Many people have dreams of seeing the world, to travel outside of the United States, and experience other cultures. For Turlock resident Erin Nelson, age 20, this dream became a reality when she embarked on a two-year bicycle trip around the world.
Nelson, who graduated from Turlock High School in 2008, began her journey at the age of 18. Two years later, after biking through 34 different countries, Nelson has returned to her home in Turlock.
Before setting out on the endeavor, Nelson spent an extended period of time training for the trip and preparing herself for the journey.
“Before I left I did a lot of bike rides throughout California, such as up to San Francisco, Sacramento, and Santa Cruz,” stated Nelson. “I taught myself to read a map and a compass, researched traveling blogs about people who backpacked or biked through different countries.”
Nelson shared that upon graduating she felt it was necessary to get out of Turlock.
“I was bored in Turlock, and I also wanted to travel. I realized I could be doing something else, something fun,” stated Nelson. “I decided I would rather do it now before I go to school, so as soon as I turned 18, I left for the tour.”
Nelson set the route of the trip by herself, and started the journey by riding her bicycle across the United States to New York, where she boarded a plane to London. She set a goal to visit 5 continents while constantly moving in the direction from West to East. After visiting and biking through Europe and parts of Africa, Nelson boarded another airplane to India, where she spent nearly four months.
“Living in India and the surrounding areas was one of the main places where I experienced a language barrier or difficulty understanding those that did speak English,” shared Nelson.
Nelson continued her journey throughout South Asia down to Singapore, where she boarded an airplane to take her down to Australia. After biking across Australia from West to East, she ended in Melbourne where she flew to Hawaii, as part of her journey back home to California.
Nelson flew from Hawaii to Canada, as she stated that flights were cheaper that way, and then down to Los Angeles. Although Nelson had anticipated riding her bicycle back into the United States, Canadian officials placed her on a plane to Los Angeles instead.
Nelson stated that amongst her journeys throughout the numerous countries, her favorites included Thailand, Australia and Romania.
Her trip was funded mostly through two local sponsors such as Dave Purdom’s Lawn and Home Care and Pop’s Grocery Store in Turlock, however, she stated that she also did receive additional funds from various smaller sponsorships as well.
Nelson shared that she also worked in some of the countries she visited, such as Italy, Nepal and Australia, where she worked at a hospital. These jobs, however, were not paying jobs. Instead of receiving payment, Nelson received free housing while working there.
Nelson posted many of her experiences on her website and blog while touring the world. Experiences include everything from the food she ate, how she believed people differed from county to country, and even how she was put in a Hungarian jail.
“When I started this tour I was 18, 5’2”, 165 pounds,” states Nelson on her blog. “Now I am 20, 5’3” and 137 pounds.”
“I would complain about everything, the wind, hills, dogs, cars, and now I accept all these things as factors of life. I have been through 40 sets of tires, 268 flats some multiples in one day. I biked over 21,000 miles, through 32 different countries, five continents, and been through 4 cameras, 2 video cameras, 5 speedometers, 2 sleeping bags, lost most of the screws on my bike, and never thought I wasn’t going to make it, cause I knew I would. My pride wouldn’t let me quit.”
Although Nelson does not intend to make the journey around the world again in the future, she will always have the memories of her travels to last her a lifetime.
To read more about Erin Nelson’s travels, visit her website and blog at the links below: