Adventure Cycling Association Forum

Bicycle Travel => General Discussion => Topic started by: 22hornet on March 12, 2013, 05:48:26 pm

 
Title: Touring Question
Post by: 22hornet on March 12, 2013, 05:48:26 pm
My question is how do most of you find the time to ride across the U.S. with full time jobs and mortgages and the rest of the responsibilities of everyday life. I have a dream to cycle across the country but don't have 3 months to take off. Thanks Jim
Title: Re: Touring Question
Post by: John Nelson on March 12, 2013, 06:07:01 pm
There are lots of possibilities. One is to do one segment a year using whatever vacation you get. Or make a deal with your employer to carry over your vacation until you have enough to do it all at once. Or, if you can save up enough money to pay the bills, ask for time off without pay.

You mentioned finances. There's no substitute for saving up. It might take some time to save what you need, but it's worth it. It's possible to tour on limited funds, anywhere from $10 to $50 a day.

Family is typically the main responsibility you might have. Maybe you have kids or are taking care of an aging parent or your spouse can't live without you. One thing you can do with kids and spouses is to take them along, either on bikes if they are old enough, or in a support vehicle.

I see three main categories of people riding across the country: (1) young people between school and employment, (2) empty nesters who don't have kid responsibilities any more, some retired, some not, and (3) unemployed people between jobs.

One thing you can do now is to start a touring fund and put as much money into it each month as you can afford.

Keep dreaming. Set a goal and set a date to achieve it.
Title: Re: Touring Question
Post by: johnsondasw on March 12, 2013, 08:41:57 pm




I see three main categories of people riding across the country: (1) young people between school and employment, (2) empty nesters who don't have kid responsibilities any more, some retired, some not, and (3) unemployed people between jobs.


And teachers with summers off.  I love teaching HS math and an additional bonus was that I got summers off (after masters degree, certificates, etc).   was able to live in the mountains and go hiking, biking and climbing with my kids. 

John"s comments are good ones for those who are not teachers. 
Title: Re: Touring Question
Post by: John Nelson on March 12, 2013, 09:49:39 pm
And teachers with summers off.
Yes indeed, there are a lot of teachers out there in the summer. And a lot of people I meet ask me if I'm a teacher.
Title: Re: Touring Question
Post by: 22hornet on March 12, 2013, 10:46:59 pm
That is great advice, I don't qualify for any of the 3 , my wife teaches  I work for a city water department have over 24 yrs ,I could wait 6 yrs then I'm retired, but I have the itch to do it soon, maybe I could do  something smaller until then
Title: Re: Touring Question
Post by: John Nelson on March 12, 2013, 10:52:22 pm
Surely if you've worked somewhere for 24 years, they'd give you a summer off if you asked. You've earned it.

But your idea of starting with shorter trips is good. You'd want to do that anyway. But keep dreaming. You may not need to postpone your dream for six years. I take my long tours by taking time off without pay from my job.
Title: Re: Touring Question
Post by: driftlessregion on March 12, 2013, 11:14:32 pm
I know the itch. Maybe you only get to go for a couple of weeks, but hey, that is better than nothing.
I took 6 weeks 6 years ago but 3 were without pay. I won't be able to do that again until I retire which is exactly 5 years and 18 days from now. Until then it is one week (two weekends makes it 10 days) and two weeks every other year.
Don't scratch the itch; soothe it on the road!
Title: Re: Touring Question
Post by: indyfabz on March 13, 2013, 11:05:18 am
I see three main categories of people riding across the country: (1) young people between school and employment, (2) empty nesters who don't have kid responsibilities any more, some retired, some not, and (3) unemployed people between jobs.

Tha describes the people on my ACA group Northern Tier tour almost to a tee. Three of the four "kids," as some of us affectionately referred to them, were between school and work. The fourth was ready to start her senior year of college. Myself and another guy, who were both in our mid-30s, were between jobs. One woman was a 50-something empty nest teacher. The remaining five were retired.

I was able to afford to take the time off because I had no kids, no mortgage and a month-month apartment lease. I knew I would likely lose my job almost two years before I did, so I could save up money, and I knew I would get a decent severance package when I got axed. I also had the luxury of flopping at my mom's house during the two years I dropped out of the working world, rode my bike and pursued other hobbies.

As noted, look into a leave of absence and try to create a fund. Or is there any chance that you can accelerate your mortgage payoff?
Title: Re: Touring Question
Post by: staehpj1 on March 13, 2013, 11:50:52 am
I see three main categories of people riding across the country: (1) young people between school and employment, (2) empty nesters who don't have kid responsibilities any more, some retired, some not, and (3) unemployed people between jobs.
I'd add:
(4) People who live well within their means and can therefore afford to take time off and go.  They either saved up leave, negotiated leave without pay, or quit their job and found another after the trip.  Some of them have jobs with flexibility built in.  That might include self employed folks and contract workers.

In my case, for the TA I had a lot of leave saved.  I told my employer I was taking a bit of leave without pay if I ran out of leave and asked if I would have a job when I got back.  I have done something similar for some trips since then.  Now I am retired.
Title: Re: Touring Question
Post by: 2riders on March 14, 2013, 08:19:44 pm
My question is how do most of you find the time to ride across the U.S. with full time jobs and mortgages and the rest of the responsibilities of everyday life. I have a dream to cycle across the country but don't have 3 months to take off. Thanks Jim

I wonder the same.  My wife & I are new to all this and this year we will start on lite tours.  One week of vacation will be a 6 night and another week will be a 3 night "Inn to Inn" tour.  Simple.  But a good way to go if we can't travel far or long.
Just a thought....
Title: Re: Touring Question
Post by: John Nelson on March 14, 2013, 09:12:41 pm
Another popular thing to wonder about is how those couples who have been traveling for the last 10 years finance it. It's a mystery.
Title: Re: Touring Question
Post by: RussSeaton on March 14, 2013, 10:09:14 pm
Another popular thing to wonder about is how those couples who have been traveling for the last 10 years finance it. It's a mystery.

Not really much of a mystery.  Assume a person or couple works for ten years.  Lives cheap.  Saves half their money.  Then tours SE Asia, India, China, Africa, eastern Europe, South America for ten years.  They have no rent, mortgage, utilities in the US.  Zero costs in the US.  Their touring costs consist solely of food to cook, cooking fuel, and that is it.  You don't pay to camp in the above places.  You can easily live on $1-3 per day in the above locations.  $1000 a year.  They saved for ten years.  They started with $50,000-100,000 in cash.  They could easily bike tour in the above locations for ten to twenty years.  They have to spend a little to get to the countries.  You can live really cheap in most of the world outside of US, Canada, western Europe.
Title: Re: Touring Question
Post by: DaveB on March 15, 2013, 09:44:33 am
Another inhibitor is a non-riding spouse that isn't real happy with the idea that you will be gone for a month or more, perhaps much more.  A one week tour?  Fine but not all summer.

"One thing you can do with kids and spouses is to take them along, either on bikes if they are old enough, or in a support vehicle."

I think this is very impractical advice for tours of more than a few days, along a very well defined daily route with prior agreed upon overnight locations.  It gives the touring rider no opportunity to improvise.  How many non-riding faimily members are willing to spend every day trying to find something to do while you are off riding?   


 
Title: Re: Touring Question
Post by: 22hornet on March 15, 2013, 12:46:46 pm
I can see saving money for a few years then going on an extended tour, but what happens when you get sick or injured and have no medical benefits this could wipe out a lot of money in a hurry. Maybe I am just conditioned the the American way. It always amazes me the people that live fancy free going from job to job and never really putting down roots , maybe I'm a little envious must be the adventurist part of me.
Title: Re: Touring Question
Post by: Pat Lamb on March 15, 2013, 02:17:15 pm
If you've saved up leave, and worked it out with your employer, your insurance carries over during an extended vacation.  Otherwise, sign up for COBRA -- it adds to the cost of the trip, so plan for it!
Title: Re: Touring Question
Post by: pmac on March 15, 2013, 04:46:01 pm
Great questions and answers.  My tours have all been of the short 7-10 variety for many of the reasons raised.  I'm in a small partnership and would not have partners or clients if I was gone for 3 months.  The spouse point is also well-taken.  Selling a 3 month bike trip to the wife would be very difficult.  Since I plan to retire in the next 3 years I'm working on getting her to take some short trips with me now to plant the seed for some longer tours in the not too distant future.  It is clear to me that for some folks taking extended bike tours are worth significant deprivations in other areas of their life.  While that is great for some people, it doesn't work for everybody.  But there are lots of ways to have fun on a bike tour and you don't have to be gone for 3 months to have a memorable trip.   
Title: Re: Touring Question
Post by: RussSeaton on March 15, 2013, 05:49:55 pm
My tours have all been of the short 7-10 variety for many of the reasons raised.  It is clear to me that for some folks taking extended bike tours are worth significant deprivations in other areas of their life.  While that is great for some people, it doesn't work for everybody.  But there are lots of ways to have fun on a bike tour and you don't have to be gone for 3 months to have a memorable trip.   

