Hey Reddit! My name is Paolo Cattaneo. 6 years ago I quit my job, sold everything I had and starred my trip around the world on a motorcycle. Rode across 3 continents, clocking almost 125k mi. Here for my yearly AmA to answer question about self s...
For the first 5 years, I mostly relied on my life savings, collected during the previous 5 years of workaholic life i had in Australia. Then, after actually my very first AmA, i started writing articles for a small bike/travel blog. Then things started to get better and better in that sense with the collaboration of other brands which now partially support my journey.
which now partially support my journey
And the rest is still through your savings?
Yes, the rest is my life savings and cautious spending. Modern man has a lot of superfluous yet expensive habits which can be easily removed in exchange of a better quality of life.
Do you mind giving a few examples?
Some people spend 100 bucks a month for satellite tv. That is a superfluous expense which could be substituted by books for instance...or a walk in the park.
Ciao Paolo, average fuel consumption per month? I immagine that is the most costly thing
There s a comment up here where i broken down all costs about this. I think we are roughly around the 300 dollars per month or something like that. Check that out!
Why did they remove your post?
Seriously. This is the important question. Does he make money by working odd jobs? Did he purchase 100 BTC back when it was pennies on the dollar? Did he receive a small loan of $2 million dollars from his father? Like, seriously, where did you get the money to do this and is it self-sustaining or is this just one of those "you have to be born rich" sort of things?
He wasn't born rich, if you read his post. His father sold honey to support the family.
Look it up. Ambrosoli is a solid honey and wax factory based in the north part of Italy. My dad was a salesman for that company for 35 years.
How did you stay in LA with zero dollars?
Luckily, I had some old friends living In LA which generously let me stay for free at their house. Slept on couches and sometimes in spare rooms. In USA, i mostly relied on friends and friends of friends, for accommodation. It was awesome! Especially in the mid-west, which was the part of the states that was still very new to me.
As somebody who lives in the Midwest, why the hell did you bother coming here? Couldn't have been the food.
Ahah nope. But it is interesting to see people's reaction looking at me...rocking up at a local gas station... Most people living in remote areas in the midwest have never been outside of their state or even their little town. Neither to say that have never met an Italian-australian dude, speaking a weird english and riding a weird looking bike.
So it is like a cultural clash which is nice to witness with your own eyes.
Plus I had so many questions about how to properly dry elk meat and how to catch a cow with a rope from a moving horse! 😉👍
I can assure you everyone in the Midwest has left their town at one point.
Midwesterner here can confirm I have traveled the globe and am back in the midwest.
Of course! I have many friends from the Midwest living overseas! But the one living in remote areas (and maybe a bit older than me) are the ones thay grew up there and stayed there. Those people are absolutely fascinating to me because very different from the typical city person and from the other kind of american who instead travelled like you guys!
Nice. I've recently watched vids from a family who travel around, Epic Family Journey, and a guy who travells around in his jeep, The Road Chose Me. I've never watched someone travel like this using a motorcycle by themselves.
With a motorbike, you are very limited in the amount of stuff you can carry. You presumably need supplies for petrol, food and a tent. Was it a struggle to live on very limited equipment and supplies? Did you travel in cold areas that were difficult at night. Did you sleep in a tent in those conditions?
Did you have any scary mechanical issues, breakdowns, etc in remote areas? Were you worried about getting robbed in some places? Did you choose to travel alone or would you prefer travelling with others? Any tips that you have learnt from your experiences?
Wow! So many questions! All pertinent and interesting btw. So, you got exactly the point of motorcycle travelling compared to an enclosed vehicle. Space on motorcycles is limited so yeah, indeed at the beginning it was a steep learning curve. At the beginning I started with a lot of stuff and then cut some of those off, within the few first months. In a way, like everybody else when packing for a trip, we tend to "overthink" and pack more than we actually need. Packing it's an art that gets refined with time and practice.
Depending on where you are travelling to, yes you do need to bring different items. For instance, in summer you need to ALWAYS carry extra water. You can do without extra fuel...most of the times, but you cannot without water. And in hot summer days, you need extra. Food is mostly "dry and instant", because everything else perishes rapidly inside the panniers, exposed to shocks and different kind of temperatures.
I crosse the totality of Canada (from Alaska to Montreal) and USA (from NY to Seattle), during autumn/winter of 2019. Super cold. I got hit by snow storms and frozen rain. It was the year of the national government shutdown because Trump didn't get his wall built so, a lot of roads and NP weren't plowed and clean. It was a mess! But indeed an adventure! I slept in my 3 season tent in the desert Nevada, near area 51 one night that got -13°C, not knowing that Nevada is HIGH desert. So yeah, didn't sleep that much that night. And the day after I had to ride 750km to avoid to get hit by a snow blizzard. Fun times! 😅👍
I didn't have ANY mechanical issue. The bike was an absolute queen during my trip! So reliable!! Very happy that I didn't have to take care of that part of the adventure.
In terms of safety there were a couple of occasions where I didn't feel 100% safe...but I have to say that It was mostly safe overall to travel solo.
In this regard, I mostly travel alone. I prefer this way because I can listen to myself and decide what to do. It s the only way to truly say that the trip hasn't been influenced by external factors. You are the master of your journey.
