My short bio: Hello and greetings from Almaty, Kazakhstan. I'm sitting here waiting for a couple of visas and thought I can use the time at least somewhat productive. ;)

I'm a German cyclist and traveller who has spend the last 8 years going around the world, starting at the age of 19. I'm an avid redditor and post on Imgur too, which all started from my game programming (I do a Dwarf Fortress mod as a hobby).

I really like to help other people start travelling, maybe answering questions here will do that. Otherwise you can often find me on r/bicycletouring or posting advice-related stuff on Imgur.

So far I've covered N-America, S-America, Europe and Australia/NewZealand. Been to all countries on these continents. Africa and Asia I have about half-way done, after that there are only island states left.(black:visited. dark-gray:current position) Hopefully I get to all the countries one day. :)

I usually ride a bike and had many bikes over the years. Atm I ride a full-suspension MTB with ultralight gear through the silk road.

I often try to challenge myself, for example I rode through the Sahara in summer, (twice) and through Siberia in winter.

I did spend around $45k so far, which comes down to ~$5625 a year or ~$15.4 per day. I do have a passive income, I rent out a house in Germany, combined with some savings.

My Proof: http://i.imgur.com/I4W0jFQ.jpg and https://twitter.com/World_Bicyclist/status/613693014154711040

Info on past tours: http://worldbicyclist.com/

Info on current tour: Facebook.

Lets hope for some interesting questions. :)

Cheers, Martin

EDIT: Ok guys, that's it. 14h non-stop, answered ~1500 comments. Didn't sleep tonight. Hope the answered helped a few people. :)

Comments: 3346 • Responses: 75  • Date: 

Roxy1212782 karma

In which country did you find it easiest to live on 15$ a day? And in which was it most difficult?

Meph2481091 karma

Curiously enough it's easier to spend less in expensive countries. It's easier to say no to a $25 hotel room and camp, than to say no to a $5 hotel room and camp. In Europe I'd go camping and couchsurfing all the time out of necessity, but here in Asia I'd happily pay for accommodation, because it's cheaper. But of course that adds up and in the end I pay more. I remember spending 6 months in the US and Canada and I spend $0 on accommodation. :D

But besides camping and biking, the easiest countries are the poorest: Bolivia, Peru, Nepal, India, even Thailand and Malaysia would be fine with that amount. Lots of countries in Africa too, and to some degree Eastern Europe.

Most difficult: Japan. I did spend more than $15 a day there. Also island states in general, because the transport, be it flight or boat, to the island already costs more than what I'd spend if I just ride my bike there.

Ragnar_Targaryen689 karma

I did spend more than $15 a day there [Japan]

SO YOU LIED! SHAME ON YOU

jk...I'm really jealous of what you've accomplished.

My Question: You've mentioned couch-surfing. How did you manage to find couches to surf on while you were in countries that you didn't know anybody?

Meph248725 karma

Couchsurfing.org and Warmshowers.org.

I'm staying with a couchsurfer right now. The director of the Sorbonne institue here in Kazakhstan. :)

void_public191 karma

so how do you get internet access? free wifis seem to be hard to obtain in certain countries especially africa and south america i would imagine?

Meph248350 karma

free wifi is very easy to find. Some place in central/westafrica dont have any internet really, but southamerica is perfectly fine.

BK201G68 karma

I always thought about trying this. What has been the worst living environment you've come across while surfing? I also worry about the safety. How do I know people aren't just trying to do me harm?

Edit: People seem to think I assume most people to be murderers. I can assure you I don't. I think most people are good people but couch-surfing just sounds like a good way to lure people in if you happen to be a psychopath. I didn't know there were reviews but still, with how easily reviews can be faked I'm just being cautious.

Meph248129 karma

Worst living environment would be westafrica, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, that corner. People are still friendly though.

No one ever tried to do me any harm. I got stolen from a couple of times, and ethiopian street kids throw rocks at tourists, but that's nothing new.

chongqingshit106 karma

Dude, you can check people's profile on Couchsurfing, see who went to their house and how it went... For a first time CS you can try to pick popular users (don't forget to fill your profile in a nice way, not just two words and a cool picture where we can't see your face). I don't think a guy will host 2OO happy people and then decides to rape the 201th... hehe And you don't have to do like OP and go so far away. Just pick a town a few hours from where you live and go for a weekend.

I did CS in China, Japan, Iran and Amsterdam. Met a very few ok people (nothing evil, just that i wasnt having lot of fun; different temper you know), a lot of cool people and a few good friends now. No "worst living environement", usually better than my day to day one.

CS in Iran is the best thing ever. From nice girls taking me to the desert (how would you get there otherwise) to being in that moutain house at night with all my gangstaz smoking opium. Shit be real bra

Meph24813 karma

Sounds awesome. :)

jacquesrabbit5 karma

Is Malaysia considered a poor country?

Meph2483 karma

Sorry, no. But it's cheap. That's why I said "even Thailand and Malaysia", because it didnt fall under the poor-category.

MitchNYM628 karma

Which country that you have visited has had the best food?

Meph2482088 karma

If I were rich: France. Since I'm not: India.

GHGCottage470 karma

Retired and living off rent income at age 19 = not rich.