Short 7-10 day bike trips and 3 month bike trips are not comparable.  They are at different ends of the spectrum.  On a short bike trip you are always thinking about the end and going home.  On a long trip you can get consumed by the trip and forget about your life before and after the trip.  Your whole goal is that day.  Its not about your job, going home, getting back to your vehicle, your next vacation plan, etc.

"Significant deprivations in other areas of their life."  Living below your absolute means for a few years is a significant deprivation?  Saving money is a significant deprivation?  Not buying a new or luxury vehicle every other year is a significant deprivation?  Buying and driving a basic car for ten years is a significant deprivation?  Not buying the most expensive house in town is a significant deprivation?  Not flying to the beach twice a year and staying in the most expensive hotel is a significant deprivation?
Title: Re: Touring Question
Post by: brad on March 16, 2013, 06:40:20 am
The biggest issue facing most Americans wanting to do longer tours are the absurdly limited vacations we are allowed. As the poster above points out it is all about prioritization of expenses. As a career Army officer I have been able to tour in some amazing places where I have lived for extended periods, Europe, Africa, and in the US. However, I am still unable to get the time for a "grand tour." It has nothing to do with money, or time away from family. My little crew is so used to be me being gone that a three month tour is nothing. When I retire long bike and wilderness trips will be required, because otherwise I am not sure how my wife could cope with me at home all the time! I'm lucky, at 30 days of paid leave per year, I frequently carry almost three months of vacation at a time. However, being able to take it is another story. I jokingly tell all of my international friends that the national sport of America is working...we as a culture could go a long way to learning a bit more about a healthier work-life balance.
Title: Re: Touring Question
Post by: BikeFreak on March 16, 2013, 08:11:33 am
In Scandinavian countries you are typically allowed to have 5-6 weeks of vacation (25-30 working days). I mean paid vacation. And you get it from day 1 and everybody is entitled - even people without any sort of education.

That sounds great - and most Americans would love that.

But personal income taxes are at 50-60%. So yes, at least half of your pay check goes straight to the state. And gasoline costs 7,60 dollars a gallon at the pump. And 1 kWh costs the equivalent of 40 cents. I guess that all systems have advantages and disadvantages.

Lucas
Title: Re: Touring Question
Post by: Cat on March 17, 2013, 10:05:14 am
In Scandinavian countries you are typically allowed to have 5-6 weeks of vacation (25-30 working days). I mean paid vacation. And you get it from day 1 and everybody is entitled - even people without any sort of education.

That sounds great - and most Americans would love that.

But personal income taxes are at 50-60%. So yes, at least half of your pay check goes straight to the state. And gasoline costs 7,60 dollars a gallon at the pump. And 1 kWh costs the equivalent of 40 cents. I guess that all systems have advantages and disadvantages.

Lucas

That would mean that the americans have a great opportunity to prioritise a long touring trip because of more controle over the income, but I guess it´s not that easy... As to the medical question - Here (in Sweden) most people have a home insurance and adding another 30 dollars a travel insurance usually for 90 days comes with it. It covers all medical care, delayed flights, loss of luggage etc etc. Maybe there is something similar in the US?
Title: Re: Touring Question
Post by: indyfabz on March 18, 2013, 10:06:16 am
"Significant deprivations in other areas of their life."  Living below your absolute means for a few years is a significant deprivation?  Saving money is a significant deprivation?  Not buying a new or luxury vehicle every other year is a significant deprivation?  Buying and driving a basic car for ten years is a significant deprivation?  Not buying the most expensive house in town is a significant deprivation?  Not flying to the beach twice a year and staying in the most expensive hotel is a significant deprivation?

+1. If they are, then I lead a seriously deprived life. For example, my car turned 18 at the beginning of this year, and I recently bought my first TV in 10 years. I have a dumb phone and a $45/month calling/texting plan. If I go to the beach, I usually ride there. Yet for some reason I don't feel deprived.
Title: Re: Touring Question
Post by: staehpj1 on March 18, 2013, 10:26:04 am
My tours have all been of the short 7-10 variety for many of the reasons raised.  It is clear to me that for some folks taking extended bike tours are worth significant deprivations in other areas of their life.  While that is great for some people, it doesn't work for everybody.  But there are lots of ways to have fun on a bike tour and you don't have to be gone for 3 months to have a memorable trip.   

Short 7-10 day bike trips and 3 month bike trips are not comparable.  They are at different ends of the spectrum.  On a short bike trip you are always thinking about the end and going home.  On a long trip you can get consumed by the trip and forget about your life before and after the trip.  Your whole goal is that day.  Its not about your job, going home, getting back to your vehicle, your next vacation plan, etc.