How much money did you have saved before your embark?
I have saved around $50k AUD before I left. Equivalent of 30k EUR OR 37k USD
How many sets of tires did you go through during the trip?
Set...mmm. I think I counted something like 24 tyres in total between front and rear. Front wears donw way less than rear, which instead carries all the weight.
Hi, big fan. Just curious: what was your hardest route to bike, and how do you survive day to day on your continental trips? Do you do motels, granola bars in your backpack, stop for lunch, drink while you’re driving, etc.
Hey! Cheers! 😊👍 The hardest route wasn't necessarily related to road conditions, but the overall situation. Riding from Camoncim to Jericoacoara in Brazil was absolutley tough for me because of handling the 300kg motorcycle on sand and being under 38°C heat. Also the Eduardo Avaroa NP in Bolivia was super tough for me. It is a 500 km of loose gravel and holes track with no fuel, at 4300m asl. Temps at night were -10°C too. Sorry, it may be complicated to understand, if you are using imperial system, but I hope you can still get an idea. It was a combination of factors anyway. Road and weather conditions.
In terms of food, I eat around 8:30-9 when I wake up. Small breakfast. Coffee, instant oat meal and a fruit, generally. Then ride all day and eat main meal around 4-5pm. Drinking another coffee and eating a fruit if hungry around noon.
I mostly slept in hostels and camped. This saves lots of money.
So you only eat twice a day? Doesn’t sound like enough food. I guess my fat American ass just isn’t used to that, lol.
It s totally doable. It s a matter of habits, that's all.
How did you get into motorcycles?
My uncle comes from a generation of motorcycle mechanics. He got me into bikes as soon as I could ride. He has been my inspiration and teacher in regards of having passion for the two wheels.
What was the scariest experience you've had in your travels? What has been the most moving?
The scariest moment was when I almost fell in one of the deepest canyon in the world. I was riding alone down to the bottom of Colca Canyon in Peru and the road got super rough. I was coming down a bit too fast and lost control of the front wheel. I literally stopped with both tyres on the edge of the cliff with a 300m drop on the side. It was the first time that I actually thought I would have disappeared from the face of the earth without anybody knowing what the heck ever happened to me. Nobody would have ever found me there if I fell. It was the first time that I experienced "cold sweat". 😅👍 Not the most joyful moment.
The most moving moment...well hard to say. It was always mesmerizing meeting complete strangers and receiving the most amazing treatment, without expecting it. Just random people met at the gas station, or on the side of the road, or on top of a mountain. I was helped hundreds times by total strangers, who fed me, gave me shelter and even gave me some money to continue my journey around the world. People's generosity and good will always moves me and inspires me to be a better person. We see too much evil from tv and internet. Most people are instead good and willing to help. One of the best aspects about travelling solo is exactly this. To meet strangers and have the most amazing conversations about life, in front of a fire or a beer or a cup of coffee on the side of the road.
Hello Paolo! Respect! I just read your story for the first time and you made me rethink a lot of stuff about my current life. I sometimes think about traveling to other cities in Europe on the weekends, but I fear being alone in a foreign country, especially staying in hostels.
So, I have a couple of questions:
Wasn’t you afraid at the beginning of your life in Australia? Especially being completely alone in a new country with neither money, nor contacts nor jobs? How did you manage that fear?
How did you sell and get rid of everything to start a new way of life? Wasn’t you afraid? How did you overcome that and make that decision?
What advice would you give someone who wants to start a similar life as yours now?
Where and how did you sleep, eat and shower while traveling?
Sorry for the many questions. Am really excited to see your answers!
Thanks in regards!
Mate, some GREAT questions right here! These are all plausible and trust me when I tell you I had the exact same questions in my head before making the first step! 😅
Life is scary sometimes. Especially when you embark in a new adventure alone without help in a foreign country. In a way I think I get a bit of an adrenaline rush out of this now, but at the beginning of my migration to Australia there was a component of fear indeed. Fear is good. It keeps you alerted. It keeps you motivated. And if you manage to overcome it, you become stronger, braver, more aware of your own capabilities. Fear is good. I don't call it fear anymore. I call it "excitement". 😉 In landing in Australia without a job, a house, friends, etc, i had only one concept to use as safety net: I am nothing in this country. I have nothing too. So I also have nothing to loose! I thought that, worst case scenario, I would have come back to Italy and find another job.
When I decided to quit everything, after working so hard to obtaining it in Australia, I was morivated by the "burnout factor". I was working too much and having no life. Then in 2014 my dad, a working class/regular man kind of dude, who spent his whole life working, passed and I started questioning myself if "is this all worth it after all". We spend our whole life after a piling up money and we miss on the good stuff! I always wanted to travel south america and so I did. It wasn't easy to quit my job in Sydney, because I loved my workplace and my colleagues. But I was drawn by my dream more. And my father life example helped me making that hard decision.
Do not overthing about things too much. The very first step is what counts. Book that flight. Buy that van. Or whatever that first step may be. You will figure out the rest...if you really want it.
I mostly slept in hostels. Best place to meet other traveler and live on a budget. Wild camping was super awesome too.
Do you have to get a Covid vaccination to continue your journey? What is the worst experience you've had with the pandemic so far?
