Philosophy Of Travel Planning & Logistics

How To Cycle Around The World In 3 Easy Steps

1. Get a bicycle.
It doesn’t really matter which one, as long as it’s comfortable, but you won’t get far without it.

2. Quit your job.
You’ll need a few years for this, so write a letter to your boss explaining that you’re sorry but there’s something you have to do. (Skip this step if you are a student/unemployed/retired.)

3. Leave.
You can’t cycle round the world without setting off. So strap a tent and sleeping bag to your bike, ask the neighbour to look after the cat, and pedal away from home.

Once you have accomplished the above three steps, the rest will work itself out.


Optional, additional steps

Do research.
You could spend several months collecting information about border crossings, visas, equipment, routes, seasons, budgets and timescales. But equally you could leave now, take it day by day and figure these things out on the road, trusting that instinct and initiative (and free wifi) will serve you better in the long run than an encyclopedic knowledge of international bureaucracy.

You could get a gym membership and a personal trainer and join a local cycling club and spend several months building up fitness, just like real athletes do. Alternatively, you could attain an equal (or higher) level of fitness by cycling all day, every day, during your first few weeks on the road.

Spend time saving money.
You could put tens of thousands of pounds/dollars/euros in the bank to create a feeling of security. Or your could sell everything you own right now, set off at the end of your notice period, and then simply avoid buying anything. You’ll sleep rough, eat bread and jam and fruit off trees, Couchsurf, accept all invitations, and avoid sightseeing (you can do that when you retire). When you’re low on cash, simply use the skills you didn’t know you had to earn more locally.

Get loads of fancy equipment.
You could blow a few grand on the best touring bike, the lightest tent, the reliable-est stove, the waterproof-est waterproofs, etcetera. But equally you could salvage a bike from a scrapyard, get a tent from a charity shop, raid TK Maxx, and make a stove out of a beer can (saving several years’ worth of bread and jam in the process).

Plan a route.
You could spend a long time poring over maps at home so you’ll know exactly where you’re going every day. Alternatively, since the beauty of the bicycle is in the freedom it affords its rider, you could simply leave on a compass bearing or a whim and see where the road takes you, since it doesn’t really matter where you are as long as you’re moving.

Start a website, Twitter account and Facebook page.
You could get up to speed on websites and blogging and social media and use all of these things to communicate your journey in real-time from the road. Or you could take this rare opportunity to reduce your online obligations to zero and experience life on Earth instead. (You can tell the story better later anyway.)

Hustle for sponsorship.
You could spend months drafting proposals and cold-calling companies in search of sponsorship. Or you could spend the same months working overtime to buy the same stuff. Then, when you change your plans or fall in love, it won’t matter to anyone other than you.

Attach a ’cause’ to your ride.
You could decide to set a fundraising target for a charity, possibly for a genuinely personal reason but more likely because you feel you should justify taking a few years off being a responsible hard-working citizen. Or you could decide that travel needs no justification and that the long-term benefits of doing it can’t be measured (least of all financially).

Get media coverage.
You could contact local and national press with details of your epic undertaking. Or you could prefer to think that the freedom you wanted from cycle touring feels more real when nobody is watching (and when you’re not obliged to send press releases from your tent when you’d rather be reading Kerouac).

Burn all your bridges.
You could sell your house, fire your boss, divorce your husband/wife and children and leave with a gigantic middle finger attached to the back of your bike. Alternatively, you could transform your work and family life into something that can be sustained long-term, both on the road and if/when your ride comes to an end.

Aim to break a record.
You could attempt to set a new world record for cycling round the world. Or you could remember that you were never an athlete anyway, that the point of cycling was the independence and flexibility it’d give you, and that you’d rather enjoy the ride than planning it to end as quickly as possible.

Measure statistics.
You could aim to keep a daily count of your distance, altitude, average speed, air pressure, etcetera, in order to try and quantify your success. Or you could decide that the distance you’ve pedalled has as much relevance to success as the colour of your increasingly-grubby T‑shirt, and that without numbers to think about you can better concentrate on how you’re actually feeling about things right now.

Set an end date.
You could plan to hit a series of global milestones in order to arrive back home at a premeditated point in time. Alternatively, you could realise that if you learn anything on the road it’ll likely change you; that your global milestones might one day not make sense any more, that ‘coming back’ might become an equally irrelevant idea, or that — shock horror — you might even get bored of pedalling altogether.

Actually cycle round the world.
You could actually finish what you foolishly started all those years ago, which would be a fantastic example of concept winning over experience. Or you could quit being stubborn and allow your journey could grow in unpredictable ways, resulting in your route looking less like a neat line across continents and more like Mr Messy.

There are so many ways to make long-term adventure cycling more complicated than it could be.

For certain individuals, added complexities may be entirely relevant. To take my own example, it made complete sense to start a blog, because I wanted to write and a public blog was a means to hold myself accountable and combat my own laziness.

Nowadays, as a result of having that outlet, I write for the love of it. I’m inspired by my subject. I loved every minute of the two years I spent crafting my first book (and even when I hated it, I loved it). I’d still write if the blog didn’t exist and all I had was a diary.

