Dean Nicholson, a former player for Edinburgh Rugby, left his profession in the hopes that his travels would change his life.
But the 31-year-old was unaware that a small four-legged buddy would fundamentally alter his life.
Welder Dean from Dunbar decided to hop on his bike and travel the world because he was tired of working from 9 to 5.
He left Scotland and travelled to Amsterdam. He passed through Belgium, Greece, Switzerland and Italy before boarding a ferry to Croatia.
He then travelled on to Bosnia which is where he met a little striped creature who would become his travel companion.
Dean said to John Beattie of Drivetime on BBC Radio Scotland: “Simply put, it was a typical day. I was cycling up a significant hill as I prepared to pass into Montenegro.
“A little cat’s meow came from behind me. I was being chased by her up the hill. She refused to leave my side, so I stopped and pulled over. To transport her to the following town, I mounted the front of my bike and made her comfortable. I went to see whether she had a chip in her.
She then crawled onto my shoulder and fell asleep, and I assumed that was it—she was joining me on this trip.
Just a cat, a bike and the open road.
The original plan to get to Thailand as quickly as possible went out of the window and Dean realised the little kitten, who he named Nala, had changed him.
Speaking from Austria, he said: “She has taught me just to slow down and enjoy life a lot more. Having her on the bike her needs come first and it slowed the tour down and now we stop and play a lot. If there’s woods we stop and play and she loves running on the beach.
They have traveled roughly 10,000 kilometers together. The world is their oyster now that Dean has secured Nala’s pet passport.
His animal companion is so crucial that she even sets the schedule.
Dean said: “I couldn’t go through Iran with the cat because they wouldn’t let her stay in hotels so we missed that. The plan now is to cycle up through Russia in the spring.”
Everywhere they go, Dean and Nala attract attention. Local people are in awe of the little purring passenger who travels in a basket on the front of his customised bike or on Dean’s shoulder if it’s a bit bumpy.
She has caused at least one free pint of beer for her owner since people stop them to look at the cat.
Nala has been to Albania, Greece, and Dunbar again for a pit stop. She has taken rides on cable cars and even gotten to kayak.
They have amassed 800,000 Instagram followers and get roughly 1,000 messages daily, making them online sensations.
Their 150,000 YouTube subscribers generate enough revenue from advertising to cover the cost of their cat food and bicycle repairs.
Nala even has her own calendar and now a book charting their adventures.
Dean said: “We are going to spend winter in Greece working at some animal sanctuaries. Then through Russia in the spring and on to Thailand. I want that whole dream of sitting on the beach – with a coconut.”
And of course, a cat.