On our cycle tour, we get many questions, and many are the same. Here we try to answer most of them.
How many kilometers do you cycle every day?
It depends heavily on the conditions: How is the condition of the road, is there a lot to see, how late did we start, do we have a rush to be somewhere, is there a lot of climbing or a headwind, rain, heat or cold?
On a normal day with good weather, not too much to see on the way, no wind and reasonably flat terrain, we do about 70 km a day. We could easily do more with more discipline (we have managed over 130 km sometimes), but we found 70 km a day to be a comfortable distance to have some time to relax, enjoy, have a nap, eat and watch a show or movie in the evening. It’s a very enjoyable pace for us.
Wow, that’s a lot!
Not at all. Many cycle tourists commonly do 100+ km a day, we are actually really slow. But it’s not a race and we like to enjoy ourselves. We noticed on our solo trips that we are much faster alone, since there is not much to do by oneself instead of cycling.
How many kilometers did you cycle so far?
How did you meet?
How did you get this idea?
When will you stop? Where will you finish?
There are only two reasons for us stopping, one is that we ran out of money, the other is that we are fed up with traveling. Ideally we would like to make it all the way around the world, but even then there are many areas that we would like to return to in the future.
Where do you want to settle down in the future?
We don’t know. Many countries are an option, as we can easily stay in the whole EU and Taiwan.
Aren’t you really tired? Don’t your butts hurt?
Sometimes. After around 5 days of continuous cycling, we are often ready to have a rest day, in which we do nothing, most of the time at a hosts’ place or accommodation. This is far from a schedule in practice, because we often spend two or more nights in a place where there is sightseeing to do or when there is rainy weather. On the other hand, sometimes we would like to rest more but cannot due to a lack of places to stay or visa deadlines to catch. My butt tends to start hurting after a week of continuous cycling, where as for Yuily it could be her knee or palm.
Additionally, sometimes after several months of continuous traveling, we get travel fatigue. This is due to the constant action on the brain, seeing new things every day. Even though we might not be physically tired, we just want to shut ourselves in somewhere and stop traveling for a week or two. We are a bit introverted, so this happens as a result.
How do you finance such a long trip?
Mostly by savings from previous work. I did a working holiday in Taiwan, while Yuily has savings from her work in Australia. We also travel in a very budget way, spending very little.
How much do you spend in a day?
We manage to get by on around 3-6 € a day per person, depending on country. This includes all food, bicycle parts, ferry and other transport costs and accommodation (rare). Ironically, we often spend more in cheaper countries, because we spend on luxuries that we can’t normally afford, such as hotels and restaurants.
Do you eat well?
Yes. Across Europe, discount food from supermarkets is reasonably cheap and in Asia we commonly ate in simple restaurants.
Where do you sleep?
Only rarely we know where we are going to sleep the next night. We often camp wild, never at paid campsites. We are very active on the hospitality networks warmshowers.org and couchsurfing.com, using them frequently. When accommodation is reasonably cheap (under 7 € per person per night) we might use it. And finally, rarely, but not totally uncommon, it happens that a person spontaneously invites us to spend the night in their home.
Staying with strangers? Isn’t that dodgy?
Not at all. On the hospitality networks, we know what kind of person to expect as a host through their profile. Almost all of our encounters with hosts are very positive experiences, holding interesting conversations, receiving great hospitality and bringing us much closer to the culture of the region. Spontaneous hosts have been just people who genuinely want to help us with no ulterior motive. The world isn’t as scary as one thinks.
Wild camping? Is that legal?
By wild camping we mean putting up our tent somewhere, mostly a natural area, without explicit permission. Some countries explicitly allow this, others explicitly forbid it, in most it’s a legal grey area. We never had issues with law enforcement about it, as any laws against wild camping are not intended to bust passing cycle tourists. We never destroy property or leave anything behind.
What about wild animals?
The most vicious wild animal during camping is the mosquito. Rather unfortunately, humans have done a good job over the past millennia to drive most dangerous wild animals to the brink of extinction in most parts of the world, so this means they’re not an issue for us.
How do you shower?
