A stove that runs on standard gasoline, like the MSR Whisperlite Internationale, is the best choice for bike tourists planning trips to different parts of the globe.
You can’t always find other types of fuel like white gas, methylated spirits or gas cartridges but there’s always a gas station to serve the cars that are in every country.
But while gas stations are widely available to provide fuel for your hot meal, a question from a reader reminded me of one problem we occasionally run into with our multi-fuel stove. Helen pointed out that while fuel bottles tend to come in sizes of less than a litre (and 600ml is about all you need for 5-7 days of meals), some petrol stations set a minimum of two litres at the pump.
“Did you have any problems in practise just filling up a 590ml bottle?” Helen wanted to know.
The answer is sometimes but we always found a solution. Here are some of the more unusual ways to get fuel for your stove.
1. Ask A Driver For Fuel
Ask a driver if you can give them $1 to fill your bottle, while they’re filling up their car with gas. Most people are very happy to oblige.
2. Pay For The Minimum But Just Take What You Need
When we asked gas stations why they wouldn’t sell us less than 2 litres, they said it was because the pumps didn’t measure small quantities accurately. If we paid for 2 litres but only took 500ml, they were happy. Yes, we paid over the odds but since we don’t need a lot of fuel it was no hardship.
3. Find Someone Mowing Their Lawn
Anyone with a lawnmower will have a small plastic jug with gas in the garage. Most people have no problem giving you a half litre. We always offered money, though it was rarely accepted.
4. Look For Gas At Roadside Kiosks
This tactic only works in areas like the Middle East and Asia. Whenever you’re out of the developed world, it’s common to see shops selling petrol in small plastic bottles. You can also sometimes find gas being dispensed out of hand pumps and, like the gas in pop bottles, the sellers have no problem selling you just a little bit.
All in all, it wasn’t very often that we had to use these ways of getting fuel for our stove. Most of the time, the standard gas stations were willing to sell us just what we needed. Expect plenty of questions, however, about just what you need fuel for when you’re travelling by bicycle!