Meph248451 karma

That is correct. Rich =! $500 a month. I couldnt even live in Germany with the money I make. My living standard might be a tiny bit lower than what you might expect for a western European.

my_bullshit11 karma

yea I really don't get this.

Meph24831 karma

Which part? Him thinking I'm rich, or me thinking I'm poor (money-wise)

Point is, the couchsurfer I'm staying with earns more in one months than I have in my bank account. It's humbling.

tremendousPanda390 karma

Have you ever encountered people who wanted to harm you?

Viel Glück und gute Fahrt!

Meph248642 karma

Except street kids in Ethiopia that throw rocks at me, whip/hit me... luckily no.

eduwhat951 karma

This is what we get for feeding them...

mask567239 karma

They know you said no to Oxfam.

Meph248569 karma

They are used to get stuff from tourists, so they run up to you and ask "give me my money", very demanding. Or they expect notebooks, candy, pens, etc. I dont carry extra stuff on my bike, so I say no.

That's when they get angry.

eyeothemastodon8 karma

And here we have old people in America that think terrorists are going to come to their farm and bomb them from an aerial drone. The world isn't such a dangerous place!

Meph24852 karma

Same people that are supposed to be terrorists are afraid that US drones come and bomb them. Much more reaslistic, sadly. That's why there are so many people running to join ISIS etc. Most of them are simple people, uneducated and afraid.

inskitron11 karma

When Mark Beaumont cycled round the world the only place he ran into trouble was in the US. Was in a hit and run and a robbery all in one day.

Meph24811 karma

He is great! He just finished Cairo to Capetown in 42 days. Same setup I used in Westafrica, but he did more than twice my mileage. Great inspiration.

thevagabondpursuit322 karma

I notice in a comment you mentioned you have a girlfriend. How do you balance your travel plans and goals with travelling with your girlfriend and maintaining the relationship?

I love to travel but it can be hard to balance with a relationship. Thanks (great AMA btw!)

Meph248495 karma

I spend half a year in Germany after I met here and we planned the next trip together. Then we travelled a year in Southamerica, after that I did Northamerica while she did work&travel in Australia and NewZealand.

Half a year later, we met up again in Singapore, to travel Southeastasia for half a year. Atm she is in Germany, but visited my a month in Japan.

I'll finish this trip in 3-4 months, spend 2-3 months in Germany with her, and then we both go towards the Indian subcontinent for about a year.

So it's 50% long-distance open relationship, and 50% living or travelling together.

Drakonz381 karma

Open relationship? Does that mean you guys agree that it's okay to see other people during the long periods apart?

Sorry if that's too personal. Just curious

Meph248456 karma

Yes.

ClickingGeek242 karma

What was a really weird experience you had while traveling?

Meph248877 karma

I posted travel advice on Imgur and got insulted because I didnt realize that 90% of US students are in debt.

Probably not what you were asking about, so here another: In Guinea-Bissua several women in one village brought me their sick children and babies, because they thought I'm a doctor. It was so remote and in the middle of nowhere, that the only white people they have ever seen around there are medical volunteers.

It was quite a tough area to go biking.

Moomilkcows87 karma

I remember your post! And the other parts you posted, I have them all favorited. Unfortunately it is true that most young people are saddled with either debt through tuition or having to take care of their parents/family.

I hope you didn't take it too close to heart. People have their dreams and you have your own, you just offered ways to play yours out. I'm sure more people got something good out of it than you realized.

I hope to travel for vacation in a few weeks. Small steps, but steps they are.

Meph248251 karma

I can take a beating, I was just surprised. Many seemed to have felt like I personally attacked their values, because they spend X-thousand dollars on higher education, while I tramp around the world without any. They seemed both jelous and protective of their own decisions, ergo they had to disagree with mine.

But nice to hear that people like you exist too and it actually helped a bit. ;)

ClickingGeek44 karma

That's a crazy experience! I wouldn't even know how to respond to that!

Meph248230 karma

I explained in broken portuguese that I'm not a doctor.

Even the guy at the border crossing who asked me for my profession made a double take. "cyclist" ... "cyclist?" ... "yes" ... "not engineer? Not doctor?" ... "no, just a cyclist"

1347997197 karma

How do you maintain hygiene?

Meph248440 karma

Same as everyone else. Soap, shower. If I'm in the middle of a desert and cycled for a week, I stink. I'll survive.

astra118177 karma

Did you ever have to perform sexual favors?

Meph2481036 karma

I mean, I'm not gay, but $20 is $20, right?

qwertygnu163 karma

Do you do this alone? Is it easy to make new friends while traveling? What made you start doing this? How did you start? I might want to do something similar.

Meph248218 karma

Partly alone, partly with people I meet on the road, partly with my girlfriend.

It's super easy to make new friends, especially if you stay a bit in one place or if you travel with public transport. It's much harder if you have your own transport, be it bicycle, motorbike or car, because it's harder to meet people that can go with you.

I dont know. I wanted to travel one time around the world when I was in school, so I did that. It was planned to be 1 year between military service and university. Well... I never ended up going to university, instead continued travelling. Now I'm semi-professional at it.

