Maybe it’s time to take the plunge.

Make it a year of adventure.

Why 2011 is the perfect time to go bicycle touring

15 thoughts on “Why 2011 is the perfect time to go bicycle touring

  • Karen
    January 26, 2011 at 3:10 AM
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    Beautifully said Amaya and a super huge thank-you for your words of encouragement in a moment where we need them, just re-affirms our future plans!

    Reply
  • Marie et Olivier
    January 26, 2011 at 11:39 AM
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    Thank you for this post !! We finished our studies last year, and decided that it is time to realize our old dream : enjoy the freedom of travelling by bike. So we plan to travel across America, from Seattle to Patagonia. It’s really a little travel comparing to yours, but we need money… So we are working hard to leave France on next september. And there are moments of doubts… But thanks to post like yours, we keep confident and continue to believe our dreams. Thank you a lot !!

    Reply
  • Grace Johnson
    January 26, 2011 at 5:17 PM
    Permalink

    I enjoyed the post though I had to laugh a bit when I read the following;

    “Back in 1995 I decided to quit my (moderately fulfilling) job with a big San Francisco bank” and, “I believe in taking time out.” Hmmm…stopping your career job from 1995 to 2011 is “taking time out?”

    “What I don’t buy into is the idea that we’ve got to be tied down to a steady job for 40 years.” – Well that’s pretty obvious that you don’t buy into it!

    “I can’t claim any impressive career achievements.” To be honest – most people who are about to retire also can’t claim any “impressive career achievements.”

    “Are you on the fence, considering a long-distance bicycle tour in 2011? Maybe it’s time to take the plunge.” I agree with you on the “considering taking the plunge” part but to be realistic –planning, organizing and saving for a long term bicycle trip takes more than a couple of months. What’s most important is that people make the decision to start organizing the trip.

    Amaya – I think that you have started a new career – as a professional bicycle traveler.

    Reply
  • World Biking
    January 26, 2011 at 6:23 PM
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    Thanks for the comments, everybody.

    @Grace…1995 wasn’t the last time I worked, just the last time I worked in a corporate America career. Funds for this bicycle touring adventure didn’t just fall from the sky…there was a certain amount of hard work and saving involved.

    Absolutely agree that planning for a major tour normally takes more than just a few months.

    Reply
  • Grace Johnson
    January 27, 2011 at 5:23 AM
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    Amaya – I only meant that you stopped a “corporate career job” in 1995 – and I’m sure you have worked a lot harder in the jobs you have had since 1995 then many people who work in corporate jobs.
    Plus I also realize that you really work hard trying to make your websites a success. So you more than “took time-out” from a corporate career job – you have changed careers and are becoming a professional bicycle traveler

    Reply
  • World Biking
    January 27, 2011 at 11:55 AM
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    @Grace..Professional Bicycle Traveler has a nice ring to it. Sure beats my last job title of Personal Banking Manager. Hope you and Paul are having a great time on your Asia tour.

    Reply
  • Ash
    January 27, 2011 at 4:39 PM
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    I am not sure why 2011 would be any different from other years. Those of us who think of such an adventure and are capable of doing it really envy those who have done it and those who are riding their bikes!! We all have different reasons as to why we are not on the road right now. As Amaya stated earlier one does not need tons of money to do this. Don’t get me wrong having tons of money is a good thing but it is not every thing. The experience Amaya and Eric are enjoying can’t be purchased. Thanks for the update. We follow your whereabouts, enjoy reading your blogs. Whenever you need help let us know.

    Reply
  • Elizabeth
    February 1, 2011 at 12:15 AM
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    l want to go bike touring this year but l ‘m worry because l’ll be on my own and l’m worry l wont want to come back.If thats a worry lol. great post by the way

    Reply
  • jp
    June 23, 2011 at 11:44 PM
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    Im a 26 years old male, working as a customer service rep for unifirst.wanted to cycled the world since i was 20 or 21.I so badly want to circumnavigate south america…………………scared,when the adventure is over I will have nothing,doesnt that constitutes as a failure ???????????????????

    Reply
    • Rafael Conceição
      July 1, 2011 at 3:01 PM
      Permalink

      @jp-I don’t think that constitutes as a failure, because you did what you wanted. Failure is wanting to do something, not be able to do it, and then giving up.

      What you want to is circumnavigate south America, so, by definition, failing would be not doing that.
      When you come back I’m sure you’ll have your pockets empty, but you’ll be full of memories and experiences that you’ll cherish forever. So, you won’t come back with nothing.
      Have heart mate, and good luck. You only live once;)

      Reply

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