I am not sure all countries in the world will accept Covid Vaccination as sufficient condition to cross land borders. So far in Europe you can get by if you provide this kind of certification. At the moment there is still a bit of confusion in this sense but I am trying to get to the bottom of this to at least being able to plan a feasible enough route.
The worst part was at the beginning of the pandemic. I left italy on the 15th of Feb 2020 when the world was still "normal", and then the bomb exploded, with epicenter Milan. Being Italian, from the north, I wasn't very well received from people...and it felt super weird. People would intentionally cross the street to avoid close contact or even being in the same room with me. A hostel host was leaving all windows open with 5°C outside, jeopardizing everybody's health just to "let fresh air come in". It was a bit of a mess also to find accommodation because nobody would rent me a room or an apt to sleep. Chaos.
Serious question, what was the most remarkable or epic pooping experience/location you've had during your journeys?
Pooping in the wild or as i like to call it "the thinking caveman" is one of the interesting parts of this kind of lifestyle. Modern humans do not have the chance to experience this kind of act much, as we all live in civilized manners. I think that when I pooped on a desert beach, with not a single soul around for miles, looking at the crashing waves and not having to struggle to much with the digging and covering of the "remainings" was certainly one of the most relaxing poops I had in my own life. Poop with a view. 😂
How do you find spares for the KTM 1190? I know in LATAM they mostly ride 250s or 350s. Other than Japanese makers, I thought it was harder to find suffs...
I had a Triumph Tiger for a similar reason but sold it for a Miata.
In this sense, I was a bit concerned too. But then I found out that most manufacturers have at least a dealer in any major capital city in the world. There were many KTM dealers in south america. The only country was a bit of a struggle was the north part of Brazil. Unless you ride what they ride, even a suzuki DR 650 would be an "odd" bike to find parts to in south america! Most bikes in latin america are small hondas or chinese bikes we don't even have in europe or north america (i am assuming you are from there).
Also, I didn't have to buy any major parts for my KTM fortunately. Just oil, filters and tyres for most parts.
Also how did you pass by Panama? I heard you have to take a boat to go around Darien Pass?
There are several way to cross the Gap. None of these are by land. Haha It s rather by airfreight, sending the bike on a plane (like I did), which is slightly more expensive but straight forward and super quick (5 hours and you are across), or by sea. Some fishermen offer room on their speedboats and catamarans/sailboats offer this kind of service too. It takes usually 5 days and a lot of salt on your bike to get through. Not cheap anyway.
I've also notice that if I don't ride like an ass, stuff in general won't break.
So I imagine your pace must have been mellow, and not doing crazy accelerations/stress to your bike?
Having an 150hp motorcycle under my seat, I can't say that I didn't have my moments of "passion". Let s say that the first 2 years I rode quite fast compared to the average overlander. Then the other 4 my pace was definitely slower to preserve bike conditions (as you mentioned) and to save money. Most of us travellers ride quite slow also because we have all the time available and usually...no money. Ahha So to save on fuel, tyres, brakes etc and to avoid potential accidents, we play it safe. Slow and steady...
I ask because my wife and I quit our jobs, sold everything and moved from a comfortable life in Canada to Tahiti to open a VR arcade back in 2019. After all the work and red tape was done, we finally opened our doors in March 2020. We closed a week later due to covid. Since then things have picked up, but its definitely been a Rollercoaster ride.
I think this was just bad timing for you guys. But I believe it s too soon to say this. Wait 10 years and maybe all this one day will make sense!
My biggest regret is to have once chose a different path in life, because of a person that convinced me that it wasn't for me. Lesson learned. Never listen to somebody for advices on your own life. Even in this case! Ahah
Your experience sounds amazing! What places were your favorite and why? What places would you have no interest in ever visiting again?
I love nature and places where there s not many people at all. So logically, I adored Australia and what It had to offer in this sense. But south America in general is a paradise for adventure riding.
Not a big fan of big cities. And busy cities especially. I cannot breathe properly and I get actually sick if the city is too polluted. So yeah, you do the math. 😉
Are you familiar with the guy who did something like this several years ago, whose head was found along the side of the road in Mexico? Do you take into consideration, the possibility that this stuff can happen when planning where you go?
Yes. I heard that story while I was actually in Mexico. I also crossed the state of Sinaloa and Guerrero. Spoke with some locals. Yep. They were terrified too for me. In troubled regions, I tend to speak with locals and ask for advices. I travelled in some sketchy parts of the world and if you stick to the main roads and daytime riding, most of the times you ll be ok. I am not afraid of this stuff happening to me, but I know that I could potentially be exposed to this.
I really love what you're doing. If someone wanted to do something similar, how would you recommend they start? What are your biggest DOs and DON'Ts when it comes to traveling by motorbike?
And are you able to make enough money from videos and whatnot to finance your adventures?
Thanks mate! I would say that the first step is to save some money. No need to save 1 million euros. Just enough to get you going. Living cheaply is an art and gets perfected with time and practice. If you have a bike, good. Use that one. No need to buy an "adventure ready" motorcycle. Any bike, any size would do. If you are low on budget I would recommend you to start from a latin american country or somewhere in Asia where cost of living is way lower than elsewhere.