But for every would-be bicycle traveller for whom extra steps are relevant, there are a hundred others who’ve kept it simple and thus you’ve never heard of, who have no blogs or Instagram accounts and simply write to their families from Internet cafes every couple of weeks.

These invisible travellers, happily doing their own thing and beholden to no-one, actually constitute the majority of long-term touring cyclists, though you’d hardly know it from surfing the web. And that why surfing the web, for a would-be long-term bicycle traveller, is dangerous.

The single biggest danger of the extra steps so often seen and suggested is that they introduce spiralling complexity and thus increase the chances of a dream journey never happening.

Part of the problem is the nature of the Internet itself – it’s incredibly easy to have the idea, Google it, and immediately get so bogged down in the details of the way Celebrity Cyclist X did it that the original idea is lost.

I see this every November, when I spend a weekend hanging out at the Royal Geographical Society’s expedition-planning conference, Explore, in London. My unofficial job at Explore is to tell legions of would-be adventure cyclists that they don’t need to come to Explore to plan their cycling adventure; they just need to get on a bike and go.

It’s a bizarre and circular arrangement, but it seems to work as I invariably get emails from people on the road, months down the line, saying thanks for advice which was just a restatement of the time-honoured KISS principle.

It’s also been difficult to ignore the growing number of high-profile cycling expeditions that – according to their own definitions of success – fail. Institutions are built, grand achievements are pointed to… and then the complex concepts fail to live up to the experience, which in reality is about as simple as life ever gets.

Most of those journeys start as simple dreams to go and let loose on a bike for a while and see what happens. Unnecessary complications too often bring them down.

So for god’s sake don’t imitate what you see on Instagram. If you’ve got the dream, take steps 1 to 3, then enjoy the ride. Only take extra steps if they really, really, really make sense to you.

171 replies on “How To Cycle Around The World In 3 Easy Steps”

hi tom im 14 and i want to go on a jerny from south afika to china and my perents ar a bit unshur but i need help. kan you help

Hey kido!
14 is a great age to realise what YOU realy are, and what your passions.
I always like to say that i dont have dreams, because you dream only when you sleep.

So young man,
Dont sleep!
I think it would be a smart thing to focus now on school and study good, and in the minehile read books, blogs, watch movies and listen to stories and allways remember that you are the one to write and tell your own story,
So dont ignore parents/teachers/adults but be sure that you, and you only, be the one to live YOUR life.

Good luck

I just loved the post about 3 steps to cycling around the world… So beautifully written. Simple In its execution. I found myself researching how to make my bike better. It was sort of comical. Then I looked at early cyclists. One guy did it on a Penny Farthing and 2 other guys crossed North America on bikes that weighed like 50 pounds without gear. They had to bushwhacked across Montana. I don’t need anything else except gumption.
Thanks for the inspiration.

Guys! In 2018 i want to start to travel the World by bicycle and i would love to have at least one companion but it would be amazing to have 3 or more 🙂 if you are interested send me an email: [email protected]

Hey buddy! I am planning the same. I would love to join you from India. 

My contact: +91–9988776128 just text me or Whatsapp me. 


Great article and especially to the point and thoroughly agree with what you are saying especially trying to break the x’th world record. Glory means nothing. Although having to quit a Uni degree isn’t simple as quitting a job!

I think you are being black & white about some points. For example planning is important (~Sir Ranulph Fiennes) but there’s no need to go overkill — obviously if you are new you would want to ask people what to expect so on. It’s based on experience and previous knowledge ‑it’s relative.

Same goes with Sponsorship — don’t expect to wine very time but if you don’t ask you don’t get. 

I think most points depend on the individual — some people want to make the effort sharing their experiences and stories. I agree there’s no benefit to writing for the sake of it but it can be a method for expression to vent frustration or joy at a moment in time, which can look trivial months by. 


“Most points depend on the individual” — that’s exactly the point! 

It’s too easy to think that there’s one way to ‘do cycle touring’. For example, the only reason to do any planning is if you think you need a plan for your life on the road. You could just as easily get up every morning, pack your tent and ride without any plan at all. Many people do. It’s just a lifestyle, as far as they’re concerned.

Sponsorship implies a goal. What if your goal is simply to treat every day with curiosity? Nobody’s going to sponsor that! And it’s definitely not about winning — being sponsored is as good as being a member of your sponsor’s marketing department. Free stuff comes with a lot of strings attached.

My aim is simply to bring things like this to light — things I wish I’d been told before I started. After that, as you rightly put it, “most points depend on the individual”…

I totally agree. What you write is so true. I went to Africa for 6 month with a friend. Cycled Kenya-South Africa, 8 countries. We planed pretty much nothing. We checked the monsun seasons and asked the Swedish government if there were any wars in the area we were about to go. We did not bring weapons, we never read about neither of the countries. We arrived and saw stuff, life, as never before I lived that half year. Saw so much. And so cool not to know what to expect.
We bought old lady style bicycles. 400 euro each with 7 gears. No big problems. My bicycle weighed 59 kg crossing the dessert in Namibia.
Eager to go again.

