By nature, most adventure riders will avoid big cities as much as they can. After all, the whole adventure thing is about, well, adventuring, rather than sipping Starbucks lattes and navigating city traffic. However, after you’ve been on the road for a while, big city visits may be unavoidable: you may need to find or order parts for your bike, get your motorcycle serviced, or stock up on things typically only available in bigger places – a new camera lens, laptop repair, oil that’s hard to get anywhere else… Whatever the reason, at some point or another, you may find yourself in a big city solo wating for your bike to be fixed or parts shipped. You’ve probably rented an AirBnb or booked a hotel, and now, you’ve got several days to kill. How do you make them productive?

Get to Work

If you’re in a big city, you’ve probably got good WiFi, and if you’ve got good WiFi, that’s a great opportunity to catch up on emails, Zoom call friends and family, research your next route, download those GPX files or offline maps you may need, update your GPS unit or phone, or fill out visa applications for the next leg of the journey. It’s sort of tedious, but this life admin work needs to be done – and if you’re stuck in a big city, you might as well use the time and the resources to do it.

Have Fun

Then again, catching up on all the online stuff gets old really quickly. If you’re all caught up and ready to go, but can’t go anywhere just yet, have fun! Booking AirBnB experiences is a great way to get to know the city, meet the locals, and go on urban adventures – whether that’s guided walks, music events, or just plain old pub crawls, it’s a cool way to explore. Sick of the city already? Book an experience right outside – a surfing or kitesurfing lesson if you’re on the ocean, a hiking or canyoning trip if you’re in the mountains, a sandboarding session if you’re near a desert, or a wildlife tour if you’re on the outskirts of the Amazon rainforest.

Solo In a Big City: What to Do // ADV Rider

Find Strategic Accommodation

Speaking of fun: when you’re in a big city, it makes a huge difference where you’re staying. If you’re there to fix your bike, you may want to rent a place near the workshop or garage where your bike is being repaired so you can easily get there by foot. Makes sense… Except for those times when you need to stay there for longer than a couple of days, and the workshop or garage is located in some industrial part or on the outskirts. You’ll have harder time finding supermarkets, grocery stores, and eateries, you may have to deal with noise, and it just isn’t pleasant to stay in some faceless industrial park with a view to a warehouse wall from your window. Instead, find a place somewhere nicer – the Old Ton, or at least, a residential area – but look for places with easy access to public transport so you can travel back and forth to check on your bike easily and cheaply if need be.

Ride With the Locals

Every city will have its own community of riders,  so if you’re bored out of your mind but don’t know anyone, try reaching out to local adventure riders who are typically happy to invite you for a ride out together. You can find them on forums, local Facebook groups, or just researching Instagram hashtags like #rideMongolia or #Bosnianrider – usually, you’ll have no trouble spotting local adventure riders’ accounts that way. Shoot them a message, and you’re guaranteed to make new riding buddies in town.

Learn Something

Stuck in Buenos Aires? Learn to tango. Rio? Take a capoeira lesson. No matter which city you’re stuck in, there’s always something unique, exciting, or cool to learn – from cooking classes to language lessons, local sports, or local games (tejo in Colombia, anyone?), there’s always something fun you can learn while waiting for that new set of bearings to arrive or suspension to be serviced.

Solo In a Big City: What to Do // ADV Rider

Send Dispatches

If you’ve got time to kill and don’t feel like socializing or going out much, write. Send postcards or letters to your loved ones back home – they’ll be thrilled! If you don’t have the patience for letters, shop for some small souvenirs and ship them home to your friends or family. Need to reflect? Buy a notebook and jot down some thoughts – who knows, you may start a travel journal. Solitude and reflection while living in a big city can be a good thing – and it costs nothing.


What do you do if you get stuck in a big city on your travels? Share in the comments below!

Images: Pixabay

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