Do not overpack. Do a couple of test runs with short trips and try to change a tyre or adjust your chain tension or an oil change...just to get familiar with the tools and the mechanics of the bike. Yes, you can use YouTube for instructions. 😄👍 (Like I did).
I do not make enough money from my videos...but I also didn't put much effort in that at all. That was a choice of mine. I sustained myself with my savings but there are people out there that can get by with their youtube revenues. You will not get rich from it. Trust me. It will pay for some small expenses and that s all.
How has this experience affected your view of people? What are some commonalities in people that you see everywhere, regardless of culture?
Interesting question! One of the things I learned from my travels is that we are way more similar than we think. We often think we are very different...and behaviorally speaking this could actually be a fact. But this is not necessary related to race, country or culture. Think about any of your siblings, if you have any. You share 99% of the DNA with them but most likely they have an opposite behavior compared to you and they have been even raised in the same household.
So, to assume that another human could behave the same way than us, regardless the fact that this person was brought up on the other side of the world, where the socio-economical and climatic conditions are totally different, is a tad too pretentious. But, there are some underlying similarities in any human, which are fascinating to observe.
We all want to love and be loved. We all want to be happy. We all want to be respected and recognized for who we are and what we do. We all have an ego and we spend most our lives to battle with it to find balance. We all spend our life trying to deal with childhood traumas, which are mostly related to the way we have been brought up by our parents (or the lack of).
And a interesting fact about humans is that each and every one of us has an incredible story. We truly do. Even the most regular person you can meet in the street or the guy selling you watermelons on the side of the road, comes from a cascade of an incredible interlacing of stories that lead that person there. I find it absolutely fascinating.
I ve actually never seen that show. I am sure it is a good show, because I like Ewan McGregor as an actor. They tell a good story and they made adventure motorcycling popular, which is a good thing. I prefer the movie "the motorcycle diaries" which is another classic I would say. I hope to make it back to North America too mate! Cheers!
Which was your favourite part of your journey?
The freedom. We are never 100% free. But, as freedom goes, travelling solo on a motorcycle with no schedule is as free as one can get.
Were you ever worried about refueling the bike when you were in really remote places? What was your average mpg?
Mate...I fuelled up my bike from coca cola bottles and improvised fuel tanks for months. Bought some fuel of dubious quality from strangers and somehow managed to get by. In some parts of the world fuel quality is not standard.
I would get an average of 20km per liter of fuel...which translates to roughly 50mpg if my math is correct.
Awesome story. Did you camp on the road to reduce expenses or just cheap guest houses and hostels?
Any interesting stories about getting caught unprepared?
Yes. In expensive coutries with big open spaces like Australia, USA and Canada the best thing you can do to cut expenses is to sleep on the side of the road. I prefer to hide behind a rock or a bush and spend the night like that anyway, instead of sleeping in a crowded dorm in a hostel (pre-covid). In all other circumstances, hostels have always done it for me. Cheap cheap!
I got caught by surprised by snow storms. That s not fun on a 300kg bike. And frozen rain in Canada! I didn't even know that it existed! Frozen rain! What a beauty! 😭😭😭😭 Some of the most excruciating pain on my feet I had in my life! Also, if you ride in freezing conditions long enough, your Jaw will froze too! Ahha so fun to try to order a coffee, without being able to actually say the O in coffee.
Heat is lots of fun too on a bike. Imagine being sit on a stove that generates small explosions, under 46°C, with helmet on, boots, and jacket...with tarmac radiating 60°C heat and hot air burning your face if you open the visor. Do this for 6 hours straight. For few days. 😄😄😄
What was the toughest part of the experience? Were you ever in danger through south america?
Saludos desde Chile, wn!!
Un saludo para ti weon! I got Chile in my heart, my friend! I spent 6 months there, riding all over the places! Plus, one of the most diverse territories in the world! The carretera Austral was an absolute highlight on my trip!
The toughest part was to face the adverse weather conditions. Being on a budget sometimes forces you to push through some areas where the elements may be against you. And those were the toughtest moments. But also, happy to have tested myself and my endurance at that level.
I felt sometimes a bit too exposed in Brazil and Colombia. But nothing really happened to me that was scary or sketchy.
Thoughts on the Pan-American, as on my bucket list (Africa Twin) for next year. Any tips or things to avoid?
Yes. Do not do the Pan-American in 3 weeks mate! 😅😅😅 Take your time. Riding everyday 500km is no fun. It s not a competition. To say you have ridden the WHOLE PanAmerican highway and then you didn't have time to get lost and experience the culture and the places, is like saying that you know kung fu, because you watched a couple of bruce lee movie. Pick a country and explore it. It is way better. To ride the whole south American part of the panamerican you need at least 2 months. And that's just a tiny bit of the things you can see! Otherwise you ll be missing out on a looooot of good stuff mate! Take it easy and smell the flowers!
What are some items that a the most important to bring on a motorcycle trip?
As anybody would probably agree with...duct tape and cable ties.
I would probably add water to the list of indispensable items. If you want to be wise too, a small medikit is always good to have.
