Lots of people me meet confess that they dream of dropping everything to cycle around the world.
Some of them actually do it. Like Martin and Pierette, a couple we stayed with in the Yukon. Here’s why these two seemingly normal individuals sold their home and most of their possession and headed south on touring bikes:
By embarking on this new adventure we hope to discover the strange and new and escape the routine that we have become accustomed to. We discovered in recent years, from our few travel outings, that we enjoy the foreign lands, the different cultures and lifestyles and chance meetings with locals more than the big ticket attractions. By travelling slowly (like the turtles…)on bikes, we hope to enjoy not only point A and point B but every inch of the way in between. We want to smell the flowers, feel the breeze, be warmed by the sun, be refreshed by the rain, and laugh with the people along the way.
We plan to travel simply and within our financial means and our physical capabilities. We have no definite route, and no time constraints…when we’ve had enough, we’ll stop; until then… we pedal.
What’s Stopping You?
Many more people stick with the status quo. They write from time to time to say they’re still dreaming of a tour, but a new job or a big move or the kid’s schooling has gotten in the way.
I realize there are legitimate reasons for foregoing a bicycle tour. Some people have financial obligations that stand in their way, others are committed to partners or families who don’t share their dreams.
But what about the rest of you?
Why haven’t you set off on your dream tour?
Is it money that’s standing in the way? Granted, these are tough economic times for many of us. But I don’t see the market for i-phones, $4 cappuccinos and SUVs drying up any day soon. Bike touring is cheap (if you want it to be).
We just spent 3 months touring Australia. Total cost…$1,500. Really. $8.30 per person per day. In one of the most expensive countries on the planet.
Wow! $8.30 a day. That’s cheap, you’re probably thinking. A crappy calorie-filled lunch at McDonald’s costs as much.
$10 a day is enough to do a minimalist bike tour (wild camping, couchsurfing, self-catering) in a developed country. For $20 a day you can live comfortably (budget hotels, restaurants) in the developing world.
As I see it, money shouldn’t stand in the way of a bike tour (at least not for most people living in the developed world). Get a decent job, live a minimalist lifestyle (without depriving yourself of any happiness) and save.
A Question of Priorities
Maybe it’s time that’s stopping you. You need to focus on your education or your career and don’t have time to travel. Fair enough. Unless you’ve been dragging out the same excuse for the past 10 years. If bike travel is a serious goal for you, make it a priority.
Since our society doesn’t prioritize travel, we have a tendency to put it on the back burner. Most people say they’d love to travel more. Yet, they don’t do it. Why? Because they’ve bought into the idea that extended travel is unobtainable. Sure, freelancers with high-paying jobs can travel round the world. And retirees with fat pensions can take off for a few years. But me? No way!
I’m here to tell you that you can. If you really want to. Choose 6 months in Southeast Asia over a flat screen TV. Give car-free living a try and see how big your bank balance has grown by the end of the year. Don’t give in to fear mongerers who warn you that you’ll never again be employable if you take time out for travel.
Justin and Emma took time out for a multi-year bike tour across Asia. They’re now back in New Zealand–gainfully employed and enriched by their experiences abroad.
The Berg brothers of North Dakota spent nine months cycling between Alaska and Argentina. Did a gap year throw a wrench in their futures? Absolutely not. Youngest brother David is in his first year of college. Nathan is busy pursuing a career in music and big brother Isaiah is getting in shape for Marine Corps Officer Candidate School.
Brits Becki and Matt set off with a toddler in tow for an 8-month bike tour and have settled back into life in Manchester.
What’s my point? People who take time out for cycle tours don’t end up down and out in a homeless shelter once they return to “normal life.” They earn degrees, find meaningful work and go on to raise families.
Those closest to you may find the idea of extended travel absurd. They’ll cart out the usual reasons why you should stick around not rocking the boat.
It’ll ruin your career. It’s not good for the kids. Finish your education first. The world is a dangerous place beyond our borders
Go ahead, listen. Then talk to someone who’s experienced the magic of bicycle travel. Somebody like Martin or Pierette.
For more inspiration, check out his photo gallery of happy, well-adjusted bike touring nomads we’ve met: