Digital Panhandling

/ Monday, 30 September 2013 / Fun

Lately over the past few months I’ve been noticing a disturbing alarming trend on the internet from people who have embarked on long-term journeys on a bicycle (and I’m sure this is occurring with other methods of movement). It’s becoming more frequent, and I felt it was time to stand up and voice my opinion publicly in an attempt to open some discussion with others. I call it Digital Panhandling. Surely this is going to cause some commotion, but what do I have to lose?

panhandleServices like Indiegogo, Kickstarter, GoFundme are sites setup for inventors, idea makers, product designers, to use as a mechanism to gauge interest on a tangible project/object, offering interested parties to “Back” the project by providing payment hereby showing their support. They call this crowd-funding, and some amazing products by independent designers have had their chance to make it to the market, giving customers and tech seekers alternate products offered by the major dominating corporations. We’ve seen museums been built to honour the late Nikola Tesla, Computer games, and then there is even projects for hungry bicycle tourists wanting to cook delicious recipes. Obviously Crowd funding works. People want to back new and wild ideas and it’s more often than not the initial fund target are well met, and sometimes doubled, tripled and then some. If you have an idea, try it out!

Here’s where it gets weird. Some (no names required, I don’t want to single anyone out) bicycle tourists have been using this service as a mechanism to support and fund their bicycle trip. OK – great, You have a huge following, and you’ve decided to embark on a long journey. If you are raising money for a cause, fantastic – Your readers should expect to see some sort of financials and proof that the money collected is going to the intended destination. I’ve got no issues with that sort of thing, I’ve crowd funded even on this website in the past, but won’t do it again for reasons I’d care not to discuss at this time. What I’m talking about are ones who are not providing anything in return other than a thanks to help them live the dream by riding a bicycle long distances, staying in hotels, eating food, and drinking beer. What’s going on here?

First off – If you are setting off on a long journey, and you don’t have the money to do so in the first place – have you thought long and hard about your idea? Bicycle Touring is hard work, you need to put a lot of food in you, invest in a significant amount of equipment and be ready for anything to come at you, most of the time this needs money. In 2009, I planned that I would need on average $15 USD a day to make it around the world, over the course of three years. Well, I’m well past the three-year mark, and my estimations are still pretty on track. You can visit my Statistics page and see just how much I’m spending (even though some of these numbers are skewed, as I refused to note how much money I was spending on cigars and cigarettes). But definitely, am on track due to careful monitoring of my funds and budget. Living cheaply, spending time with locals, using hospitality networks for lodging, and sleeping in the bush has drastically kept my expenses down. Yeah, it’s a lifestyle change, and it takes work to keep it together, but isn’t what we signed up for? But still, I’ve even asked for help when I’ve needed it – I’m trying to keep my costs down and look into alternate solutions to get parts and products to and from different parts of the world, as the shipping costs equate to a full 2 months of bicycle touring. Something I can’t justify, being the penny pincher that I am. If it gets to that point where there is no option but deal with those high shipping prices, I guess that’s something I’m going to have to swallow eventually, but it doesn’t hurt to try to put some effort into finding contacts who may be able to assist. I’m not saying that what I’m doing is write, especially when you read the end of this and find out that I’ve got my own mechanism in place here.

My issue is those who have “exhausted all other avenues of income generation” and turn to crowd funding to support their lifestyle. The funds requested are huge, some in the 5 figures, yet seem to be bringing in backers daily to realize their dream. It’s great that people want to help, but it’s certainly not doing anything good for the reputation of long-term bicycle tourists who saved their money, sold their possessions, and budgeted along the way to make sure the trip was going to finish. I’ve seen it first hand, when setting forth on an epic journey with another traveler. When faced with a minor meltdown, I watched an online pouting session to fund the replacements, when so early on in the trip they had more than enough funds in order to repair it in the first place. I let them go on their own the next day.

