Here are the questions we are most frequently asked and the answers to them.
Who are you and why did you do this?We are James and Sarah Welle (formerly Sarah Erck), two ex-Microsoft employees who decided to quit our jobs, sell all of our material possessions, and travel around the world on our bicycles. It all began innocently enough in 2005 when Sarah's mom gave James the book Miles from Nowhere on his birthday. Sarah, being the bookworm that she is, read the book immediately and fell in love with the idea of riding a bicycle around the world. James was a little more reluctant at first; he was an avid cyclist but was worried about quitting his job and spending a lot of money on a trip like this. Sarah persisted and in the end she was able to convince James to take the plunge and in September of 2006 we decided to officially do the trip after James finished his work on Windows Vista. The fall of 2006 was spent furiously planning and preparing for our departure in November!
Where did you go and how long did you travel?We started the trip open ended, without a definite plan on where we would go or how long we would be gone. Our original rough itinerary was the United States, New Zealand, Australia, Southeast Asia, China, Russia, Eastern Europe, and South America in one year. That ended up being way too ambitious. In one year, we actually traveled through the United States, New Zealand, Southeast Asia, and Eastern Europe. You can find all the details on our Route page.
How much did this trip cost and how did you pay for it?Our original budget for the trip was $25,000 USD, but our final tally was closer to $40,000. We are both savers, not spenders by nature and were already saving half of our income before we even started thinking about this trip, so we didn't do any special budgeting. If you want to see detailed information on where we spent our money, check out the Finances page.
Did you worry about safety?Not really. Diarrhea was actually more of a pressing concern when we were on the road! The only dangerous things we ran into were dogs and the occasional group of aggressive monkeys.
What did your families think of the trip?They were extremely supportive. At first they were nervous, but once they became used to the idea they got excited about what we were doing. Our family members have a history of following their dreams, whether it is blowing the world's largest bubble or building a business around socially responsible investing.
What did you miss the most while you were gone?Spending time with friends is what we longed for the most. James thought he was going to have a hard time being away from work, but that was easy to get used to.
Where was your favorite place to cycle?We traveled in a lot of great countries, but Laos was our favorite cycling destination. It has everything a bicycle tourist could want: nice roads, low traffic, beautiful mountain scenery, good food, interesting and exotic culture, and low costs. Other highlights included the flora and fauna in New Zealand, the food in Thailand, the bicycle paths of Germany, excellent beer in the Czech Republic, and the beautiful islands of Croatia.
What was the craziest thing that happened to you?Honestly, there is not really one thing that stands out. If we had to choose, it would be a near monkey attack in Thailand, Sarah breaking her arm in Laos, or the time our tent was run over by a car (while we were inside) in the Czech Republic.
What was the hardest part of the trip?Without a doubt, making the decision to go on the trip was the hardest thing we had to do. After that, everything came relatively easy. While we were on the road, the biggest difficulties were dealing with extreme heat in Southeast Asia and just the pure physical strain of cycling.
Which country had the worst drivers?Serbia wins by a landslide. The roadsides in Serbia are dotted with gravestones and passing on blind corners is commonplace. Serbia is the only country where drivers pretended they were going to hit us for amusement.
© Copyright 2006-2008 James & Sarah Welle.
Got another question? Contact us at jamesandsarah at erck dot org.