When exploring urban areas, try online hospitality networks like Couch Surfing, Warm Showers and hospitality.org to find interesting people who want to meet you, hear your stories and offer you a couch for the night. Firefighters (Bomberos) in Latin America also have a tradition of welcoming touring cyclists.
Even in expensive countries, if you prepare your own food you can eat well on a few dollars a day. In some countries such as Peru, however, it actually seems less expensive to buy a meal than to cook one. Our daily menu involves oatmeal with coffee for breakfast, a basic but filling 1$ market stall lunch that includes soup, a main dish and a drink, and then a “home-cooked” meal, often pasta or rice with veggies, for supper. When travelling through pricier places like the US or Costa Rica, we just take away the restaurant lunch and snack more often throughout the day on leftovers, sandwiches, yogurt, bread, bananas and cereal.
Learn to thrive, not just survive
We've met touring cyclists who hammer till sundown and then cook instant noodles and set up in the dark by the light of their head lamps. After 3 or 4 days on the road, these people are worn out, malnourished, and in dire need of a hotel, a restaurant and a laundromat, which means big spending. For the sake of our sanity and our batteries, Lucie and I have gotten into the habit of pitching the tent with about an hour of daylight left. This leaves us time to make a nice nutritious supper, hang out and relax before bedtime. We carry our favorite spices and condiments to keep things delicious, and our big water bag helps make us more autonomous and less dependent on towns. We try to wash a couple of items of clothing per day (mostly in service station restrooms), which keeps us smelling and looking our best for those countless first impressions along the road. While our approach may be deemed as overly civilized by more hard-core riders who log more daily miles and hours in the saddle, we've found it makes our epic trip more sustainable and enjoyable overall.
My Next Trip
For my next bike tour, I'll hop on my custom road bike with an 11-speed Campagnolo drivetrain and ride from Montreal down through New England, where every hamlet harbours a bike shop with the parts, tools and expertise needed to keep me rolling. I'll throw a toothbrush, a pair of socks, a rain jacket and a credit card in my fanny pack and spend an indecent amount of money on charming B&B's and seafood bistros. On our current tour, however, we'll stick to our frugal and functional approach, which will allow us to make our way through Patagonia and all the way down to the “end of the world”; we hope to arrive in in Ushuaia, Argentina in good health and high spirits in the coming months.
To learn more about Torrey and Lucie's adventure, visit pedalingsouth.com.