Hey, here in Mexico, cyclists do tend to over prepare for trips. Most of the time I feel it leads to never leaving as the trip itself ends up becoming this very daunting endeavor. Last year I cycled around my home state, visiting half its municipalities while recording interviews with local historians. Having grown up in the United States, it was a way of getting to know my place of origin. I took no camera and instead sketched watercolours and was accompanied by a stray dog I’ve since adopted. When I tell people my average daily budget was of around 2€ they really don’t believe me! Of course a homemade alcohol stove and lots of spaghetti helped. Though I was sponsored a bit by my state, I find it interesting that cyclists feel that they should be sponsored just for being on a trip. I think you’ve got to give something back specially if sponsored by government. I promised to deliver talks and a short book on my trip to 100 public schools in my state. 


I really enjoyed this post, thanks Tom. I get the feeling that over-preparation is a symptom of nerves about travelling more than a cause. Your storytelling project sounds really interesting, I’m looking forward to finding out more about it. Thanks again!

Tom, I am so happy to have read this. I was beginning to doubt some of my upcoming plans but throwing all doubts aside, I’m going with it. I will take steps 1–3, share my stories on my already existent blog and cycle as far as I can go on my budget bicycle powered by belief and ignoring all the other advice. I can’t wait.

This is sound advice, reminds me of a conversation I had with my cycle companion a few weeks ago as we were planning our 15 week tour of Turkey an Eastern Europe. “The only time we will get lost is if we are not back on the plane 15th October, all that happens in between is adventure” we were over thinking the trip and both just put down the maps, the lists and plans and said “Let’s just jump on our bikes and go for a ride, let’s not over think this”
Best decision yet as I am relaxed going into the adventure.

Hi Tom,

Love the 3 rules, what more do you need. Sorting ideas at the moment for a trip (i.e. cycle to Dover — keep going) which would do the full circuit but what would be really great is to cross paths on the way with others doing there own routes. A beer with other strays and waifs before moving on could be good fun. Is there a billboard for global riders to share the Craic??


Honestly, this is the single very best article written ever in the blogosphere on the topic of travel in general. I think it applies to backpackers, too.

You have demystified travel, really whether by bike or any means. IT IS THAT SIMPLE. 

I’ve been to over 40 countries and every word you wrote is true. 

Less is more. Keep it simple. Trust the process. Just go.

Thanks Tom, its 1.30 am here in India, and I can’t stop reading your articles! The way you put things is so inspiring. Am planning a trip to Georgia, Armenia and Iran on my Kona Smoke which is a steel frame city bike, along with a friend. Not sure of my physical fitness, I was wondering about the climbs, distances.… But now I’m just going to do it, and things will take care of themselves. Thanks for your wonderful attitude.

Oh Tom, you have the ability to make a person want to jump on a bike and leave the world behind in search for a real adventure. I’ve been considering a cycle tour for a few months now, I really appreciate all of your hard work writing these blogs for all to use, so thank you 🙂

I love it
Optional well, are optional. I’m only having a hard time for explain that to my friends and family
starting soon…

Why do you need to explain anything to your friends and family?
When I decided to go on a year long trip, I just told them I’m going.
That’s it. No explanation.
You can always answer a why with “why not”? ;p

I totally agree. I had the idea of a bike trip from my hometown in Germany to somewhere far away for a long time. I always thought I had better, more important things to do until one day at the end of summer it dawned on me that I didn’t and that if I didn’t leave right now I’d never go. 

I left two days later and initially “only” planned to go as far as Vienna. It turned out that I liked it so much that I’d just kept on going, which got me as far as Istanbul two months later with a “little”, rather unplanned detour via Albania. 

I did have a rough plan (follow the Danube) but in the end just made it up on the spot and never planned more than a day or two into the future. Sometimes I even forgot which day it was but thankfully supermarket receipts always told me today’s date and I got to Istanbul in time for the flight back home, which I bought en route while I was in Budapest. 

I rode my regular bicycle in jeans, used a 99 Euro tent, a map from a fast food restaurant chain (“all our restaurants in Europe” — the scale was a bit large…) and tried to keep it simple (“oh, I don’t have a stove — ah, I’ll just make without”). 

It was awesome and I want to do it again (but this time starting in Istanbul going east)

I noticed the same thing as you did — communication was never a real problem but I really missed having a meaningful conversation in a language I could understand. In the end I had to settle for two gay guys who loved watching the fashion channel in the hostel discussing the merits of who wore what at which event — it was so good 😉 People are social animals and do really need human interactions once in a while, even if it is about fashion 😉

Hi, just found your page, and I have to say, I love the “Steps 1–3”. I mean, it’s simple and true. And as soon my wife and I split up, I will be taking all 3 :).

I am 51 years old in the UK, and in other countries too! I used to cycle in Australia for days at a time when I was a young teenager, and have always dreamed about packing up and cycling away for years.