Here’s an avenue, go back home and live with your parents (no matter how old you are) and work for 1 year – See how much money you have saved throughout that year and recommence the journey. Another bit of advice – It’s really not that hard to make money while on the road. Meeting people along the way who need help doesn’t need to be always about currency. Write reviews on your website of your gear, and create partnerships with various manufacturers and retailers so then when you blow a tire you can get it at a cheaper cost. Trade some labour/skills for food/water/lodging. It’s easier to the person requiring as it’s something they already had in the first place, and both parties feel satisfied that an effort was put forth to assist some ones needs. Offering the opportunity to one of your “backers” the ability to come riding with you and ‘become a part of the journey’. $600 dollars to take someone around on a bicycle for two days with their own gear is about $600 too much. Bring them along for free – let them discover the joys of bicycle touring without having to feel like it’s a high-priced ticket to the upper echelon of the elite. We’re guys (and gals) who like being outdoors, crave adventure, and enjoy challenges. Not superstars.

A can of jam, a spreadsheet chronicling how big your muscles changed,nor a postcard does not equate to a tangible product to support an extra long vacation/self centered adventure, and I’ve become quite bitter at the fact that it’s being used this way over and over again, repeatedly. I can’t tell you to not support them, as that’s your own perogative. But it certainly doesn’t mesh well into my mechanics and upbringing, where I had to bust my ass as early as 8 years old to get what I wanted.. Write a book, sell a calendar, sell your photos, for gosh sake put some effort into it. What’s happening now is no better than someone sitting on the side of the road with a cardboard sign looking morose and hoping to capitalize from pity alone. I fail to see where those who left careers from working in IT (what’s that a minimum of $40,000 all the way to over $100,000 a year), working as doctors (*cough* six figure salaries anyone?),  artists, photographers, and inventors (all make their own respective set of income based on the amount of effort put forth) have really messed up that badly and don’t have any money to put food in their guts.

The problem is, is that these cries for help are working, and I think this is only going to get worse. This spoiled way of travel is going to become more popular, with those who think they are greater than oneself ‘truly changing the world’ by going on a bike ride. It’s not that hard. It’s ridiculous, in insult to those who know how to plan, budget, and know when to admit defeat, or at least put things on pause, in order to realign priorities and finances without having to be some sort of cheap bum pretending that it’s a matter of life or death if you don’t get to your destination. Give it a rest?

Ironically, I’ve got a donate button hidden away on this site. I battled back and forth in August of 2011 if I should put it online after repeated pestering from friends. Am I pushing it hard and in your face, no, not so much. Do I make anything from it? A couple bucks a month, where it goes directly into a beer fund, and I send the donator a gift, a thanks, or a copy of a product I’ve created. I don’t need the money, So should I still keep it up?  Am I just throwing myself into the same category with the “like the blog, buy me a beer” to the “Fund my Vacation?” Am I too harsh on this?? Am I just jealous that I didn’t think or this master plan to pad a bank account before anyone else did?  I’d love to hear your comments.  You’ll decide the fate of where this is going in the future.


17 comments

  1. September 30th, 2013

    This is 100% why I bought your book. A guy out on the road, touring, and producing media. It’s why I bought Janapar, It’s why I bought Riding North the Movie. An actual product…kudos!

    I see ‘projects’ on crowdfunding sites and I cringe. I see a post on reddit every now and then also. What’s funny is when someone surfaces on the crazyguyonabike board and posts a question about crowdfuunding and gets one snappy answer and then ignored.

    I every now and then turn on a bunch of affiliate links in my site but no one ever really clicks on them. I look at all the impressions and get a bit depressed, but then again I never click on links. I work on a gigantic media site and see internet advertising as out main source of revenue, but I don’t thinks it’s sustainable.

    I would like to create a ‘product’ as you have done or even go the way of a sponsorship with built in reviews and gear testing. I waffle back and forth on how to make my tour more productive by collecting and publishing media.

    Good post…hope you are working out some of the equipment issues.


