Long term bike trips... HOW do you do it? (time/work/career)

Discussion in 'Trip Planning' started by MaxF, Jan 24, 2011.

  1. Two Wheeled 'Tard

    Two Wheeled 'Tard Banned

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    My secret is that I do contract work in absurdly remote locations around the world, usually for between six months and two years at a time. I also don't have a family, or a wife, or a house, or an apartment, or a car or . . . well, much of anything. The places I work at are sort of like the military in that transportation, food and housing are all provided, so there's very little to spend your salary on. And aside from my motorcycles and associated riding gear in a storage locker, everything I own in the world fits into a few duffel bags.

    Currently, I'm on a seven months on/five months off work rotation. I work like a mad bastard at a crazy location for seven months, saving every penny I make. Then when summer rolls around, I have a tidy sum of money in my bank account, and five months to kill with no obligations to anyone, anywhere. :D

    It also helps that I travel VERY cheaply. Cook almost all my meals on a camp stove, stealth camp every night, and spending very little money on silly farkles.
  2. hilslamer

    hilslamer 2XRedheadedstepchild

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    Great stories, all! Keep them coming; I love when this thread rolls to the top and gets noticed again - a fresh set of inspirational stories and great advice crops up really nicely.

    :thumb
  3. HalB

    HalB Adventurer

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    great discussion.

    The issue is your priorities. I know people with lots of money and no time, and people with no money and lots of time. The no money people, travel more, have more leisure. The key as I see it, is to decide what is the most important thing for you, and then put all of your resources to that. If it is vagabonding on a bike, anyone can do it, IF it is the only thing you are doing. Don't wait for the lottery! It gets harder as you get older (kids, wifey, pension job etc). I took 2 years in my early 30's lost traction in my career, but had the best 2 years of my life.

    read this book: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_4-Hour_Workweek

    Remember you do not have to do anything you don't want to do.

    to quote Rabbi Hillel "...if not now, when?"
  4. eakins

    eakins Butler Maps

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    you need to sell all your stuff & quit your job & then you have the $ and the time.

    few people get the concept you can work again down the road if needed but you get so many years of living to do something big in life. if you keep waiting till you can do something you never will. if your stuck on getting more material things so tomorrow will be better...it never will.
  5. eakins

    eakins Butler Maps

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    getting ride of your TV (at least cable. keep the TV for movies every so often)
    is the best thing anyone can do to get their life & finances back.

  6. teizms

    teizms Long timer

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    oh u will find that you hve so much more time in your life if u dont have a tv.
    sitting on a couch watching tv is the biggest deterrent keeping you from going out and doing something
  7. tobster9

    tobster9 Sky larker

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    So many cliches surrounding this topic, but cliches are born out of truth essentially I guess. I travelled a lot when I was in my early 20's and I remember being on a boat with a guy in Thailand, we were talking and he told me he had cancer and would probably die, he decided to spend his cash on a big trip and see Thailand as he had always wanted to, he told me his only regret was that he hadnt done it sooner. Ive always thought about this random dude.

    Extended travels carries all kinds of problems as well, you realise when you get back that everyones (many peoples) conversation is based around TV and films and that you have no idea what theyre talking about. You also dont put down roots and develop close relationships in the same way. And then theres the reality and gravity of coming back to open a newspaper and look for a job so you can start at the bottom and prove yourself again and work extra hard by giving that extra 10% and getting up early and coming home late. To then realise and feel later that its all very pointless and the only way to make it ok is to go and buy something like a bigger TV or finance a new car or condo etc. Next thing you know your living in suburbia planning weekend trips to walmart.

    Its almost criminal to waste the freedom and chance to travel, so many people dont have that option, the best days of my life have been travelling and when you do get home or make a home somewhere theres a really good chance that you will appreciate it.

    I love the bit in the film Wanted when he stands up and tells his fat nagging bitch of a boss to Fu"k off
    You got the rest of your life to work and chase dollars, go do something fun, and do it on a bike, hell yeah!
  8. Two Wheeled 'Tard

    Two Wheeled 'Tard Banned

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    I've gotten quite a number of PMs about this topic, so I'm going to elaborate more on my post.

    To reiterate, the way that I'm able to take a large number of multi-month motorcycle trips is that I do contracting work in very remote locations around the world.

    The first thing I need to say is that it's nearly impossible to do this if you have kids; so if you've already reproduced, to you I say "HAHA that was stupid!".

    These jobs are usually working for the government in some way (Usually through a defense contractor) and are similar to being in the military, in that you sign on for a specific amount of time. Usually for six months, but some places the contract lengths are two years. And during that time, when you're at the location that you're working, everything is provided; you don't pay for food, housing, transportation, anything. Every dollar you make goes straight into your pocket. And when your contract is done, that's it; you're done. If you want to repeat and come back, you do have to re-apply and re-interview and be re-hired for your job for each contract, but for the most part it's usually pretty easy to be hired back if you've done a good job the first time around.

    There's two basic routes to contracting.

