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What's it like touring beyond 6 weeks?

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What's it like touring beyond 6 weeks?

Old 02-07-18, 11:12 PM
  #1  
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What's it like touring beyond 6 weeks?

I've never done it.
Only been on a couple 6 week long tours but I dream of longer.
I've done lots of tours but mostly 1-4 weeks.

I only wonder if I will get sick of it after a couple months and would like to go back to my recliner.

Trying to make long term plans here.
Like living on my bike for awhile...
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Old 02-08-18, 12:23 AM
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Originally Posted by boomhauer View Post
I've never done it.....I only wonder if I will get sick of it ....
none can answer this for you.
you must find out for yourself.
make a plan with opt-out options along the way.
go.
ride.
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Old 02-08-18, 01:03 AM
  #3  
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For me it was at times lonely. Even though I was traveling with my wife I still missed family and friends. Afterwards we decided that the next long one was going to be maximum two months since that was the cutoff time after which we both started getting homesick.
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Old 02-08-18, 02:06 AM
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It actually gets tiring ... travel fatigue.

See my thread about it during our 8-month Round the World trip:
Long Tour Fatigue


The thing is, you're on holiday, not working, so you think you should feel refreshed all the time like you do when you take your 3-4 week annual leave.

But in a way it starts to become like work. You get up every morning, and pack up, and get moving to your next location, and you stop here and there, and toward the end of the day you have to hunt for a place to stay and find a place for dinner or go grocery stopping and make dinner and clean up .... and the next day you do it all over again ... and again ...

On that trip, eventually we ended up stopping and doing nothing for several days in Luxembourg and then we moved on to Switzerland where we stayed in one place for about 10 days. We needed that break, and then we were able to keep going!

Last edited by Machka; 02-08-18 at 02:15 AM.
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Old 02-08-18, 04:00 AM
  #5  
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I enjoy it and have taken six longer trips of 6 weeks (1992), 3 months (1997), 12 months (2001), 10 months (2007), 6 months (2013) and 18 months (2016).

Some more general thoughts on those trips and what I've done:
- Once I go beyond several weeks it becomes much more of a lifestyle change than a vacation. Touring is just what I then do and so adjust outlook/mindset, etc.
- Typically also serves as an interesting transition where pre-trip I wrap up the old world (job, house ...) and on return start something afresh. Sometimes have used it to move states. Only two employers in that time (many LOAs and refresh with same company) but I have changed geographical locations.
- Typically have an overall goal like crossing a continent (most recently the Americas but before that Africa, Eurasia, Australia and North America) but then break it into subphases. An 18 month trip is long enough that I can even take vacations from the vacation, e.g. spend several weeks studying at a language school in Argentina.
- With an overall cross-continent goal I track things more in terms of overall "budget" like time and $$ than a more refined itinerary. So when I'm "ahead" I might take occasion to add something different (e.g. cycling to Alice/Uluru on an otherwise trip around the perimeter of Australia). When I am "behind" I'll do a lot more day-after-day-after-day riding on specific route.
- I've broken some of my longest trips into several somewhat different styles, e.g. 10 months in 2007 was really: 1 month self-supported riding in Texas, 1 month self-supported Amsterdam to St Petersburg, 3 weeks language school, 5 months self-supported riding across Russia with another cyclist, 2 months riding with TDA group across China and then just over a month self-supported riding in Thailand/Malaysia.

While the gear I bring doesn't change a lot between a two-week trip and a multi-month trip, my outlook and mindset does change. A two-week trip is a brief pause where my old life waits for me to return and things pile up at work. A multi-month trip is a more major transition where the old work and life is wrapped up, I change into "bicycle tourist" for extended period and return to transition to a different life and work on the return.

I've been fortunate that circumstances have allowed it where I've created a rhythm of 4-5 years working followed by an extended trip and renewal into something different to start the pattern again.
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Old 02-08-18, 06:40 AM
  #6  
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You can eliminate the bicycle from the equation and ask the same question. You already know that after a month or so the physical part of cycling pretty much becomes a non-issue. Some people can get into vagabonding, some can't. A good book on vagabonding came out a decade or so ago, so it's possible to get some good in-depth insights in the media.
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Old 02-08-18, 07:18 AM
  #7  
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Good post.

Originally Posted by Machka View Post
It actually gets tiring ... travel fatigue.

See my thread about it during our 8-month Round the World trip:
Long Tour Fatigue


The thing is, you're on holiday, not working, so you think you should feel refreshed all the time like you do when you take your 3-4 week annual leave.