I have never stopped dreaming about it, and although I have achieved so much in my life, I am not settled, and struggle to be settled. I own my own home outright near the beach with acres of land, just bought a great new 4x4 outright, have 2 wonderful daughters who are now finding their own feet, and have no debt at all, and all this would be wonderful in the right frame of mind, but I dream, a lot.

You are right about the internet, I have seen so many articles, written mostly by people who where born into money, and have never had to worry about a thing, being able to take off and return without the fear of starting life all over again.

I will be reading more from you. Well done.


This may all sound so wonderful to

Well it is now Feb 2015, and guess what, nearly a year after my first post here, I am returning to tell you lot that i am on my way to setting off on this amazing adventure.

My house is on the market and I am dead set on cycling around the world. Once it has sold I will by a little house of flat to rent out to give me a small extra bit of money while I am away, and something to leave my young adult daughters if I fail to return.

Then I am off, I am gone, and I don’t care how long it takes. My plan is to go anti-clockwise, flying out to the east coast of the USA and going along, up into Canada, across to Alaska, then down the west coast all the way, for starters.

I tell you what I have noticed, naysayers everywhere. People I have known for many years, all of a sudden seeming very jealous and throwing in negative comments. But you know, there are many more people that I know who are all for it, giving their support and wishing me well. I amazed at how me being lucky enough to be able to do something like this, has shown me who my real friends are. But you, I don’t give a damn.

I am really excited about this, my daughters think it is amazing and have always known I am a bit of a wild thing, have been all over the world, trekked through the Amazon, brought up in Australia, and always wanting adventure. 

I will update you again when I am about to set off.

Yeh, im about to finish university this month in Sheffield, its all graduate scheme this graduate scheme that, as if anyone grew up wanting to be a supply chain manager.
Currently completing a clinical medical trial which pays a few grand the same week that i leave University, will live on a fruit farm in gloucestershire over the summer, picking picking and picking, travel cheap for the Autumn (caucasus or something), work as a labourer with my bro through the winter. Then this time next year at the end of raceweek (im from cheltenham) gunna set off around the world on Bike, looking forward to it so much, and yeh, i not gunna make a scene about it, just gunna go, humans were always meant to be constantly on the move otherwise they would die (until some cleverclogg noticed that some seeds they dropped actually turned in to food), so im expecting to feel alive and primeval . good to know theres more of you out there! I’m really scared of dogs though, and dogs freak out when they see bikes.… do any of you guys have any advice on how to deal with them on the road?

Good luck with the trip! Sounds brilliant! Regarding dogs, just ignore them and keep riding — you’ll leave their territory within a minute or two. If they seriously look about to bite (very rare), a firm kick to the chops is enough to put them off!

Dogs: a dog dazer that emits a high pitched whistle can be effective. I also carry stones and pepper spray. I have never had to use the latter but use stones and the dog dazer a lot. Even if you miss when cycling stones tend to put off dogs. Dazer is better if you stop. Just riding on often does not work and can get you bitten. Get rabbis shots before you leave. Some counrties are far worse than others.

I stumbled across this article of yours whilst wasting time on the internet, I wouldn’t normally comment on stuff like this but it is refreshing to read/hear advise that doesn’t needlessly overcomplicate things!
I too share your attitude towards just getting on with it — there are so many people out there who, without basis, seek to highlight obstacles with an apparent desire to stand in your way and with that seem to all too readily criticise and predict ones doom.
I’m setting off in March 2016 heading East! (possibly before then — the 2‑years-from-now certainly isn’t for the benefit of planning!)

The basic set up of life (work to pay bills and work some more) is unsettling. I feel we miss out on life by being trapped in this cycle. I live in the US and I’ve never been out of the country. I’m beyond ready to explore. I feel like jobs will come and go but youth is not promised to return, so why not enjoy it. I’m a novice cyclist who recently gave up dependency on cars. The thought of touring on bike makes much sense to me. Opportunity to really see and be less rushed by society’s time stamp. This post is reassuring that I’m not crazy for not wanting to be trapped.
Financial means is a concern but I’m not convinced it will hold me back. I’m one who doesn’t want to plan forever because it will never happen if I do. I’ll find something else to feed the obsession.
I’m rambling. Thanks for this website!

Anyone here got dreams of travelling the world alone? - Page 5 -

[…] How To Cycle Around The World In 3 Easy Steps | Tom Allen __________________ RAWR! […]

Thinking of setting off myself, just lost my job love riding and it’s been on mind for a long while.But in what direction would you head

I love this post. I can’t seem to get my head around planning, so other than getting a new extended passport I think I am just going to head off! I will learn to write en-route. I am off to volunteer at my local bike shop tonight for the first time to learn some maintenance tips and will keep doing that until I leave. Woo-hoo, I can already feel the wind in my hair!!