    The first route is the "Sell your soul, shit-tons of money, might get killed" route. This is either working in war zones such as in Afghanistan and formerly Iraq (that's pretty wound down by now), or working for oil companies on remote drill sites and oil rigs. They will usually require making pretty big moral compromises, or have a significant risk of getting shot at/killed. On top of that, the work experience itself usually sucks; 12 hours a day, 7 days a week is typical, for weeks or months at a time. High stress, everyone always screaming at you to work harder, go faster. The flip side is the pay is insane; front-line war zone jobs can pay upwards of $150,000 for basic work, and I knew one guy making $350,000 a year running network cables in front-line bases. This is largely tax-free, as well.

    The second contracting option is the "Awesome experience in crazy locations for low pay". The pay is usually about 1/2 to 2/3 what you'd make hourly in the states, however you're still not paying for anything so as long as you're not trying to maintain a house or family, you can do quite well for yourself. The upside is that you're usually working in really neat places, with really cool people, doing work that you'll hopefully enjoy a lot.

    I'm currently taking Option 2, awesome experiences for blah pay. The pay is medieocer at best, but because I save every penny when I'm working, I come out of a contract with a nice chunk of change. And I like the places I work; they're full of vagabonds, part-time workers and full-time travelers. Most of us only work 6 months on/6 months off, saving our money when we work and then traveling for the rest of the year.

    I hope that's cleared things up a bit. Good luck getting out there and seeing the world some :)
  9. Nc987

    Nc987 Adventurer

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    I am currently a part time middle school teacher. I make $&/? for pay so I make sacrifices like riding a ninja 250 that has cheap parts, is cheap to maintain and gets 60+ mpg.

    Right now I am sitting in a cheap apartment with no heat, I wash my laundry at work, I eat lots of sandwiches and I work two other jobs outside of teaching.

    Am I complaining? Nope. I love teaching and coaching, I have what I need and I get summers off to ride my motorcycle wherever, whenever I want to.

    I'm 29 and know that I need to do this now because the future, god willing, may have a wife and kids in the picture and riding that little ninjette for weeks on end in the middle of nowhere may be hard to come by.
  10. ThanatosF

    ThanatosF Been here awhile

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    Thanks for the great information! I've Googled around a bit, but I'm hoping you can point me in the right direction. Any tips or advice for a first time contract job seeker? How does one enter the field and become established? It sounds like your setup is ideal, but I can't imagine it being very easy to get!
  11. Witold

    Witold Been here awhile

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    I find that there is another benefit as well:

    Because I'm not exposed to all the commercials, I'm clueless about the latest cars, electronics, and widgets being pushed. If I watched all those commercials, I'm sure that some of the products would resonate with me and I would lust for them and burn my money on them.

    But instead, I don't even know that I'm missing out on X product, Y widget, Z service.

    That really helps to save money. :D

    I do think that working in a school (as teacher or administrator) is one of the best lifestyle jobs possible. One is essentially working 1/2 a year... 180 days per year for almost full time pay. Union job, pension, etc. Lots and lots of holidays for big ride trips.

    And you don't have to live like a slave in some bunkhouse on some oil field/mine/war zone for half the year to earn money. You still have a good life when you're working.
  12. Slim-Line Tonic

    Slim-Line Tonic Watch time fly...

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    I find myself in a similar situation from time to time, asking myself what to do- we all need finance to live and a career to fulfill us inside, but if we had the material means, i think a lot of us would give it all up for that RTW or the discovery of the world we don't yet know.

    I think things become trickier once people start to depend on you to be here for them and especially when you build a family, get a house etc...in these instances, you need work regardless to sustain the ones who love.

    If you're a true ADV, i'm sure you will find a way to get by. I wasn't born to get up every morning and sit in front of a computer, formatting databases and excel spreadsheets. But it sure helps you to figure what you really want out of life and your career, once you've done it long enough to realise the world is slightly bigger than it seems!
  13. LandLeftBehind

    LandLeftBehind Been here awhile

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    OP:

    Save up a couple grand. Quit your job and split town.

    I spent 4 months travelling. I ate lentils and stayed at whatever free campsites I could find. I spent two of those months working on a farm.

    Buy a bike and learn to maintain/troubleshoot/repair it. Thus, an older bike may be a better option, due to less complexity. Preferably one that gets AT LEAST 40 mpg.

    Itinerant work is a great option if youre travelling. 'Trimming' in Northern California apparently pays well. I cant say from experience. I have worked on farms through the WWOOF organization however. You provide labor in exchange for room and board. I have always had a great experience from it. Check it out.

    I spent about 1k on myself (i.e. food, beer, misc.) over 4 months. It wasnt glamorous living, with air conditioned hotels and restaurant meals, but it was rich in its own way. I spent another thousand on about 8500 miles worth of gas.

