Tour cycling is the best.

Being a tour cyclist is the best.

When I was a teen and in my 20’s, I was mostly backpacking. But as I am getting older, I am increasingly choosing to travel by bicycle. Here is why I have become a tour cyclist.

No hustlers.

The single best thing about tour cycling, when compared to backpacking, is the lack of hustlers. There are many nice things about backpacking. But one of the most annoying aspects is that you are often the target of hustlers. I am so fed up with people trying to sell me stuff I don’t want. But when I am cycling I never see these guys. NEVER. Unless I make a stop at a backpacker ghetto, where the hustlers like to hang out. Just like they hang out at bus stations and train stations, where I hardly ever set foot when I travel as a tour cyclist. 


You meet friendly folks, not hustlers when you are tour cycling.

You meet friendly folks, not hustlers when you are tour cycling.

If you are subjected too much to hustling in a place, then you can often get the impression that everyone in a country is trying to sell you stuff.

I have come across even experienced backpackers who piss and moan about Vietnamese all being hustlers for instance. But then when you talk to them, you hear that they have only been to backpacker ghettos when staying in Vietnam. I have seen the hustler scene in Vietnam too.

I have been to the country 26 times over the years. But I have never come across any hustling when cycling Vietnam. No one tries to sell you crap as soon as you are away from the tourist scene in Vietnam.

You are away from the tourist scene 95% of the time when you live on your bicycle. I was also in Morocco once on my bicycle. I did not have anyone trying to sell me crap. One time I walked down the backpacker district in Tangier and saw the hustler circus there surrounding the backpacker scene. Pushers trying to sell has. Pimps trying to sell prostitutes.

Even more people trying to sell random junk. But in the part of Tangier where I stayed, I did not come across a single person trying to sell me stuff. I ended up spending 10 days there, because I felt so much at ease with the locals in Tangier.

I still do some backpacking from time to time, but I prefer to stay away from hustler places.

I still do some backpacking from time to time, but I prefer to stay away from hustler places.

I do not just meet other tourists.

It’s a little too easy to just hang out with other foreigners when you are in a scene dominated by tourists/backpackers. Natives can quickly turn into the people who serve you food and drink and little else.

I personally like to hang out with locals. Especially those who are educated enough to put their own country in to perspective, when telling me about it. 

Because tour cycling is something which is mostly done by the educated crowd in many countries, I am often approached by very interesting natives, who have several times turned into life long friends.

The locals are cycling too around the world.

The locals are cycling too around the world.

You see the places in between the tourist spots.

I have been on the road now for 3 decades. And when I work, I take people sightseeing around the world for a living. So seeing famous places is not the highest on my list when I travel. I really enjoy exploring small towns that no international guidebooks ever mention.

They are often much nicer than one would think. I recently cycled some parts of Mexico that sees very few foreign visitors and I totally loved these places. And many of the towns were surprisingly scenic.

Tour cycling takes you to less visited places.

Tour cycling takes you to less visited places.

Finally, cycling is just a very good way to wind down mentally, while you get fit and lose a few pounds. All while you are exploring the world. It certainly beats wasting my life in a gym, riding a bicycle that takes me nowhere.

So this is why I have gone from mostly backpacking to mostly tour cycling. Not that I have thrown my backpack away.

I still like to go for long walks in foreign countries. But my days as a Lonely Planet backpacker are over.

My next cycling trip will be through Russia. Mostly visiting towns that have never had a single mention in a Lonely Planet guide.

Keep calm and travel the world by bicycle.

Keep calm and travel the world as a tour cyclist.

Happy cycling to everyone.


Happy tour cycling everyone.

Happy tour cycling everyone.


  1. I couldn’t agree more, thanks for your insightful writings on your travels.

    Stay safe!

  2. Another reason is that you don’t get so many blisters and corns on your feet from cycling.

  3. Exactly the same reasons we prefer cycle touring to backpacking. Particularly the remarkably different perspective on the countries and locals of a county. This, in our experience, is no more apparent than in India. The hassles stop and the friendliness increases as soon as you are over 10k from ant village/town found in Lonely Planets’!!

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