A few weeks ago I heard about Shirine who is biking around the world.
That is impressive by itself, but what is even more impressive is that she started when she was 20 years old, that she did it alone for the first 10 months and that she survives on just $5 per day!
It all sounded super interesting, so I’m very happy that Shirine wanted to answer a few questions about her trip.
Can you start out by telling us a bit about yourself and your trip?
Well, I started out at twenty as a solo female set to cycle around the world, and now, fifteen months later, I’ve been joined by my boyfriend as we continue to cycle through the most beautiful mountains on earth. I completed my first ten months solo throughout India and Nepal, and after my boyfriend joined me in Nepal, we headed (again) through India before continuing the rest of our trip from Tblisi, Georgia.
Now we plan to continue on through Turkey, the Balkans, up through Scandinavia, down across the Alps, and finally onto Spain, Portugal, and a bit of Western Africa.
Where did you get the idea from and why did you decide to go?
I’m not sure why I typed it in the first place, but I somehow found myself searching for “biking around the world” in google, and after reading a handful of cycling blogs, I was hooked. Cycle touring is an amazing way to see the world since it gives you so much freedom, let’s you travel for cheap, and enables you to pass through small untouched villages and stay with locals all other the world!
Basically I decided to leave because I couldn’t think of anything else I would rather be doing, and I felt like I would enjoy bicycling instead of bussing to travel since I would see more.
How do you select your route and how long you should stay in each place?
My route tends to change a lot, mostly depending on what I hear from other cyclists. My first plan was to cycle from India to New Zealand, work in New Zealand for a year, and then continue for a year through South America, though after a year in India and Nepal I decided to turn around and head through Europe (Turkey, Eastern Europe, Scandinavia, and the Alps).
I spent a whole lot of time in India and Nepal (a year) because I was also trekking, staying with families, and really experiencing the culture by living in different places. Now that I’m in Europe I’ll be spending about 1-3 months in every country.
What is the budget for your trip and what do you do to cut costs?
For the last fifteen months I have lived off of five dollars a day, though with the start of Turkey and Europe, I plan to spend more like ten a day for the remainder of my trip. It’s amazing really how little we need to survive, and by living out of my tent, cooking local food, and working/volunteering along the way for free room and board, it’s amazing how cheap cycle touring can be.
What do you eat while you are travelling and how do you sleep?
I’m basically on the eat everything diet, so what I eat really depends on what country I am in, what’s available, and what’s in season. In Asia I ate rice and lentils two to three times a day, whereas here in Georgia I have been eating a ton of noodles and tomato sauce, peaches, watermelon, and bread and cheese because those are the cheap local foods.
As for sleeping, I mostly sleep in my tent, though when I get to a city I want to visit, I either try to arrange to stay with someone visa warmshowers or couchsurfing (or even better, from people who read my blog and invite me in), or work at a hostel for a week for my free room.
What kind of bike do you use and why did you select exactly that bike?
I ride a Surly Long Haul Trucker, which is an absolutely wonderful touring bike I have come to love. The reason it is considered a touring bike is because it is steel (heavy but durable and easy to repair if you need it welded), 26in wheels which are puncture proof (no flats yet!), and easy to replace parts.
What other gear do you bring, especially bike gear?
I carry extra parts (extra break pads, a chain, extra cable) and some tools but thankfully I haven’t had too many problems yet. I also carry a tend, sleeping bag, pad, cooking stove and pot, a few clothes, rain gear, and warm gear for snow camping.
I think my new favorite piece of gear is our tarp (which we use under our tent as a ground sheet) since we can also use it to build a shelter, cover our bikes, or take a nap on!
How did you prepare yourself for the journey?
I really didn’t do any preparations. When I started out, I had never ridden my bike fully loaded, so my five weeks in the States before heading out to India were my “warm-up.” Since I take it pretty easy, bike touring isn’t actually that strenuous and your body gets use to it once you begin!
I had sort of planned a route, though obviously that route has completely changed since. My best advice for a trip like this is to just do it. The hardest part is taking that first step to walk out your door, after that, the rest comes naturally!
What will the future bring?
We plan to continue this lifestyle for another 1.5-2.5 years before returning home for a bit. Though Kevin and I will confine to travel (and cycle) around the world, we also want a home.
Our plan right now is to move back to Oregon in a few years and continue to travel three to four months a year from there on out. Some future trips will include cycling touring through Iran, Yemen, and Oman, cycling (and mountaineering) through the Andes, cycling (and road tripping) all over the USA, and exploring Oregon through skiing, rock climbing, mountaineering, fishing, and camping.