Places I have been
India and Neighbors
/ Canada / USA
SE Asia / China
How I started
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Equipment Pages Index
Chapter 1. Leaving it all behind
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Two Years Before We Left
During the last two years, I started an extensive study of the world. I bought dozens of travel guidebooks. I always had several with me wherever I went. Friends and coworkers would become suspicious when they saw books and maps for China, Africa and Europe with me at the same time. I first read the important preliminary facts about weather, visa requirements and cost. After I gained a general idea of each region, I looked up specific places and tried to imagine what it would be like for us to be arriving on loaded bicycles. Where would we sleep, eat and use a bankcard?
Soon my desk was completely covered with maps and books. I felt as if I was back in middle school looking at the world atlas and dreaming of a world that was so far away. This time it was much more fun; now, it could actually happen.
The internet held the most useful information. I found dozens of Web sites made by others who were riding in every country of the world. Reading their stories about cycling adventures taught me what to expect. I learned to adjust my expectations of life on the road.
The most elusive piece of the puzzle was trying to determine how much it was going to cost. I wanted to estimate how far our money would take us. This was frustrating because bicycle touring Web sites and books do not disclose detailed information about cost. The budgets suggested in the guidebooks are high. Guidebooks are designed for short-term tourists traveling by bus. The budgets in the guidebooks factor in the cost of lodging and bus tickets. We planned on camping often and riding our bikes. I felt that we could go much cheaper, but Cindie wasn’t as sure. This was truly the great unknown and therefore was a source of fear. After much research and debate, Cindie and I finally settled on an annual budget of $15,000 or about $41 a day for the two of us. Next, we divided our expected savings by this estimated budget and came up with seven years.
The cost of equipment was much higher than expected which prevented us from making our savings goal. We bought high quality equipment. Our bicycles cost over US$4,000 combined; the laptop computer and digital camera cost over US$4,000 combined; panniers for both bikes cost over US$1000; tent, water filter and camp stove cost over US$1000 combined; and bike and travel clothing cost over US$1000 combined.
In total we spent over US$11,000 on equipment the first year; we originally budgeted US$6,000 for equipment. If our travel budget was off by as much, our plans could have derailed! Luckily, the yearly, monthly, daily cost of traveling turned out to be less than our original annual estimate of US$15,000. We went over our equipment budget by US$5,000, but we ended up under our travel budget by US$5,000; therefore, we remained close to our budget for the first year.
Once we had settled on seven years, I started piecing our trip together. Nothing in my life had felt more exciting than looking at a world map and working out how much of it my wife and I would see in seven years.
Our route was based on cost effectiveness, avoiding burn out and weather patterns. The cost effectiveness boiled down to limiting flights and seeking cheaper countries.
I knew from my research that travelers’ burn out is a real problem for those on multi-year trips. To avoid this I scheduled extra amounts of time for each area so we would never feel rushed. I also had the idea that we would mix difficult underdeveloped countries with developed comfortable countries. These strategies would keep our living standards changing enough to renew our interest and keep us fresh.
Paying attention to weather patterns is important in bicycle touring and is the most difficult part of the planning process. This is where my calendar with the weather came in handy. I came up with a plan that would follow the best weather around the globe.
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|Chapter 1. Leaving "It All" Behind.
PART 1. Background START HERE
PART 2. Five years before we left
PART 3. Two years before we left
PART 4. One year before we left
PART 5 The week before we left
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Tips & Advice
I have used several brands of bicycle panniers and
highly recommend Ortlieb.
See Why I switched to Ortlieb waterproof Panniers?
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