Discovering you don’t want to be long term cycle touring

And that’s a wrap! 

I know this might come as a shock to some, but while having time to think and discuss our trip, our expectations and what we want from the cycle trip, we actually discovered that we don’t want to be long term cycle touring. We’ve both travelled to around 70 countries, on and off for the last 10 years – it was time for something else!

This was a very sudden change in plan. We had no way that we would feel like this when we left Halifax. In fact, the entire time we were in Halifax we were so excited about starting cycling, that this is the last thing we thought was going to happen. But, sometimes you just don’t know how you will feel or how things will end up until you’re in that situation.

nova scotia sign, Cycling Nova Scotia: Halifax
We made it to Nova Scotia!

So, how and why did we come to the conclusion that we don’t want to be long term cycle touring anymore?

#1 There is more to life than just exploring the world by bicycle

I love travelling, I love cycling, I love seeing the world… but, as hard as it might be to admit this, there is more to life than travel and exploring. I once thought I could be one of those wandering nomads, off discovering new places and people, letting the road take me where it wants, but in reality I want more in my life than that.

Our priorities had changed and I know wanted the things that travel cannot provide, like the possibility of having chickens, a dog, and a veggie patch. I don’t want to be living on a strict budget each day, worrying about the pennies, where we’re going to sleep that night and whether we’ll get a shower that week. I know there are people out there that live like this either by choice or not, but in my case, I know I don’t have to live like this – there are other options.

Though travel and cycle touring is great for the short term, I don’t think it’s healthy to do constantly. You end up missing out on other important things, like weddings, birthdays and family events, and you aren’t able to maintain a healthy life balance. In the end, there is more to life than travel and cycle touring and that is a huge reason why we don’t want to be long term cycle touring anymore.

Cycling Kazakhstan
Wild camping in the desert of Kazakhstan.

#2 I lost my purpose

I am a person that needs to find meaning or a purpose in everything I do, and one day while riding in the US, I realised that I couldn’t find any meaning in what I was doing. This triggered more thoughts and feelings about the trip… thoughts I eventually shared with Michael. I thought that perhaps it had something to do with cycling in the US, and that these feelings will leave once we make it to Latin America. It was pretty clear once we arrived in Nicaragua that it wasn’t the place that was the issue.

Cycling New England
Cycling New England, USA.

#3 Exhausted…

Cycling, travelling, living on a budget and being a nomad is exhausting. Even when you take a break (like we did in Halifax) you are still mentally on the move, planning for the next stage or trip. You’re also not able to make any long-term plans, because you’re only there for a short time. This along with constantly being on a strict budget, taking note of the pennies you spend, and trying to figure out how to make your money stretch to the next “rest” spot where you can work, is quite tiring. We had just had enough of skimping on things that we otherwise wouldn’t have to.

I was also diagnosed with an eye condition in Halifax, which meant I was supposed to keep my eye completely clean and put a heat pack on it twice a day – if you’re a cycle tourist, you’d probably understand how difficult that can be. This was just another thing to worry about.

about us
Cycling in the snow in Canada.

#4 Sights losing the “wow” factor

You know this is starting to happen when you start compare everything you are seeing for the first time, to something or somewhere you have already been. You’ll hear yourself say things like, “This city is just like Antigua in Guatemala.” or, “This lake isn’t as pretty as Lake Atitlan.”

For us as well, we felt like this cycle trip was never going to compare to the France to China cycle trip, where everything was new and exciting. We were also cycling through a lot of countries that we had already been too. Don’t get me wrong, I had an amazing time travelling there a few years ago, but the feeling wasn’t the same as exploring somewhere for the first time.

exploring nicaragua granada Nicaragua
The sunset in Granada.

#5 I don’t like saying “goodbye” constantly

Cycle touring and travelling you do get to meet so many wonderful people, and I can say I’m lucky enough to have friends all over the world, but while constantly being on the move you can still be limited to how strong a connection you make or keep with those friends. At times you feel like you have all the friends in the world, other times you can feel so isolated and alone.

I also hate saying goodbye. I feel like with the number of times I’ve had to say “goodbye” in my life, it should be easier to say it by now. In fact, I feel like the more I say “goodbye” the harder it gets.

