Our most Frequently Asked Questions – FAQ – may not be your questions: Let’s use the comments section to keep chatting!
Who can come?
Anyone! Think you’re old? We need your wisdom! Think you’re too young? We don’t (so long as your parents/guardians don’t either). Though our main age range is 18-35, we want everyone to join us. We’re serious about helping everyone to see the world. Believe us, everyone will benefit when you bring your talents to the table! Join us to do a service project over a weekend, to listen to a lecture, or just to hang out in a beautiful spot for an afternoon!
Often, age groups have the option to be split up per their own bus – and in some cases certain age groups have very little contact with each other.
How am I going to travel?
You can do the trip any way you want! Bike. Run. Sit. That’s right, sit on our sweet buses if you don’t feel like riding or running! This also means we’ll pick you up from the airport at the start of the trip and, in many cases, drop you off at the end. Indeed, grab a few friends and make it the best road-trip summer yet!
Do I need a bike? Car? How do I get one?
No! But you might want to get a bike, given all the beautiful scenery you’ll have the chance to pedal through. We have a collection of bikes that you’ll have access to, but if you’re a cyclist or would prefer to keep your own, we recommend bringing it! A bike will also make getting around a particular area much easier. In national parks, for example, our buses will drop you off near your tent and leave for the evening; exploring via bike will make getting around a large park much easier.
If you’d prefer the freedom of a car, bring one! Or, join a team of friends and decide where to go together! Use the route as a base to launch from and see everything you’re interested in!
How do I get there? And what can I expect after I arrive?
The trip you join is designed to involve the communities it travels through. We get a lot of people who simply join as the ride goes past.
However, we encourage people to join us for as much of the summer as they can. If you join from the beginning, we’ll pick you up at the airport before Orientation starts on May 28, 2016. The day-to-day, after orientation, is up to you! Wake up and go exploring! Use our free Wi-Fi to plan meetings on the route, submit assignments, or work remotely. Or just hang out with your new best friends. We’ll have social and intellectual events most nights – including local speakers, music, fundraiser parties, and we’ll have a couple days a week devoted to service projects. In fact, the trip will be so packed with things to do that you’ll need to take a few days under the stars, out by the lake from time to time!
How do I bring a bike?
Bikes can be shipped via USPS (etc) or taken on planes, trains and automobiles to the starting and ending points (airlines and etc companies have independent rates. Approx. $100-$150 to fly a bike, already boxed).
Where do you stay at night?
We stay in communities, in National (or other) parks and forests, we stay with organizations and locals and anywhere and with anyone who will have us. In many communities, we encourage individual volunteers to put a towel (or a YP Flag!) in their mailboxes to indicate that they’re willing to provide at least a shower to any participant who has proof of participation (the “at least” means they might also feed you or let you spend the night in a guest bed. Of course, you’ll also be expected to offer to help with any minor chores or work projects around the house).
That’s to say, participants are technically allowed to stay wherever they like (in homes, in organizations, in hotels, forests, etc), but The YP will provide a tent with enough space to allow space for participants to pitch a one-per-person tent under it. The tent includes food and showers, and it ensures everyone has a safe, dry place to camp each night.
What are the showers like?
In populated areas, you are likely to be able to shower at a local organization or host home. Like, you know, a normal shower. In more remote areas, our tent has Gravity showers! As in, we made shower stalls and supply a hook to hang a bag of water from – you stand under it and shower. (You can heat the water before showering). This is part of our effort to engage with the world’s current water shortage, and to seek to understand how much water we’re actually using each day. Not only will you see the effects of the water shortage on much of the west coast, you’ll have the opportunity to take seriously your water consumption by gaining a direct understanding of how much you’re using.
You provide food!? Wait, what kind? Is it any good?
As part of our overall philosophy, the best food, and the healthiest food is also the tastiest food! Our cooks make delicious meals from quality (allergy-conscious) ingredients rich in proteins, complex carbohydrates and the nutrients and ingredients recommended by our team of Nutrionists. Think: International cuisines that will blow your mind and nourish your body. Only the best sauces, spices and herbs and amazingness!
We provide breakfast lunch and dinner that will fill up your tummies, make your mouth happy, and nourish your cells -the best ever! You can also eat at the many, many, many foodie places along the route!
Our food service is an experimentation with what it could or should look like to eat sustainably—for ourselves and the communities we pass through. We hope to establish well-documented or rigorously researched ethical ideas and approaches to eating, both as ethical travelers and as ethical community members.
How do you choose the bike route? What roads do you travel on? Is it Safe?
Very carefully! Mostly the route goes through places where The YP has maintained connections, otherwise we go where it’s prettiest and build connections with local organizations or those most interested nearby communities.
Regarding those who choose to cycle the route, we follow well-established bike routes when available (which is most of the time). We also employ a “route team” that verifies the safety (and aesthetics) of each route shortly before it is pedaled. Roads are either the most scenic or the safest, when the prettiest routes are less safe.
We communicate with and rely heavily on local authorities to ensure the safety of the route. We also use our buses as chase vehicles – with big signs on the back detailing the event in progress.
What is “Leave No Trace” and how do you follow it?
“Leave No Trace” is a set of (usually 7) principles that guide humans through a space without damaging it. Basically, it’s how not to leave a mess behind for the locals, for the animals, or the planet. A good example of leaving a trace – the opposite of what we’re trying to do – is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. So we do our best, at all times, to observe “Leave No Trace” principles. That means making sure we’ve cleaned an area before leaving, and it means teaching others how to poop in the woods (don’t worry, we make it pretty comfortable). We aim to be an example in “Leave No Trace” for more than ourselves – we think we can influence other communities and organizations along the way, too!
Is it reasonable to expect to do something like this safely? healthily?
Absolutely! Doing it that way may mean substantial changes to your lifestyle, eating habits, or worldview, but then again, that’s the point of an adventure! We seek to provide a basic platform or infrastructure for you to thrive in your endeavors, whether they be physical, professional, spiritual or intellectual. We encourage you to commit to a few weeks with us, pick a few things you’re interested in and to push yourself, and come do them with us! Learn how to plan an event, or present a plan; get into great shape with a group of others looking to do the same (and share a chase car!); be mentored by wise individuals from other communities, or conspire with like-minded YP-ers to start your own venture!
Our answer for safety is Community!
Travelling with hundreds of other people working together and getting to know each other means that it’s a crowd you’re safe in. You’ll start to recognize (and look out for!) your comrades in service and scholarship. Safety in Community means safer cycling—in necessary circumstances, traffic is stopped or guided to accommodate the cyclists. And it means safer camping—numbers keep away animals and would-be assailants via the walls of the tent. It also means it’s hard to get lost! Most locals will have noticed the large amount of people recently passing, and the police will always know which direction to point you.
Each participant also passes a background check (the only major requirement for coming; most partner organizations require it of volunteers), so participants (and locals) should feel no hesitation to trust one of their own YP volunteers.
What are the most common injuries? How do I prevent them?
According to one blogger, very common injuries when cycling include:
- Aching knees (lack of training, grinding up hills)
- Saddle sores (lack of training)
If you’re just riding in the bus or car, the most common injuries are no different than your day-to-day life.
Does it matter if I train?
No! Just ride on the bus when you get tired, get into shape by cycling or running/walking as far as you can – then get on the bus!
How do I join a team?
Since most teams are initiated separately from The YP, we seek to offer forums for discussion and organization of teams, tips, and general conversation. The forums are divided up by region, so please find the region of the team you’d like to join. If you aren’t sure, just pick a cool place and ask to join a team! Teams are all about promoting cross-cultural life-long friendships. Or, perhaps you and your friends want to join together to accomplish a particular set of professional, physical, intellectual or spiritual qualities as an individual or group.
Otherwise email firstname.lastname@example.org and ask to be put on a search-for-team list for your region or international interests.
How should I train?
Here are a few training blogs from similar types of cycling trips.
Coach David Ertl runs a training blog for the (Des Moines, Iowa) Register’s Annual Bike Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI). It’s this wild event in which people come from around the world to bicycle across Iowa for a week. It’s insane. It’s rumored that nearly 25,000 people have done it (only 10,000 can register) in recent years. David gives solid advice, and if you’re new to cycling, he’s writing to you!
Our own (shorter) answer: get a bike, start riding it to pretty places near your house. Do a 1-5 mile loop one day and see what’s out there. Then check your maps app and pick a park that’s a little farther out, bike down and have a picnic, then cycle back, that’s double the distance, closer to 12 or 15 miles now (if the park is about 7 miles away). Keep picking picnic destinations increasingly farther away. If you ride a few times a week, it should be about a month and you should be capable of choosing a picnic destination some Saturday morning that’s 20-25 miles away. Cycle to it, relax a while, and cycle back. (But make sure you leave enough time so as not to cycle after dark; or if you must, please remember to use high-capacity LED lights!)
The first step to training is to not think of it as a huge deal. Yes, it’s true that training sufficiently before a trip will make your life much, much easier during the trip. That’s going to be true regardless of skill or fitness level.