  2. Trish M
    September 30th, 2013

    Keep your donate button, you don’t solicit money, you take care of yourself and it’s impressive. If family or friends want to give to you then let them. I imagine it’s mighty hard to send birthday or Christmas gifts to you so that is one way they can…


  3. September 30th, 2013

    Couldn’t agree more, it’s our vacation so to speak, why is someone else paying for it. What got me going were cycle tourists raising money for a cause and using that cause for free food/lodging or discounts. Some opening admitted to perfecting their “I am on a journey for X cause and your support is appreciated etc”. 99% of the time these discounts only served to benefit the person cycling NOT their cause. Admittedly I recieved some good will on my tour, but only after it eventually came up in conversation, and only after I refused the money/goods and asked they go to my website to donate to the charity directly. Some people are just that generous and wanted to assist.

    Enjoy following your blog and will be purchasing a book.

    Cheers
    David


  4. Bob
    September 30th, 2013

    Dave, I’m 100% with you on this! I had already stopped reading 1 very well known and well followed ‘bicycle tourist’ (was a couple but not now) who uses 90% of his posts/tweets/status/comments to engender financial sympathy and receive money through implied hardship…”oh, I could do x, y or z, but I’d struggle to afford it at the moment” (or really, please send some cash so I can do what I want). Now, I see two others I followed have both recently started funding projects to enable them to continue a trip THEY wanted and CHOSE to do. Perhaps, we should all do it when we need money…”oh, not sure how I’m going to pay my mortgage this month; please send some money and I’ll Skye you in so you can watch me pay it”!!

    I have no problem at all in buying books or DVD’s that cycle tourists have created, quite the contrary. In fact, there are a lot of people who I wish would write a book or create a DVD of their trip, as I find their travels very interesting. I currently have a library of over 30 cycle touring books (including yours) and half a dozen DVD’s, all of which I have gladly paid the required fee to purchase. I have also contributed to a number of crowd funding projects in the past, some have come to fruition…others haven’t. However, I will not contribute to any crowd funding projects that are in place purely let someone do, or continue to do, something that they haven’t planned properly, or had the discipline to financially manage properly.

    I’m just glad to see that I’m not the only one who feels the same!! Rant over!


  5. somebody
    October 1st, 2013

    I’m going to comment anon for this. I don’t really have a problem with people panhandling. Somewhere I read that Indian sadhus, or wandering holy men, are seen as deserving of charity because they serve as “purified vessels for the transmission of the divine light”. People reading bicycle tour journals are able to live vicariously or otherwise bring some joy into their life that they wouldn’t experience otherwise, and that can be seen as justifying payment, especially if the act of payment creates a bond between giver and recipient such that the giver now gains even more joy from this vicarious living.

    I don’t give to anybody myself, but then I’m something of a curmudgeon type. I’m also a perpetual traveler myself, except on foot rather than bicycle. Sometimes people ask me if I’m walking for a cause. Other times they spontaneously try to give me money. I’m actually wealthy, and so of course don’t accept, but I also don’t reveal that I’m wealthy.

    Mostly, I find this panhandling business amusing. I would never beg myself, nor couch surf either, but not because I think it is morally wrong, but rather because it offends my pride and because it seems a very uncertain way to make a living, and I dislike uncertainty (and poverty). But if other people can make a living at it, I have no objection. No worse than the people who produce all these idiotic television shows–what good do they contribute to the world, I ask? Morally speaking, panhandling is probably a lot better than the armaments industry, where I used to work.


  6. October 1st, 2013

    Agree 109% Presently writing e-books to sell through my site. But would not drop the beer button.


  7. October 1st, 2013

    Thanks, Dave, for having the courage to address this issue publically. Like you, we have struggled over whether or not to solicit funds through our website. I’ve slapped on a donate button a few times, but ultimately have removed it. In truth, I always feel kind of ashamed if somebody sends us money. We don’t need the money to survive on the road. Our savings can last us for many years to come if we continue to live frugally.