Hello Paolo! Wow, what a life! You’ll have some stories to pass on as your legacy that’s for sure. To me it looks so spontaneous and amazing, however I’m sure there was more than a few months thought out into it all. Aussie here - I hope we treated you well and kindly.
Any areas or parts of your trip that were particularly frightening / threating? Mother Nature or otherwise?
Alrighty Mate!! Can't wait to be back down unda! In terms of Nature, Australia is still on my #1 spot. Truly breathtaking moments. Never felt threatened by nature...but indeed, especially in Oz, one has to learn to respect it, otherwise it will wipe you out like bread crumbs on a table.
The only time I had HER (mother nature) against me was when I got stuck on a beach in Peru and the tide/waves tried to suck me into the ocean. 😂 my fault! Other than that, some 700km frozen rainstorms in Canada were absolutely terrifying. They swallowed the whole road. Heat waves and fires were sometimes on my way too but again...I wouldn't necessarily say that I was scared. It was just me trying to fight the force of nature and clearly...losing. 🤷♂️
This is my dream, compà! One of these days I'll sell my bike and get a Yamaha Tenerè 700 and set off for Mongolia, starting from Milan! I'm about to dive into your Youtube channel and see what's what!
Did you have any previous experience with off-road bikes? Was is tough to ride such a big and heavy bike? That's my main concern (along with ending up stranded somewhere with no way to comunicate or get back into a town)
This is absolutely the best thing I ve ever done in my life. Go for it!! I had pretty much zero experience in riding offroad...or camping per se! Riding around Australia was a big but perfect step into this unknown world of adventure motorcycling. It was hard to ride a 200kg bike in sand indeed. But even if you get a 160kg bike, you will put 40kg of stuff on it and it will become a 200kg bike so...yeah! Have fun with it! You will make it anyway with proper tyres! It is part of the adventure!
When going from country to country like in North America, for example, did you have to get various permits to be able to ride in different countries? I suppose that would be hard to do as it takes months, and you don't really know what continent you will be on in the next 2 to 3 months - let alone country! In Europe you probably had a full Eu licence if it hadn't expired while you were on your trip, but riding in countries like Canada would take preparation on the legal front right? What about insurance in countries where it is compulsary?
This is nice technical question which I had trouble with before starting travelling. The short answer is... do not worry!
Most countries do not care about your motorcycle papers. You just show up at the border and if you can get in (meaning you hold a visa on arrival kind of passport or free entry), your bike gets the same treatment. Same amount of time too. Others require a "passport" called Carnet de Passage (translated Paper for Crossing) which is obtainable in your country of origin and is renewable yearly.
Insurance is instead a whole different beast to tame. As far as i know there is not an insurance that will cover you and the bike internationally. Each country has its own so you need to get one every time.
How much did you have after you sold everything? On average how much did you spend a day?
I had roughly $50k AUD equivalent of 37k USD.
Since the most plausible think to think of is that travelling is "expensive" per se, I decided to break the costs down mathematically so, hopefully, it would be more transparent for everybody. Also, to understand my social-economical background, just read the intro, under the post title.
I don't think I could summarize with an average how much I spent per month, since the delta from month to month was absolutley unpredictable. But somehow everybody here seems to understand numbers better so... There you go.
A couple of things first: 1) differen countries have different cost for food, accommodation, fuel and spare parts so to make an average, it s not exactly the most accurate thing. For instance, a country like Peru cannot be compared in terms of costs with a country like the Netherlands in all terms. 2) when I travel, I am not on vacation. Just because I visit places, doesn't mean I can afford things like people that go on vacation for 2 weeks. People on holidays usually maintain the same level of comfort they have at home, or even improve it, righteously spoiling themselves, for the few days they have off in a year. I do the exact opposite. I spoil myself by not having to go to work every day. :)
Hence, there are 3 major costs in travelling on a motorcycles are: 1) fuel and bike parts (tyres, oil, filters, etc) 2) accomodation 3) food
These are also in order of importance. Fuel and bike maintenance guarantees the continuity of the journey so, those have the absolute priority. Where I sleep or what I eat, do not matter much. I will survive whatever I eat and wherever I sleep. It's incredible what our body can do end endure.
After a year of travelling I found out that, because my life and routine changed completely, I didn't need 3 meals a day anymore. Removing 1 meal a day allowed me to save a lot of money in the long run. It is a sacrifice but it is doable and It is super practical. I also found fasting to be pretty good for the mind and body. This also saves a lot of money in the long run.
Sleeping arrangements could also affect greatly on your expenditures so, depending on countries and weather conditions, I usually opt to sleep in my tent or in hostels. Sometimes I do couchsurfing (look it up) or stay at other motorcyclists houses, friends, friends of friends, etc. I ve also slept at complete strangers houses that i met on the road and that were reaching out simply to help or to listen to some of my adventures. It s unbelievable how many people, just want to give you a hand! It s impossible to explain it. You have to see it yourself to believe it.
In this sense, I estimated an average of 10 USD a night for accommodation for and average of 20 days per month. Again, It is a rough estimate. Let s say the other 10 days I sleep at people's houses, or in my tent or couchsurfing (so at no cost). Foodwise I usually drink a coffee (I carry my own little italian coffee machine) in the am, with a piece of bread or instant oatmeal. Then I ride the whole day and reach my destination at 4-5 pm. I then eat the main meal of the day. My diet is mostly vegetarian, but I occasionally have meat. I shopped at cheap supermarkets or local markets. Vegetables are cheap and nutritious and available all over the world. And so is pasta and rice. This whole thing costs me let s say 10 USD a day.
