We’ve just added Oman, a great destination for those who love wild camping!
“Yes, let’s do it!”
After so many years, we were finally going to realize our dream of pedaling around the world!
We relished the moment. That is until we entered our spare rooms…
They were cram-packed with books and CDs. But even worse was our attic. There we had managed to stack crates to the ceiling, filled with tools, slides, photo albums, and assorted junk.
What were we going to do with it all?
After checking out how much storage costs, (Aigh!) We set about getting rid of it.
The early optimism soon turned to despair. There is nothing more disheartening than spending entire weekends sorting stuff. Then afterward looking around to see that you’ve hardly made a dent.
Russ Roca and Laura Crawford of The Path Less Pedaled also downsized before their trip. Read about it here, here, and here.
“You own more than you think you do. And it will take longer than you think it will to get rid of it all.”
For those people who don’t want to get rid of too much, here are some long-term storage tips.
Start early because you need more time for sorting.
We were never able to get rid of everything in one go. 75% would either go on the recycled paper stack, the sale pile, or in the bin bag. But 20% ended up on the ‘save’ pile. “I just have to keep this!”
It was an emotional thing. We ended up re-visiting our ‘keep’ pile several times since it became easier to purge things after we re-visited it.
Plus we regularly came across items that brought back memories, such as old school yearbooks. So we’d stop sorting to page through the books, remembering those days and our fellow students. Digging through our belongings turned out to be a bit emotional at times.
Photograph sentimental stuff
Take pictures of souvenirs and sentimental items. Even though you haven’t looked at them for years (because they were buried underneath the rest of your belongings) it’s still emotionally difficult to get rid of them. By taking pictures that you can view later, it’s easier to bin them.
Set analogue media over to a digital format
We’re from an earlier generation. So our house was full of records, CD’s, cassettes, photos, and analogue slides. My husband couldn’t bear to lose any music and he spent innumerable hours digitalizing it.
For the analogue slides, we were able to get hold of a slide scanner with an automatic feed. Even though it took a couple of months to scan them all; it didn’t cost that much effort.
We also ended up digitalizing all of our photographs via a flatbed scanner and only saving a shoebox full of our most sentimental snaps.
We both worked full-time until just before our departure date. So that only left weekends for sorting, trip planning, and selling off our possessions.
As everybody knows who has ever sold something via the internet, it’s a time-consuming process. You have to research prices, take good photos, write descriptions, etc. etc. etc. We just didn’t have the extra time to do it and ended up only selling our larger, pricier items that we didn’t regularly use.
Smaller items were donated to friends and a second-hand store bought our used furniture in one go. (We didn’t own designer furniture.)
Selling tips from others
Some downsizers have had success selling their possessions via a ‘stuff blog’ (posting photos of all of their for-sale items on a website) or making a ‘stuff page’ on facebook and sending the link to all of their friends.
Others have turned their apartment into a garage sale by putting price tags on everything. Then when someone came around to pick up an item– they would ask if there was anything else they were interested in.
Calculating storage costs
The Shurgard website indicates how much it will cost to store your belongings via a space calculator.
For example, storing a two-person couch plus salon table near to where we live would cost upwards of 40 Euros a month.
Note; it is possible to find cheaper storage units in rural areas.
Curver plastic storage boxes
Garages are known to flood and attics are often full of mice and insects. So plastic crates with lids are a better way to go, at least for the boxes that will be sitting on the floor. Plastic boxes also hold up better when they are stacked one on top of another.
Print out large labels with your name and e-mail address on them and stick them on all sides of your boxes.
We stored our boxes in a girlfriend’s attic alongside her belongings and other people’s stuff. (Her attic was the storage depot for a whole slew of friends). Every time our friend needed something, she would rummage through all of the boxes searching for it. But she left our boxes alone since they were labeled. Plus if something happens with the person whom you are storing your boxes with (such as they have to move house) other people will know who your boxes belong to and can contact you.
Label the box that contains extra winter/summer clothes.
A couple of times during our trip we ended up back home for a week. We wished that we had labeled which box contained our extra clothes. That would have saved us the effort of opening every box looking for them.
Label the box that contains replacement camping and cycling gear.
If you need some replacement gear sent to you, it’s much easier for your mom to find it if she only has to rummage through one box.
On our stuff
Now that we’ve been back some time, we still can’t think of anything we got rid of and now miss. Even today, we can’t remember most of the stuff we purged!