    The last thousand went into bike repairs/maintenance. Can you see where I went wrong? :deal

    You can find another job when you get back. Typically, people (including employers) are impressed by those who divert from the mainstream to pursue their ambitions. Going on a cross-country motorcycle trip has definitely permeated its way into the American ideal If the employers in your field dislike the travelling motorcycle type for some reason, then maybe a change of career is in order ;)
  14. LandLeftBehind

    LandLeftBehind Been here awhile

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    If you live near a fishery, or are willing to move near one, NOAA hires Observers through independent contractors. You might need a degree in the natural sciences though to qualify too...

    The pay is pretty good considering its doesnt cost anything to live on a fishing boat for a few months out of the year. My friend who did it was hooked up by his company with a place to live while back home as well.
  15. Krazyjohnny

    Krazyjohnny Been here awhile

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    Wife and both wonder how folks have accomplished thes dream trips. We are both consultants for decent sized firms and in our 40s with a 13 yr old son. Our interest was really peaked when we met a 70 yr old man over the weekend who has lapped the planet 3 times. The only question we forgot to ask was the how of things both logistically, but really fiscally.

    I too had been offered one of those contractor jobs in the sandbox. My then 8 year old son overheard my conversation with the agency interviewer and asked me if people were going to try and shoot me if I worked over there. I told him no, that I would be trying to keep all of the good guys from being hurt. He started crying and said he did not want me to die. That is kind of a tough one to deal with considering the money and the time off (9 mos on 3 mos off) . It was not feasible for me, but the pay was awesome 250-300K.

    Life is a constant compromise. I just always say it is good to be me.
  16. baka1969

    baka1969 Veteran Bubblehead

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    I know this is 2 years old but I strongly disagree with this statement. I've earned all my own money. No-one ever gave me a thing since I was 17. That's the problem with today's generation. They feel entitled to everything and don't feel they have to earn things themselves.

    It's a sad commentary when society new accepts or embraces begging and those that feel they don't have to work hard for things.

    These adventures we all take in our lives are earned and a privilege. Not a right. That's how we can appreciate them more when we go.
  17. InDenial

    InDenial Been here awhile

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    Great thread. As I read the posts, I agree that you can do at 20 what you can't do at 59 (although you still think you can). So riding at 20 is a free wheeling fun adventure.

    My concern for you is: you talk of retirement and waiting until then. Well, how do plan to fund your retirement? During your working years you need to put away an additional years salary to live on after you retire, because you're the one responsible for raising it. The government isn't going to give you any and social security will be dead by then. You need $1million in the bank to give you $40,000/yr to live on when you retire. Think about it----and start saving.

    The other concern is: stay single if you want adventure. Family changes everything, usually for the better. I didn't have a car in college, only my bike. So after we had twins, I was riding home for lunch one day and went around a corner, hit some sand with my front tire and slid, didn't go down. But at that moment it hit me-----I had two kids, I had responsibility. I put the bike away that noon and didn't get it out again for 17 years. When they graduated from high school I started riding again, figuring they could fend for themselves if they had to. Have put on over 100K since then.

    Adventure can come on day trips and weekend trips. Even exploring with a girlfriend/wife. It's how you perceive the adventure and time off. Just enjoy what you have.
  18. Witold

    Witold Been here awhile

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    Some people say that adventure comes cheap.

    That may be true for a tiny sliver of riders. But most of us don't want to eat ramen and free camp in some field alone for months on end. Living like a homeless bum - but with a motorcycle - is not my idea of adventure or fun and I doubt that most people can bear it for long. To me, that is just being a bum.

    Moto trips are a lot more fun when you can experience everything you want to experience. Access often takes money. Entertainment takes money. Not all - but many - experiences and fun things and interesting things take money. Yeah, if your idea is to just ride around and sleep in fields and buy ramen at the nearest grocery store it can be very cheap. But if you want something more, things are going to add up very quickly.

    I also don't buy the idea that after living a certain lifestyle for 60 years someone is magically going to flip a switch and take a complete reversal in their lifestyle. That is just daydreaming.

    Save up as much money as you possibly can, and do manageable trips that you can do now, while you still have your health and your free spirit.
  19. AdventurePoser

    AdventurePoser Long timer

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    At 61, I have my health and a free spirit, and am getting ready to leave on a six month journey through the Americas. When it's all over, I"ll be shipping my bike from Montevideo Uruguay back home to Los Angeles.

    The hardest part for me will be "flipping the switch." But doing so will give me the richest experience I will ever know.

    Enjoy each day and make each one an adventure!
  20. Witold

    Witold Been here awhile

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    Maybe... I know several guys who were really excited about their first big trip. They spent year(s?) reading ride reports and figuring out where they want to go.

    Then they finally set off and by week 4, they were sick of it and finished. :D

    A lot of ride reports are written in a very rosy way and things seem richer and cooler than reality. No one ever mentions all the tourist traps and scummy thieving locals, the disgusting hotels that double price you because you're white, and other less than literary and photogenic aspects of travel. It's all an "interesting adventure that turned into a great learning experience" in the ride reports. :)

    Reality is that results vary all over the place. Some people love it and for some people it was a big disappointment and waste of time and money, and everything in between. And truth be told, there is nothing wrong with whatever impression you come away with, as long as you give it a try.