How To Start Cycling Around The World For Free Or Cheap

Young and Wild Expedition 2013 Start Cycling ARound the World - Riding Road

You want to start cycling around the world, but you don’t have much money for gear to get started. Or, if you’re like the majority of people, you just want to go on a weekend trip – adventure cycling style – without spending much cash. Here’s How To Start Cycling Around The World For Free Or Cheap. Or, you know, just explore your region on a bike.

Get A Bike!

Cyclist gives thumbs up in Yellowstone NAtional Park

If you’re going to cycle around the world – you need a bike! And one of the most common mistakes touring cyclists make is to think that they need some extra-special bike. You don’t! We use new bikes from Wal-Mart (or the equivalent) to go across Europe or the Americas. Or we’ve used old steel-frame touring bikes from Craigslist. The benefit from getting a new, expensive touring bike is that you won’t have to make so many repairs. Our Founder, Matt, purchased a Huffy 10-speed on Craigslist (for $40) and participated in the Great Bike Ride Across Iowa this past summer (2015). So don’t think you need a fancy bike to go a long distance. Or, if you’re having an especially hard time finding a bike, get in touch with We-Cycle-USA, a non-profit that helps people get super cheap bikes or bike parts! You could also do like Tom, and sort a bike for about $25!

Get Panniers (Or A Trailer)

The Panniers are those bag-looking things attached to the bike wheels. And they can be crazy expensive. Like $500 for a set of four. But we think this set of Nashbar panniers, which runs you closer to $150 for four, is just as water-proof and just as round-the-world durable as anything Ortlieb makes (er, uh, we think so, anyway).
But if you’re looking to only spend something like $0-$10 and have the time to make your own panniers, these are pretty cool!


 You could also get a Trailer – they run $170-$350. Or you can build your own!

Get A Tent

A good 4-season tent can run you thousands of dollars. It’s insane how much outdoor gear can cost! And if you’ve already searched craigslist, checked ebay, hit up your local thrift shop, and Googled “Cheap or Free 4-season tent” –  still to no avail, you might be starting to despair. You have the option to start cycling in warmer weather with a cheap tent and assuming that you’ll find the right cold-weather tent before you actually need it. This sounds absurd, but literally no one from The YP has been on a long-distance trek and not been provided with the gear they need when they need it. Adventure travel, once commenced, is rarely unsustainable simply because of the people you meet.

But there are quite nice 3 or 4 season tents for about $100. Or consider Bivvies – also for about $100. Bivvies are little sleeping bag liners that keep you warm and dry. We tend to use these (Bivvies or the $100 tent) if we can’t find cheap used stuff at one of the aforementioned sellers. They’re durable, from legit companies, and we think they’re the best value for the money.

Get A Sleeping Bag

Two men in sleeping bags drinking coffee watching sunrise

Sleeping bags can also run you close to $500. But they don’t have to – if you need a 0 degree bag you don’t even need $100. And the same for warmer summer bags. And since your bike is carrying the weight – instead of your back – you don’t need to worry as much about the weight! So no worries about getting a 5 or 6 pound bag! Besides, the weight you’ll lose by carrying a penny-farthing stove will help shave off extra ounces if you’re still concerned 😉

Get Bike Lights, Mirrors, Helmet, and Other Accessories

2 people change a bike tire

Bike lights can be upwards of $100. But there are also quite reasonable options for only $20 (or $30-$40 for front and back). And even if you don’t plan on riding at night, if you’re doing a multi-day tour, it’s probably a wise idea to get one for the front and back anyway. You just never know when having a light on your bike is going to save your life. Consider a headlamp, too! If you’re feeling extra creative, try these!
 Or, if you’ve already got a flashlight around the house (or an uncle with a flashlight obsession), you could just strap the light onto your bike!

Get Water (Containers)

 You’ll be drinking lots of water. So much water.If only because you’re smart – or you understand how painful dehydration can be. So how to carry it? We tend to just use bottles that we collect along the way. A gallon jug isn’t that inconvenient a shape But if you’re keen to spend money on a dromedary bag – they’ll run you anywhere from $30 to $75.

Water Filtration System

A standard, high-end water-filtration system will run you $70-$120. You could also consider water treatment systems, or tablets and boiling water. Depending on where you’re starting your trip, you may not need to worry about this just yet. If you wait to get on the road before buying a bunch of gear, we’ve found that not only will you not need to throw a whole bunch of expensive stuff (you thought you needed) out, but that you’ll also stumble across amazing deals when you need them!

Get A Cooking Stove

These can run you anywhere from $15-$50. And they’re quite trendy in the outdoor world. We think it’s insane how much these companies charge for a stove, fuel, and how often they tend to break. We use penny farthing stoves because they’re much lighter than the stoves and can burn any fuel – which means when you’re somewhere where they don’t sell the fuel you’ve been using, you don’t need to worry. While petrol (gas) isn’t very clean to burn (like de-natured alcohol or even just rubbing alcohol), you really can burn any fuel in these babies! And don’t forget to pick up a cheap pot to cook in at goodwill – or just your current kitchen!


Get Sleeping Pads/Mats

This is another area where the outdoor world can charge a premium for a product that, well, might not work like you’re expecting it to. We prefer the cheap foam mats. While the self-inflating ones are cool (here’s one for $30, though it’ll likely stop working after a couple weeks on the road) and the ones you inflate yourself are also cool, if sometimes frustrating, we simply don’t think they’re worth the extra money. Get two foam mats and you’ll still spend less money. Or, you’re also just as likely to get a mat, if slightly misshapen, left over at a carpet store. Seriously – they often have a similar type of foam pad for under carpets. It’s the same stuff. They can’t use it. You can. Go ask.










0-Degree Sleeping Bag




Sleeping Mat (2)


Cooking Stove

Free (Make it yourself, it’s better!)

Water Filtration

$70 (But wait to purchase it unless you know you’ll use it right away!)



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