The psychology of a long distance tourer

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New Member
I have been reading blogs and listening to podcasts from some of the guys and gals who are out there cycling around the world, from pole to pole, over Europe, Asia, Oz etc...amazing tours and clearly amazing people.

It made me wonder what the motivating factors behind these trips were/are? What characteristic traits are required of such tourers? What drives them...are they running from something or towards something? or is it as simple as just enjoying the ride?

Also I am interested to know the set of 'life circumstances' that allowed such trips to happen, what about work, family, kids, the mortgage etc??

It's got to be a total lifestyle choice/change, not just a holiday...I mean a year or more in the saddle, on your own...that's a lifestyle change. How can anybody adjust to 'net curtain' Britain again when they get back? Why come back?

Too many questions...but the main one is what constitutes the psychological make up of a long distance tourer?

p.s. I am hoping I spelt psychological correctly:rolleyes::biggrin:


New Member
Bourne End, UK
Likewise, I am more than a little envious of so many of them. I would often read Alastair Humphreys blog while it was happing and imagine I was there. I guess that's the age to do it at.

I count myself very fortunate that I have a family that allows me to disappear for two weeks a year and that's plenty long enough for me!
From my very humble (and amateur) perspective, the reason for my 6-week ride, from southern Sweden to Gibraltar, was based almost solely on the freedom of being on the road.
Having a destination helps, of course, as does sufficient funds and suitable equipment, but if you have the right motivation, and a fair amount of luck, you can achieve most things.
I recently finished reading 'Johnny Ginger's Last Ride' (and would recommend it as a good, although not great, travel book) about someone cycling from England to Western Australia.
Cycling to and from work has its merits, but restricted by time it is mainly 'just' a means' of transport.
I'm itching to do a long trip again, but I don't know where or when!

rich p

ridiculous old lush
I know what you mean BTFB. I did a 5 week trip this year and felt like I could go on and on - apart from the commitments. The mortgage and kids (albeit grown up) are still anchoring me to Blighty while having worked for 30 years I'm getting bored with that.
At my age the reason for doing a year + trip would be because time runs out.


Well-Known Member
I'll answer from my own point of view, but I think you'll find there isn't necessarily one defining characteristic - people do it for all sorts of reasons.

My main motivating factors were two fold - firstly for challenge and adventure - I was very bored of living a 9 to 5 easy life, there was no challenge in it, no fear, no real achievement - it was too easy. I wanted more. Secondly I'm out here for inspiration. I have designs on making a living as a writer and will be working to get stuff published when I get back - either based on this trip or at the least inspired by it. My writing before was lacking something, I felt, and I wanted to add something new to it.

I guess you could say I am running from something, in a way, but also looking for something. I'm also just enjoying the ride.

I quit my job and the flat I was renting with my brother, stored my stuff at my parents house and in storage. No mortgage, no kids, no wife - just a girlfriend who understands why I needed/wanted to do it.

As far as going back is concerned, I don't dred returning to the UK. I have plans, things I hope to do and achieve beyond this - the writing, a photograhy project I hope to exhibit, based on this trip. I wouldn't want to live like this forever and in response to 'Why come back?', my answer is 'people'. They could be anywhere - France, Bulgaria, West Africa - but I'd always return to where they are, my friends, my family, the people you can't substitute no matter how hard you look. Them and draught Guinness :biggrin:

On top of all that, I've never really been 'a cyclist', or a particular cycle touring fanatic. Just a cyclist by circumstance now, I guess. I chose a bike for a number of reasons - don't like planes and wanted to actually see , smell and feel places, as opposed to just cruising through them in a car/train. You're forced to travel at a slower place, so you have to stop in the little places, the places you wouldn't normally think twice about. But those are the places that will surprise you, sometimes. That's been the best thing about this for me - the number of times it just feels like a normal day and then something weird happens, or I meet someone memorable or see an amazing view/thing, then I'm reminded that these things could happen every day, and that makes me smile. There wasn't much chance of them happening every day when I was sat in the office.


New Member
..great answer percy , I thank you. I hope you wont mind me asking you a couple of questions:

How much roughly per day is it costing you to live on the road, including food, accomodation, repairs etc?

..and is there a list of gear that you carry somewhere?