How did I start? Could you rephrase this and add more details? Because I started as a backpacker, first year was train-passes, round-the-world flight ticket and lots of hostels. Not sure if that answers your question, but have a look here http://worldbicyclist.com/tours/2008_rtw.html for a short tour report about that trip.

qwertygnu112 karma

you make it sound like you just casually started travelling and never stopped. i'm about 19 and i can't imagine being alone thousands of miles away from anywhere familiar in a dirty hostel. as much as it would be incredible to backpack around the world, i'm not sure i'd adapt well enough to survive - especially on a tight budget.

i meant, after deciding that you wanted to do this, what did you do? did you immediately leave, or save up for it, did you plan it meticulously or just had a couple destinations in mind?

Meph248249 karma

Yes, that is what I did. I knew I wanted to circumnavigate the world, like the explorers of old, when I was... 15? 16? I talked a lot with my geography teacher, who helped me plot a route. I saved my money, sold my Magic the Gathering card collection, did my military service, packed a hilariously oversized backpack and left my home.

What are you afraid of, when you speak of "adapting to survive"? The rest of the world is not that different from where you are. People are pretty much the same, friendly, curious, all over the world.

I did make my initial plan like this: I took a worldmap, made dots at all the places I really wanted to see and then tried to connect as many dots with as short a line as I could manage. I honestly thought I might get to Australia or NewZealand before I have to go home, but I managed to get around the world. :)

You dont plan meticulously though, that's both impossible and harmful to your trip. Once you are on the road and have practically unlimited time, you go with the flow and just make your plan in week 1 for week 2, in week 2 for week 3, and so on. I do a rough plan, just so that I end up in an area at the best season, aka climate, but other than that it's up to you.

realhacker85 karma

it was good to know you sold your magic the gathering collection while it was worth something (before it morphed into bitcoin)

Meph24853 karma

I do miss it sometimes. Why the bitcoin comparison?

alex_squeezebox152 karma

What languages do you speak and how often are you hindered by language barriers and how do you solve those problems?

Meph248263 karma

German, English, Spanish, Latin and bits and pieces of random languages I came across.

Language barriers are rare, mostly in Africa and Asia. Especially bad when it's a language you cant read, like Chinese. I solve it by searching a lot for English.speakers, by smartphones with translation program, with dictionaries and pictures, hands and feet and having something already written down. For example if you want to buy a ticket on day X, from Y to Z, ask someone in the hotel, hostel or your host to write in in Chinese. Bam, done. Just show the piece of paper once you want to buy it.

AtroB143 karma

What was North Korea like?

Strangest Experience?

JimboFett60 karma

Follow up question, how many people followed you while riding in NK?

Meph248815 karma

Didnt ride in NK. Was a stupid day-trip from S-Korea to the DMZ and into the UN office, stepped across the border for a few minutes. Sorry to let you guys down, but NK is a country I dont want to visit. It's $1000 for 4 days, guided tour. Giving my money to their government is something I dont want.

dopfer122 karma

Hi, I've followed your AMAs before, something I always wondered was what do you do with your bike/belongings when you reach a new place and want to do things away from the bike?

Meph248188 karma

Leave the bike either hidden in a bush/forest (rare), leave it in a hostel (more likely) or leave it with couchsurfers (also more likely).

Paver117 karma

What's the most dangerous situation you've found yourself in?

Meph248252 karma

Amazing, two people ask the same question with exactly the same wording.

Answer: Probably traffic. Regular, boring and deadly. I'm a cyclist in third-world countries with lots of big trucks on the same road. Otherwise self-induced danger due to free-solo rockclimbing, croc wrestling, rafting and mountaineering.

Franz_Ferdinand106 karma

  • Roughly how heavy is all your gear (for moderate climates) minus your bicycle?

  • What are some of the most versatile items you carry and you wouldn't leave home without?

  • Do you ever get knee troubles or anything from all the cycling? If so, what do you do?

  • How do you access the internet? Tablet? Public computers? Do you really need the internet?

Meph248139 karma

10-15kg. I pack light.

Netbook. It's my cinema, bookstore, phone, newpaper, radio, music player, data storage, gaming console, programming tool and window to the world. ;)

No.

Netbook and a smartphone, which I barely ever every use. No sim card in it either. It's really just a mp3-player at this point.

I dont need the internet, but since my girlfriend is in Germany and not currently with me, I do look forward to internet now and then. ;)

chrispiiiii99 karma

What was your worst experience while traveling and also what was your best?

Meph248370 karma

I had one horrible month in Indonesia. First I spend way too much time on large steel ferries with 1000+ Indonesians, my girlfriend and me being the only foreigners, sleeping on deck, eating bland rice with fishheads.

Then I went rafting with my packraft, but was completely misinformed by the locals and almost ended up going down a 20m waterfall. Instead I capsized in grade III rapids, no rescue vest, lost my paddle, just about saved the boat.

Then my girlfriends phone was stolen.

Then both of us got dengue fever, which is also called bone-breaking fever, because that's how it feels. 1 week. Small town, no English spoken, no meds against it. Doc in the hospital, who spoke broken English: "Please go back to your hotel and wait. But if you start bleeding from your eyes, ears or gums, please come back to the hospital."

Then my driving licence and 400€ in cash got stolen.

