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Many long distance bike tourists dream of funding trips; especially around the world bicycle tours through donations from things like "support this site" donation buttons on their web sites or blogs. The thinking runs along the lines of donating to PBS or NPR; if people like the content enough they will be willing to pay to keep it going. This article does not address raising money for a third party or charitable cause. This is addressed on a separate page in detail including the "PROS" and "CONS".
Asking readers of your web site or blog to send you money to help fund your trip is controversial in many bike touring circles which should be considered before jumping in.
My own experience started back in 2002, when our trip started. Amazon and Paypal had recently rolled out services to add donate buttons to web sites and many webmasters did and still do on the internet. The first couple years of our tour we had only a small number of people donating money but this tapered off to nothing as the years passed. Our web site, DownTheRoad.org, grew to thousands of pages and because of the inactivity of the donation button we forgot it was there.
In 2008, as we were riding from Alaska south, we were called "freeloaders," "begging for money," and "panhandlers" on a popular bicycle touring forum. One poster even went as far as saying our trip and web site took away from the "purity of touring" - whatever that means. We did not understand where these comments came from until a comment was made about funding our trip through the donations. Like I said above we had completely forgot we still had the one donation button buried on one of thousands of pages of our web site. To stumble upon this button and think it was funding our trip is a huge assumption. I removed it permanently
I am not saying I personally believe there is anything wrong with touring cyclist attempting to fund their trips with donations. We read many bike touring travelogues where there are donation buttons and just ignore them (we sometimes give to cyclist third party charities or causes)
I think the controversy this stirs up in parts of the online bike touring world is way over the top. First, from talking to hundreds of touring cyclist we meet on the road few, if any, have received much funding this way beyond friends and family. It was eventually seen as a pipe dream that faded away when reality hit. Secondly, bike tourist are by nature very independent and to criticize another bike tourist for doing their own thing seems out of place and probably stems more from jealousy than anything else.
In conclusion we are pro-choice when it comes to bicyclist asking for donations. We do not include a donation mechanism on our web site but it seems perfectly acceptable and OK if others do. If you add donation buttons we probably will not pull out our wallet but we won't run away or complain either. Beware, if your trip and blog asks for money and grows popular enough there will be resistance in the online bicycle touring community
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highly recommend Ortlieb.
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