Advice & Questions

I couldn’t have planned my trip without the help, advice and inspiration of those who went before, and now that I’m on the road myself I frequently get emails from other aspiring explorers, asking me questions as diverse as how to get through Balochistan without being shot, what sanitary protection I’d recommend for riding across the Tibetan Plateau, and whether it’s possible to cycle tour in Xinjiang if you have a wheat allergy. (Bodyguard, Mooncup and yes (probably), in case you were wondering.)

I’m always happy to respond – partly because I love waffling on about the minutiae of bicycle  travel, and partly because, karmically speaking, good advice is one of the few things I can offer the world at the moment, and helps to balance out the hundreds of free meals I’ve been given in the past year (not to mention the accommodation, equipment and even money that people have generously donated to my selfish cause).

I’m going to try and collect all the questions and answers here, for your amusement and convenience. If you find there’s something I haven’t covered, or you just want to say hello, you can get in touch via the Contact page, and I’ll reply as soon as I possibly can.


  1. Hi Emily,
    First of all (and I know this isn’t the first time you’ve heard this) but thank you for sharing such an awesome adventure! I loved reading your blogs and laughed as often as I felt awe-struck!
    I’m flicking you a quick email because I’m in the midst of planning a world cycling trip myself and just wanted to pick your brain on a couple of things. First things first visas: I’m actually a journalist and I’ve heard that’s an unfortunate title to have when trying to get an Iranian visa. Do you have any tips for getting one and/or great contacts to smoothing over the process etc.
    Also (and I ask this because I live in a disgustingly hot tropical climate (Townsville Australia) and thus have an irrational fear of the cold) are there any pieces of winter gear you wish you took or that you had and think is absolutely bloody essential for cycling through sub-zero conditions? I’m in the process of ordering all my jackets/thermals etc and am in danger of having panniers bursting at the seams.

    And lastly route planning. The part of me that’s a control freak wants to have a pretty clear idea of where I’m heading in each country (factoring in top sites to see etc) and the neurotic scatterbrain in me just wants to fly by the seat of my pants. So far the end result has been a map with a couple of countries boasting clear routes in whiteboard market and then just vague lines on everything else. So in terms of route planning how much did you do before you went and how much do you think it all matters anyway at the end of the day?
    Also any extra tips you want to throw at me (if you have the time) would be greatly appreciated.
    Thanks immensely in advance.
    Sarah Webb

    ps: After reading your blog on women changing flat tyres I realised how pitiful my own skills were and have since successfully become a quite adept (well at least i hope so) tyre changer 🙂

  2. I’m planning to cycle Crawley (approx) to Istanbull/Kiev depending on political climate in turkey at the time. My planned departure is start of June so I’m not worried about being physically prepared; I was more interested if you had advice about pannier bag/ travel security as i will be living out of these bags for 8 weeks and though I love my bike I don’t want to be stuck to her the entire trip (would be nice to take a min to see the sights)

  3. Great blog! On the subject of women changing flat tires…two woman friends of mine came to visit, so I borrowed two bikes and took them on a cycling tour of my city. A mile into the ride, L’s bike got a flat, so I began to make repairs. L. was not an avid cyclist, so I suspected she did not know how to repair a flat, so I offered to demonstrate. She immediately burst out laughing. Seeing the puzzled look on my face she explained, “Look at me. I’m young, I’m cute and I’m blonde. I don’t NEED to know how to fix a flat tire.” Sure enough, in the few minutes it took me to patch the tire, two different young male cyclists stopped to offer help. Each time, L. caught my eye, grinned, then gave me her “See, I TOLD you so!” look. YMMV.

  4. Hi, Emily,

    Although I am not a cyclist and have just come across your blog by chance (searching for something unrelated to cycling), your writing has kept me reading for a good few hours. However, I have not yet read enough to find an answer to my question: what is your academic background?

    I know you don’t like to hear about your bravery in traveling alone, but I would like to say that my reason for finding you brave is not because you are a woman (though it’s hard to ignore that women are more likely to be targeted – anywhere) but mainly because you are the exception rather than the rule. How many of us have the balls to avoid becoming a mortgage slave?

    Thank you for your excellent writing and beautiful images!


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