Then it got better. :D

Best experience... not sure if I can pinpoint one. The good outnumber the bad by far, but one very memorable one was arriving at Cape Aghulas, the southern-most point of Africa. It took me one year to cycle that far and to actually stand there and the end point was... overwhelming.

chrispiiiii52 karma

Awesome.. you know, minus the bone fever, stolen stuff and turning over the boat.

Meph24890 karma

I'll live. ;)

FakeAudio87 karma

How on earth are you fortunate enough at your age to have owned a house and turned in into an income property in order to support your travel? Were you just given a house by your parents?

Meph248115 karma

I saved money, travelled 1+ year around the world, inherited a house when I came back. I got lucky.

BUT I would like to add the fact that even without the house I'd be doing something similar. I'd just have to work ~3 months per year to get the same amount of money, ~$6000, as I do now. The house is convenient, but not necessary.

gkedpage81 karma

What are your thoughts on Nepal? How many days were you there for and please tell me you ate momo when you were there.

Meph248117 karma

I ate momo. I love Nepal, very sad at the current state... I spend a month there and gladly go there again. I was contemplating heading there for a 6 month mountaineering course, but I think right now is a bad time for that. Maybe in 2017 (?)

hablador79 karma

How many km you ride per day?

Meph248112 karma

~150km atm on my MTB. ~250km with the roadbike on my last trip. But I dont ride every day, for example I'm spending a week in Almaty just now, with... 5-10km riding around town.

hablador49 karma

Thanks for the answer. Another question: Do you use maps or GPS while on the road?

Meph248104 karma

Currently GPS. When I started nothing. Sometimes a mix up pictures of maps and Google, when I find wifi.

Mostly just by direction. I'm not in a rush.

superbear73 karma

This should be fun.

What are your favourite Scandinavian cities?

What are your least favourite Eastern European cities?

What are the top 5 cities someone should see in Europe?

What are the top 3 most exciting experiences you've had?

Meph248151 karma

Kopenhagen and Stockholm.

Bratislava (?). I generally like Eastern Europe, not many bad places there. Sometimes if it's ex-sowjet, the architectural style is a bit bland, but thats about it.

Hehe, we are doing clickbaity lists now? :P London, Rome, Paris, the traditional top three... plus Berlin and Moscow, if that still counts. Otherwise St.Petersburg. I prefer less touristy places myself, but for foreign visitors these offer quite a lot already.

I wrestled a wild crocodile in Mozambique, I did the worlds highest bungee (for free, longer story) and I cycled through several national parks in Africa with lots of wildlife around me. I hope you meant adrenaline inducing with exciting. :)

humewood_fellow66 karma

Can you tell me more about the crocodile wrestling and how you got to bungee for free?

*Gets popcorn.

Meph248146 karma

I copy past the croc story, if thats ok with you:

Now to the most asked question, the crocodile attack. Just to be clear, it wasn't the crocodile that attacked me, it was me attacking the croc. And the bastard even got away.

I was invited by farmers in Mozambique to stay on their plantation, called Bananalandia. Home of the holy measuring unit. A friend of the owner later invited me over to his place, which was much more interesting: A crocodile farm. He grows crocs, down from eggs in nestboxes to giant pools full of dinosaur monsters. I actually went into that area and pulled their tails a bit, getting used to their vicinity, because we were going hunting. Croc hunting.

Now a bit of background info, I've served time in the German military, in the special security squadrone to be exact. (sounds more awesome than it was) Naturally I'm familiar with guns and said "sure we can go hunting". The big surprise was that the guy hunts the crocs without weapons. He catches them alive to use them in his farm. So we went out at night, three people, on a little rowboat that was propelled by a small, electric engine. Silent enough not to scare the crocs away. It had a large search light at the front, because croc eyes reflect light, making them easy to spot in the dark. The water was shallow, about knee-deep and full of long-leaved grass and sand banks.

After a while we spot a croc. A large one. Too large for the bags we got on the boat, but apparently just the right size for that white tourist bicycle guy. About 6" long, slightly longer than I'm tall. "Lets catch that one, but we have to go both at the same time... you grab the neck, I grab the tail". So imagine you are in the middle of nowhere on a lake in Africa, its pitch black, there are crocs all around you, and that crazy bastard tells you to get out of the boat and wade slowly through the water to the nearest croc.

So we got out, walked over, positioned ourselves to grab it, but I was too slow. The second guy had already grabbed the tail before I had a firm grip on the neck, and the croc turned loose. It bit my arm, lashed out at him, swam panicked into the boat and then disappeared. It didnt hurt, but there was blood everywhere, which is not a good thing when you are standing in a croc-filled lake.

We did make it back to the boat, climbed back in. The owner of the croc farm, who was in the boat the entire time, drove it back to the shore. Later that night I patched myself up as good as I could make it, and not even 24h later I was back on my bike, cycling towards Swaziland.

tl;dr: I suck at crocodile wrestling.

Bungee for free, tl;dr edition: I cycled with a journalist and a photographer, a unicyclist and a support car through Southafrica. Not my support car, the unicyclists support car. We camped at a farm, the owner knows the owner of the bungee place. We three together, german cyclist adventurer with blog, the journalist and the unicycling photographer had enough star-power to get it for free. :) Journalist chickened out, he didnt jump.