Cleaning ourselves on the road can be a bit difficult sometimes. There is a reason the hospitality exchange network for cyclists is called “warmshowers”. If the weather is warm enough, we might be able to clean ourselves in a nearby stream or lake. An accessible toilet can also be great to clean some body parts in the sink. We don’t carry many clothes, as it would be pointless: A change of clothes would get smelly after 10 minutes of wearing them anyway. Almost all of our clothes are fast-drying synthetic fiber, making it easy to hand-wash them if necessary. Most of our hosts offer us to do laundry. A cold but humid day is often the worst and our own smell offends us on these days.
Aren’t you scared? Isn’t it dangerous?
Yes, very. The intense danger comes from the metal cages on wheels that we have to go on the road with, called cars. We’ve had many close encounters that could’ve ended in severe injury or death, because one driver wasn’t patient enough to wait for a safe opportunity to pass. Other than that, more danger comes from weather, and we plan our trip according to weather patterns in the area and frequently study the forecast. We will often organize to stay with a host if we see some bad weather incoming.
Almost exclusively all encounters we had with people were positive though and we perceive very little danger from them. Reports of terrorism don’t scare us in the slightest, for the chance of getting struck by lightning is higher. We do avoid active war zones though.
How much did your bicycles cost?
About 200 € for mine. Yuily’s was borrowed, then later gifted from a friend, so it cost her nothing. Equipment cost us another 200 € initially, increasing little by little over time.
Any problems with the bicycles? Many flat tires?
Despite our bikes being very cheap, they held out surprisingly well. Aside from wear parts (Tires, drivetrains, bearings, cables…) we didn’t have any issues. Not a single broken spoke. We had flat tires every 500 km or so in the beginning. But this was with standard tires in China, where the roads have many metal shards on them. Since we switched to Schwalbe Marathon tires, the number of actual punctures was 1 in the last 10,000 km.
How do you navigate?
I do all of our navigation using an Android smartphone. I switch around between Google Maps and OpenStreetMap (through the maps.me app) to find a good route. I actually enjoy spending an evening in the tent scrolling all over the map, noting cycle paths and interesting routes to take. I found it worth it to search the internet for national or regional cycle routes of a country and incorporating those on our route. If a country doesn’t have those, I will search for other cyclists blogs and read their experience on certain roads.
How do you get your bikes on planes/buses/trains/ferries?
Ferries tend to be super easy as we can just roll on with the cars. Often the operators don’t even charge for bicycles, counting us as foot passengers. Trains are hit or miss depending on country, some where we can simply roll on like Germany, others where the bike has to be sent separately on a freight train like China. Buses have been fitting our bikes in undercarriages no problem, sometimes with removal of the front wheel. Charge has often been around half that of a ticket or even free. On planes, we generally pack them in a bicycle box, somewhat disassembled. Some airlines use an extra charge for sports equipment, others just count the weight we are over the limit. We never paid more than 40 € for this, but we’ve been lucky, as often the airline staff has been generous.
We sometimes hitchhiked with the bikes, often in trucks or vans which could fit them without a problem. Once we even fitted them into a normal sedan car with some disassembly!
What was the best country?
It depends for which aspect. The most beautiful nature would be in Norway. For people it would be Iran. For food it would be Taiwan, if that doesn’t count, China.
Why torture yourself like this?
We primarily chose to travel by bicycle because it’s very cheap and gives us the freedom to go anywhere without relying on public transport. We have almost no interest in the sport of cycling. Additionally, a bicycle is unproblematic to cross a border on, where as on a motorbike or in a car it can be a nightmare with permits and licenses.
Did you have any health issues or injuries?
I had an eye infection in Kyrgyzstan that took several weeks to heal with antibiotic shots into my eye. On another occasion I tripped over the pot on the camping stove, pouring boiling water over my foot, which also took several weeks to heal. We’ve had several instances of travelers diarrhea, all in Asia. One cold per year seems common for both of us.
Do you have travel insurance?
As a German citizen, it would be illegal for me to be without health insurance. Fortunately, travel insurance is deemed ok, costing me around 30-40 € per month, covering all medical emergencies and some third-party liability. Yuily gets some basic coverage from her Taiwanese national insurance when she is abroad, costing her about 20 € per month.