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Cycling around the world may just be the perfect way to travel that you haven't even considered. Looking for a way to do slow travel on a budget? What better way than to cycle. Want to enjoy all the wonderful food that travelling offers without the guilt! Cycle to your destination! I want to introduce you to a Lina and Per from velovelo.se who are cycling around the world. Get some tips and tricks from those who have done it. From the experts.
We weren't unhappy with our 9-5 life in Sweden. It was just that we were after something else. Most of all time. Time to see the world and time for each other. We were inspired by a family on television sailing around the world. We heard them talk about how precious and valuable the time they spent together was, we made the decision. We didn't have a sailboat and we couldn't sail, but we could cycle. That evening we decided that we would cycle around the world.
Said and done. The very next evening we started to make a plan for how to save money and doing research for the trip. One and a half years later we had quit our jobs, sold our apartment and our belongings and pedalled out of town.
The cycling around the world lifestyle
Cycling around the world attracted us because it was a way of traveling that would allow us to be close to nature and people.
At the beginning, we didn't take advantage of its full potential. The first weeks we had our deadlines on how far to bike and how many days to rest. Looking back it feels sad. We were so use to the stressful world, even though we've left it behind we needed time to adjust to our new lifestyle. We probably turned down many opportunities because of that. But slowly our way of transportation became a way of traveling. When your bicycle is your transport, and especially if you carry everything you own on it, you go slow.
One of the beautiful things that happen when you are cycling around the world is the human connection. Cruising on our bikes we draw a lot of attention to ourselves and people want to hear our story and share theirs. Not only do people stop us to talk, we get invited for tea, lunch, dinner and even an overnight stay.
The hospitality of people around the world is something we never would've experienced if we traveled by plane or car.
We now travel slow in all senses. Not only do we move slow when we pedal our way through a new country, we also experience the changes in nature and culture gradually. And we slow down to take time with the people we meet. Embracing their hospitality and get new friends for life.
The only thing that keeps us in a hurry nowadays is our visas. But then on the other hand you also get to be called brave by the police, at the border, when you cross it the day your visa expires.
How cycling around the world helps you to meet locals.
But it's not all sunshine and smiles meeting new people because eventually, you have to say goodbye. It usually ends up in tears from the mothers in the family which gets me going as well.
The other day we were cycling what we had planned to be our last day in Gambia. But what are plans when someone waves at you when you stop to buy water. A place to sit in the shade, tea and a little conversation later they were preparing our favorite Gambian food for us. Staying the night or not were not even up for discussion.
The border was just a couple of km away so we would have plenty of time to cross it the day after (which was the day our visa expire of course). We spend the day with good food, being guided around in the village, invited to a neighbor for cashew wine served from an old oil bottle in a cap from a shampoo bottle, cuddling their donkey, singing songs over tea in the evening.
I now know a song in Mandinka. Im sure it's not perfect but I sang it to a couple of people already and it's a great ice breaker because you get to share a laugh together. Leaving was hard and involved a lot of tears when saying goodbye.
Cycling from Gambia to Senegal
Filled with new energy and love from the family we pedalled our way to the border. It was easy to get our exit stamp. Our visa stamp to Senegal, on the other hand, proved to be harder. They didn't have anyone at that border. We could of course cross anyway for around 5 euro. But we needed the stamp if we didn't want to pay our way through the whole country and we don't want to contribute to corruption. After a little confusion, they let us back into Gambia. We cycled through Gambia with our exit stamp in the passport two border crossings away where they had an entry stamp for Senegal. Luckily the visa was valid the whole day. Nothing stressful about trying to find a border crossing with the stamp you need the last day your visa expires. I mean we had already exit Gambia officially. Every control we passed was really cool about it though and otherwise I probably just could have charmed them with my Mandinka song. You can read the full story here.
We left Sweden 1st of August 2016 and have been cycling around the world for over a year now. First through Europe followed by West Africa where we will continue down to South Africa. After that our plan is to fly to Asia to bike there, followed by Australia and South- Central- North America and Canada. By then we would have cycled for four years. It's a long time of being a way from home but everywhere we lay our heads nowadays feels like home. You can see our cycling route here.
The most common question asked about cycling around the world - is how are we so brave!. How did we dare to leave literally everything behind and start a whole different life on the road. The hardest part is to make the decision to change your life. On the other hand when you found something you're passionate about its easy to make that decision. Also, it's easy to save money when you're saving for your dream. People also wonder how we dare to live on the road. If we aren't afraid to get robbed or something. Those things could happen anywhere in the world. With the attitude that humans are honest and willing you well you will find many new people while pedalling. They might turn out to be your friends for life, all because you happened to stop for water on your cycling tour.
Cycling around the world tips
- Start small. Go for a weekend ride, somewhere close to home.
- Pack very light, but pack what you need
- Travel slow and enjoy every moment
- Do your research, but don't spend so much time doing your research that you don't leave for your trip.
- Buy the right gear, but don't spend so much money that you don't have enough for your trip (these two tips are a balancing act)
- Here is a link to a great resource with plenty of practical advice
- Also check out warmshowers.org. A website we have included on our Ultimate Resource List
But I think these are the best tips I have ever read for cycling around the world. Essentially, just do it!
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