In fact, many of the things we stored during our trip, we ended up getting rid of shortly after coming back.
Is it because we’ve become extreme “non-hoarders”? Not really. It turns out that that’s quite common with people who have downsized before their trip. Other cyclists also spoke of opening their 10 storage boxes and looking at half of their stuff thinking, “Why did I save this?”
We went from living in a 100m2 house to a 30m2 apartment afterward. We love our new apartment, even after living some time in it.
But we do know other people who were forced to downsize from 200m2 to 100m2 homes. They still feel depressed about having to move to smaller living quarters.
Why do we feel different from them? During our RTW trip, we lived out of bike panniers and a 3-person tent. So, our new 30m2 apartment is a real step up for us qua space and luxury.
And we also enjoy the lower living costs of rent and utilities. As another ‘downsizer’ said, “It seems insane now, to pay for larger and larger living spaces just to store our stuff- but that’s what we did.”
Myanmar has just been added to our list of destinations.
It’s a country full of golden temples, Buddha statues and curious, friendly people.
Ben is a multi-award winning filmmaker, adventurer, and photographer based in the UK. He spends his time travelling to some of the world’s remotest corners under human power in search of wild and diverse adventures and experiences. Most notably he recently completed a three-year bike around the world, a journey which has been featured by the BBC, GQ, Red Bull and The Yorkshire Post amongst others. His highly acclaimed films have appeared in more than 30 international film festivals and won numerous awards. www.benpagefilms.com
Ahhh, Bangladesh! One of our favorite countries on earth.
It’s the capital of bicycle (rickshaw) culture and also a great place to travel through.
Heike aka ‘Pushbikegirl’ is from Heidelberg, Germany. She’s pedaled over 50 countries, 75.000 Km. and her current tour started in May 2013. Before 2013, she only left for months at a time, with the one exception of an 8-month solo trip across the desert of Australia.
I love remote places, the further away from civilization the better. I also love dirt roads and trails, but I don’t stick to them for the sake of it. If a paved road is traffic-free, I enjoy it just as much. Open skies, deserts, mountains and campfires make me happy.
The longer I was on the road the slower I went. Kilometers aren’t important, whereas people, nature and adventures are.
The bike is simply my form of transportation. I don’t use it to break records, but to dig deeper and come closer to the diversity the planet has to offer.
I also avoid routines since variety is the spice of life. Challenges are what keep me going and freedom is my biggest pleasure.
I prefer to only use planes and public transport when needed but have since become more relaxed with that rule.
I also explore more than the ‘greatest cycling’ destinations. I want to see the full range the world has to offer. This means visiting the so-called ‘boring’ places and forming my own opinion about them.
As you can imagine – once you remove the cost of rent, saving serious money for a trip happens faster.
This option is especially popular amongst younger cyclists and university students. When combined with not having to pay for meals, saving money is easy even when you have a minimum wage job. A number of older solo long-term travelers also manage to save cash by sleeping in their parent’s spare bedroom.
For couples, this method often comes into practice at the end of their trip. They stay with family while looking for a new job, apartment, and in order to replenish their coffers. By doing that, these couples don’t need to save an extra sum of money in order to have a ‘soft landing’ once their journey has ended.
A number of people between 18 and 30 years old take part in the working holiday scheme. From what I’ve come across, the favorite countries to take a break and earn some extra dollars in are Australia and New Zealand. Most of the travelers enjoyed their experience of bartending, working on a farm, etc. and were able to set forth their journey with the extra cash they earned. A number of other countries such as Canada also offer working holiday visas but are more stringent in their requirements and the number of people they allow to take part.
Thomas Anderson worked on a cattle station.
And as the goats on the road website states;
But if you want to get a job, not just to make ends meet, but so you can save money for further travels then you probably want to get out of the city or a huge chunk of your wages will go on rent and food, leaving little money to save towards adventures in Australia and beyond.
There are many opportunities for backpackers in more rural areas where there are staff shortages.
The best way to save money is to work in a remote area in a ‘live in’ job, one that includes your accommodation and food plus wages, commonly these are in hospitality or childcare.
This is what I did, I worked and lived in a Queensland country pub and I managed to save AUD$15,000 working for 6 months.
Many cyclists’ practice this method and end up being able to save enough money for the first part of their trip. Then when they’re on the road and money starts drying up, some of them switch over to teaching English or getting a job via a working holiday visa.