One thing that cycle touring has taught me is how important family and friends are, and instead of spending months, sometimes years without seeing my loved ones, I would rather have the option to see them whenever I like. Why? Because I miss my friends and family.

pedalling the prairies
Jacque, Luisa, Me and Michael having lunch somewhere in the Prairies!

What now?

No, I’m not having babies! Sorry, Mum and Dad, but I’m afraid I’ll only be giving you fur-grandchildren.

At first we had no idea what we would do. Michael and I are both from Perth, but have spent a large portion of our lives in other countries. I’ve spent just as long living in England as Australia, and already feel a bit torn between two countries. Though, at the same time, if we could pick absolutely anywhere to live, we would probably go with British Columbia in Canada. Unfortunately, it’s extremely difficult to get sponsorship and move there permanently, so with the assumption that New Zealand is supposed to be similar to Canada, this was the first place we picked to move to. This also meant I didn’t have to choose between my two homes, England and Australia. We eventually rethought this idea and decided to give England a go – mostly due to family, and being located in Europe.

So on June 13th 2017 Michael and I will be moving to the UK to start our next adventure. To some this may not seem like much of an adventure, but it’s all about perspective, and to us a life of stability and routine, really will be an adventure.

Will we cycle tour again?

Absolutely! Cycle touring is still our preferred way of travelling, and we’ve already discussed plans to take a week or two cycle trip around Norway and Iceland, and within the UK.

No, we won’t be planning any future long term cycle trip. I think we’ve said goodbye to our budget/ long term travel days. We hope that by living a more stable life, and taking only the occasional cycle trip, our lives will rebalance, and we will become more excited about travel and appreciate our future trips a bit more.

Cycling France, don't want to be long term cycle touring
Just not as exciting as cycling France – one of the reasons why we don’t want to be long term cycle touring anymore.

What does this mean for Cycle Trekkers?

Nothing. Just because we don’t want to be long term cycle touring, it doesn’t mean we won’t still cycle tour, so Cycle trekkers will continue as usual. We’ll continue to add our cycle blogs, gear reviews, eco-discoveries and anything else bicycle related, to the site.

Long term cycle touring is a bit glorified, just like budget travelling is, and I’m sure there are plenty of people out there that think Michael and I have the easiest life in the world. Well, no actually it’s bloody hard work and very exhausting. Usually the rewards of beautiful sights and new experiences is enough to make it worth while, but when you’re not excited by this like you used to be, then you start to wonder what is the point – why are we still cycling? So that’s why we don’t want to be long term cycle touring anymore, and why we are ending our trip early. Have you every experienced something similar, and ended a tour early? Or are you set on exploring the world by bicycle for the rest of your life? Would love to hear about your experience.

10 Replies to “Discovering you don’t want to be long term cycle touring”

  1. Well written young lady. 👍 Come see Regina and I anytime. Our very best to you & Michael. Safe travels and keep on smiling.

  2. We did two year long tours and several three to four month tours. That works well for us (for 70,000k) over 20 years. We understand. If you haven’t done all the Eastern Provinces, it’s a wonderful tour. You have nothing to be sorry for. You earned your wings years ago!

  3. I bicycled around the world with a stop of 1 year in Thailand and another 6 months in the Philippines. I started again in 2014 from Bangkok and down through to Sydney and then up to the northern most road in Canada (Inuvik) and down through the Yukon, BC and into the U.S. I was hit by a truck in the U.S., luckily survived and now I live in Vancouver (I am Canadian).

    I can relate to how you feel and was getting to the same point. My accident forced me to stop but during the recovery, also felt there is more to life. I was missing my family, the steady income of a job and little things like going to a movie, not having to look for a place live, not having to cross another border, etc.

    I am now fully recovered (3 years since my accident) and do on occasion miss life on the road but am happy to do other things. If I ever did another around the world trip it would be in stages, maybe a few months and then stop. That way, everything will always feel new and exciting and you can stop just when things get repetitive.

    I will go and read your blogs, I still really enjoy that.