But in a way it starts to become like work. You get up every morning, and pack up, and get moving to your next location, and you stop here and there, and toward the end of the day you have to hunt for a place to stay and find a place for dinner or go grocery stopping and make dinner and clean up .... and the next day you do it all over again ... and again ...

On that trip, eventually we ended up stopping and doing nothing for several days in Luxembourg and then we moved on to Switzerland where we stayed in one place for about 10 days. We needed that break, and then we were able to keep going!
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Old 02-08-18, 07:59 AM
  #8  
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Haven’t gone on a long bike tour, but when I was a young adult, I spent many months at a time away from home working and traveling in relative isolation from the “real world.” Came to enjoy having no access to TV and the constant news cycle. Made me realize what’s important and what’s just entertainment. I really long for those days, and hope to go on a 6 month tour with no destination. When you are young, you have no money and lots of time. When you are older, you have lots of money and no time. It would be great to have both at the same time. Maybe that’s what retirement is all about, but that’s a long way off.
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Old 02-08-18, 10:02 AM
  #9  
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Everybody is different. I find that I am ready to come home after about 4 to 5 weeks. Some people want to get home sooner than that but some people are just getting started when it is like that.
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Old 02-08-18, 10:50 AM
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My long tours had me staying a while in some places and getting to know people there...

My tour 20 years ago was 9 months , Feb to Nov.
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Old 02-08-18, 11:56 AM
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that recliner seems more and more inviting those posts. 6 days is plenty long enough for this old bird.
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Old 02-08-18, 01:08 PM
  #12  
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We have done 3 months and 4 months. 4 months was a little too long because as Machka says, it becomes a boring routine eventually.
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Old 02-08-18, 02:16 PM
  #13  
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I marvel at the trail runners and rock climbers that live out of a van for months at a time. Same idea, I guess. For them, renting an apartment for a few months over the winter is as foreign as us going on the road!
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Old 02-08-18, 02:17 PM
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On a cycling podcast a couple of years ago I heard the statement that said it all. At first I flat out said the guy saying it didn't know what he was talking about. About a day later when thinking back to the 3 month trip I had taken the previous summer I come to realize he knew exactly what he was saying and it needed to be upgraded a bit more...

'It takes 6 weeks to form a habit(original saying ended here)...anything less and all you have is a hobby.'

My experience was on the extreme side, riding on average 125 miles a day, fully loaded touring, sleeping on average 4 hours a night, no trip plan from the start just planning from one day to the next. So yes...a bit extrme.

My biggest problem with the trip was everyday from the end of week 2-2.5 on was very predictable...troublewise. Only had one smooth day after the first 2-2.5 weeks, where something didn't go wrong, and generally one thing in the morning that would cost me time and something else, generally similarly related would go wrong in the afternoon. It got to be quite irrittating...and quite predictable. If 11AM rolled around and something hadn't went wrong I would start to question what was going to happen in the next hour. I never knew what to expect, just to expect something to go wrong. VERY routine.

As I was finally heading home, still around 1500 miles from home I found myself freaking out as I was riding. I knew I had spent way too much time on the open road. I started saying to myself 'You know I could live cheaper out here on the open road than I could ever hope to live back at home.' I started seriously considering the idea of spending a couple months at home and then heading south for a 6 month winter trip...never happened. I just kept looking through the details and realizing that if I started doing a real bike tour/trip instead of the extreme traveling I was doing that I could easily live far cheaper on the open road than I could at home. I was quite serious. I had gotten so use to life on the open road and loved it quite frankly that I was both trying to talk myself into the idea and out the insanity of the idea the entire rest of the way home.

Like others have said it depends on the person in question and their life situation at the time. I am single, so I only have myself to think about. I don't mind being by myself. I don't mind being lost and having no set plans, just whatever tickles my fancy the day in question. I would imagine unless you are doing a round the world trip that is totally preplanned ahead of time most people couldn't tolerate the idea unless they are single and can stand being by themselves. I had stretches for two or three weeks at a time when I never saw another person on a bike...I guess that is when you get use 'to falling on the backs of the locals for any companionship'.