It was bloukrans, 216m. I think today there is an even higher one somewhere else.

superbear32 karma

Copenhagen and Stockholm are next on my list! Just visited Geneva and on a train to Paris from Zurich as I type this haha...

Any other cities in Europe caught your attention?

Meph24862 karma

Porto and Sintra in Portugal are pretty neat and not too expensive.

But otherwise I dont spend too much time in cities. I'm on a bike, I'm out on the road, in national parks, mountains, climbing, camping...

gocanadiens65 karma

When you need to fly, where do you find the cheapest flights?

Meph248194 karma

https://matrix.itasoftware.com/

Search by month, it will give you all prices for 30 days in a row. Pick the cheapest.

Roszs61 karma

Which country or city do you never ever go back to, and why?

Meph24895 karma

If so, than mostly because they were boring. Sierra Leone or Liberia, or West-Sahara...

Not many places that I'd never go back to, but of course I prefer visiting areas that are unkown to me.

thekidintheback52 karma

First of all I'm just impressed by how adventurous people like you are. I feel like totally bound to a sense of "places I think I can safely be" and I don't think I could travel with just wads of cash stashed in my pocket (Which is what I'm assuming you do for finances???)

I'm currently studying in South Africa and we constantly hear horror stories of the crime here (leave alone wild animals, wars/militants factions, and diseases in other parts of Africa). How did you manage accommodations plus food in parts of the world like South Africa, Somalia, Central Africa Republic for so cheap and safely for $15 a day? Did you camp most places? And if so isn't illegal to camp just anywhere? How much trouble did you get in with Law Enforcement?

Sorry for the text block just very interested and had so many questions.

P.S. what is a packraft?

Meph248211 karma

Please believe me when I tell you first hand: The world is far safer than most people assume and people are generally very friendly and try to help.

I carry cash for about a month with me, otherwise it's credit cards to use local ATMs.

I did wild-camp in Africa or I was invited. Both by the white Afrikaans, who were racist and told me the blacks in townships will kill me, and by the blacks that live in townships, who told me it's dangerous to cycle there. And by people in the city, that warn me about animals in the countryside, AND by people living in the countryside that warn me about the traffic in the cities.

People are always just afraid of things they dont know. And yeah, in Africa I mostly just camped at the side of the road. In Somalia I tried, but the local police/military/paramilitary wouldnt let me, so I stayed at peoples house, if they invited me, or in a hotel, which was usually free, because the owner had never seen a foreigner. On a bike. Or because the military told them to let me stay. :/

A packraft (in my case: https://alpackarafts.com/) is a inflatable raft that weights between 2 and 6 lbs, comes with a collapsible paddle, fits in any backpack, because it's the size of a tent and allows you to raft up to grade V rapids. You can also use them for tubing, crossing rivers, lakes, ocean, glacier lakes, canyoning... you name it. They are super sturdy. I have the 2 person-version, for either my girlfriend and me, or my bike and me. And no, my bike is not my girlfriend. :P

PS: No worries about the many questions. If you want you can repay me with a like on facebook. :P

Oax_Mike77 karma

The world is far safer than most people assume and people are generally very friendly and try to help.

This.

Meph24865 karma

Indeed, this.

I hope more people will experience this for themselves.

thekidintheback15 karma

How do you plan your routes? Do you just buy sim cards for whatever country your in and just plan on the internet?

Meph24840 karma

I don't use a phone or have sim cards.

I mostly go by direction or specific landscape. Follow a mountain range, follow a river, take a road that goes to a specific town... in third-world countries its even easier, because you have so few roads. Border crossings also dictate which roads you can take.

My routes are mostly planned by the destinations. I want to see A, B, C and D, so I make a route that brings me to these places. I dont care much if its a highway or a nice bike trail.

thekidintheback24 karma

So if you go into a "bush" per say, what do you do about your food/shower accommodations? Also if you're not following any map then what if you get lost? What about unexpected weather? How do you prepare for storms/cold without internet? Finally, do you have like a deadline, like as in you book your flights out of a country in advance, or do you just purchase one whenever you feel like leaving?

Sorry again for bombarding with questions I'm just so fascinated. I wish I wasn't so tied up in my own comfort zone. I wish I could be a little more free spirited and brave enough to just go and face whatever comes. huhhhhhh I feel like that would be good for me sometimes, just to trust more in myself.

Meph24875 karma

No worries, these are exactly the questions I was hoping for. You are curious, and I'm in the position to help.

Food: I carry it with me, buy at the last town before. Shower: I stink. Or find a river or lake. Accommodation: I carry camping gear.

I cant get lost. :D If I dont have a specific place to be at a specific time, it really doesnt matter which road I take. I did all of Argentina to Canada with only a compass. No GPS, no map. Now and then Google Maps in hostels, for longer tour planning.

Atm I travel with a GPS, openstreetmaps data and electricity from my dynamo hub. Luxury. :D

I sometimes have deadlines, but I try to avoid them. It's mostly visas that run out that I have to watch out for. Seasons are much slower and easier to avoid. If I approach a deadline, I take my bicycle and throw it into a pickup, bus, train, whatever is available.

Flights I try to book in advance to get a cheaper price, but I only fly 1-2 a year.