"Significant deprivations in other areas of their life."  Living below your absolute means for a few years is a significant deprivation?  Saving money is a significant deprivation?  Not buying a new or luxury vehicle every other year is a significant deprivation?  Buying and driving a basic car for ten years is a significant deprivation?  Not buying the most expensive house in town is a significant deprivation?  Not flying to the beach twice a year and staying in the most expensive hotel is a significant deprivation?

My thoughts exactly.

Not all that many folks that I know seem to live within their means.  I know that some of that will vary with salary level and family size, but I am always amazed by what many of my friends and acquaintances consider necessities.
Title: Re: Touring Question
Post by: Bike Hermit on March 18, 2013, 12:04:45 pm
I recently watched a movie on Netflix entitled 180 Degrees South. Our hero catches a ride on a boat to Chile on the way to Patagonia to  climb a mountain. He was retracing the path  two of his heroes took four decades ago and he was going to meet those two in Patagonia. On the way the boat broke and they spent a couple months on Easter Island where he met a girl who, once the boat was repaired, went with them. Once in Patagonia they got to hang out with Yvon Chouinard and Doug Tompkins and enjoy personal tours of the 2 million acre Concervacion Patagonica and go surfing. When it came time to climb the mountain the ice was melted and they were stopped within a few hundred feet of the summit because conditions were too dangerous. He moped about this for days maybe longer....as if the entire journey was a waste and a failure. Mr. Chouinard was fine with stopping even farther from the summit saying:
 "What's important is how you got there, not what you've accomplished". and
 "When everything goes wrong, that's when the adventure begins"
So my question is:
Why do you want to ride your bike across the country? Why set another, arbitrary goal like that which is already causing stress and frustration?  Raising decent kids is a goal. A career is a goal. Contributing something is a goal. Bike touring is bike touring. It's not a race or a contest and as Mr. Chouinard (who, apparently is my new hero too) also said;
"it's about the changes that happen inside you"
Go when you can...overnight, a week, three weeks or three months.
 


 
Title: Re: Touring Question
Post by: e46rick on March 18, 2013, 12:42:10 pm
I recently watched a movie on Netflix entitled 180 Degrees South. Our hero catches a ride on a boat to Chile on the way to Patagonia to  climb a mountain. He was retracing the path  two of his heroes took four decades ago and he was going to meet those two in Patagonia. On the way the boat broke and they spent a couple months on Easter Island where he met a girl who, once the boat was repaired, went with them. Once in Patagonia they got to hang out with Yvon Chouinard and Doug Tompkins and enjoy personal tours of the 2 million acre Concervacion Patagonica and go surfing. When it came time to climb the mountain the ice was melted and they were stopped within a few hundred feet of the summit because conditions were too dangerous. He moped about this for days maybe longer....as if the entire journey was a waste and a failure. Mr. Chouinard was fine with stopping even farther from the summit saying:
 "What's important is how you got there, not what you've accomplished". and
 "When everything goes wrong, that's when the adventure begins"
So my question is:
Why do you want to ride your bike across the country? Why set another, arbitrary goal like that which is already causing stress and frustration?  Raising decent kids is a goal. A career is a goal. Contributing something is a goal. Bike touring is bike touring. It's not a race or a contest and as Mr. Chouinard (who, apparently is my new hero too) also said;
"it's about the changes that happen inside you"
Go when you can...overnight, a week, three weeks or three months.
 


 

Chouinard is an interesting cat.
Title: Re: Touring Question
Post by: pmac on March 18, 2013, 02:34:48 pm
I think you missed my point, Russ.  Obviously, a 10 day tour and a 90 day tour are not comparable and I was not trying to compare them.  To me, a "significant deprivation" is not about a new car, a fancy house or an expensive hotel on a beach, although it might be to somebody else.  My guess is that person isn't checking out this message board.   It is about health insurance which generally involves long-term employment, a career which generally, but not always, involves fairly limited vacation time, taking the wants/needs of your family/significant other into consideration when they are not touring with you and providing as best you can for your family.  But as you noted one person's deprivation is another persons extravagance.  It is difficult to walk in someone's shoes and there are many ways to skin a cat or take a bike tour.  But that doesn't mean one way is better than another.  They are just different.  Have fun on your next ride, wherever it goes for however long it goes! 
Title: Re: Touring Question
Post by: paddleboy17 on March 19, 2013, 12:50:12 pm
I have a job, wife, kids, etc.  There is no way I am getting more than a week off at a time.  On one week long trip (2009?), I actually had to file extraction plans with my boss in case something went wrong, and they had to send some one to "get me".  Not all of us have the luxury to just "take off", job be damned, family be damned.  Upton Sinclair's vision of corporate America lives on.

