When I tell people I am planning a bicycle tour that could take ‘years’ the first reaction is usually: ‘How can you afford to do this?’
The question is two-pronged in that they really mean is ‘How will you fund your trip?’ and ‘How can you afford to be away from work and responsibilities for such an extended time?’
These are two completely separate issues but they have the same simple answer. It’s a smart ass answer that really doesn’t shed any light on what the questioner is really asking; however, it is strikingly accurate. My time is worth BILLIONS!!!
Before I prove that my time is worth Billions let’s take a closer look at what most people will see as the two biggest obstacles to an extended bicycle trip/adventure vacation.
Obstacle #1 – How will you fund your trip?
Travel need not be expensive. There is a certain amount of equipment needed but after the initial outlay bicycle touring is cost-effective. I can probably get by for less than $5 per day if I avoid large metropolitan areas. For argument sake let’s say $10 per day and lets say there are going $4,000.00 worth of emergencies and/or special costs outside of the daily budget. Let’s not just deal with numbers lets tie it to an actual trip. So BicycleHobo sets out to see as many national parks as he can within a one year time limit. Using our cost structure [365 days] [$10/day] + $4000 = $7650.
So for less than $8,000 I can ride my bicycle around for a year visiting national park after national park. I can come up with 10 to 20 trips that would be similar that would cost less. If you enjoy bicycle touring the question isn’t ‘How will you fund your trip?’ it’s more ‘Why aren’t you touring right now?’ This is not unique to bicycle touring. You could take that same $7650 and travel around the world with cash left over.
Obstacle #2 – How can you afford to be away from work and responsibilities for such an extended time?
My life is very simple. I don’t own anything that ties me to one place like a car, or a house, or even any furniture other than a futon. In many ways my peers look at this as a quirk and they probably think I’m a little weird but owning things is an anathema to being independent. Chasing the American Dream is not for me. Buying a house is not for me. Getting married is not for me. I own more bicycle touring equipment than normal household goods.
When I decide to pull the plug on my ‘normal life’ I will only own bicycle touring equipment. I don’t have any obstacles that hold me to one place other than my job, my apartment lease, and a bag full of clothes. The only storage I need while I am away is a safe deposit box.
So how is it that my time is worth billions?
Time and health are the only precious commodities I have. Currently at age 45 and without any present issues I realize I am rich! It took a wasteful 45 years to understand the value of these commodities, but I have clarity that I am squandering my wealth.
I have been at the precipice of this understanding before, actually past the precipice and knee-deep in the understanding that I am super wealthy in time and health and that chasing money or living the American Dream is no more than a ponzi scheme.
I began to realize this as I lived out the fantastic fantasy of expat life of in sunny Phuket, Thailand for two years. Followed by another two years in exciting Bangkok, Thailand. I was cast in situations where I was always learning and always experiencing. I traveled all over Asia during my free time. When I left I spent a couple months in India, Sikkim, and Nepal. It was the opposite than the shell game of a life I reverted to when I returned to the USA and it cost hardly anything.
As I start to plan my trip I have come to realize I’m not very content with my life at present. I’m not taking risks. I’m not adventuring. I’m not learning. I’m not growing. I am wasting away solving problems for others. I trade my time and health for a check that isn’t quite worth my time and health. Try to remember that with the right mindset your time is worth BILLIONS also. You need to realize some things before you can truly understand this concept:
Realization 1: The ‘future’ does not exist.
The future is a false truth that people lean on to prove the tasks of their everyday life. I am trying to get out of the cursed “I want to do this someday…” style of thought and move towards a state of “I am this RIGHT NOW!”. I have decided that only ‘right now’ exists.
Realization 2: You don’t need 99% of the things that are marketed to you.
Imagine the money you would save and the simplicity offered just by the stoppage of accumulating. It will bring clarity. Next time you are about to buy something just let it go…you don’t need it.
Realization 3: You don’t need 90% of the things that you own.
Let’s have a look in the basement, garage, junk closet, and/or extra closet at all the crap you own that you don’t use. It’s not all junk so dump what you can on ebay and craigslist. Clutter induces blindness.
Realization 4: Travel is expensive.
It just plain is not. This is such a farce I won’t even offer an example or argument.
Realization 5: Human beings are making a mess of our collective experience on planet Earth.
We human beings do some unbelievably awesome things but our ability to prioritize gains vs. their long-term impact/damage is pathetic. Things become more crowded, polluted, legislated, populated, and more complicated. More people are heading to the backcountry everyday. It will not be the same in 10 years. For every competent backcountry visitor there will be 5 others who leave garbage or mistreat the environment. Legislation and rules will follow. You need to go see the things you want to see now as they may not be available next year.
Realization 6: Some time in the next 10 years there will be another disastrous ‘economic’ event.
Another crisis is always looming. Another time where if you are prepared it will make economic sense to take 3 years off to travel or adventure with a modest budget. If you are ready it will make sense.
My time is worth Billions. I decided.
Decide what your time is worth. Start reading about travel and other things you are interested in and start participating in the conversation at places like:
- /r/travel – http://www.reddit.com/r/travel/
- /r/CampingandHiking – http://www.reddit.com/r/CampingandHiking/
- /r/camping/ – http://www.reddit.com/r/camping/
- /r/bicycletouring/ – http://www.reddit.com/r/bicycletouring/
- /r/hiking/ – http://www.reddit.com/r/hiking/
- /r/Ultralight/ – http://www.reddit.com/r/Ultralight/
- Lonely Planet’s Forums – http://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree/
- CrazyGuyOnABike – http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/
- Bike Packing – http://bikepacking.net/