Earlier this year I did my first bike tour. Over the course of 11 weeks, I biked from the US-Mexican border to San Francisco, covering 600+ miles in distance and gaining 20000+ feet in elevation. It was the most rewarding trip I have ever done, so much so that even two months later I can still feel the purifying sensation it brought me. This first tour also sparked many other first times, to name a few: first time solo camping, first time setting up a campfire, first time dumpster diving, first time knocking on strangers’ doors asking to camp in their backyard.
From all these experiences, my biggest lesson is that traveling is an exchange, an interaction of giving and receiving. Our society has unfortunately narrowed the scope of this interaction down to money, service and goods. We tend to think of traveling as a financial expense. Whether it’s fifty dollars for a guided tour, or ten rupees for some street food, we pay, and in return we expect services, goods or experiences. However, money is just one of the many things we can give. Beyond money, we can also give energy, time, knowledge, or even our heart. To me, bike touring means to continuously offer energy and trust to the surroundings, and to receive the grace of nature and the space for self-exploration.
For anyone who wants to grow, traveling is an offering of oneself. By offering who we are and what we have, we open ourselves to experiences that can truly help us grow. My friend, I invite you to think: what was the most recent exchange you had when you were traveling?