The general consensus is that long-distance travel, whether it’s RTW or one of the long ways down or up like Alaska to Ushuaia or Nordkapp to Cape Town is hard. That there’s blood and guts, courage and resourcefulness, determination and sheer will involved; that few people can actually accomplish a journey like that, and that it’s either extremely hard or near-impossible to fund long-term travel by working on the road.
At the risk of expressing an unpopular opinion, I’m going to argue the opposite. The world is a much smaller place these days; before the internet, getting accurate information, staying in touch with your loved ones back home, and meeting other overlanders was much tougher than it is now. Ted Simon, Elspeth Beard, and other riders like them were definitely pioneers, quite literally riding into the unknown, and riders who came before them were nothing short of fearless explorers – there’s no doubt about that.
Now, however, with easily accessible information, e-visas, and bike dealerships able to either fix a problem or source parts every 500 miles or so, riding around the world – or from Alaska to Ushuaia – is easier than ever. And for the most part, you don’t even need to ride off-road if you choose not to; all over the world, the infrastructures are being developed at breakneck speed, roads are being paved, and Starbucks are popping up everywhere from Lima to Gaborone. What’s more, there’s Skype and DHL should you get in trouble; there are SPOT devices, motorcycle travel insurance, and repatriation flights. There are YouTube videos on everything from how to patch a punctured tube to how to generate income online, and if all else fails, there’s Workaway and getting yourself home by any means possible.
Granted, some places are still somewhat wilder than others. Mongolia and Central Asia are trickier than South America in terms of roads, border crossings, and fuel availability; Siberia is more remote than Mexico, Western Sahara can still be dangerous, and crossing Pakistan is still more of an adventure than riding Cuba. Still, it’s nowhere near as difficult, tough, or expensive as most of us like to think.
And when it comes to funding travels, long-term, indefinite, or otherwise, this is the golden age for digital nomads. Remote work is now more possible than ever thanks to the disruption of the pandemic, although even before 2020, online work was a very real way to earn an income while on the road. It isn’t just blogging, freelance writing, photography, or the like; I know freelance accountants, startup founders, yoga teachers, psychologists, finance consultants, and dietitians who have transferred their work online and can do their job regardless of where they are geographically.
It’s doable, and these days, it’s easily doable. By easily, I don’t mean it all comes overnight, and I don’t mean you won’t have to work crazy amounts and crazy hours, handle dozens of rejections before you land a gig, stress about pay, or fight for a project. There is a lot of work, sweat, frayed nerves, and uncertainty before you can start earning an income reasonable enough and stable enough to keep you on the road indefinitely – but it’s out there, it’s accessible, and it’s achievable within less than a year if you put your back into it.
It’s the same with the travel itself: it’s easy. Sure, it does require resourcefulness and determination, it does require quick problem solving, it does require patience and creativity when things go wrong, and it’s most definitely a challenge physically, mentally, and emotionally, especially when traveling solo. But blood and guts? Extreme hardship? Unless you are aiming to ride to the North Pole or the Far East of Siberia, that just isn’t the case.
If you’ve ridden the TAT or TET for more than a month, you can ride to Ushuaia or Cape Town.
If you can transfer some of your work online and earn a little, you can double or triple that and have an income while on the road – indefinitely.
Sure, it’s not for everyone; if it was, everybody would be on the road. But for those who do want to ride the world, the door is wide open, and the possibilities are quite literally limitless.
Whenever my seven years on the road come up in conversation, the most common thing people say is that I’m lucky. The thing, though, is that you make your own luck.
If you want to find an excuse not to go, there will always be one. And if you find a reason to go, there will always be a way.
Travel is easy. The decision to leave, perhaps, is the harder part.
Agree? Disagree? If you’ve always wanted to go on a long motorcycle ride, what’s stopped you? Share in the comments below!