The World on Two Pedal-Powered Wheels – Stephen Peel

Many has taken to exploring the world in so many ways, flights are the most popular, cars next in line, but I bet you haven’t thought of Pedal-powered wheels.

Amongst many adventure seekers is Stephen Peel who took to exploring 12 countries on a bicycle, this adventure covered countries between England and southern Thailand and lasted for 16 months.

Meeting many wonderful sights and amazing people, he recommends this style of exploration through his book “A highly unlikely bicycle tourist”.

Stephen has also taken to other adventures such as driving through the United States. Currently residing in England, he still has an adventure in him.

Meet Stephen Peel

France West Coast

Born in Manchester, England in a concrete jungle of highrise council flats, I emigrated to Australia with my family when I was just five years old. I was instantly in love with the wide-open spaces and wildlife of the Australian bush.

I’d often pretend to go to school and then make my way to the bush or river nearby to look for snakes and other critters. I couldn’t get enough of being around wildlife and out in the open air. I feel the same way today at 57.

I had backpacked, driven, cruised and been on many package holidays. For my last adventure, I chose to travel on a bicycle. I loaded it up with everything I thought I might need, including a tent.

I then spent 16 months cycling in 12 countries between England and southern Thailand, and I couldn’t recommend that style of travel enough.

I experienced things I would never have had the chance to experience if I had travelled any other way.

Best Destinations

Some of my favourite destinations include: USA, Brazil, Cambodia, Greece

I have been lucky enough to visit just shy of 40 countries on six continents.


The USA is vast with so much to see and do. I had spent 11 weeks driving a car 10,000 miles in the USA, and I barely scratched the surface. I highly recommend a fly-drive. There are no shortages of hotels, and fuel is exceptionally cheap. At least compared to fuel in England.


On my 40th birthday, I trekked in the Brazilian Amazon for a few weeks. I was lucky enough to spend some time in small villages where I enjoyed the interaction with locals as we followed jaguar tracks in the forest and hunted for tarantulas.


My favourite county and, one that came as a big surprise to me in so many ways, is Cambodia.

On my recent 7000-mile 12 country cycling adventure, I cycled down from Thailand into Cambodia and to Siem Reap, where I spent a couple of days exploring Angkor Wat and the temple complex.

The Cambodian people had genuine smiles, and many tried to communicate with me in English. As I was travelling solo, I was thrilled about that.


As I cycled through northwest Greece, the scenery was stunning. Turquoise waters and green hills.

Villages brimmed with friendly locals who couldn’t seem to do enough for me. The food was also out of this world, with lamb and potatoes being my favorite.

That area of Greece seemed a holiday destination for the people of Greece, not so many international tourists, which made my short stay more memorable.

Tips for Anticipating Travellers

  • It’s nice to chill on a beach or hang around a town, but get out and about and see more to get a real feel for a country, even for just a few hours. Big cities are generally cosmopolitan and don’t reflect a country as a whole.
  • Most countries are safe to travel. To help minimize risks, keep a mobile phone with an active SIM card. Let your hotel or other people know where you’re going and roughly what time you expect to be there and back, or which day. Don’t wander around alone late at night in unfamiliar places.

Destinations on my Bucket List

Much more of South America. Peru and Argentine.

Return to the Philippines to explore remote islands.

Another big multi-country solo bicycle tour would be excellent too.

General Travel Tips

If travelling solo, pack what you can carry easily, not what you might need others to help you with.

Take a couple of credit cards and let the card providers know which countries you plan to travel. It will help to prevent your cards from being flagged as being used suspiciously and blocked from use.

Don’t wear expensive jewellery on show. Better still, leave it at home.

Enjoy every minute, record every detail, and take as many high-resolution photographs as you can.

Funny Moment

I had so many hilarious moments, but one that I still find myself laughing about was when I was in a cheap room in northeast Thailand.

As soon as I turned the lights out, there was a loud, croaking sound. Not like a frog, but sort of a cross between a frog and cricket. I thought it was a bird or critter outside.

But each time I switched the light on while going to the window, the sound went off. I’d switch the light off, and it started again.

I soon realized that my room had geckos on the walls. They were so flat, and I could just make them out as they kept so still. I learned to sleep with the light on, only to shut them up.

Book Recommendations

I could recommend my book: A highly unlikely bicycle tourist, but that wouldn’t be quite fair. I will, however, recommend Janapar, Love on a Bike by Tom Allen.

It was the book that had me thinking about a bicycle touring holiday. Although Tom was less than half my age, his story was super helpful, packed with great advice and suggestions on how to get started.


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The views expressed in the above article are of Stephen Peel


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Interviewed By: Dave [Tourist Checklist Editorials]