Digital Nomads and Bicycles – How Bikes Can Impact Your Life

digital nomad bicycle

When it comes to living in different countries and traveling as a digital nomad, your life can be improved in multiple ways. One of those ways is with a bicycle – a digital nomad and a bicycle – and this article will explore how bikes can impact your life.

I’ve come to appreciate the value of bicycles. Not that I didn’t enjoy or like them before, growing up in California. I was even a bicycle racer during my younger days. But now I see they are the perfect motivation for exercise and fitness. They are also great for people who are keen on looking for adventure.

As most digital nomads are adventurous people, bicycles are simply an exceptional asset to possess. They not only help you to save time and beat long trekking distances, but they also allow you to explore places you would never find or think of going if not for your trusted bicycle. Be a digital nomad with a bicycle!

Bikes can impact your life in many ways and they are so simple to use and maintain, in comparison with other transport types when it comes to digital nomad travel.

I lived in Beijing for two and a half years. During the first year, some of the friends I made suggested I buy a bicycle because I can see more of Beijing and get around faster. The traffic was amazingly heavy, and at first, I couldn’t see myself being on a bicycle in that traffic.

After one trip to Yangshuo in Guilin Province, I rented a bike and saw such beautiful sights on narrow paths and had such a great time, that I bought a bicycle when I got back to Beijing. It turned out to be one of the best investments of my time living in China! Indeed, I saw areas of Beijing I had not seen before in addition to finding that some of the main streets are closed to car traffic after a specific time.

digital nomad bicycle
Bicycling in Beijing can uncover many wonderful sights – Digital Nomad Explorer

As it turns out, moving around on a bicycle from city to city or country to country requires in-depth information. You need to know how to travel with bikes through airlines and border points. You also need to know the financial and time implications of taking your bike through different continents.

In this article, I will share my personal experience in regards to digital nomad bike travel. I will also analyze the experiences of fellow digital nomads with whom I’ve discussed the idea of exploring new places by bicycle. We will examine the different opinions out there regarding the best way to balance bike exploration and digital nomad work deadlines while keeping a healthy lifestyle.

For a digital nomad who is just starting, this piece will offer valuable insight on how to use bicycles, in your circumstances, to the best of your financial, mental, and physical advantage.

Digital Nomad – Exploring New Places by Bicycle

There is something simply surreal and cathartic about exploring a new place from the freedom and mobility of a bicycle. As you peddle along, the pleasure of breathing in the fresh air and observing sceneries you’ve never seen before can be breathtaking. Many digital nomads with whom I’ve interacted swear that the feeling makes them feel so much in sync with the new geolocation that the bicycle saddle feels like their natural home.

digital nomad bicycle
Here I am bicycling about 60km outside of Beijing. The sights you can see by bike can energize you – Digital Nomad Explorer

The convenience that comes with it also compounds the feeling of liveliness. You can speed past dull sceneries and slow down when you feel like appreciating what you see even more. You can also stop slow down on your bike, stopping to smell flowers, learning local dialects from the people, and take a quick dip into clean rivers and streams.

The pleasure of cycling through new places is that it comes with liberating options. Some cities organize tours for visiting tourists. Such tours are always great for busy cities with heavy and annoying traffic that could slow you down. It is possible to find bicycle tours to take in the grand design of cities like London, New York, Tokyo, Saudi Arabia, and Paris. The tours are well coordinated to allow cyclers breathtaking and unlimited sight to the most iconic city locations. Such tours are always great. The cities often clear traffic in a bid to decongest the city.

However, there are those days when you want to explore sparsely populated destinations. On such occasions, I may choose to cycle in the company of other cycling enthusiasts just for the sake of companionship.

However, I can also decide to hit the road on my own. Solo cycling is always crucial for personal reflection and a personalized exercise regimen. Being a digital nomad with a bicycle, when I want to hit my fitness goals but still enjoy knowing a new location, I prefer taking the paths less traveled.

In case you are interested in bicycling to the beach, here’s an article on all types of different activities you can do once you get there 17 Adventures a Digital Nomad Can Have in Beach Areas. Thinking about working when you get to the beach? Read what you’ll need to do your work at the beach Can a Digital Nomad Really Work on the Beach?

If you are more of a mountain person and will be bicycling in the mountain areas, check out this article on what digital nomads can do in mountain areas here How to Be a Digital Nomad Adventurer in Mountain Areas?

What Are the Benefits of Exploring on a Bicycle?

1. Cardiovascular Health

One thing is for sure; your heart is always growing older and weaker once you are past your growth curve. Another thing is for sure; your cardiovascular health will still benefit from some moderated workout. Regular bike cycling will never disappoint your pulmonary health. It makes your heart muscles stronger and boosts your chest capacity. When your lungs are functioning optimally, your blood circulates efficiently, ultimately increasing your cardiovascular health. Therefore, it makes sense to boost your morale and health by taking in those breathtaking new sceneries while cycling for the possibility of a healthier life.