Internet is full of advice on how to save money via scaling back, such as this, this and this.
These money-saving tips were often used in combination with downsizing living costs; such as sharing a home with a number of friends or renting a room in someone else’s apartment.
For more information on how to budget for a round-the-world bike trip, check out this article on Tom Allen’s site.
This has to be one of the more popular ways to earn money. And for good reason.
There are downsides but have you ever come across the ‘perfect’ job?
In 2016 Sarah Webb and her partner Scott Daniel-Guiterrez stopped their trip halfway to teach English in China.
Sarah writes; “Within a week of arriving in Chengdu we had an apartment, a kettle and a 12-month contract at a local English school.”
“For us, it was a win-win situation. As a full-time globe-trotter, you often tire of moving from place to place every day and so a respite in China, well if you count teaching screaming four-year-olds a respite, provided us with the opportunity to plant some shallow roots, earn some money, and really get to know another country. It’s a bit heart wrenching having to stop a world cycle trip halfway round, but the truth is unless you’re financially blessed or you’re quite content with living on $2 a day, then for many this is the best option. And it’s a pretty good one too.”
Sarah was kind enough to answer these two questions:
Q: How much money did you manage to save by working as teachers that year?
A: By teaching English in Chengdu, China, we managed to save a total of $22,000 (that’s between two of us). Wages are ok but the cost of living can be very low and a lot of teaching positions include a housing allowance. We also did quite a lot of site seeing while we were in China so we certainly could have saved more.
Q: Would you do it again / recommend it to other touring cyclists who are running low on cash?
A: We would absolutely do it again in a heartbeat. Living and working in another country gives you an insight into the country that travelling alone could never offer. Teaching is also one of those jobs I believe everyone should do at one point in their life and my partner and I loved it so much we decided teaching is what we ultimately want to do. China is a wonderful country to do it in because while it’s challenging at times there are so many great opportunities and the country itself has some of the most diverse scenery on the planet. That said, a lot of South East and Central Asia, such as Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and South Korea, offer awesome opportunities.
Thanks, Sarah for answering my crass financial question. And as an aside note, in April 2018 Sarah and Scott were off to America to continue their journey down to Argentina.
Yes, trust fund cyclists do exist as well as travelers who received a windfall inheritance. But they don’t publicize the fact. Who wants to tell others that their funds were acquired via grandma kicking the bucket?
What’s more common is parents who help subsidize their kid’s tour.
Many younger, novice cyclists underestimate the funds necessary for their trip. They discover that trying to pedal on pot noodles and no beer lowers the fun factor. So out go the “Hello mom, could you…” letters.
Note: Unfortunately, quite a few bicycle travelers post inaccurate (lowered) daily spending amounts on the internet. Maybe they think it makes them look more hardcore? Or they forget to add in the cost of airplane tickets, material repairs, visas, etc. into their daily costs.
So beginners who budget for their tour according to these inaccurate figures often have to hit up their parents for extra funds in order to complete their journey.
Many parents do send money. They often see it as a reward for completing university and realize that this is the best chance for their kid to go out and see the world before they start working, buy a house and start a family.
Some people earn a higher than average salary, sometimes up to 3 or 4 times the national average. They’re able to sock away more than half of their income each month by living frugally. This helps when trying to get enough money together for a multi-year tour. Instead of having to spend 10 years saving, they were able to do it in 3 or 4.
There are people who work as tour guides for part of the year and spend the remaining months on their bikes. Travelling Claus is one of them. According to Claus, the job is hard and the hours are long when you’re leading a group. He also writes; “The pay almost always sucks in this business. You get rich in so many other ways though and that’s why there are so many people who only want to do this.”
After many years of experience, he now earns roughly $200 US dollars per day and all of his expenses are paid while he’s on tour. At this time, Claus works approximately 5 months per year and the rest he spends travelling.
On his website, you can find out what it’s like to be a tour leader and advice on how to become one.
Who wouldn’t want a passive income?
Rental income, Airbnb, etc. do help subsidize or even pay for some people’s trips. But it’s not one of the more popular ways methods due to:
But it is noted as a positive way to go if:
There are some cyclists who have traveled using the proceeds from their house sale, but they are in the minority.
Most long-term travelers who have a house either rent it out or sell it. Otherwise half of the tour costs could easily go out to paying the mortgage/rent.