Leaving your comfort zone is the hard part. Honestly, once you are on the road, after the first step, it is a lot easier. After each of my tours, when I have an extended stay in Germany and feel how I stay in my comfort zone, when I start treating luxuries like a kitchen, running hot water, fast internet, etc as standard, THEN I LEAVE.

When I cycle in a third world country, almost every meal I have is the best meal ever. Every cold drink I might find, is the best drink ever. In Germany? I can sit around, eat my favourite pizza, drink my favourite drink, and dont think much about it. I try to avoid that.

caninehere7 karma

Surprised to hear you've been to Somalia. From what I've seen written by many world travelers, they share your sentiments - that most of the world is pretty safe to be in, as long as you don't go out of your way to get yourself into bad situations - but Somalia seems to be the one exception for them where the fear is actually warranted.

Meph2488 karma

I was in the northern territory of Somaliland and I was travelling, unwillingly, with police and military escort. I could cycle around towns, but as soon as I left I was told to stop, wait, and got picked up in some kind of truck or jeep, going with the next convoy in my direction.

Somaliland wants independence from the rest of the country and they made super extra sure that nothing happens to the crazy foreigner. My visa number was 163 btw. :D

Chumpstlz150 karma

What is the one country that you want to visit more then others?

Have you had any problems with enrering/exiting a country?

Meph24874 karma

Of all countries, or countries that I have not been yet?

Lots of problems entering, usually not when exiting. Mostly in third-world and developing nations, especially if they are a dictatorship. I never got into Eritrea for example and right now I battle with the Turkmenistan and Azerbaidjan visa. Belarus was also hard. Sudan too.

emeraldkilometer53 karma

From what I can tell from your map, you have visited Israel. It is my impression that having evidence of visiting Israel in your passport makes it impossible or extremely difficult to gain entry to Iran. Will you just get a new, "clean" passport to go there?

Also, some of the non-blacked countries on your map are a darker shade of grey than the others. Why is that?

Meph24847 karma

That passport is super old anyway. But yes, if I'd had that stamp atm, it wouldnt work. I carry two legal German passports for that reason.

The darker shade are the country I'm heading to next on this tour. :) most of central asia and the caucasus and Iran.

Chumpstlz12 karma

Of ones you have not been to.

Meph2486 karma

The entire caribbean region.

Rimuladas49 karma

How do you communicate with people from so many dialects? Translator on your phone/laptop or English?

Meph24854 karma

English. Spanish, but if broken words in many languages. Hands and feet, smiles and nods. It works.

poodles_and_oodles46 karma

Did you ever beat Dwarf Fortress? I can't figure out how to get past the level where my gem cutter goes into a strange mood and murders all the cats in the fortress and then kills himself.
How was Indonesia?

Meph24860 karma

I wrote the most popular and biggest mod for it, so I count that as a win. But of course... NO. Losing is !FUN!.

Indonesia was both great and horrible. First month horrible, see the question I got about "worst experience", second month was good fun.

PM_ME_YOUR_IRIS26 karma

I still can't believe that you have time to work on Masterwork and do this shit. Dude, I want your life!

Meph24811 karma

I sadly dont work on Masterwork atm. Wait 3 months. ;)

seanmacproductions40 karma

Do you take pictures of your travels? If so, what's the best picture you've ever taken?

Meph248151 karma

I have several thousand pics, yes. see here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Patrick-Martin-Schroeder/523764137720844?sk=photos_stream&tab=photos_albums

Best one I couldnt say, but I always kinda liked this one: http://i.imgur.com/ZDAqasd.jpg

Indydegrees239 karma

What was the most dangerous situation you found yourself in?

Meph24846 karma

Probably traffic. Regular, boring and deadly. I'm a cyclist in third-world countries with lots of big trucks on the same road.

Otherwise self-induced danger due to free-solo rockclimbing, croc wrestling, rafting and mountaineering.

patanwilson29 karma

What was your experience like riding that bicycle through Venezuela? Any pics?

To be honest, I'm very skeptical... I find it hard to believe you didn't get mugged or shot and killed with any of those bicycles. Deep into the country, I've also seen dead cyclists (several times) that are simply run over by drunk drivers or large trucks.

jesusoxer1517 karma

Second this. I'm scared riding in the city with a shitty bike. This guy with all that gear riding through a lonely road in Venezuela doesn't sound right to me. Not to mention the insane driving.

Meph24831 karma

The people in Venezuela were super friendly. I was there during christmas time and my girlfriend, who hitchhiked ALONE, while I caught up by bicycle, and me were invited a lot and spend a week in Caracas with a lovely family.

A bicycle tourists is very non-threatening and people are more curious. You dont just get shot and killed, that line of thought is insane.

Osskyw228 karma

How do you communicate? Which languages specifically do you speak and how good?

What's your plan in case of bigger medical emergencies? Broken teeth? Broken bones?

What are your top tips on what to look for (to eat and sleep cheap) and what to avoid (in general)?

How'd North Korea go?

What happens if your bike breaks in a way that you can't repair on the road and there's virtually no traffic where you are?

Do you carry a satellite telephone?

How long do you plan on doing this and what do you plan on doing afterwards (jobwise)?

many personal sacrifices are involved

What are those?

You crossed the sahara. For how long did you cycle through actual desert? How much civilisation is there? How much water did you carry?

How'd you come to most of your free stays? Besides internet organized couchsurfing.