It is a very different/liberating experience when you come to realize that you can easily continue doing what you are doing forever without trying...simply because you enjoy it so much...even when it is such a pain in the butt(aka, things going wrong everyday...so predictably). Once you get beyond 6 weeks everything changes and it does become routine, your body is road harden and there is no more effort. The hardest thing is probably a simple matter of deciding where you want to go tomorrow, and the next day and the day after that... The riding has become 'effortless, a habit, not a hobby'.
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Old 02-08-18, 05:02 PM
  #15  
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Originally Posted by mev View Post
I enjoy it and have taken six longer trips of 6 weeks (1992), 3 months (1997), 12 months (2001), 10 months (2007), 6 months (2013) and 18 months (2016).
You are my hero. I've been touring only a little longer than this but haven't been able to pull this off with my employer. (even though they are very understanding) Had to quit a couple times to do the 6 week tours.
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Old 02-08-18, 05:06 PM
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Originally Posted by bikenh View Post
... I was both trying to talk myself into the idea and out the insanity of the idea the entire rest of the way home.
My thoughts exactly.
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Old 02-08-18, 07:34 PM
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I met a gal that started in S Africa, then Europe, through Asia, Austrailia, back into Asia, China, Japan, then flew to N America. She was seven years into her tour, so far she thought that her bike frame had seen about 100,000 km. But most of the components had been changed out at least once. Her front rack (I think it was a Tubus Swing) was no longer made so she could not trade it in for a new one, instead had to keep getting it repaired. I met her in summer 2014 when I was touring the Pacific Coast, I have no idea where she is now. She said her front Ortliebs had been with her the whole way. Her bike frame was covered with stickers of where she had been.

That is a long tour.
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Old 02-08-18, 07:47 PM
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Having experienced a couple extended tours, I think I would like a situation where we were on the road travelling/touring for about 3 months, and then stopped in a place for the next 6 months or year or so, and then back on the road again.

I love travelling, but I also enjoy some of the things that come from being in one location for a little while.


For example, one of the ideas that has been in the back of my mind for a while is to spend about 3 months touring around Europe ... seeing some of the places we haven't seen yet. And then settling in/near Royan, France and attending the language school there for several months. We really like that part of France, and would love to spend some time there anyway, and perhaps one day that might be a way to do it. Settling there for a few months would give us a chance to get to know that area better than we did by passing through it.
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Old 02-09-18, 04:00 AM
  #19  
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Originally Posted by Machka View Post
Having experienced a couple extended tours, I think I would like a situation where we were on the road travelling/touring for about 3 months, and then stopped in a place for the next 6 months or year or so, and then back on the road again.

I love travelling, but I also enjoy some of the things that come from being in one location for a little while.


For example, one of the ideas that has been in the back of my mind for a while is to spend about 3 months touring around Europe ... seeing some of the places we haven't seen yet. And then settling in/near Royan, France and attending the language school there for several months. We really like that part of France, and would love to spend some time there anyway, and perhaps one day that might be a way to do it. Settling there for a few months would give us a chance to get to know that area better than we did by passing through it.

I know that area of France well and have visited it for around thirty-odd years. I'm fond of the Atlantic coast and particularly so of the food there. Royan is such a pleasant town and the huge, round food market blew my mind and reminded me of how privileged the French are when it comes to the quality and range of food.

I'd love to visit the area again but age and health concerns mean that it's no longer possible. I do hope you manage to return and sample the famous seafood.
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Old 02-09-18, 04:28 AM
  #20  
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Originally Posted by onbike 1939 View Post
I know that area of France well and have visited it for around thirty-odd years. I'm fond of the Atlantic coast and particularly so of the food there. Royan is such a pleasant town and the huge, round food market blew my mind and reminded me of how privileged the French are when it comes to the quality and range of food.

I'd love to visit the area again but age and health concerns mean that it's no longer possible. I do hope you manage to return and sample the famous seafood.
PBP is on the horizon for us next year. That might be an opportunity to at least get back to Royan (and, as a sometime yachtie, La Rochelle as well as Bordeaux with that amazing river).

I hope you are still riding at least a little, despite the travails of age and health.

As to the OP, one of the things that can help break up a "tour", enable social engagement and keep the bank balance happier is to find work along the way. I know this might be a little more difficult in North America where wages and standing are low for agricultural workers, but here in Australia is it possible for a middle-aged local to follow the Harvest Trail with the backpacker tourist, picking fruit and other farm work.

Some have the qualification and ability (like mev) to work through the internet while on the move. But what I suggested above is something entirely different to what people do for a living. I've just engaged someone at work who was caravanning around Australia with his family, and now -- after a career in the navy and in electronics training -- he feels he "can't go back to working in a cubicle again". You never know what can happen with a "tree change"... it worked for me, and it all started on a bike tour.

But, it's not for everyone, and some will never see themselves doing more than a month or so. I get that home means security, familiarity, family and comfort for them. And if that is the case, they really don't need to plan to do any more than their month or so, because longer is almost certain to make them unhappy.
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Old 02-09-18, 12:08 PM
  #21  
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My first tour was nearly 4 months. I wouldn't say I got tired of it, but near the end I was anxious to finish. I think that was because I was riding home from the west coast. The closer I got to home, the more eager I was to get there.


