A Frugal Cyclist's Travel Gift from the Road

June 4, 2010

Want to send an unforgettable birthday gift that will also be a lasting travel memory? Give an audio birthday card. It's cheap and fun.

Choose someone you love (motivation) and make sure you travel with some sort of audio recording device.

Now. While you pedal across your country or through some exotic land, ask the people you meet along the way to sing or say or send some sort of birthday greeting to your gift recipient.

You see, most people get nervous when you put a microphone in front of their face. But if you give them a job ... a purpose ... they often shine.

When I cycled across Canada (and the New England states), I decided to make a birthday tape for my sister-in-law Julie. Every opportunity I had, I asked folks to sing, tell a story or just say hello. The gift was a hit. And it also ended up being an amazing way to capture some of the voices of people I'd met along the way.

The examples below were recorded 22 years ago with a small cassette recorder I carried in my front handlebar bag.

Your birthday tape will undoubtedly include some traditional songs.

Happy Birthday


Some non-traditional tunes.

West Hawk Lake song

Some amazing accents.


Possibly a poem.

Shel Silverstein

Not all birthday greetings will be from humans.

Flip and Robert

Some will be boring ... but memorable.

Boring People

Instruments always add some local flavor.

Ben and Jerry's Flavor Dude


And some you'll play over and over.

Happy Birdie

But however your audio birthday card turns out--it will be a valued gift that says you were thinking about the recipient throughout your travels. And (for you) it will remain a treasured memory of the people you met along the way.


Photo and audio by Willie Weir

SIGHTS AND SOUNDS is posted every other Friday. Willie Weir is a columnist for Adventure Cyclist magazine. His latest book Travels with Willie: Adventure Cyclist will inspire you to hit the road and just might change the way you approach bicycle travel. He lives in Seattle with his wife Kat. You can read about their adventures at http://yellowtentadventures.com.



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