Earth Roamers

Could you introduce yourselves(and your bikes)?

We are Aad and Mike (Father and son) from Australia. We rode a Triumph Bonneville T100 (Aad) and Yamaha XT660R (Mike) around the world and in the process, I (Mike) became the youngest person to circumnavigate the world by motorcycle at the age of 19.

From your blog, I found out you started in Australia, then to Alaska, United States, South Americas, Europe, Russia, China, India, and currently in South East Asia. Did I get your general route right?

It’s a little bit different :-) The route we took is: Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Alaska, Canada, USA, Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras, Costa Rico. We then shipped to Europe where we rode through The Netherlands, Belgium, France, United Kingdom, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Czech Republic, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, France, Spain, Portugal.

We did some much necessary motorcycle maintenance at the end of the year/winter, organised our visas and bike carnets for the eastern part of the trip and continued as soon as the mountain passes were open again.

We then rode through Belgium, France, Switzerland, Italy, Austria, Slovenia, Bosnia, Croatia, Montenegro, Kosovo, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Romania, Bulgaria, Greece and left Europe towards Turkey. We took a long detour through Turkey, Georgia, Russia (including [Chechnya], Kalmykia), Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, China, Pakistan, India, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Malaysia and then back to Australia.

How did you get the idea for a family trip like this?

We have always travelled, we have even gone around the world in a Volkswagen van when I was 3. My dad has always been into motorbikes. When I was 11, I got my own dirt bike and this started my passion for riding. Then, when I saw the Long Way Round [a TV series following Ewan Mcgregor and Charley Boorman’s 19,000 mile trip around the world]  I realised that I could combine the 2 things I loved (travelling and riding a bike).

However, the Long Way Round also showed me how not to do it. It showed me that you need more time and that you shouldn’t plan everything out but see where the trip takes you.

What went into the trip before you even hit the road?

Before we left I had to get my bike licence and I worked hard to finish my schooling. We then sold everything we had and left with a vague idea of where we wanted to go.

Has it been one big adventure or do you touch home base once in awhile?

The trip has been continuous, we didn’t go home at any stage, and it took us 4 years to complete.

How did you fund the trip?

My dad worked hard for years and saved as much as possible and also sold the house and car. Also, while travelling we free/wild camped frequently and lost a total 25kg in body weight each.

Earth Roamers: For us the Nomad lifestyle is still the best way to live

What navigation tools are you using? GPS unit or maps?

We use a Garmin 62s GPS with the Open Source maps. We have found this to work really well as the Open Source maps do list the off-road sections really well. We sometimes use Google maps to plan a route when we have internet… which we mostly don’t as we like to free/wild camp. For the first part of the trip (Australia to south USA) we navigated using paper maps.

Are there any phone apps that have helped you on your journey?

Nope, we don’t even have a smartphone :-)

How do you plan your routes to minimize shipping costs, cross border efficiently, deal with carnets, etc?

Organising shipping is a case of spending days online, asking quotes and working out which route is best. Borders are the same, but usually we just turn up and say “hi” and take it from there. The main problem we found is that a lot of the info on the web is either outdated or written by people who pretend to know but often don’t.

How do you balance a route to get the most out of the country? I assume you’d want to hit the tourist attractions but also see the hidden sceneries you find off road.

We like to visit the most scenic areas, but often we find the touristy areas [are] not for us and we stick to the back roads and the rural areas. We ask local people and take their advice on where to go. That’s how we find and experience the country as it really is.

Did you ‘hack’ your bike in any way to make it more comfortable for long distance travelling?

About halfway through the trip I decided to make my own screen for the bike and when we were in Thailand I had the foam in my seat replaced and modified (higher and flatter seat). Other than that we rode mostly stock bikes apart from the pannier racks and panniers we fitted along with hand guards and a strong skid plate.