    Fred

    1. Thanks for the comment, Fred! Sorry to hear about your accident, but glad to hear you’ve fully recovered. We absolutely love Vancouver! Amazing city. I completely agree. I think in future we will do shorter trip, or a trip in stages, to break it up a bit. Since we’ve stopped cycling and travelling we’ve had a fair bit of bad news in the family, so I’m definitely glad that we are nearby and can offer some support.

  4. I’ve just now come across your blog by chance while researching a new Brodie bike I’m thinking of getting. Many thanks for the review, by the way, I think I will go ahead and get the Circuit. I have never been on a cycling trip and have long thought it would be something I would love to do. I have, though, been on several extended backpacking trips and would say that I have felt many of the things you’ve described above, including the diminishing wow factor and the constant goodbyes. I’ll look forward to having a read through some of your other writings.
    All the best,
    Sonya

  5. Thanks Sonya! I do really love my bike – the only downside is the weight. It is really heavy. Good luck on the next bike trip. We’re actually thinking of trying bikepacking next time, so are considering plus bikes next 🙂

  6. Hi, great read.

    I started to cycle tour for the very first time in August 2017, and I have now covered 12 countries, so I’m not doing bad.

    That said, I can totally relate to a lot of what you say, add to the the solo aspect and it becomes even harder in a lot of ways.

    Seeing sites on your own is OK, but some things are made for sharing, to sit with a partner or friend and enjoy what your’re looking at, what you’re eating, where you are and what you have achieved that day.

    Being alone, it’s just not the same. I get so bored you wouldn’t believe. Alone all day, and alone all night.

    Sure, you get to speak to locals in the best way you can, or if you’re lucky you get to chat with someone who speaks your own language, but a few minutes later they’re gone, and you’re all alone again.

    Motivating yourself as a solo bicycle tourist is hard too long distance. You put your music on and try to just do the km’s you set yourself for that day. As a couple I’m sure this is much different.

    Stopping for lunch and breaks together, telling a few jokes and even arguing would be a treat 🙂

    At 55 and a non cyclist with no practice prior to this tour, I’ve done really well. My bike is now in Vietnam while I have returned to the UK to deal with business and paperwork, but plan to return to Vietnam to collect my bike and ride on.

    But, I’m not sure how I feel. I’ve missed my wife who had visited me on route from time to time, my adult children, foods, people to talk to, and lots of things.

    I also suffer many health issues after being flattened by an articulated lorry. Spine damage, nerve damage, and other issues.

    I planned to cycle the world, but I have to admit to no being a lover of cycling as it turns out.

    I don’t enjoy it that much. I don’t like hills and my butt has hurt and bled so much each day that I have been concerned about getting ill in humid damp climates.

    I’m also 138kg. I set out at 159kg. So I’m not exactly a typical cyclist and it’s probably the reason my butt hurts :). I cover around 60 to 80 km’s a day.

    One of my biggest issues is constantly being ripped off, or at least being overcharged if they can get away with it. Not being able to just nip into a shop or toilet without securing my bike.

    Some couples say they enjoy setting up camp and cooking and enjoying a meal and chatting about the day together. But as for me, sitting in my tent on my own, cooking up some simple food because there is nobody to enjoy a meal with, and then waking up alone for another lonely day is tough.

    I’ve met nice people too, lots of them, but in truth, it’s the cycling bit I don’t like 🙂

    I’m still undecided. I expect to return in 8 weeks. My wife is coming with me for 2 weeks to enjoy a holiday with me in Vietnam, before she returns home and I carry on, but I may just collect my bike while there and come home, we will see.

    1. Hi Stephen, thank you for your message, and I’m sorry to hear about the challenges you’ve experienced. I definitely relate to so of what you have written, and well done on what you’ve achieved so far. It does sound like you are a bit burnt out at the moment – perhaps you’ll feel differently after taking a break, though if you still feel the same, maybe it would be more beneficial and enjoyable to try another challenge, such as volunteering overseas or teaching English. You can always do shorter trips during the time off, and maybe then you will appreciate it a bit more. I personally don’t think there is much point pushing on if you are really not enjoying it that much. At the same time, if you are just a bit burnt out or having a bad day (used to happen to me while cycling), then maybe after a rest you’ll feel a bit more positive and enjoy the experience a bit more. Good luck with whatever you decide 🙂

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