Hi Tom,great article! I’ve been reading a few of your blogs since late last year,but this latest one as mad me think,‘f++k it,just go!’ I’m 54 years old,just split with my wife of 26 years in April and am currently living with my elderly dad after jacking my job in! I’ve given the house to my wife,the mortgage is paid off and my kids are 21 and 19 and financially independent. Last year I did the End to End with a couple of good 50 something mates,something I’d wanted to do for 30 years and that gave me the taste for some more! Not been backpacking since my late teens/early twenties when I traveeld the middle east,before hitchhiking home from Istanbul,so the thought of starting again with this type of travel at my age is quite daunting. However,seeing you in the flesh on the Cycle Show this week and now reading this as got me dreaming! Fitted a pair of schwalbe marathons to my 25 year old Peugeot tourer tonight…that’s the first step! My only real concern now is my dad,who at 82 and not in greta health as become really quite dependent on me. Any advice???…cheers again for the inspiration…Gray.

[…] if there was ever a wonderfully smarmy, definitive guide to biking around the world, it would be Tom’s Bike Trip – perfect for the scared newbie who has no idea what they’re doing, crushing all the […]

Hi Tom, Can you translate this to Korean and post this to my blog?
I will make sure to put original source as your site for sure.

I recently started a long trip myself and this article took all those confused thoughts in my head and concisely (and humorously) turned them into coherent sense! Brilliant, thanks so much!

2nd step is very exited for me
Quit your job.
You’ll need a few years for this, so write a letter to your boss explaining that you’re sorry but there’s something you have to do.
Also this is funny for any employee.

In response to the 3 steps I’d like to respond with 3 words — inspirational, inspirational, inspirational!

Thank You.

I tell ya this ya this much lads; as a Paddy with an endemic drinking problem who’s tried the twelve steps and told the feckers to stick it up their holy cake holes this is the most impressively lucid and clued in piece of honest to god writing I’ve read since Whacksy OConnell wrote “Jesus was a joker” on the blackboard in St Mallachys in 1994. I’m buying a bike.

I have been reading these post for an hour.….and totally agree, best comment ever! Especially ending with, “I’m buying a bike”!!!
Who wouldn’t be totally motivated after reading that, Oh yeah, not sure but I might have a pint of Irish blood in me.

Oh shit! Just did step two and damn I’m getting excited.
Thanks for all the posts Tom, I’ve been slowly gleaning various trinkets of knowledge from your site for 6 months or so and its coming together. Just waiting it out till my start date at the end of the month while trying to not over think and plan things.
China (hopefully) here we come.
Awesome to see the Kickstarter come home, I’ve been in contact with a few places about riding Iran, but its been sad responses so far for a UK traveler looking to transit by bike without an official guide.
If you happen to hear of anyone finding different give us a reply.
Sincere thanks, Paul

What a refreshingly honest and straight forward article. Buy a bike and set off, the great thing is that with modern technology e.g. apps, kindles, smartphones etc you really don’t need to carry a lot of gear.

My only advice is to prepare for a sore backside!

[…] Odata indepliniti pasii de mai sus restul vine de la sine. Ehh, lasand gluma la o parte, nici un lucru in viata nu e atat de usor de indeplinit, nici chiar cele simple. Pregatirea unei astfel de calatorii implica multi alti pasi. Pentru a pregati o calatorie in jurul lumii pe bicicleta asigurati-va ca indepliniti pasii descrisi pe blogul lui Tom. […]

Thanks for the pep talk. That gets me right where I am right now. I have done 1 and 2, i just need to stop being so prepared and just do the last part of 3 already. 🙂 i have a tent, a bike and some gear. i have done so much research and the further I go, the more money it costs. I would love to follow the kiss principle.

Still don’t have a leaving date just yet. My mom wants me to avae a little money. But I will be going on little excursions in the meantime.

Great read Tom. I left Australia 20 years ago to ride around Europe with a vague plan to start in Wales (where a lot of family are) and end up at a ferry in Belgium some time later to get back to Wales (turned out to be 3 years). The first time I rode my bike with luggage on it was the day I left—needless to say I dropped the bike a few times that day! First time I had ever put up a tent was my first night in France-took me about 45 minutes to figure it out—-could later do it in about 3! When all my friends at home used to question what I was doing I told them the only hard part about it was the act of leaving. Everything else just took care of itself, and if it didn’t it became a great story to tell later.
My philosophy was tell enough people that I was going so that I would look like an idiot if I didn’t and it proved to be an absolutely defining time in my life and left me with images and memories that I can recall immediately even today. My only regret is that ipods, digital camera’s and kindles hadn’t been invented yet! When I think of all the space taken up by my tapes, walkman, books, camera and rolls and rolls of film I would have loved to have had room for a few more clothes-especially when it was snowing! Although all of that being said–I remember every word of every song an each of those 10 casettes!


Thanks for the comment, Lee – your story sounds very familiar!

For me, this sums up big open ended rides perfectly: “Everything else just took care of itself, and if it didn’t it became a great story to tell later”

Seruvs Folks,

great post, nice content! I like the idea of the 3 step programm!
I can see u answer a lot of the comments and i hope someone will see my comment too.