    In fact, most cyclists who solicit money claim to live frugally. But then you see the restaurant photos and you read about the comfy little guesthouse and the hangover after the evening out with some really cool expats. Don’t get me wrong, we all need our splurges now and then. I just spent $10 on 450 grams of coffee and Eric is going insane. This is my little splurge and I’d be hard pressed to give it up.

    I admit to feeling a tinge of annoyance (or is it envy?) when I see others amassing large sums of money (I know of more than one cycle tourist who has amassed over $10,000) through online crowdfunding.
    On the one hand, people are free to give as they please. On the other hand, I can’t help feeling that some cyclists might just save more before setting off, budget better or find an alternate source of income.

    As full disclosure, I must add that we have benefited from the generosity of the cycling community. When Eric’s fully-loaded bike was stolen, we received around $2,000 in donations.
    I’m not quite sure where I stand on this issue. Many cyclists spend a great deal of their time providing useful information and inspiration via their websites. This can be of great value, so why not let followers donate if they appreciate the time and effort?

    I’ve thought about trying to sell photos, but probably would never consider asking schools or cycle clubs to PAY ME for a presentation. I think this should be done free of charge, as a small gesture in repaying the kindness cyclists encounter around the world. (If people want to donate after hearing the presentation, I think that’s OK)

    This is a tough issue, and I’m grateful that you’ve tackled it head on.


  8. October 1st, 2013

    Dave your visceral distaste and outrage at this method of funding a bicycle tour is quite amusing, and more than a little paranoid – so let me just set a few things straight.

    In your diatribe you seem to suggest that droves of cycle tourers are successfully cashing in on crowd-funding – this terrible plague of bloodsucking freeloaders is leaving you vengeful and bitter and angry with humanity for being such a bunch of credulous fools. Let me ease your pain by telling you that in fact the opposite is true. Most crowd-funding campaigns for personal travel are not very successful when compared with other types of enterprise – in fact many fall on their ass in the early stages, especially for those who try to raise funds before they have embarked on their journeys, and with good reason. As you have alluded to – people rightly want to know why they should fund someone’s ‘lifestyle’. Successful campaigns don’t shy away from the fact that donors are doing just that, the question is – what else are they enabling by financially backing the ride? In some cases, a minority, there is enough to convince people to help. But there certainly is a trend of more cycle tourers receiving funding by these means – is this a terrifying prospect? Is the world going down the toilet? Hardly.

    Let’s remember a few things – first of all nobody is forced to donate. There is no dark force at work here. Cycle tourers are not surreptitiously chipping away at the savings of duped pensioners. There is a panoply of worthy causes marketed in cyberspace, people, I believe, have to make considered judgments as to who and what they donate to. If they didn’t, they would donate to everyone and run out of money, and presumably they would have to begin their own crowd-funding campaign to fund expensive treatment for their addiction to donating to other people’s crowd-funding campaigns, something perhaps you consider is just around the corner. You don’t give the public much credit in all of this, people are savy enough to make a decision about whether a project is worth a donation.

    The distinction you draw between bike tourers and the more traditional recipients of crowd-funded projects is a fairly arbitrary one if you agree with me about two things – first that a bike tour and the reporting of it, can be a creative project that stimulates public interest in travel and adventure, and secondly that people do benefit, albeit in a more nebulous way than the receiving of a book or DVD in the post.

    I’m not denying there are cycle tourers who feel entitled to others people’s money to go on a jolly, but you seem to be tarring every crowd-funding biker with the same brush. A blog might not be as concrete a product as a book or film, but if there are enough people who enjoy living vicariously through the writing – then why not ask for money to continue? A popular blog is often a prelude to a book anyway. If nobody reads or enjoys your blog, you won’t get funded. Just because there’s no physical product doesn’t mean the project isn’t deserving of funding. What about a crowd-funded product that doesn’t live up to the hopes of the backers? There must be loads of these – are they more worthy than quality and creative online content on the back of a cycle tour?