Along the way there were ups and downs. The first 93 days were spent with a dozen others. There were people in the group I could have done without. Also, the very hot and humid conditions some days in MN and every day in IA, IL and IN tried my resolve. One miserable day in IN (the afternoon high would reach something like 106) I found some shade and seriously considered dropping out, but I hung in there.


My next two tours were about 7 weeks each. The first of those was a loop in Andalucía. I definitely got a bit sick of that near the end. Found myself doing short days and saying two or more nights in places rather than one. The second was in the American west--Seattle to Cortez, CO, not via a direct route. Same thing there; as the tour wore on I found myself being less enthused about things. By then the miles between all three tours were adding up. Finished with about 10,000 total over the span of about 14 months elapsed time. I came back from Spain at the end of April and hit the road again about three weeks later. Maybe that had something to do with it.
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Old 02-09-18, 12:32 PM
  #22  
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I wandered in Europe -- just France and the British Isles -- for three months when I was 20 years old. It was the adventure of my life. It got tiring, as @Machka says, and I was severely lonely at times, but it was worth it. I was at a turning point in my life, so it gave me a lot of time to think about what to do next.
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Old 02-09-18, 02:59 PM
  #23  
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One other thing to consider when things get 'tiring/boring', spice it up. Noglider got me thinking about it with his post above this. If it starts to get too routine, change the routine and be willing to try new things. Instead of always riding 50-75 miles a day, gut it out and do a 150-175 miles one day, spice it up add a little variety to the mix. Their are so many ways to keep the interest until you truly have did everything imaginable and then some.

Probably another thing you can do to help out with the boredom is to know yourself ahead of time so you can plan around yourself in the first place. The one thing I have come to realize that I like to see if 'natural' artwork. I wouldn't pay a penny to go in any stinking art museum but when I get into a town that has murals(true murals, not graffeti(sp?)) painted on the side of buildings I always spend time taking photos. I know of one guy who does fantastic 3D paint right on the side of buildings and when you look at his artwork you question whether you are looking at a painting or the real image...his stuff is that good. I've stumbled into 5-6 places so far that has sweet mural paintings put up in town and I have stopped and taken photo after photo. I guess living up here in tree country, NH, I'm too use to looking at trees anymore and I need something more stimulating Get to know what 'tickles your fancy' and hunt it down ahead of time, especially toward the harder points(toward the end of a long trip) and plan the route accordingly. Make yourself have to ride for them, aka not at the beginning but toward the end. Hence why I always do front door to front door bike trips. I have to keep riding until I get home.
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Old 02-09-18, 04:44 PM
  #24  
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How the length of a tour affects a person's outlook depends a lot on the person's disposition, the tour itself, and if you are riding solo or with a good partner. During the last 10 years my wife and I rode 9 tours >6 weeks, including 2 for 3 months and 2 for just over 2 months. We also rode several tours <6 weeks for a total of about 19 months touring since 2007, when we became "empty nesters".

We had mixed feelings about ending our 2 longest tours. We really did not want to stop riding at the end of our first 3-month ride. If we were not working at the time, we would have extended it out. During the last half of the second 3-month tour we experienced 35 days of rain. While we had a great time we were ready to head home at the end. Our 90 days in Europe allowed under the Schengen Treaty had run out, it was raining a lot, and my wife was anxious to see her first grandchild who was born while we were touring.

We have usually regretted the ends of our tours, and hope that we will always feel that way. I think my wife and I have several things going for us: we ride extremely well together, we like riding our bikes, we are both avid photographers, and we are retired. We have never been on a "boring" tour. We have ridden across the U.S and the Canadian Prairies, which a lot of people perceive as boring, and found them very interesting and beautiful.

Having said all that we don't have any 3-month tours planned in the near future.

I haven't ridden a solo tour since we were married

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Old 02-10-18, 12:26 AM
  #25  
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I do think threads like this are useful. It helps to be aware that "travel fatigue" can set in, and there is a difference between doing short tours and long tours.

As others have mentioned, some can just keep going and going on tours and don't seem to be much affected by it, but others of us need to plan breaks or at least be prepared to take breaks now and then.

It might just be a matter of stopping in the mountains or at a beach or something for a few days or week or so ... just staying in one place, not packing up each morning, getting to know the area a bit.

And one of the things I seem to find refreshing is to stay in one place long enough to read 2 or 3 books. I don't usually carry books when I cycle, but often campgrounds or hostels will have books or I might be able to find some at a used book store. So if I stay in one spot for a few days, I can usually get through some of them and that just seems to fulfil something in me, and I can go again and feel good.
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