Today we are traveling with Jin from Universe with me!
My name is Jin and I am from South Korea. So far I’ve been to more than 57 countries, cycled over 49,000 km, and never been home for over five and half years. I write in my blog Universe with me is all about my experience traveling with my bicycle. I usually write about what I’ve seen, how I’ve felt, and whom I’ve met. I love to take pictures, look at the night sky, watch the birds, and have new experiences.
What type of traveler would you say are you?
I am a low budget traveler on a bicycle. It has been four and a half years that I’ve traveled with a bicycle, since Sep 2011. Before the cycling tour, I went to Canada with a working holiday visa. While staying in Canada in 2010, I decided to travel around the world with my bicycle because I wanted to see the world.
What’s inside your panniers? What is that one thing that you ALWAYS have to carry
I really carry everything to survive on the road. I have winter clothes and summer clothes. I have camping gears. I like to take pictures, so I have 14″ laptop to see my photos. I have gopro, and a portable printer for gifts to local people. I also carry a book to read. I like paper books.
I have a drone, Phantom3, for over eight months since Turkey. But I will sell because I realize it is difficult to carry and there would be security problem in Central Asia where I am going soon.
I have my camera, passport, wallet, and smart phone all the time wherever I go.
(By the way I didn’t have a phone for two and half years at the beginning.)
Are you usually traveling alone? Why by bicycle?
I don’t mind cycling with someone. Actually these days, I really want to cycle with someone because I’ve cycled alone too long. It is enough. But I cannot find a cycling partner easily. A bicycle is a good tool to meet local people and to see the world. Car is too fast and walking is too slow. The bicycle has the best speed to explore the world in my opinion. One of benefits of traveling while on a bicycle is that local people are more welcoming.
How many kilometers do you usaully cycle per day? How many hours? How much budget?
It depends on the elevation and weather. I usually cycle around 80 km to 100 km per day. I start early morning and finish before sunset. When the day is longer in summer, then I am outside for 14 hours. If the day is shorter in spring, then I cycle for 10 hours. In the winter of 2014, I cycled in Finland. At that time, I could cycle only 4 hours per day because day light was only 4 hours and I could make only 40 km per day. My budget is around $300~$400 per month. If I spend $500 for a month, then I feel like I spend too much money.
Which country is the easiest for traveling by bicycle?
I am not sure what can be easiest country for a beginner.
Europe could be difficult because the road is too complicated to get out of city easily. And there are not many bicycle paths; you have to cycle only on the national road, not highway. There is no shoulder usually, so you would be scared by cars.
USA can also be difficult, because you must avoid highway. So you will get lost while finding the secondary road.
Africa.. Latin America.. definitely difficult…
There is the one best country to cycle!!!
It is the only country in the world that bicycle paths is separated from the road all the time.
Which country is the hardest for traveling by bicycle?
Every experience could be different by situation. I am Asian, girl, traveling with a bicycle, and alone. It makes my experience difficult many times. Street men in Latin America, Africa, and the Middle East harass and flirt with me almost everyday. Also I have to hear racist word too often in those countries.
When I am with male companion, then they usually stop harassing. So as an Asian girl on a bicycle alone, it was challenging almost every day. There was no such thing as an easy going day when I was alone because of this except in Europe and the U.S.A.
The most harassment I got was in Ethiopia. But I loved their culture that Ethiopia is my favorite country although I had hard experience.
Which country did you find with the most hospitable people?
It is difficult answer. Many people said poor people are hospitable and rich people are not kind. But I’ve learned from my trip that kind people are just kind whether r rich or poor.
Although there are lots of people helping me all the time, I always tell myself “To help someone is not easy. So to get help from the people is miracle. Appreciate to every single help because it is miracle.”
How is a day in your life when you aren’t traveling?
I started traveling since 2011 and I’ve never been back home yet. I will answer what I am doing when I don’t cycle. I am very busy with so many things. I don’t have a such a day off. When I get off from my bicycle, I have to send back messages to people, answers to people, check my bank account, write my expenditures, update social network, make a plan for the next route, check the information of the next road, organize pictures I took, make a video, write a journal, have a tour in the city I am staying at, hang out with people and so on. Being on a trip is so much busier than when I worked in South Korea.
What’s the big reason why you are traveling?
While I was in Yellowknife, Canada, I saw the Northern Lights . The experience inspired me so much that I wanted to hitchhike and see the universe. But I changed my mind and decided first to see more of this world.
What’s your favorite gastronomy/food cuisine that you had in your travels?
I really liked Ethiopian food. It is so beautiful. I also like Mexican and Spanish food.
(By the way the best food is Korean food.)
Has there been any challenging and bad moments? Can you tell us about the experience?
I was sexually harassed in Middle East over four times. Two times were in Iran. It was too stressful ever. I was hit by car on the road over four times with all bags on my bicycle. I had one accident with a motor cycle without bags on my bicycle.
I had car accident two times while on somebody’s car. So total I had seven car accidents over four and half years. Car accident was challenging all the time. But I’ve never had big injuries.
What has been you favorite destination on all the trips you’ve done?
I like empty quiet roads such as deserts and forests. I really liked to cycle Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia because there was huge salt desert that it was very quiet. I liked to cycle in Finland because it was covered by the snow that it was just gorgeous.
What’s the worst place that you have stayed in for sleeping? What’s the best?
I am cycling alone, so I am afraid of men usually. The worst place is the place I worried too much. It happens time to time.
The best place… I don’t know.. many good places.. 🙂
Are you planning for a new trip or do you already have a new trip in mind?
I will cycle two years more, so I don’t know yet for the next trip.
Is it easy to find love while you are traveling?
Not that easy.. usually just short term..
How do you finance your trips?
I saved money in Canada at first. I keep updating my blog. I’ve gotten donations from my blog and it makes me keep going. These days I am writing on magazine which gives me some small amount of money.
Do you have any recommendations which blogger/traveller should I interview next?
Lambpost.com, I met her on the ferry from Sudan to Egypt in 2013 and I met her again in Turkey in 2015. Very interesting girl 🙂
I still don’t know her well. I know only that she loves adventure, she is a good writer, and she is a bit crazy like me. So let’s interview her to know her more!
Which one would you say is your best memory amongst all your travels?
There were too many good memories to choose only one. I can be happy with small things easily. I have told many times to myself on the trip. It is one of the best moment in my life, such as when I was on the top of mountain, at the sunset, at a beautiful beach, in front of amazing nature, with good people, at the moment of overcoming difficult problem, with the good meal and so on.
Many people have asked me how I can settle down after such a long trip. I don’t need spectacular scenery all the time. I’ve learn how to enjoy life with small things from the trip.
Where are you now? Traveling or resting?
Right now I am in Oman. I rent a room to update my blog for a month. I will go to Central Asia on the spring. After that, I will head to China, South Asia, Australia, New Zealand, China, and then KOREA! So I will cycle two years more, I guess!
Was there any moment during your travels when you’ve thought about quitting your trip?
When I finished the America trip, I was thinking about going back home. But I decided to keep going.
Amazing stories Jin from Universe with me, thanks for sharing all these to us!
Jin’s story is just impressive and so inspiring. A year working in Canada and she starting traveling around the world by bike, 4 years and a half so far. And she is planning to cycle two years more before going back home. She had some problems on the road with men, people and cars but she is really happy about of the help that she got from people.
If you want to read more stories traveling by bicycle. You can check my bicycle trip around Europe during 5 months with almost no money. Or read the stories of Patrick Martin Schroeder and Dave. They have been traveling around the world for years.