    I launched a crowd-funding campaign after three and a half of biking around the world, and it was a last ditch attempt to keep me pedaling. I have lived on a tiny budget but even so various factors conspired to leave me without enough to continue. Predicting how much money you need on a six year bicycle tour around the world is not an exact science – in fact timelines themselves are not always easy to estimate. Believe it or not, I’d never cycled around the planet before. I was relying on guess work.

    Like you I can live happily on less than 10 dollars a day. In my case my journey took longer than anticipated – returning to London at the beginning of the trip for knee surgery was one reason. And there was the cost of the MRI scan, the time in the UK I couldn’t work but had to pay rent, the slow progress I made after surgery etc. My point – that there are sometimes unanticipated costs that come into play, especially when dealing with the narrow margins of budgets for long journeys, rather than financial mismanagement.

    I’m not unusual in asking for public donations – many long distance tourers have done the same, though not always through a crowd-funding site, perhaps asking for the cost of a new bike or other unexpected expense. I never felt automatically entitled to support just because people followed my blog. I knew I had to make the case and see what happened. The generosity was incredible – I was humbled and grateful. Relatively small amounts of money are required to fund bike tours, and yes, if large sums are requested then it’s right to ask why. I asked for the equivalent of 10 dollars a day, so less than you brag about living on, and I’m not asking for the 5 figure sums you seem to have come across. One of the draws of cycle touring is that it is cheap. I’ve slept for free 70% of the time – I know this because like you I’ve recorded many stats from my ride and published them on my site. I eat cheap, I get free kit from sponsors and I barter, trade things, shop around, repair stuff etc. You’ve already decided these miscreants on bicycles are syphoning off thousands of dollars from innocent victims to fund their playboy lifestyles – hotels and beers were mentioned, no doubt now that I have raised the money I will immediately begin snorting lines of caviar whilst swinging from chandeliers and laughing about how gullible the world is.

    Remember too that those who get books or films crowd-funded then often go on to make large profits, and more power to them, but that’s not the aim of crowd-funding a journey, there is no potential to make extra cash beyond the bare minimum to complete what the participant set out to, unless you are dishonest from the outset. And I’m not sure I like the idea that leaching off your parents for a year is more morally acceptable than asking followers of your blog for a small donation. Strangers don’t feel forced to say yes.

    You say we – cycle tourers – are anything but superstars, just guys and girls keen on adventure and a challenge. I couldn’t agree with you more, and doesn’t it make sense to get the word out? Offer to speak for free in schools like Amaya said, tell children about your experience, write without asking for a fee for small independent cycle touring magazines run by hobbyists, not advertising firms. I’ve communicated this message in other ways too, without asking for money in return. I’ve given – for fun, and for selfish reasons granted – but now I need help and I’ve got no qualms about asking for a relatively small amount from the people who, for free, attended my talks, who read my articles and who enjoyed the blog.

    I don’t have an inflated idea about what I’m doing, anyone can cycle around the world, and my journey is essentially a selfish enterprise, I know that, but I acknowledge too that a few positive spin offs do exist, and that it’s possible to leave some positive ripples in my wake whilst I’m on a journey of a lifetime. You ignore the fact that many of the tourers who have successfully raised some money through crowd-funding have previously raised many times more than they are asking for now for non-profits before they ran out of money. So is it really just a vacation?

    It’s the detail here that matters. I absolutely agree that documenting your financial situation is integral to the process – you must be as transparent as possible – spell out where the money is going, document your outgoings, from now on and from previously, explain any contingency funding and what happens to any extra cash. Perhaps it could be given to an NGO?