What are your future plans on the south Pacific island nations?

What places did you stay for a longer time, because you enjoyed them so much?

How do you usually wash your clothes?

Danke für's antworten und gibts irgendwas was ich für dich tuen könnte?

Meph24846 karma

That's a lot of questions. :D

Communicate: Like anyone else, English mostly. Hand and feet. German, Spanish, a bit of this, a bit of that... usually learn hello, thank you and please in any given language.

Medical stuff: Go to a doctor. I have worldwide health insurance.

Look for: Places that have no tourists, because the people that live there will treat you as a guest, a visitor... not a walking cash machine.

Avoid: Going to the right place at the wrong time. Monsoon rain, draughts or extreme cold/heat can make any place unpleasant, if you are not prepared for it.

N-Korea was a daytrip, barely worth mentioning. You can only move around with a guide.

Broken bike in no-mans land: Never happened, probably never will. I cycle on roads, roads are build where cars go. There will always be people, it is extremely difficult to go somewhere empty. And If I do, than probably not by bicycle.

No phone.

I want to do this 2 more years, than I make a career out of it. Blogger, Author, Crowdfunding, Guide, public speaking... I'll see. If it doesnt work out, I find something else. I'm quite handy with computers and game design.

Personal sacrifices: Dont see my girlfriend often, friends, family, living with little money, living in third-world countries, forsaking a higher education and many creature comforts.

Sahara: Egypt Sudan was perfectly fine, I carried 15L water per day, civilisation is about, cycled ~3 weeks. Second time, Westsahara, very boring, not much going on, also ~3weeks, no civilization much. 10L of water, it was less hot. Water refills mostly at military checkpoints.

Free stays: I stealthcamp, get invited or use the internet: couchsurfing, warmshowers, reddit..

Pacific islands: 3 options: fly, hitchhike or sail. I get seasick, so I dont know yet. Maybe I wont do them... who knows.

Long stays: Buenos Aires, Santa Marta and Cartagena in Colombia, Taipeh, Bangkok, Cairo...

Wow, das war was länger. Wenn du was für mich tun möchtest, dann kannst du bei Facebook auf Like klicken, oder anderen die Story mitteilen. Ich bin noch relativ neu mit den ganzen Social Media Krams, kommt mir immernoch komisch vor, Leute um sowas zu fragen.

JohnMakesHisMove24 karma

Can you give us a breakdown of your pack/gear? Any budget travel tips or tricks you'd like to share?

Meph24843 karma

Pack and gear is on my website.

Travel advice with lots and lots of budget tips: http://imgur.com/a/DQkxB

Gear for Africa last year: http://imgur.com/a/eXMck

Current gear for the silk road: http://imgur.com/a/KLwb7

I travel very light. ;)

meccasports1419 karma

I'm interested in backpacking through central america. Is this area as dangerous as its hyped up to be or is doing a trip there safe (assuming you take proper precautions)?

Meph24860 karma

It's never as dangerous as people make it out to be. Most of the area is perfectly save. I heard of some issues in southern Guatemala, El Salvador and eastern Honduras, but even that mostly concerns the locals. Tourists should be fine.

Costa Rica, Panama, Yucatan and Nicaragua are super safe in my opinion.

Than again, you ask someone who visited Somalia, Sudan while the Darfur crisis happened, Westafrica while the Ebola outbreak happened, Ukraine at the time of the protests in winter 2014... so my personal view of safety might differ from most others.

I'd go for it. Central America is great. My girlfriend hitchhiked alone through there btw, so it can't be that bad. ;) And she is a blue-eyed blonde girl with dreadlocks, very inconspicuous. :D

Lord_swagemort16 karma

Hey, in which country of the Balkan Peninsula did you enjoy the most???

Meph24831 karma

The ride from Dubrovnik, Croatia to Serbia/Kosovo. It was the most fun, with high passes on gravel and friendly people all around. Barely any traffic too.

Bad_Karma2111 karma

Did you go along the coast at all? Some of the most beautiful landscapes I've ever seen

Meph24824 karma

From Italy to Dubrovnik I followed the coastline. :)

Divineheart4415 karma

What is your favorite food?

Meph24839 karma

Pizza and iced coffee.

iSoySauce11 karma

Do you plan your budget?

Were there any times you were forced to work/beg for some money?

Meph24812 karma

I do plan my budget, very much so.

I did work a couple of times, but not for the money, instead of the experience.If it was paid, good. If not, no problem.

I never begged. I didnt even use couchsurfing etc for the first 4 years, because I thought it was a bit like begging. (I was wrong, it's great)

-KhmerBear-10 karma

Are there any items you don't count in your $15/day average? Insurance / visas / airfare, etc.?

Meph24824 karma

Insurance.

Visas and airfare I do, because I usually dont need them a lot. I fly 1-2 a year, and can go to over 100 countries without a visa. Atm I'm spending a lot on visas, I hope that is done soon... Centralasia is crazy about them.

B-Knight8 karma

Do you have any advice for me, someone who's quite young and doesn't want to cycle but wants to travel the world?

The only thing that has ever held me back is pricing and time. How do I earn the money to travel all the while not taking up a job which'll waste my time?