From what I’ve come across, the majority of R.T.W. cyclists have given up their apartment/house. Their argument for doing so is; “it’s too big of a hassle and costs too much to keep it.”
But what about middle-aged people? The ones who are concerned about having to find a new job after a tour and who only earn average to lower than average salaries? There aren’t that many taking R.T.W. tours. Especially singles find it difficult to save ‘serious money’. As one guy put it, “I didn’t own a car or even a credit card. My full-time job just barely paid the rent on my studio apartment, plus utilities and groceries.” He was recently laid off and struck a deal with his new boss that he would start in a couple of months. During that time, he traveled using his redundancy money plus some savings.
For those of you dreaming of a long trip – these are the methods others have used. Maybe one of them will work for you.
Of course, there are even more options, but I can’t (and won’t!) list them all here. Just think creatively and maybe you’ll discover some hidden talent like David Brankley did. For more than 20 years now he has been touring the world and he pays for it by spending part of the year painting pictures.
Thailand and Laos have just been added to the list of destinations.
Plus we’ve added two new photo galleries of our favorite cycle touring and bicycle culture images from around the world.
In the spring of 2016, Eric Timmerman and Olivia Cuenca set off to ride their bicycles around the world.
In attempts to stay away from pavement and traffic as much as possible, they searched for jeep tracks, single track, and dirt roads that weave through the mountains leading to places less explored.
At long last, Argentina has been added to our list of destinations.
The never-ending Ruta 40 led us through this country.
Accompanied by a playlist of road trip songs that played through our heads – the miles flew by.
We’ve just added a new destination to the site, Bolivia!
Cycling the Salars was one of our all-time favorite experiences.
Who can resist pedaling through such a surreal landscape?
We’ve just added a new destination to the site, China!
China is what bicycle touring is all about, adventure.
Even though we couldn’t communicate, read signs or even identify what we were eating, we just jumped in.
We passed sidewalks filled with dancing office workers, street cleaners in high heels and pedaled through some of the most gorgeous scenery in the world.
I’m Dutch, born in 1972, and love adventure in the form of traveling and diving deeper and deeper into this beautiful place called Earth.
As a little girl, I liked nothing more than building huts, following arrows chalked on the ground, painting, queerly dressing up, playing outside and discovering all that’s surrounding me, often resulting in me being lost and bruised but shining with new observations. Nothing has changed ever since.
On holidays my parents hung a little green army backpack over my tiny shoulders and off we were, on the hills in Austria, finding our way between grazing cows, all the while thinking about the banana in my backpack, until I forgot about it, being dipped in nature and it’s beauties.
I studied art (drawing and painting for advertising design) and fashion design. Those were 6 great years in Antwerp, Belgium. I managed to work 3 years as a photographer before I realized this was not it for me…
My desire to wander into the vast world has never changed. It has always been my dream to travel, to admire, the be in awe by nature, to witness, to find out, not to start a family nor being a mother, neither being confined to one space. Restless? Perhaps. For many years I took public transport until I noticed what I missed out on, and after having been to many countries, I started to save money for a new adventure: riding the world on a bicycle.
I haven’t had one minute of regret, for me, this is the ultimate way of traveling. Slow enough to plunge in the countries atmosphere, fast enough to make a decent amount of kilometers. Definitely not the easiest, but far out the most rewarding!
http://cyclingcindy.com and www.instagram.com/cinderellaservranckx
Originally from Argentina, I am a photographer and architect who travels the world by bicycle, specifically around remote regions. I pursue the cultures and sub-cultures that in one way or another resist the globalization process, either by deliberately trying to preserve their traditional values or by being marginalized by the system.
I’ve traveled in 88 countries (and counting) and each one has left something in me that in one way or another has contributed to shaping the person who I am now. This remains to be an on-going process as I move around the world.
Visit his photography website.
Mike talks about his past journey through South America and the Indian Himalaya:
“It is fair to say my trip has had many twists and turns. It has challenged me physically and mentally and forced me to question some of my own preconceptions and ideas.
When planning this journey I dreamt of cycling big distances and the daily physical toil of life on the road. Yet the lasting impressions and memories are not the miles ridden but the people I meet, the places I linger and the beauty of nature. The simple joys of travel.
Spending increasing amounts of time behind a camera the photographic element of the journey has become as important to me as any aspect of the journey, a visual means of communicating and sharing the journey with others.”
Follow Mike’s photographic journey.