2. Save Your Money in an Eco-friendly Way

Since you can’t possibly walk through multiple towns and vast rural areas easily, you have the option to use your own energy and go by bike. Besides, a digital nomad with a bicycle can be cost-effective and save money in small ways. Fuel costs money and the byproduct fumes harm the environment. However, cycling only burns harmful cholesterol and fats in your body. Did you know that when you cycle, you save on gas and hospital costs? Let’s say that you need to tour an average of 16 miles of new places every week; did you know that you could prevent 2,000 lbs of carbon dioxide emissions annually by cycling?

3. Stronger Bones and Joints

Did you know that cycling is a low-impact physical activity? Unless you keep cycling through rocky edges and jumping hoops on your bike, you could make your joints stronger and more flexible by cycling than taking motorized trips.

4. Activates Creativity and Cognitive Functions

There is just nothing as captivating as always exploring new locations on a bike. Driving through new places kind of keeps you focused on the road. To avoid the plight of tunnel vision and notice more details, it is better to scout on a bicycle. While on your bike saddle, a digital nomad like you is likely to unwind better and refresh more. The physical demand stimulates your brain to release feel-good endorphins. By the time you get back to your accommodation and work area, your stress levels will have reduced. Therefore, take a 20-minute bike-riding break through your new working geolocation the next time that you feel mentally fatigued to get that mood-boosting dopamine pumping into your bloodstream.

5. Better Photography and Visual Reward

There is just no way will you ever be a better photographer in cars as opposed to on bikes. Bikes allow you to access more captivating scenarios from different angles. As a digital nomad on a bicycle, you owe it to yourself to always capture those new and exciting places that you visit. How else will you show your loved ones what they can’t see from home?

digital nomad bicycle
If you like photography, the landscape photos you can capture by bicycle can be beautiful – Digital Nomad Explorer

Photography enshrines your memories, and you can always use photographs to tell stories to those around you when you are too old to travel anymore. The best thing about cycling photography is that you will still see something new even when you cycle through a familiar location.

There isn’t much debate as to whether digital nomads should ride bicycles or not. If there is such a debate, well, you already know on which side myself and the many other digital nomads are inclined to be on. If you want to be a happy digital nomad, you should take up the cycling lifestyle, and figure out how you can bike for your health and affordable mobility.

PeopleForBikes put together some incredible statistics about the health benefits of bicycles. Go to their website and check out their collection of insights here.

You will always need to go on adventures, and you will save time and money cycling than through any other means of transportation. It is all about setting your schedules right and positioning yourself in the right way.

Ways Cycling Saves Digital Nomads Money

You can take cheaper accommodation

You will find that hotel rooms, hostels and private living spaces closest to cities and beach destinations are way more expensive than the ones about 8-12 kilometers off there. You will also find that the co-working spaces available often surrounded by more expensive accommodation options than the ones that are just biking distances away. You can save a lot of money if you choose cheaper accommodations and close in on the distance through cycling.

You can save on taxi, train and bus fares.

If you must commute every day to your adventure destinations or working areas, you may find yourself saving so much money if you cycle. Digital nomads often travel in the country they are living as well as to neighboring countries. Having a bicycle allows for saving on other types of transport. Before this article is over, I will offer insights on how to arrange for affordable and regular cycling that will tally in more savings on taxi, train and bus fares.

You can save on time

A digital nomad must always be disciplined and work hard to afford the nomadic lifestyle. A digital nomad must always put self-care top on the priority list. Too often, that translates into fetching our own supplies at grocery stores, convenience shops, and tech outlets. Instead of always walking to such amenities and installations, it makes more sense to cycle and saves on time. The time saved by cycling always translates into more adventure time or work time. Adventure time is always great for future productivity and increased time for work translates into better financial capacity.

digital nomad bicycle
Bicycling in the city can get you places and improve your health – Digital Nomad Explorer

Generally, cycling doesn’t just save on your health spending alone but also on your productivity time. A digital nomad with the right mindset will use the gift of cycling to choose appropriate accommodation and workspaces as well as balance work and play.

Renting a Bike vs. Bringing Your Own

The truth is that this is a very personal decision that every digital nomad must make. We definitely will analyze the specific considerations that you must make depending on your lifestyle. However, to get the aspiring digital nomads in the right context, I’ll start by taking you through the endless benefits and disadvantages of renting a bike vs. bringing your own.

A. Renting a Bike

Renting a bike saves you the headache of border paperwork. It also reduces the stress of picking out different airlines with favorable luggage policy and pricing. As a digital nomad, you are likely to travel a lot and go through different countries and continents.

As you can imagine, even if you find valuable information on how to save money and time via airlines and border paperwork, you will always have to keep disassembling your bike. Digital nomads who rent bicycles do not have to keep taking apart their bikes apart only to reassemble them after dragging them halfway across the world. Do you yet another hustle and risk they avoid? They don’t have to keep nagging airline attendants to treat their bikes as fragile luggage.

Renting bikes also affords digital nomads the freedom against always having to tend for their bikes when they are not in use. They avoid storage costs and enjoy the flexibility of moving wherever they want with minimum baggage.

digital nomad bicycle
Mountain biking is an excellent hobby for exploring – Digital Nomad Explorer

Another advantage that digital nomads enjoy when they rent bikes is that they can test different bikes any time the need arises. Bikes are always designed for different bikes. Road bikes are excellent for commuting, but they don’t serve the adventure purpose well. With diverse bike types such as gravel, dirt, BMX, mountain, and cyclocross bikes, your needs may be best served by trying different models. If you bring your bike, you may be disadvantaged when you are trying out diverse landscapes.

B. Purchasing a Bicycle

Bringing your bike may require intensive research to find out how to transport bikes across different government jurisdictions as well as meeting the transportation costs at airlines. However, the peace of mind of commuting and touring on a tried and tested bike is worth it. Digital nomads who want to buy a bicycle should do so, because it may lessen the hassles of renting.

Nobody understands your cycling style and geometry tuning requirements better than you. When you have to rely on random bikes every time that you need to cycle, you ran the risk of encountering faulty bikes. When you are riding on foreign roads and paths, the last thing you want is to ride on an uncomfortable and possibly unsafe bike.

Do you remember my advice about settling on bases for long periods and touring around the base to save on accommodation and transport costs? Well, if you are already saving your money through that insight, you can save even more money by bringing your bike. Despite the airline transportation costs involved with taking your bike to new locations, you are likely to find regular bike riding way more expensive.

It may cost you just $120 to fly your bike across the globe. However, if you cycle it regularly, say almost daily for only a month, you may save up to $1,200 in daily bike renting costs. Depending on the quality of the bike you prefer, you could incur a daily charge of $60-$170 through bike renting.

digital nomad bicycle
For longer trips by bike invest in some good equipment – Digital Nomad Explorer

A quick note about equipment: for extended bicycle trips a good backpack and some saddle bags will go a long way and allow you to take some extra clothes or even your laptop and items for your work projects. Proper saddle bags will also enable you to take your camera equipment if you are into that. The great thing about saddle bags for bicycles is that one can keep things off your back (or keep it very light) and it puts some weight on the back end of the bike which has a steadying effect. I used them extensively in China when I lived there and bicycled around.

When you are cycling, the likelihood of running into damages is always looming. When misfortune hits and you damage the bicycle that you are riding, you will have a less stressful financial position if the bike was yours. Rental bikes come with daunting and damning conditions. A mere dent could cost you almost as much as it costs to buy a new bike. However, when you damage your bike, you will figure out your most affordable way to fix it. Furthermore, since the bike is yours, you’ll fix it without any external pressure when your financial situation allows it.

C. What If I Own A Massive Bike that Can’t Fit into Airline Luggage?

Several bike manufacturing companies make bike frames that can be dismantled into two parts. When you can successfully break down huge bike frames into two, you can easily fit the entire bike into midsize luggage categories and avoid oversize charges. Spend some money buying such frames just once and save airline expenses forever. All you have to do is transfer the rest of the bike components into the frame and keep the oversized frame back at home.

D. Are Folding Bikes Any Good for Long-Distance Touring?

I know many people who use folding bikes in China and also in Europe. I noticed myself that folding bikes are better suited for commuting than hitting the daring off-roads. One of the convenient features of folding bikes is that you are able to take them in luggage bags and put them on luggage racks when traveling on buses or trains. In this way, they are compact and stored away securely. I don’t have any direct experience with a folding bike but it seems logical that it can make life easier.

Digital Nomad Bike Travel Verdict

When you factor in all the considerations in this article, you can guess what I recommend. Digital nomads and bicycles are a good combination!

While it all depends on the length of your trip and your destination, your life can improve in many ways by having a bicycle. If you want to read more about what you can plan and do as a digital nomad adventurer, check out this article The Cool Side of Adventure and the Digital Nomad Lifestyle.

Find out what areas of transport in your lifestyle you can swap out or at least go by bicycle. You will get healthier, get some exercise to reduce your stress, and see a different side of the city and country you call home.

Michael Haralson

I'm the owner of Digital Nomad Explorer. I've traveled to over 50 countries and been an expat in Scotland, Finland, and China. I was a digital nomad while having my own robotics company and traveled throughout Europe and China working remotely. Currently, I'm location independent with a home base in Kirkkonummi, Finland.

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