So for Food and Accommodation i roughly spend 500 USD. Then there's fuel. Fuel costs can vary from country to country but, for the sake of it, let s put fuel price at 1.2 USD a liter (4.5 USD a gallon). My bike in standard riding conditions runs 20km per liter of fuel. In 5 years I rode roughly 180000km. That's 36000 a year. That s 3000 a month. So 3000/20= 150 liters. 150 x 1.2 = 180 USD
The grand total is 500+180= 680USD per month Let s put 100 USD in for extras and whatever. It's 780 USD a month, if you will. But trust me when I say that I think I spend less than that.
There you go.
How many languages do you speak and would social skills be important for traveling?
I speak 4 languages. Italian, english (more or less), spanish and portuguese. I understand and I studied french but i can't speak it properly. I spent a year in greece so I can now order a meal in a taverna without sounding stupid. 😅👍
Social skills is something you can develop as well. I am not the most extrovert person...and I m an IT guy...so yeah, you can imagine how my social skills were. I chose to travel alone also because i like my me time...a lot!
Would you plan to travel to Tadjikistan?
Yes!!! It was on my planned route before Covid happened! I heard you got some incredible mountains there!!! Coming!!
What do you think is your goal? What will make you say "I think I've done enough backpacking"? Or is it what you wanted to do your whole life?
I am 41yo now...and definitely cheap life on the road took a toll on my body.
I believe I still have some more years to go and explore then I ll be happy. I like this lifestyle. It suits me. But it is tiring and our body needs a proper routine and rest sometimes.
I will be happy once I think once I crossed all continents with my bike. Only 2 left, so....
Did you ever have a moment of weakness thinking that you made a mistake? If so, how did you manage to pick yourself up and continue doing what you're doing?
Yeah. Moments of insecurity are common...but I pick myself up usually trying to find at least one positive aspect about the situation. It is usually just a "moment thing"...which passes quickly.
In this sense, if you are not afraid about people judging your life choices, you got really nothing to worry about. 😅👍
As someone from Croatia, how was it there for you?
Croatia was great! Being Italian, I have been there previously several times, but never alone. So yeah, some of the mountain places were incredible! Loved it! I wish I had time to explore the islands more.
Have you ever encountered any type of security threat on your travels? Ever been robbed or attacked?
In 6 years of travelling I had only one incident where some of my motorcycle bags were stolen from my parked motorcycle.
And as you all may or may not assume, this actually happened in...Canada!
What are the odds!? A junkie stole my bags in Vancouver, the very first night I arrived.
Vancouverite here. Sorry about that. Common occurrence here with tourists that don’t know any better. The junkies here will steal anything not welded to the ground; and a lot of them carry angle grinders to overcome that obstacle as well…
Yeah. I got that the second day, when I started noticing padlocks and chains on trash cans and skips. Also, after the petty theft I went down on Hastings and oh boy... Who would have thought.
Where is the worst place you have pooped?
I think my brain automatically deletes certain scenes from my memory 🤣🤣🤣
How many hours a day were you on the bike for on average? Did you have a plan made up or were you just trying to make it to X city and then find a place to sleep?
That was the best part of the trip. No plans. Some days I rode 800km. Others 100. Some others none. I had no plans whatsoever and If I liked a place I would stay for days. Once on the road I would start to look at feasible sleeping location first on iOverlander then on google. If you travel off season there s no need of pre-booking.
In your opinion, is courage something one is born with or is it something one finds? (or perhaps is it something one creates for oneself?)
Good question! Courage has nothing to do with this. I give you an example. My very first trip overseas, I went to Los Angeles. I was 24 and never left my own country. The only reason why I actually hopped on that plane and went on the other side of the planet was because ...i didn't know what I was actually doing. 😅 The meaning of this is that sometimes courage gets misunderstood for stupidity...or foolishness.
Other times, like for instance me quitting my job and starting riding around the world, is seen as courage while instead was a long journey from me riding mopeds at 8yo in my uncle's backyard and me living overseas, changing jobs and living with little in a foreign country. So in a way, the big step of jumping in the "unknown" and hitting the road with no destination was a gradual process of becoming a person that was comfortable in doing so, after 15 years of travelling worldwide and 25years of riding motorcycles.
So yeah...courage doesn't exist. On the contrary...fear is what actually propel a person in achieving something. Fear translates to challenge in the mind of the curious.
I'm super late to this but this is a fascinating journey. Thank you for sharing it.
Have you ever read the book "Jupiter's Travels"?
I haven't, no. But Ted Simon is indeed a living legend.
Did you make any mods to your bike to make it more comfortable for long distance travel? Do you ever have to deal with pain from long rides?
I did install a slightly taller windscreen at the beginning. That made a huge difference also in terms of noise reduction. It s crazy how wind and engine noise can do to you after only 2-3 hours. On a 10-12 hours day ride, your body is wreaked. In my case, the arse is the most painful part. But back is close second.