However, the simple fact is that the trip is designed to accommodate new cyclists. We average 50 miles per day. The average person, assuming well-below-average fitness, is able to bicycle between 6-10 miles per hour with minimal raise of heart-rate. So get used to cycling for long periods of time. If you can cycle 6 miles per hour, it would take about 9 hours of cycling on an average day; with break-times for lunch at a pub and a few grocery snack-stops, and you’re in for a 12-hour day of long, slow, minimal exertion. If you can cycle 10 miles an hour, 50 miles, with 3 hours for breaks to explore or eat, takes 8 hours. Train so that you are able to cycle about ten miles to a place, on whatever type of bicycle (so long as it fits you), and then stop! and eat some sandwiches, and cycle back. If you can take a few hours a few times a week and cycle 10-20 miles, you’ll start to get the hang of it. Ideally, you’ll have done one or two 50-mile rides, perhaps preferably with some friends, before you join a trip.
What should I expect on a trip?
In a lot of ways, the trip is what you make it. The YP works hard to be an excellent platform from which people are able to pursue legitimate, whollistic types of goals as diverse as building supply chain networks to becoming a recognized artist. We’re trying to create a community. A really cool community of friends who go on adventures around the world together, who study and learn and work and create together, and who serve each other and communities around the world.
Our primary goal is to make something like this accessible to you—after that, it’s kind of up to you. You can come and cycle every day and take a course for a few hours, 5 days a week for six weeks while also working to apply those ideas to a string of service projects at various types of organizations in 4 or 5 of the communities the trip passes through. You’d be crazy busy, and you’d change in dramatic ways. But that may not be what you need right now. You may need to simply go through the world at a bicycles pace and spend time chatting and getting to know people, reflect deeply on where you’ve been recently, and spend time socially with locals and other participants. If you feel you need quantifiable accomplishment, you’ll have developed a robust network of connections, seen a ton of the continent in a real, interactive way, and have had transformative experiences in ways that will shape your life—oh, and the whole thing costs you way less than the cost of living in many places for a summer.
You’re able to craft the experience to engage your interests and grow your contribution to the group, to the communities, and, hopefully, to the world.
What About the Service Projects?
We have three categories of “service projects”:
- Volunteer—everyone is encouraged to participate in these. It’s a large part of why we do this—it’s easily the best way to meet people and build relationships with communities. Stay at someone’s house, help paint a house, do ecological maintenance, help plan or set up at a local art event or whatever else you hear about or think of yourself!
- Internships/Fellowships (the only difference is one is paid a little): These are specific projects or sets of projects that can be paired with a curriculum, either designed by The YP, yourself or a professor/mentor (see form here).
- Staff: Those people doing Fellowships (really clever ideas we come up with ourselves, or that you convince us about, that are aimed at making money) or the general YP Staff.
How am I going to assist in Service Projects?
That’s completely up to you! You’ll simply sign up for the service projects The YP has set up in the areas, or plan one of your own (spontanteous or planned). We’ll have a variety of projects in many areas, some will even allow you to volunteer for particular positions (like tutoring in math or a labor skill). Ideally, you have a few options to choose from.
How do I set up my own service projects?
It’s not as hard as it sounds. We’ve written a blog about it! The short version is think of something you’d like to do and the place to do it, then get a few people together, plan something (pretty thoroughly), and then start asking the people in the places you’d like to do it if they’ll let you. The YP has already cleared you with a background check, and you’re able to articulate what you’d like to do well, so the chances of success are high!
If you’ve got the willingness to work, there’s a good chance your dreams could come to life.
How do I get paid in the Summer Work Program?
Just sign up for the Summer Work Program. It’ll require a few forms and a background check. Anyone who is paid by The YP has to fill out these forms. Then we help you to work with us and one of our sponsors or local organizations – or we help you find the work you prefer!
How Little Cash Can I do This whole Summer On? What else do I need that is not provided?
You should bring your own tent and sleeping bag and soft-case bag of clothes (think: athletic/duffel bag, not “suitcase”). We’ll carry that stuff for you. (We also provide group discounts for sleeping bags and tents, if you’re interested). Otherwise they don’t need to be fancy, they won’t need to withstand much wind or rain (you’ll be inside our larger tent). We aim to provide the basics for what you need to be healthy while cycling around the country – though you’ll likely want extra treats and souvenirs and to experience the social life in the places we visit. A few hundred dollars extra is fine for some people, others prefer $1,000 or more. It’s really up to you!
You don’t need anything besides your personal belongings to join – and many people simply work for their extra cash along the way – in fact many people choose not to spend money except for the initial fee!
Please post your unanswered questions in the comments below!