A friend of mine is actually on a trip like this (since 3 monaths). He started from Vienna/Austria and hit this week Marocc/Africa after 3.200 km. He will cycle around the world from Europe/Africa/S+N America/Asia and so on! This will be very intresting and he will also take some different untypical tourist roads. So he will met people for interviews, help in social projects and met some fears too.

So there is a trailer if u are intrested, we would be honored if u visit us.

There will come up new episodes every 14 days on saturday, so if u want to watch his trail, feel free to follow us. The first episode is already complete subtitled and the second one will be so today.

Thx for this information, best wishes

Great article. Really hit the nail on the head. Totally agree about not training. Why cycle hundreds of miles to prepare, then realise you could already be halfway across Europe. Just GO!

Brilliant site Tom, and a great article. 

I’m beggining to believe it really can be that simple.

Last Aug I spent 10 days cycling the Loire from St Nazairre to Nevers — was my first time ‘cycle touring’. I loved it. This year I picked it up in Nevers and cycled to Budapest…I loved it even more. The plan next May is to cycle from Budapest to Istanbul. 

It has been increasingly in my mind that when I get to Istanbul (assuming I do) — I will take my bike across the Bosphorous and give it a ‘sniff’ of Asia as the time after this I plan to go from Istanbul and keep going…
I don’t own my house, have no savings, but also have nothing keeping me here. My affliction is always to over plan, carry too much, and primarily worry about having no, or at least not much, money… Reading this has made me realise this is nonsense. 

I will plan a fair bit, I have to, but, after reading this, I will worry a lot less.

Thank you.


Is a single speed bike crazy? I am not that strong, but I am sure this would make me much stronger. I am considering purchasing bike with gears. Any advice? Just balls to the wall and do it?

[…] casually; like he was asking me if I wanted to order a pizza. He read somewhere (I think it was this article by Tom Allen) that if you want to bike around the world, you have to just get out there and […]

The sarcasm in this article is too damn high, and I like it. The message really got through this thick skull of mine, at least I think it did. I’m still stuck on step 1 LOL!

3steps. Brilliant. Im jyst about to set off and youve summed my plan precisely.
Sold up, no training done and no route plan.

Absolutely brilliant post here. Extremely well written and such a joy to read. Refreshing too. You can spend so long pouring over maps and gear choices but in the end, it’s just you (your mental state), your bicycle and your legs that get you through it. Once you set off, it’s all about the small things. You choose your route day by day. You cycle ten thousand km’s on a second hand mountain bike with hardly any problems and you can have an adventure of a lifetime for very little money and hardly any planning whatsoever. There is no correct way for sure but there is certainly no wrong way either. Forget the youtube how to videos and make your own one instead (not literally though). Respect Tom.

Yes, a very refreshing article. Tom’s site is very useful and Tom has been very helpful to me in the past (2011 when I first did a cycling tour of Japan) in emails… I realise now that he must be a pretty busy person, so he clearly puts people’s needs high on his list of priorities.

Anyway, this may not be the best place to post — and my apologies, Tom, if you think it’s not — but I am thinking about biting the bullet and taking off for an extended cycling trip ‘around the world’ — or however far I feel. Some places are more appealing than others; I haven’t really thought too specifically about it yet, but one thing that gives me pause is to do it alone.

I do enjoy solo riding, but it gets lonely after a while and I’m also thinking there might be some places where I would appreciate the security of being with someone else.

I’m a 56-year old English guy, in reasonable shape (though more one of those who will attain ‘peak’ fitness on the road) and not at all interested in breaking any speed records. I’m provisionally thinking of embarking on this some time around the end of March 2017.

Is there anyone out there who might be interested in teaming up?

Hi Mark,
Tom gave me some good encouragement a while back, along with a few other great adventurers. As I result, I downsized house to move closer to my family and daughters for a year, before deciding if I could actually take off. I said this next move I would give until March 17 before putting this new house on the market, shoving my nice things in storage, and then off for what I am prepared to take 3 years to complete. 

I am 54 in April, the most I have cycled in 1 day is 30 miles, and I have never been on an adventure cycle. In fact I only got a bike in 14. I have a fear of articulated lorries to get out of my system, after being struck down by one suffering damaged spine, elbow, neck, for life, as well as ribs and nerve damage. I was lucky I guess, but I am a survivor. I have trekked through the Amazon, been circled by sharks, stuck under a submerged excavator, and you name it, I have likely survived it. Oh, and as a test of ultimate survival, married twice 🙂 

Brought up in Australia I now live in Cheshire. Depending on how long it takes my house to sell (bungalow in high demand) will determine my leaving date. I wish you all the success and who know, we may bump into each other on route.


Hi Steve,

Sorry for the delay in responding… How goes the preparation?

I am dithering away, torn between the desire for safety since I have comparatively few funds for old age, no pension scheme and prospects of very little in the way of a state pension (further complicated by Brexit).… torn between the desire for safety (i.e. work) and the desire — and need — to live…

My job here (Myanmar) ends in March, so I will have to make a decision after that.

p.s. I visited your website and saw from your map you have no plans to cycle in Japan… I think you should… it’s a beautiful country, wild camping is easy and there are an abundance of cheap hot springs (onsen) locations to ease the aches and pains at the end of the day.