Dealing with Pain after a long ride? Always! Over 250km...there are some minor consequences to deal with for few hours.
Where do you recommend visiting?
The would is truly amazing. I've been to the opposite side of the planet from my home, and seeing amazing things. But sometimes I come home and discover new places in my backyard. It's not the places you see, at the end...but "the eyes" you see those with!
The important part I believe is to get out of your comfort zone.
How did you find it in Crete?
I left my heart in Crete. Fell in love with the place. So wild still, and so beautiful. Greek colture is quite similar to Italian...so in good and bad ways, it felt like home.
The island in lockdown with no tourists, it a an absolute paradise. 2500m tall mountains with snow and white sand beaches.
Your story is utterly fascinating: Here are my questions.
- You put a staggering amount of miles on your bike, obviously oil and fluid changes were necessary, so did you do your own work and if so, where did you find a place to work on it or did you pay someone to do the repairs and how easy was it to find bike mechanics for your particular bike across the world?
- Did you stay in hostels, motels or tents the majority of your stay?
- Did you ever get your bike stolen, vandalized or otherwise screwed with and how did you fix that situation?
- Having no set place to cook, how did you eat and what did the average of your meals consist of?
- What did you carry with you on your trip, how did you attach it to your bike?
- Did you have any accidents or close calls? In the states, motorcycle ownership basically comes with the guarantee of "It's not a matter of if I get hit, it's a matter of when."
Thanks in advance
As I answered some of these before I ll be brief. Try to look in the comments for a further explanation if needed! 😊👍 1. I did my own maintenance. Nothing too complicated. Just regular service and stuff you can do even on the side of the road or in your own garage with the basic tools. I don't particularly trust mechanics, so I prefer to do the service on my own. 2. I mostly stayed in hostels and camped. Hotels and motels are too expensive and too...lonely. 3. Bike has never been touched. Just once in Canada, a junkie stole my tools and handlebar bags. 4. There's a long explanation of this in one comment. But basically i eat very little compared to what I used to (and the regular person). I also fast sometimes. 5. I had a set of Giant Loop soft panniers and a drybag for my clothes at the back. Also a tank bag for my camera and fragile electronics. ( plenty of pics on my insta). 6. I had 3 major accidents while riding offroads and a series (multitude) of minor crashes, mostly in sand. Crashed once in San Francisco because I got too distractd by my GPS and forgot to look at the road. Crashed against a wall by myself. Never a collision with another vehicle though.
Have you woken up in the morning with uninvited wildlife checking you out?
Also, you seem to have ridden through some of the wilder parts of the world, how did you keep yourself safe?
Yes. One morning It was raining outside and I woke up with a huntsman spider the size of my hand checking me out, hanging on the inside of my tent, just few inches from my head. But as I moved to Australia in 2010 I got used to this kind of wildlife. I got bitten couple of times during my sleep too. Woke up with blister the size of a plum on my forearm.
Anyway, I did not kill the poor spider. And he did not kill me either.
About your second question, I believe you are referring on me carrying weapons. Nope. No guns or knives. No need. Just a multi tool one.
Best weapon to carry while travelling is actaully common sense.
Why did you do it?
How has it changed you?
I went through a phase that I believe people called "burnout" (look it up). I felt that my life revolved around working and saving and working...and not much else. I lost the sense...the motivation that kept me going. In a way it is a form of depression, I believe. So I decided to take a stand in my life and change everything in it. I decided to try to find out if there was a meaning in my life (or in life in general). Normally I wouldn't have time to think about anything else beside work and bills...so I thought that the only chance I had to have some time is to TAKE SOME TIME...off. So I left. When I came back I realized that working an office job wasn't my calling. So i continued my personal quest in finding myself.
It has changed me completely and deeply. I am a different human being. Hopefully, a better one.
Hi Paolo, I have been following you on IG for probably about a year (don't even remember how I came across your profile).
Do you have any plans to stop your motorbike tour (for example at a certain age, or when you have seen X countries) or are you planning to just continue travelling as long as the sponsors will support you (or as long as other sources of income come up)?
Do you ever think about what you will do when your parents get older and need help (or do you have brothers and sisters who will take care of your parents)?
How do you think your travelling life will change when you get to an age of retirement? Do you think you will ever settle down in some way?
Thanks for tagging along, first of all. Yes, i did think a bit ahead. But not too much as I know that life is unpredictable and full of surprises, especially with this kind of lifestyle.
I think once I complete my world exploration I would probably have to take care of my parents and I will think of something. Rather take them with me to Australia or move somewhere closer to italy.
Unfortunately I do not have many sponsors...sponsoring me atm, so that could not be a source of stable income for the future. I do not fear the possibility of living my retirement years with very little, since I already learned how to live with nothing and make it last. The only issue will be to find a suitable companion that is willing to accept my frugal life style and simple conditions. But again, we got Dogs, so no worries about it.
Definitely the two wheels will become 4 in the future as enduring long days on the saddle can take an heavy toll on my already beat up body. Luckily for me, the condition of "grey nomad" is widely accepted in Australia.
No worries! 😅👍
Hey Spanish neighbor here. It may sound silly but since I lived abroad for quite some years it helped may me think that one can find the truth of this world or life by experiencing as much cultures and countries as possible.
