Over the years one will find out what works and what not. I might be able to shine a light on saving money for you, because one thing I found out is that when you start a trip, you ALWAYS spend too much money.
Ortlieb Repair Set
No need to buy the pricy repair set from Ortlieb. Go to a workplace where they make boats, they are happy to give you a piece for free. Buy seam sealer and you are set!
Home made tick and mosquito repellent
Go to this link and see how easy it is to make your own repellent.
More about a cheap stove
A very handy, cheap and light way to cook is the alcohol burner. This is a little tin which has room to fill with ethanol, lamp oil (burns with a lot of soot though), or rubbing alcohol (at least 70%). To have a pan stable above it, I use 3 tent pegs. I have found it easy to find alcohol in Romania (look at the cosmetic aisle for rubbing alcohol) and Serbia but difficult in Czech Republic and Poland (where I had to use lamp oil). This is just so much more convenient and lighter than carrying an expensive brand which only last so long and eventually fails. Yet, I did buy an expensive stove again…
Since the Primus Omni Fuel is broken, I have use a slightly more ‘expensive’ version of the Altoids Tin. Buy alcohol in a supermarket or pharmacy, preferable above 90%, and you got a good fire if a wood fire is not possible. Balancing the pot above it needs some experience though… use cups or your lock when wood is not available.
You really can wash your down sleeping bag
I had not washed my sleeping bag for 2 years and it was really very dirty. I was worried that after washing I would destroy it. That turned out not to be true, but you need to take good care. Especially the drying of the feathers is a precisely job. It can take days before the inside of the sleeping bag is dry (if there is no sunlight) and you need to shuffle up the bag often. Use soft liquid washing detergent èt voila, your sleeping bag feels fresh and voluminous again. Go here for the step by step care.
Take earplugs when cycling in India
I hardly listened to music -except on the wide Express Highway- as I needed to be aware what was happening in front and behind me áll the time. These earplugs let you hear well enough but block most harsh and unwelcome sounds.
Sunglasses with prescription-glasses from the inside ARE BROKEN!
At last, the Julbo glasses with prescription-glasses inside broke down. I kept them together with second-glue but they still did not hold together for long. When the inner-glasses broke into two pieces and I did not found a way to attach the plastic inner-glasses to something in order to attach them to the outer glasses, a friend came with an idea: why not put existing glasses to the inside! I attached them together with a narrow piece of velcro, and took the frame half apart : )
Make it ‘yourself’ or LDDI (let dad do it)
Each time I needed a chain whip I was lucky enough there was one. Except when I was back home: the only cycle repair man in town was on holiday. Thankfully my dad can make everything!
Want to take the bicycle on a cargo plane?
Some airlines (Indian Jet Airlines for example) ask ridiculous high prices. Check if there’s a CARGO option. Save you a lot of money. I did this in Oman on a flight to India. It takes some time but saves money. Yes, the bicycle goes together with dead bodies… workers from India, Pakistan and other cheap labor countries.
Cool me Down!
Temperatures rising close to a 50 degrees is something electronic devices are not keen on. I do as the locals, and stitched a jute sack neatly fitting the front bag. I lost this while bumping over bad roads and outfitted a rough one. Also the panniers with the laptop got one. It doesn’t need much water to keep them wet and the result is amazingly cool! Often things out of the cooled down panniers are so refreshing I hold them a little longer to experience that feeling again: cool!
Leave it here. Handy when you need it, takes no space in a panniers : )
The safest place to store your credit cards and big stash of cash is in your tight-fitting sport bra, women. I have sewed together a little pouch where I wrap the money around the cards and into a plastic bag so not to drench it with sweat. It’s handy, safe and easy to get access to.
In Iran (November and December) I found it difficult to keep myself dry and warm enough to keep cycling in the rain. I had no rain gear other than a cheap rain jacket. I had Icebreaker gloves and real fur mittens from Tibet, none would keep me dry. Then my friend Darryl came with a good idea: wear dish washer’s gloves. I found these in a hardware store. With Icebreaker gloves underneath they work very well. I keep dry and warm.
I used a plastic sheet to cover my bottom, since I had no pair of rain trousers. A plastic mini skirt keeps the bottom and underwear dry, which is enough to keep dry and warm enough for a few hours. For the feet I use zip-lock bags.
Search for any spoke long enough, get it cut and bend it yourself. It never is as good as an original spare spoke but it will do the job. Thanks to Eric from the Vakantiefietser.
Keep it in place
Get yourself an etui to keep all the tools together. I made this one from, oh… how fancy, hemp textile. It’s sturdy and can be rolled up, all neatly tight up.