Hi Mark, I know what you mean, it all seems to take a little thinking about at our age, what with nearing retirement age and other commitments. For me, I have done everything I have ever wanted to in my life and this one last thing I have put off until the kids could fend for themselves if the worst was to happen to me. And so I’m still on course and everything is going as planned. I suppose in one way, a job isn’t an issue for me as I am a builder and can do pretty much anything, so getting a truck and a few adverts out on my return and I’m back in business. If I return that is :). I have been working on this and wanting this for so long, that I don’t care if I’m away for 10 years if need be. I didn’t know you were in Myanmar, I bet is is amazingly different living and working there. Who knows, Brexit may open up some new opportunities. I did consider Japan, but it was just such a distance to go up before coming back down again :). I haven’t rule out the Philippines though. A couple of years ago I was in Manila, Boracay, and Puerto Princessa, and I loved it. But first things first, I need to start cycling :). I wish you all the success with your own plans Mark, keep me up to speed and I will do the same. Steve

Hi Mark,

I am also thinking about biting the bullet and selling all of my possessions that I own and just taking off on a cycling trip ‘around the world’. I’m also like you that gives me pause for thought to do it all alone. 

I’m a experienced cycle tourist that’s toured in Holland, Germany, Spain, Portugal and have recently returned back from a 2 month Mediterranean cycling tour and all solo cycling and self supported. I agree with you that cycling solo gets lonely after a while and with me being a 56-year old English female, I would rather prefer the security of being with someone else doing a world tour. I just can’t seem to find that person here in the UK that’s willing to do what I want to do by cycle touring the world.

So the answer to your question “Is there anyone out there who might be interested in teaming up?” Then yes I would be, that’s if you didn’t mind doing it with a female.

Please get in touch if this still interests you.

Kind regards

Hi Debra. .. just read this on Tom’s site.
I would adore and dream to travel as you have and I would relish selling up and doing The Global Thing … but I’m not that brave and I’m still working — I’m 54 this birthday ( Nov )
I just thought I’d drop U a line wish U all of the Peddling luck.
Myself N a number of chums hit the Devon country side most weekends to justify T N Cream T’s … but maybe one day ( when / if I get to retirement I may actually do exactly what Tom has suggested .… N just do it !

Several years of your life, your stable existence, your preconceptions of the world, your relationship (if you have one)… and as much or as little cash as you like 😉

This fellow besides being a fantastic biker, is a hell of a writer, I enjoy whatever he writes.
Manuel Salazar
Guadalajara — Mexico

This time I am going from Ibiza to Rio and touring all through Italy this summer. I will have a 65L Packpack, which I plan on putting 60–65 pds on. I do not need my tires popping five days into the trip. What EXACT tires do you recommend, also, do you recommend a mountain bike, all terrain, a road bike etc. If you could be thoroughly specific it would be great. I realize my hips and back are going to take a beating, but I am going to do this, and I must do this. 🙂 Thank you for your insights.

There are far too many unknown variables here for me or anyone else to make sensible recommendations without thorough knowledge of your plans and preferences! That said, I’d recommend Schwalbe Marathon Plus tyres for puncture-proof riding anywhere. I would definitely not recommend using a backpack as luggage. And for 90% of people I’d recommend whichever of these touring bikes feels right when you test-ride it. Hope that helps!

I would have never thought to strap a tent and sleeping bag to your bike. My son, last week, left on a 50-mile bike trip with his scout group, I didn’t see anything on his bike. I hope one of his friends has one. Next time, my son or my husband want to do this I will be sure to tell them to not forget a tent!

Always wanted to do a long cycle trip, has given me the strength to follow it though. 

Netherlands to Moscow then the trans-Siberian railway (adream of mine) to Beijing then SEA. 

One year of uni and work left and I’m gonna go.


hi buddy.. i wanted to know that is there’s any formalities and paper works to cross across the several country’s borders for cycling around the world.….…. and we can go through any country?
if its possible what i should do? cycling is affordable?
please tell me buddy

I really like how you talked about how easy it is to do bike riding tours, and that its as simple as packing up and going. I think it would be a lot of fun to be able to get a touring bike and all the different equipment you talked about, but for right now, I want my family to try a riding tour when we’re on vacation this summer. Hopefully we can find some good options for bike riding tours and that my family will enjoy it as much as I think I will! Thanks for the article!

Hi Tom
Just go. Great advice. I’m working up to the big one. I’m 58 and go on short 2 to 300 mile trips so far. Italy, France, England, Southern Ireland, Wales. Went rough camping in Ireland when weather was good but most of the time I stay in hostels which are great value for single travellers and you meet like minded people. I’m separated so only thing holding me back is work. Don’t retire till I’m 60. I’ve also got a new granddaughter who is amazing. My daughter is a free spirit and she is travelling through Portugal living in her converted horse box. She’s always telling me to just give work up and go. I’m going to cycle out to see her in September. I’m getting close to 3 but not quite there yet ? It’s great to read so many others who are out there doing it already. Makes it all less daunting. Thanks for the advice.…

I have type 1 diabetes for nearly 50 years..(age 2 in 1967)..How will I survive riding my bicycle around the world? Please advise me. Thank you very much for your help.