    You talk about putting effort in – but many might have already done just that. I’ve sold photographs and calendars. I’ve earned money through public speaking. I’ve worked freelance for travel magazines. Perhaps you shouldn’t assume these avenues haven’t already been explored, it’s presumptuous. I made the appeal knowing I didn’t have the time to create and pitch professional articles to magazines if I was to keep moving and blogging. I also knew public speaking in Asia wouldn’t be a money spinner for obvious reasons. I wasn’t able to work in my profession abroad because of significant time out of the field. Crowd-funding was a last resort. I disagree wholeheartedly that earning as you travel is easy – far from it. Staying somewhere to work is easy, but to move and earn – that’s the holy grail! It takes time and hard graft whatever avenue you choose to take.

    Another strange delusion – that there’s a burgeoning proportion of cycle tourers who believe they are changing the world by going on a bike ride. Clearly you’ve been privy to a different world than I have! The ones I know just love the open road. And in reference to your thinly veiled attack – My ‘six figure salary’ never existed (it is the NHS Dave, you’re a bit optimistic).

    The premise – that a crowd-funding campaign for a cycle tour is not deserving of donations, is rubbish. It’s the scope of the project and side projects and the way it’s conducted that matters. It’s what you plan to give back. My experience – of overwhelming public support (I hit my financial target 6 days into the 60 day campaign) suggests that people agree with me. People were keen for perks that were more than just a ‘thank you’ you consider them to be, companies donated clothing and prints and books I could offer in return for donations, and people got that I didn’t need that much to make it home by bicycle. Yes it should only be done if it has to be, yes the perks should be things people genuinely want and yes I could have put my trip on pause to return home, as mentally crippling as that might have seemed at the time, but if I can offer decent perks and reasons to donate that people agree with, then why not pursue it?

    Cycle touring itself can be easy, and it can be hard, it’s up to you. But reporting the journey in an engaging way that inspires others to travel or adventure is always difficult to do well – it requires work and imagination and diligence and people do a much better job of it than me, but I aspire to that goal. If you’ve got a following it’s because you’ve managed to provoke some kind of positive reaction, not just by cycling and adding maps of your route to your website, but by reporting the experience in a way that people can relate to. Indeed some of the money I’ve spent has gone on reporting the trip – hours in internet cafes, the webhosting, photo storage, equipment etc.

    Giving back doesn’t have to be in the form of a book or a film. Use your imagination, get creative. Practical advice for newbie cycle tourers, detailed route information, entertaining blog posts, dramatic videos, quirky presentations to kids, or something totally different. None of these things need to be done in exchange for money of course, and they’re usually not, but if you happen to need financial help then why not turn to the people who have a vested interest in your ongoing journey, because if the journey continues, so do these things. After all you are offering something in return, it’s nothing dramatic or world-changing or even very important, but then most crowd-funding projects don’t promise that either and cycle tourers ask for significantly less financial support than those looking to fund other ventures. Suddenly your cardboard sign analogy doesn’t really fit, does it?

    The world is changing. People have harnessed the power of crowd-sourcing, and good luck to them. It’s not alarming or distasteful – if it’s absolutely necessary and done in the right way, it’s an exciting new avenue. I certainly don’t see anything morally wrong with it – providing you’re honest and fulfill the perks you promised contributors. So despite the undercurrent of envy and sour grapes (‘ an insult to those who can admit defeat’) I hope people continue to ask for help providing they absolutely need it.

    And to answer your parting question – the answer’s yes, but don’t be. You seem to have enough money to continue without resorting to crowd-funding and the goodwill of the public, so you’re lucky too.

    Even though I disagree with you, I welcome your post and the debate.


  9. October 2nd, 2013

    @Stephen Fabes – excellent comment – you pretty much speak my heart and reflect my own experiences.


  10. Chris Ellison
    October 2nd, 2013

    @ STEPHENFABES – you were doing fine until you said your opportunity to produce quality work was Quoting you ” I didn’t have time if I was to keep moving” Stopping a month off to replenish the coffers would have changed your plans how? Was this a race you were competing it? Sorry sound like a lame justification on your part.


    • October 4th, 2013

      Great discussion here.
      One comment to @Chris Ellison: there certainly is a race when touring, the race against the seasons. Steve only juuuust made Alaska in time. There are weather windows which are real time factors.


  11. October 2nd, 2013

    Stephen,
    Thanks for the (long) explanation. I like you, I’ve met you in person, been to a presentation, brought people as a show of support, went home happy. You going around the world is great, and like any cyclist that is undertaking a journey I support them. What I don’t support is just the way it was done, in this case admitting to giving up on wanting to do any more presentations, selling more calendars, trying new avenues of income generation over an assumption that there will be no people in the next continents that will support you. Instead, knowing that people due to human nature will help, going directly to them to solicit funds in a sensational way to support a lifestyle choice for the next two and a half years. I’d love to read a well written explanation for the others who have as good commentary as well, in time they will come. My advice still sticks, admit defeat, put things on pause, gain the money yourself through your own hard labour and creativity which I know you have, otherwise instead of traveling self-supported you’ve now turned into a crowd-supported tourer. -Dave


  12. My Two Cents
    October 2nd, 2013

    Its interesting that it has been pointed out that crowd-founding does not pull in as much money as this blog implies and as such is a justification for its use. Whether or not that is indeed the case the question still remains, is it morally acceptable to ask for money from complete strangers in order to continue living a lifestyle that you have chosen to live?

    It is apparent that people are generally very generous from the number of cyclists that have chosen to use this avenue for fund sourcing. However, people’s generosity is no rationalization for asking them to basically take care of you. As an adult person, your wellbeing is your responsibility and you have to do what you have to do to ensure that it remains at a level that is acceptable to you. To the majority of the population that usually means getting a job and paying your own way in life. Life throws you curveballs, unexpected things happen and we all have to adapt to them and manage the situations that arise from them. In as much as one can sympathise with things like health issues it is still your responsibility to take care of YOU. In the real world if an unexpected expense comes up you do not expect anyone to bail you out so why should it be any different when you choose to live your life on a saddle?

    I find it fascinating how you think that living with your parents for a little while in order to raise funds is more morally reprehensible than asking random strangers?

    If you have a blog you should consider it a privilege that people take the time to read it and show their support by leaving you comments whether positive or negative, you should not feel that you must be financially compensated for it, if financial compensation if the aim for writing the blog then write for a travel magazine, that in my view is a more legitimate way to source for funds.

    I was raised to believe that you work for what you want maybe that’s a passé way of looking at things “want to travel? Work, save money, go” as simple as that.


  13. October 3rd, 2013

    Several brief points here:

    1) If “spending time with locals and using hospitality networks for lodging” falls into your budgeting category, then maybe you are helping the perception that cycle tourists are mooches. However, it can be noted that the traveler/pilgrim is revered in all the major world religions, especially Islam. When someone can sense that we are out seeking something deeper than the next hangover, they are inclined to support us.

    2) The best cycle tours always involve suffering. You ride in the cold or the wind or over some mountains. You sleep under bridges and in abandoned buildings. You get a flat tire in front of the largest transsexual whorehouse in Latin America, etc. Who HASN”T been there? Nobody is impressed by a blog that reads like a vacation. So, if your suffering came before the journey, in the form of busting your ass, you are better prepared than the unaccomplished crowdfunder. Basically, we all support those “underdog” cycle tourists: the “little engine that could” work hard and save up money, or get by on $3 a day, or ride the steepest, nastiest roads on the heaviest, shittiest bike, and then write about it in an inspiring or humorous way. If somebody tries to crowdfund a vacation– people see through that immediately.

    3) Nobody likes a mooch. These people that are unjustly begging online will most likely carry that attitude of entitlement into their interpersonal relations and yes, make us cyclists look bad. Luckily, a high odometer count can only be achieved by hard work and persistence, which still deserves respect.