I do a couple of weekend trips and a week long trip each summer.   And it is an ordeal to just hold on to that.  For my sacrifice, I still have a job, being the 1 out of 3 people that can do my job that my employer kept in the last down turn.

This will have to do until I retire, ~10 years from now.  Hopefully my health will be good, and my retirement package will allow me to do some touring.  I will still have to balance a spouse that does not tour, who also expects me to be an active partner.  But that is another topic, that I do not plan to discuss here. :)

So I feel your pain, or would that be lust.  Do what you can to get buy, and I hope your eventual retirement is a good one.
Title: Re: Touring Question
Post by: mucknort on March 20, 2013, 04:28:23 pm
We were very much in the minority regarding bike tourist statistics. We were Mom and Dad in late 40's with 11 year old son. Seems most bike tourists are either college grads/early 20s or retired folks. We could do it because I'm a stay-at-home/homeschooling Dad and wife is a professor that went during her sabbatical. Choose the life style that works for you!
Title: Re: Touring Question
Post by: staehpj1 on March 20, 2013, 05:04:32 pm
Choose the life style that works for you!
That is something that folks often seem to not get.  They say that they can't go because of their job or whatever, but don't seem to recognize that their situation is the result of their own choices.  I know that I would never accept a job that would require me to "file extraction plans with my boss in case something went wrong".

I have always considered my "spare time activities" to have a pretty high priority in my career choices.  Yes I have had to compromise at times, but I have always valued leisure time activities and at least keep that in mind when making career and financial choices.
Title: Re: Touring Question
Post by: John Nelson on March 20, 2013, 05:50:40 pm
I think if you work in a 100-person company, they can more easily adapt to your absence than if you work in a 3-person outfit. It also helps to have skills that cannot be replaced in a second, yet not skills such that they can't do without you for any length of time. It's great to have a job you love with the pay you deserve that gives you the flexibility you desire, but not everybody can have it all I suppose. Would we be willing to take a less interesting job with less pay in order to have the free time we want? Tough question.
Title: Re: Touring Question
Post by: johnsondasw on March 20, 2013, 06:51:33 pm
With a BS in oceanography and a MA in math, I chose a career (HS teacher of math and science) that definitely was lower pay than I could have had elsewhere.  This was for lifestyle and the enjoyment and rewards of working in education, where I know I can say that I have and still am contributing in a way that is helpful to others. I could never get my head around the idea that making a living should take 50 out of 52 weeks of my life every year. I watched my dad do that.  Getting satisfactory work and lifestyle did not happen by accident--it was planned that way.
Title: Re: Touring Question
Post by: adventurepdx on March 20, 2013, 08:01:02 pm
Choose the life style that works for you!

That is something that folks often seem to not get.  They say that they can't go because of their job or whatever, but don't seem to recognize that their situation is the result of their own choices...I have always considered my "spare time activities" to have a pretty high priority in my career choices.  Yes I have had to compromise at times, but I have always valued leisure time activities and at least keep that in mind when making career and financial choices.

These are two very good points!

As for myself: I've been touring since 2005. I have been lucky to have a job that allowed me to take decent chunks of time off to do things like bike tours. It's in the travel/lodging industry, and it doesn't pay much, but I personally prefer time to money. Two years ago, my girlfriend and I did a long (4+ month) tour across the continent. I had to leave my job for that, as it was too much time off, and during the height of the busy season. Returning to town, I didn't have a steady job until last fall, when I got my old job back. I haven't had the itch to do a real long tour again (yet), so I'm planning on taking a couple one-two week tours that aren't during the height of the busy season. I'm sure that I'll want to do another summer-long tour at some point, and when that happens, I'll be prepared to do what it takes.

If your life doesn't allow you to do a grand, months-long bike tour, you can always do shorter ones. True, it's not the same as a grand tour, but I believe in working with what you got, until the urge to do the big thing overpowers everything else.
Title: Re: Touring Question
Post by: geegee on March 26, 2013, 06:15:59 pm
I'm self employed in the creative field and I've been lucky that in the last 20 years, I've allowed myself at least a month every year to go off on a bike trip. Six weeks is the longest I've been gone, and that took me across continents. I could go for more, but I find after 40 or so days i miss being productive. Knowing that another good trip is in store the next year, I don't really anything much lengthier. My clients have gotten to know me well and even ask when I will be away.

Being debt free definitely helps, the average person pays thousands of dollars in interest fees a year. Not being in debt was another life priority for me, and so many things become affordable after that, especially when you maintain the same discipline that gets you there. Having said that, I actually splurge when I ride.