I have a cargo bike and an eleven year old son. I think it might be time to home school him around the world on bikes!

Thank you really really much for this blog and your advice. Your blog really changed my ideology about cycling around the world and all of cycling adventures.I will note your advice too keep it for future.
Thanks again for your advice.
I owe you.

Five years ago I flew to Madrid, Spain and biked to Shanghai, China. From there I flew to San Francisco and biked home to Boston. It took four months. I was 58 years old. I had many successful bike tours under my belt before my ‘around the world’ trip. How did I do it? I followed steps 1, 2, and 3.

Hi, this article is fantastic. I think the subject is one with two sides. On one hand to cycle a trip is simple in the nature of the bicycle. Man’s greatest yet simplest invention. On the other hand being humans we tend to over complicate things. Your article gives us the info on both sides and allows the reader to decide. I work in a cycle shop and people ask about this stuff a lot. This is the go to article for any one to do a around the the world trip. Thanks for writing this, feel truly inspired. (Always dream about doing this on my fat bike)

Tom, this is an amazing resource. Thank you for taking so much of your time in creating this. I’m planning a trip from Bristol (UK) to Barcelona, saving up some money and then just leaving the house on the adventure.

Hi Tom,

We will and if your interested in my Facebook cycling group page which has nearly 6,000 members, please feel free to become a member. Kind regards, Deborah

I’m 55 this June (from the UK), last year I rode the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route. The scariest thing, riding out of Banff alone to face the grizzlies. The hardest thing was learning to live like a tramp for 3000 miles.

This year I’m off on another 3000 mile ride from Canada to the Mexican border to pioneer a new route through the deserts of the western United States. If I feel the same as last year when I reach the border I’ll carry on, I’ve always fancied South America. My luxury item for this journey will be a teach yourself Spanish course.

My advice for long distance riding, take as little as you can and go as light as possible. It’s surprising how little you need, both on the trail and in life.

I just went through your website and I don’t think I’ve ever been this excited to skip a couple years, get older and graduate from high school to get to experience and see all that unbelievably beautiful nature that we have on earth. I’ve always wanted to cycle around the world since I was younger, but I thought it requires years and years of physical training, cycling and going to the gym which I don’t really have the time for, but hearing about your experience made me realize that being mentally prepared is way more important than being big and buffed. I will keep reading your journey hopefully one day I can join and share mine!
Thank you

Sometimes we hear exactly what we want to hear because we are listening for it. That being said I wanted to thank you for this article. I am in France and considering buying a bike and then cycling east until I hit the Pacific. I’ve been traveling planless for almost a year now and its been ok. I’m coming to an end of resources but yesterday I borrowed a bike and thought “hey what a great way get around.”. I have no idea what I’m getting into. I really suspect I will regret it. Sometimes we hear what we want. Take care 🙂

I just read your Burn your bridges.
Sell the house. Divorse the wife. fire the boss, fix a gigantic middle finger to your bike, genius! Im just starting to plan a ride to ozz.

Most journeys start as simple dreams to go and let loose on a bike for a while and see what happens. Unnecessary complications too often bring them down.

So true!

During college, I worked for a summer in an old folks home. 

Many of the elderly patients regretted not having fulfilled their dreams. And now they were bedridden and just waiting to die. 

It was very confronting to hear them talk about it – and it really made me think about how so many people put off doing what they dream of until it’s too late.

This is one of the few articles ever published on the internet that i keep returning to read again …and again, and again…

Me to Motem. I am going to do this. Just need that first step. Need to be soon as i am 57 years of age now. Running out of time and starting to panic slightly.

So happy to randomly stumble across this article again. The last…& only time…I read it before, I ended up in Thailand a few months later. Bought an old school 3 speed from a tiny garage shop tucked away in a far off alley in the heart of Bangkok. Pushed & pedaled & coasted my way across mountains sleeping & eating & going wherever. Sooo much fun. Thx for the inspiration!!

Hey Toms,
I’m 27. I want to travel from south korea to Switzerland by bicycle, could you help me, how i can do that?

Hi Tom
I just read your three easy steps… It makes so much sende to me. My whole idea is to get off the grid, and with no obligations. The philosophy of “just go” and figure it out later is so appealing, otherwise the risk is like an over planned wedding.
I landes directly on this page in my search for advise… So question is, shall I even read the rest of your blog, or just start pedeling?

Well I’m 70 and planning to leave uk next March 2022 — have had 2 jabs will have one more plus flu — have bike and all camping gear. This year has been the pits due to the virus and have been climbing the walls. I have kept riding to keep a level of fitness and have nearly sold everything I own. Its very scary but exciting at the same time.

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