New Member
On our bikes!
The motivation for us was travel first, cycling second. We were already keen travellers and had been planning a "big trip" in the back of our minds for quite sometime. When it came time to actually think about leaving, we knew we didn't want to do the typical "buy a world plane ticket" tour -- you miss so much inbetween! We stumbled on Alistair Humphrey's site and that sparked our interest in bike touring.

I guess if you want the deeper reason behind why we would leave behind jobs/family/friends/homes then for both of us I think family history was a factor. Both of us watched our mother's die at relatively young ages and that left us with the strong feeling that you should make the most of every day you have to live our your dreams, not to wait for retirement and hope to do it then. Seeing something like that really changes the way you prioritise, or at least it did for us. I did not want to spend my life in the office.

>Also I am interested to know the set of 'life circumstances' that allowed >such trips to happen, what about work, family, kids, the mortgage etc??

For us, we always lived very simply and found we were able to save a lot of money. We didn't have the latest mobile phone, bought all our clothes in the sales, rarely ate out (although we did enjoy sampling Britain's pubs!)... you get the picture. We were also fortunate to both have professional jobs, not pulling in huge City bonuses but decent salaries, so we could live a lifestyle that was perhaps closer to the student end of the budget and save the rest. We bought our home and overpaid on the mortgage pretty much every month. We tried never to carry a balance of more than £1,000 in our current account, squirrelling away any extra in ISAs, savings, mortgage, anywhere it would give us a decent return or stop us from being tempted to spend it.

The end result was that after 6 years in Britain (one of which I spent getting a degree), we had enough to travel on. We saved £30,000 for travel over that time. We sold our house and stashed that money away for when we come home, wherever home may be.

You asked about costs. We have averaged 30 euros a day since we came back from Morocco in mid January. That includes replacing tyres on the bike, new glasses for Andrew and a few other expenses that came our way beyond the day-to-day stuff like food. We have just had to renew our health insurance for a year and replace some kit we wore out, so not sure what the average will end up being when we finally exit Europe. Obviously we are expecting costs to be much less from Turkey onwards.


Well-Known Member
No, of course I don't mind...

<How much roughly per day is it costing you to live on the road, including food, accomodation, repairs etc?>

Difficult to say and I really don't know. I had planned on a budget of 200 euros per week for everything, and saved up enough for 13 months. In reality, that plan went out of the window within the first month. I just take 200 euros out of the cashpoint when my wallet is empty, sometimes that's been twice a week, sometimes it's been once a fortnight.

I'm fortunate to have a bit of money to hand, but perhaps unfortunate in that I've never really been one to 'manage' money that well - if there's something I want or need, or something I want to do I'll just do it and spend the money of it's there. I haven't necessarily been scrimping on this trip, and neither did I plan to. I came out here to live, to experience life, and if that means I have to stop sooner than if I had scrimped and saved, so be it. I've been using hotels a lot more than I thought I would, for example. Sometimes through necessity and sometimes just 'cos I felt like it, but I have camped more nights than I've spent under a roof.

To put a figure on it, and to actually answer your question instead of blithering on, I think I'm just about to exhaust my main stock of savings, and I've been away six months now. So that's about 6-7k so far I think, with a few big spends in there too - new back wheel = 150 euros, new digi camera = 250 euros, holiday car hire and hotels = 200 euros, boat from Italy to Greece = 170 euros, various presents for myself and others etc. etc. Rough daily average at the moment is something like: 30-40 euros for a room, 10-15 euros for food and drink, plus a bit of internet and other things here and there. France and Italy it was less 'cos I was camping there (although I've paid less for a room in Greece than for some camping in Italy - 27 euros for a square of dirt for the night!) and it was cheaper to eat too. I have a penchant for Guinness at the moment too, which doesn't help when it's six euros a pint.

I certainly could have done it cheaper and probably still have half of that 7k in my bank right now, but as I say that's not how I wanted to do it.

<..and is there a list of gear that you carry somewhere?>

I do have a list which is a bit out of date but roughly right. I can send it to you if you like - send me an email and I'll send you it -


New Member
Many thanks Both! i appreciate your help and honesty. It's great to be 'chatting' with guys who are doing what you are:becool::biggrin:

Percy I have just e mailed you.:biggrin:
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