Now, you may have the chance to enlighten us all. After that much travel, what would you say what the truth of the world/life is?
Believe it or not, one of the reason why I started my quest was to find the meaning of life. To say that I found the meaning of life is a bit pretentious, so let me say that I would just write what I think it is: "Life has no meaning"
There. I said it.😂 We, as human, are driven by ego to find a higher meaning to our existence because we think we matter. We don't. We are an absolute nothing compared to the grandeur of the scheme so in this sense, our life has no meaning. Although, ourselves, as individuals, have the potential to create meaning in our lives. This is an "illusion" that is so powerful that could literally move mountains and send us to the moon.
What is great about all this is that we have one another. We can share our life purpose with others and others can embrace it, for a little bit. The unison of all meanings creates a gianormous network of energy which we all share and call life.
What an amazing story? I’m not sure I have the courage to do that.
Do you think traveling as a woman would be as safe?
There are matter of fact many women who traveled solo the whole planet. I cannot speak for them but as I know personally some of those, I can say that they all have positive feedback from their experience. And in terms of being harassed by men along the way, it seems that is no less than the usual that could happen in your own city. The positive part about solo female traveler is that they get way more help and support by strangers than men, since they are no source of any kind of potential danger. A solo man on a bike could instead carry some bad intentions or cause some trouble. So people automatically approach women simply to assist and to be part of the incredible story of a solo woman traveler on a motorcycle.
How did you cross the Darién Gap separating Central and South America?
What measures did you take to prevent your bike from getting stolen?
I answered the Gap question previously, somewhere in here. Anyway, I decided to do so by shipping the bike by plane.
I usually chose to hide as much as possible while wild camping and picked hostels which had a gate or some sort of enclosed parking space. Sometimes they even let me park inside the apartment/room. Nothing better than sleeping next to your bike! Bless latin america!
Hey thanks for doing this AMA!
What motorcycle parts did you find failed the most frequently?
How much maintenance did you do yourself vs through a mechanic?
You are very welcome! My KTM was super reliable. The only "failing" parts were rubber seals, which simply worn out with time and heat. Water pump seals were a constant issue. Changed first time at 80000km then again at 130000km then again at 170000km. Fork seals 3 times. Rear shock has been reconditioned 3 times too because head seal would give up. Poor thing. The rest has been flawless.
I performed most of the basic tasks such as oil and filter change, air filter maintenance, fuel filter replacement, chain and sprokets, brake pads and rotors, water pump seals and wheel bearings replacement. Fork seals, tyres and steering bearings were replaced by dealers. Also valve checks and spark plugs were done by KTM dealer.
What seat pad(s) did you use?
I worn out the original seat. It was completely flat. KTM gave me a replacement one at around 130000km. Still going.
What do you miss the most, living on the road so much?
There was a moment during my trip that I was missing my exercise and food routine. Our bodies can only take so much punishment then they start to deteriorate. Living on cheap food and sleeping irregularly can affect your body performances.
But aside from this, i think this lifestyle has a lot more perks than bad sides.
Did you enjoy Brazil?
I’m a curious fellow brazilian.
I believe that hands down brazilians are the most welcoming and warm people on the planet. Kudos to you guys!
Said this, Brasil was absolutely scorching hot for the whole 3 months I was there. 37-38°C all the bloody times. So not the best for riding bikes. But, You guys have the best fruits in the world and the most soothing music available. Love MPB!! Also, probably one of the richest country in the world in terms of natural resources. AMAZING.
I loved Crete!I could only imagine how great it would be to ride there. How did you like it? Do you have a favorite part of the island?!
Oh mate! Paradise for riding! Imagine from 0m to 2000m in a space of 15km...than back donw to the sea. It was paradise! I rode 10000km in 4 months there! Fantastic! I love the west coast. Chania. 🧡🇬🇷
What has been the most dangerous situation you've gotten in? What has been your absolute favorite place to stay so far and why?
I fortunately haven't been in dangerous situations per se. For me dangerous means that I got injured badly and my life was at risk. So, no I never really experienced that.
I went through some rough areas sometimes in Brazil, colombia and Bolivia. But as you simply pass through alone as a traveller, you rarely upsets locals.
My favorite country so stay was Ecuador. Beautiful people, beautiful food, beautiful country.
What is the most interesting place you have discovered while riding your bike that a regular tourist wouldn't have seen?
There were few of those. Sometimes even in touristy places...you can find some angles that are a bit hidden and equally spectacular, giving the same vibe of the main attractions. A couple of those for instance at Sequoia National Park in USA and in Uluru in Australia. Camping at night alone in these places was absolutley magical. There were some spots in Yukon, Canada that I was alone...and felt alone too. Simply pure nature. Incredible memories.
Sounds like in Canada you rode the West coast to Montreal and missed the East coast often referred to as the Best Coast in Canada?
Yes. Unfortunately it was winter and that part was already almost covered in snow. The day I left Toronto, it was -30°C at night....so yeah, I couldn't go north for sure
Why do you think this is important enough for a yearly ama?
I usually get 10000 views and over 300 relevant and interesting questions. This one excluded.
How did you make money on the road?
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