    4) Although I like being a rare entity as the grizzly cyclist, with that rugged patina of thousands of miles of hard riding, I also enjoy seeing someone new get out and discover the wonders of cycling. In the end, I must only prove myself to myself and nobody else. So I don’t care what some crowdfunder’s deal is. I just want to see more people enjoying cycle touring.

    5) It’s clear that you have battled with the issue of asking for donations, and ultimately lost. You chose to have the button on your site, but don’t need it. Maybe you could save those donations for a while, and then offer up a new bike or piece of touring equipment to your blog followers. That would be cool! Maybe a sponsor would chip in :). Or make a nice donation to a cycling charity.

    6) Please enjoy the road and encourage others to get out there and discover the wonders of cycletouring.

    7) I have a strange sort of respect for cycletourists who smoke. Good on ya.

    Thanks for the discussion.


  14. October 3rd, 2013

    Interesting post and comments. Just as the majority of comments here support you, so do those replying to Steve’s facebook status. Well that’s not really surprising – he has his close followers just like you do.

    I’ve supported about half a dozen crowd-funding campaigns now. Steve’s is the first one that wasn’t offering a ‘tangible’ product in return for my donation. He writes a good blog – arguably a product in itself, although the crowd-funding plea did come as a bit of a surprise.

    As a fellow tourer, a recipient of incredible hospitality and also financial generosity when I asked my followers to help me get back on the road following a major theft of most of my gear (slightly different but an appeal all the same) I felt that chipping in to support his cause was just. Cycle-tourers usually help one another out.

    It is not something I would have felt comfortable doing without a major event to have initiated it. There are many other people who have done similarly long journeys and not used crowd-funding to complete it. That said, crowd-funding is a relatively recent thing. I agree that if you set off on a long journey you ought to budget accordingly, plan ahead and take ultimate responsibility for your own actions. You might argue that circumstances will change and you find yourself in a situation you didn’t plan to, but that is also part of the self-supported challenge – dealing with the unexpected.

    Those who contributed to Steve’s pledge did so consciously. They were happy to donate otherwise they wouldn’t have done. Now we will all eagerly await that picture of Steve snorting caviar surrounded by a bevy of Kazak beauties……


  15. October 20th, 2013

    The reality is that not very many people are successful with this kind of panhandling. Oh well. Yes, we thought and thought about trying to encourage others to support us (or sponsors to support us) on our tour (http://hobobiker.com) but decided it just didn’t make any sense. It was our tour. It wasn’t somebody else’s. We probably could have gotten some small support and been beholden to sponsors. It’s just not really that compatible with the free spirit of cycle touring.


  16. December 26th, 2013

    I have probably arrived a little late to join in on the discussion, but here’s some of my views! Firstly, its clearly something that a lot of cyclists and blog readers have been thinking about, and because its a relatively new thing, everyone’s got a lot to say on both sides. My view?- Give it another year, and its not going to be an issue. I think most people who are likely to donate will do so only to people who are offering something in return (ie – helping someone fund a book/dvd etc). People who offer nothing in return will end up with perhaps some funding, but its more likely to be from family and friends who may have given it anyway via a donate button or directly.
    The second point is in about running out of money and when to carry on. I’m of the opinion that finding a job is the best course of action, whether it involves returning home or finding one where you are. Personally, the lesson that I have learned, is to start earning money on a trip before it’s needed. Even now, i think back to two weeks work I turned down in Canada when cycling Alaska to Argentina because i felt the need to cycle on. Dumbass!!
    Finally, I love the idea about inviting people over to cycle certain sections of a trip, and its inspired me to try this on my next cycle around the world. I wouldn’t dream of charging anyone mad enough to cycle with me for a couple of weeks though, but would also never say no if they wanted to buy me a beer every now and again!
    Last thought – having the time, money and freedom to cycle around the world is a privilege, not a right in my eyes. i wonder if anyone who has used a crowd funding to help them complete or start journeys would do so if they had to pay the money back with a nominal interest charge after a trip had finished??

    Anyhow, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year everyone!


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