Meph24827 karma

Depends how long you want to travel. Time you have just as much as any other person, you mostly need the money for it. I can't help you with earning more, but I might be able to help you with spending less: http://imgur.com/a/DQkxB

Thats a link to a 10 part advice series I wrote on Imgur, offering options to save money while travelling.

csdunno8 karma

Do you feel that your being white/light skinned/European has led to the amount of hospitality in all of these countries that you visited? For example, if you were a black man in Africa, it seems like the Afrikaans people would not have taken to you as kindly since you weren't white. Do you feel like people of other races have disadvantages if they travel like you do?

Meph2486 karma

I agree with you on the Afrikaans part. Sorry Southafricans, but many of your countrymen are asshole racists. They had guard dogs trained on skin color in several places :/

I think overall you get the same hospitality just by being foreign. A japanese would get the same curiosity in Iran as I would. That being said, being Iranian and visiting the US is probably different, because of existing prejudices.

I noticed I get a lot less hospitality in Europe, probably because the people assume that I'm a local and dont need any help.

Big disadvantages exist, but I dont think its the race, it's their passport. US, Canada and EU gets in almost everywhere, but try travelling to the first world with a third world passport. It's very difficult to get visas.

loganv8704 karma

What was your favorite European city that I probably haven't heard of?

Meph24822 karma

Cologne.

My home. ;)

lmi62 karma

What are your favorite places you've been to so far?

What are some of the most interesting foods you've eaten?

What are some of your favorite experiences you've had?

What are the best places to travel to in Europe and South America?

What were your favorite places to travel to in North America?

Thanks for doing this AMA!

Meph2487 karma

I'm sorry, but a few of those are horribly generic. Best places to travel... I cant answer that, because I dont know how, when, what budget, what the person likes... someone who wants to spend $5000 on food might prefer France over a person who has $500 to go hiking, in which case Patagonia would be amazing.

Favourite places: Andaman islands, the Himalaya, Patagonia.

Interesting Foods: Kudu, Zebra and other big game in Africa. Lots of insects in Asia, soy-fried crickets with mint leaves are best. Had some random stuff like croc and snake and scorpion and water bug and sea star and witchety grubs and whatnots, but that's mostly to try it once.

Favourite experiences: The hospitality of the people, especially in Africa and the middle east. Forget your news and what the media tells you... you will be treated as a guest and so many random people will invite you for food, drink and shelter if you travel there. I'm very much looking forward to Iran this year.

Best places Europe/southamerica: ??? Alps and Patagonia in my case, but I love mountains.

My favourite places in N-America: Grand Canyon. And I cycled the Route66, which had some amazing panoramas I only knew from old movies. Monument valley, Mesa Verde... Other than that I'd say Vermont and around. It was the most pleasant, with rivers, lakes, less heat and more green.

anon08272 karma

I'm beginning a similar trip with my girlfriend right now, we are rounding off an east coast leg of a big american road trip, then we are going to try to transition to using longboards for transportation instead. Still a little bit nervous about not having brakes, might switch to bikes eventually.

We are thinking about doing a central america/south america long haul next, anything we should make sure to see thats off the beaten path?

Meph2482 karma

Sounds great. Longboards I have no experience with, but it's awesome to hear about people using non-standard transport. Hope you'll have fun. :)

There is tons to see... check Tulum and Cenote Diving in Yucatan, cave tubing in Belize, the Isla de Ometepe in Nicaragua, and if you truly want to go off the beaten path, head into the Dariens Gap. But only for experienced people. Lots of smugglers and paramilitary around.

XechSt1 karma

Hi there, I follow a guy on Instagram under the username "Startupcycling". He too is cycling on a small budget with the aim to visit a large number of countries and cities, is sleeping in tents and is meeting up with entrepeneurs. My question is, as a budding cyclist myself, what is your best advice for someone looking to start cycling much larger distances that would require being away from home for days at a time, be it budget, food, equipment or conditioning?

Meph2482 karma

Cycling 100 days into foreign lands and cycling 2 days in your home town, is not that different. It's just that you do these 2 days, then 2 days again, and again, etc. Step by step.

You only need to look out for climate changes and make sure that you stick to the budget plan you make before you leave. If you have X money, want to travel Y days, you know your daily average. Sticking to it is up to you of course... most people seem to enjoy shorter tours with higher living standard over long tours with low standard...

Here is a good example of a couple that bikes around Europe: They did 1 year and spend €3 per day. Seriously. http://en.thecrazytravel.com/numbers-around-the-world-bicycle/

dekdekwho1 karma

Pretty interesting,Is there any tips maybe a advice of how you became a successful traveler?

Meph2481 karma

Sure, if you define what makes me succesful. ;)

Do you mean the practical stuff like packing, gear, visas, or the planning, locations and countries I've been to, or the finances and sponsorships?

Paradigm67900 karma

Was one of them the U.S. and, if so, which sandwich did you choose?

Meph2485 karma

Is that an inside joke? I've been to the US multiple times, but what sandwich? O.o

Paradigm67906 karma

Hahaha, no I was just joking because the U.S. is expensive. I was implying a sandwich would cost you your daily budget.

Meph24816 karma

Oh... no, the US if perfect with the food. It's far cheaper than Europe and the portions are a lot larger. You also have free refills and free ice everywhere.