Handy when you are not tall. Being as little as I am, the bicycle is small too, leaving no space for extra bags to attach to the frame. I can manage to put two bottle cages on the frame but need an extra bag for easy access to snack while riding. Here the chalkbag comes in handy. When full and not biking, store it safe so rats will have no chance to eat from it, like happened in Africa, they bite a clear-cut into it! Indian Himalaya 2014, I took it off, as well as a few adornments as I think it unbalanced me, or at least gave me extra weight : (
Key Hole Blocker
It gives you an extra feeling of security. If all you got with you is in a room with a flimsy door, in a brothel where the guards do not exist and the girls hang in the bar, you better be sure…
Anti Malaria treatment
This medicine works just as well as any other expensive one from Western countries. It’s €6.50 for one package. Use it as a treatment, not as precaution.
No need for another expensive item in your medicine kit. This cream will do the job and cost not more than €2.50
Cheap solution. I received the saddle in Ivory Coast (thanks Derek from Ireland) and since no saddle cover nor wax was included (not a very well salesman), I bought shoe shine wax and a shower cap. Cheap and good.
Yves is a very experienced cyclist and rode thousands and thousands of kilometers around the African, Middle Eastern, Central Asian and Asian continents. He knows where he’s talking about, so I had no doubt about his invention: his father made this smart fire-stove upon request of Yves, a real bushmen himself. It has foldable legs which make it easier to carry on the bicycle. It can not really be a replacement for the Primus Omnifuel because it is not always possible to use it. But when it is, it is heavenly!
Soaking beans while cycling
Brendan came with a good idea: soak the beans in your water bottle. My advise: put less in it then Brendan’s content, so it will come out easier.
How to secure Ortlieb bags?
A friend of mine came up with this idea. This will not prevent thieves, but it will at least make things a little more difficult and probably give myself just a little more peace of mind when I go to the supermarket. But where it was actually for is to prevent bags falling off while bumping over a track.
After it took me a lot of research and then time and then patients to find the right and not most expensive sunglasses with prescription, it was not good. I wanted it to be a Julbo Tracks with Clip On. When I got it the little plastic Clip On was all too happy to peep underneath its dark protector. So I would be a cycling Cindy with quite funny sunglasses on my nose, one who pretended to be two instead of one, or rather four instead of two glasses. So I thought a while and came up with this solution: a piece of plastic cut small and stuck it between the black nose rubber and the Clip On.
This is how the Julbo (€140) looks after two years on the road… hold together with glue and tape…
How to make tea and keep it warm and drink from it with only one thermos which can be tightly secured on the bicycle
Well, that is a mouthful of questions and the answer is simple, but only after I bought a thermos from Primus to find out an immersion heater doesn’t fit into the opening. I would only be able to boil water in a thermos-mug, but not in a thermos-flask. So to keep my tea warm I need a mug and a flask. That’s too much. I found a thermos-flask with wide opening from Stanley and that makes me carry only one thermos! One which double as a mug and a flask.
10 replies on “Useful Tips”
In Poland pure alcohol fuel is called “denaturat.” I knew what it was called when I went there but hard to find as many retailers do not stock it due to alcoholics buying it to drink… not recommended by the way 😉
I discovered the best places to buy it were in paint stores where they sell it as a thinner and cleaner!
Really? People will drink this stuff pure? Hmmm…. that doesn’t seem to be very tasty…
Indeed, paint stores are the place to go. I found it difficult later on in the journey to find Coleman white fuel, for cleaning the Optimus stove which I am using now. In South America this is very hard to find.
I do not use alcohol burner much, carried a liter alcohol in Paraguay for rainy days, or fire catching sensitive places.
Do you use it daily? Or do you have a proper stove too?
Yes, I only use a Trangia alcohol burner. Sorry for the delay in replying, I only saw your post today.
And I just see this reply now : )) Are you always able to find alcohol? I found it not a secxure options when relying only on alcohol. Do you make natural fires to cook on too?
By the way, alcoholics are drinking this stuff even with the dangers, blindness! It is the cheapest form of alcohol.
This doesn’t surprise me, as in Iran they do the same. Homemade liquer, as nasty as alcohol for stoves!
Some great tips! Really creative some of this stuff, an enjoyable read. I was thinking of using a climbers chalk bag instead of the fancy specially designed feed bags because I don’t have much room under the bars with the tent being there & all. Now I know it can work.
Thank you Jason, just be a bit creative in your thinkinh, it helps when brainstorming with others! Not all these are my own inventions : ) Good luck with your set up and finding the best way. Happy riding : )
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