Minimalist Travel: 5 Things I Learned On My Bamboo Bike Trip

Samurai Matcha
by Samurai Matcha

I’m going to share with you some of the highlights of a bike trip I took in 2019 in North and South America. I traveled to Canada, America, and Colombia. I call it my bamboo bike trip because the road bike was made of bamboo!

Since I am a schoolteacher in Japan, my goal was to share Japanese culture with others while traveling around on this minimalist bike.

Things I learned about minimalist travel

I learned five things about minimalist travel while on this trip. 

Bamboo bike packed with luggage

1. There are few things that people really need to live

I realized this while riding from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon, which is a hot desert area.

I packed a lot of things in my bag when I started my journey. I had English textbooks, bath towels, thick jackets, shampoos, detergents, and sentimental items (like photos). I was just worried I’d need these things during the trip and couldn’t let go of them.

I had 30k of items (66 pounds) in those bags and it slowed me down. And the slower I rode my bike, the longer I was exposed to the scorching sun and I quickly became dangerously dehydrated.

Heavy luggage equaled death to me! As a result, I let go of unnecessary items. 

Paring down the luggage

The only things I had once I got to the Grand Canyon were necessary clothes, tools, and tech items. I got rid of the shampoo and bath towels. Many things I took for granted in everyday life were things I actually did not need. This realization helped me in my journey to become a minimalist. 

Bamboo bike

Bike made of bamboo

2. Bamboo bikes are strong

One of the worries I had on the trip was that my bamboo bike might break. I worried it would break in the airplane, under so much weight, or in extreme temperature changes. I biked in the snow, desert, rain, and dark.

A couple of things happened, like a flat tire and gear issues, but the bamboo frame never broke! I realized the wonderfulness of bamboo.


Traveling as a minimalist

3. Having few things equals freedom

On the first day, my luggage was heavy. By the third and fourth days, as my luggage became lighter and my riding speed increased, my heart became lighter, as well. I felt free!

Thanks to that experience, I was all set to become a minimalist. Even today, I can move all of my possessions in 30 minutes! 

Meeting new people

4. Keep an open mind

To be honest, I was scared of traveling in the United States. It was my first time traveling there alone. I thought my money might get stolen and I’d be threatened by a gun. But I know dangerous things can happen in other countries, too.

In reality, there are many people who are really kind. One man stopped his car and gifted me water when I was in serious trouble. He decided to help a random person in a kimono on the side of a highway.

He headed off and two hours later, he brought me more cold water and ice cream! He not only saved my life but changed the image I had of Americans.

Tea ceremony

5. A tea ceremony connects the world

One of the goals of this trip was to interact with others through the Japanese tea ceremony. I took all the opportunities I could to make tea with others.

I met many people through matcha. I was a host at the Japanese Culture Festival in Canada. I held a matcha event at a cafe. I even made matcha at a park and at the Grand Canyon. I met many people of all ages I wouldn’t have met if it weren’t for the tea ceremonies and it helped me expand my views of the world.

Minimalist travel

I hope you enjoyed a snapshot of my bamboo bike trip. It was eye-opening for me and I am so glad I did it. I hope to continue these types of trips and hope to make matcha during tea ceremonies in many other countries in the future.

Let me know what you think of my bamboo bike and all of my encounters during my trip in the comments below! 

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