Have you ever exposed yourself on vacation?
NO, not that! I'm talking about immersing yourself in another place, another culture: exposing yourself to the real world that's out there. I'm talking about inhabiting the landscape, not just driving by and taking a picture of it.
There is only one good way to do so -- and that's to leave your car (minvan, SUV, Hummer) behind. (And with gas prices the way they are, who can complain about that?) Travel at a snail's pace -- bicycle, walk, ride a horse, take a riding lawnmower, roller-blade, pogo stick -- take your choice!
You'll be amazed at what you find -- and who you meet. People who would never bother to meet another customer who only stopped in their town to fill their gas tank, will spring forth with questions about your journey. You'll be the talk of the town -- after you've stopped other conversations in their tracks.
I speak from experience. In 1993 and 1994, my wife spent a 12-month honeymoon on the road (with a 6-month winter break), walking from Maine to Oregon, bagging four tons of litter along the way. That tale is told in my first book, Underwear by the Roadside, available on my books page or from Amazon.com.
After another week-long litterwalk in 1998, the road called again, so I plotted out a return trip. For two-three weeks each spring 2002-2004, I biked from Oregon to Denver to Chicago to Rhode Island. Along the way, I started most weekdays speaking at a local school. You can read the weblogs from the Great West Bike Tour, the Heart of the Country Tour, or the NorthEast Two-Wheel Tour.
Sometimes, you can never get enough of a good thing. Thus, after a one-year break, I returned to the road, riding from Baltimore-to-Detroit (via Williamsburg and Richmond VA and southern WV) in 2006, and Detroit-to-Chicago via the Upper Peninsula in 2007 - call them the meander tours. You can read the Horseshoe Tour and the Great Lakes Tour blogs.
My 2002-04 bike rides, along with the min-Litterwalk, an Olympic Torch run, and a Face of America ride, are all described in the new book, WOW! What a Ride. Now I can ponder the question a 4th-grade girl asked me during my Michigan tour: How many more years will I do this?

Below are links to some travelogues from other people biking around the world. Enjoy!
Julian Cook started his two-year ride around the world on July 4, 2005. His postings show his promise as a writer - read them here.
author and kids
Me with students in Westfield, NY

Click here
to look at my original home page, "Walking Books.com". It has info on several books that stoked my interest in walking tours.
Click here to read about Christopher and Peter, who left in June 2004 to tour the world, riding recumbents as they spread the word about sustainable development. Steven Newman walked around the world 1983-87. His site is now featuring the letters he wrote while on the road, 22 years ago. Read about his new project!
Two Germans wandering the world on their mountain bikes - check out the Mountainbike Expedition Team. touring bike Perhaps the most famous walker was Peter Jenkins, who wrote A Walk Across America. He returned to the road in February 2005, to see how America has changed.
Tim and Cindie have been on the road for three years, and are now in Asia. Check out their story! In My 2006, Steve Vaught completed his "Fat Man Walking" walk from San Diego to New York, to lose weight and find happiness. He is now using the publicity generated to address the problem of childhood obesity. Check out his website for more info, or to read his journals.
Alastair Humphreys is going Round the World by Bike to raise funds for Hope and Homes for Children. Joe Hurley, a retired newspaper reporter from Connecticut, spent much of 2005 walking coast-to-coast along US6, discovering America. Visit his website to read about his trip.
Their one-year group tour cycling the world is long over, but you can still read her travelogue. creek trail Maybe you can't get away for a long bike tour right now. Read about those who have! Here are some sites referencing good books on the topic:
Josh's Good Bicycle Touring Tales
Books by Neil Anderson
A couple of books by traveling speakers
Heinz Stucke has been cycling round-the world nonstop since 1962. His story is fascinating! Another article also talks of him. Visit Globebikers for more links to touring sites (many are not in English).
Mike Bentley has also linked to many sites, as does the Travel Library.
So you want to take a long trip now?
BikeTrip.org is a fanstastic resource, with articles, forums, galleries, trips, books, shops, and links. Check them out!
Have questions about bicycle touring? here is a FAQ page that may help answer your questions.