The Cost of Bicycle Touring - How Much Money
Before my cycle
"I cycled around the world for just $5 a day" I say BOLLOCKS! You would have to be the biggest scrounger on the planet, and then some.
It would appear that the costs vary, by a lot. Having looked at these figures from quite well known cyclists, I decided to look at it in a different way. I looked at how much a cycle across America costs on average, how much to cross Australia, and lots of other countries too.
I was shocked to see that the costs on average, ended up much much higher if you put them all together and add visas. waiting in cities for visas, flights and other getting to and from costs.
But why so high? It may be that by just doing the sums based on a completed trip, lots of costs are easily missed out, like repairs and the cost of purchasing equipment to start with and on the road. And as something as small as a beer a day could add as much as £2000 over the course of 3 years. Those little things mount up.
Also, some of the figures from these cyclists, were from a few years ago when things were that bit cheaper on some things. It could be that you spend much less, or much more.
The figures I have come to are more than any other cyclist mentioned here, and some of these cyclists are referring to much shorter but still long distance tours than cycling completely around the world.
There are those that say it only cost so much, but it also turns out they have been sponsored money and equipment, have families and friends covering a lot of the costs, have donate buttons on their pages, and so on.
The Argonauts, between them just under $15,000 - 2.5 Years each
Mark Beaumont, £25,000 – 6 Months - filming and world record attempt which is why so high. He made the world record by the way.
Julian Sayarerghai, £5000 – 6 Months
“This was more than necessary because time constraints meant I was paying other people to cook for me but it could definitely be done for comfortably less”
Peter Gostelow, £6,000 – £6,500 – 3 Years
“Don’t use this figure or anyone else’s as a benchmark. The beauty of cycle touring is that it offers you flexibility. Once you’re set up it’s you who makes the decisions according to your budget.”
Friedel and Andrew Grant, $25,216 (USD) each - 3 Years
Matt Bridgestock, £12,000 – 1 Year
“The usual answer I give is: everything, you will cash in all your favours, sell all your old stuff and eek out all your savings! I still think it was cheaper than staying in the UK!“
Alastair Humphreys, £7,000 – 4 Years ???
“I saved my loans through University and left home with about £7000. This easily lasted more than 4 years. A diet of bread and bananas, sleeping rough,….”
Fearghal O’Nuallain, €7,000 each + €5,000′s worth of high-end kit donated by sponsors – 1.5 Years
“I could have comfortably done the whole thing – kit, camping, bike, flights – for 7k. Having sponsors gave us more cash but imposed constraints and tied us into certain itineraries”
Rob Thomson, £14,000 – 2.5 Years
“If we’re just talking monetary costs, it is extremely expensive if we add in lost income, something not insignificant. Of course, I consider it worth the sacrifice.”
Dorothee Fleck, €15,000 – 2.5 Years
“What do you need money for, if you travel on a bike with a tent?”
A strange comment from Dorothee Fleck, who actually needed money (15k) to complete her cycle!!!
Travelling Two, $17,736 each – 3 Years
“A mere $23 U.S. a day, if our record of expenses is anything to go by. A bargain!”
"How will I fund my own trip you ask?" I get asked this a lot, and I asked it a lot too when I was researching my tour.
I will be selling my house and putting the proceeds into savings, so I don’t have concerns about repairs or maintenance while away. Material things can be replaced with a little hard work. I am putting my personal things and a lot of my furniture into storage. Some things I have gotten quite attached to and nobody I know has any spare rooms or storage for me to keep my things. I will still be able to purchase another house on my return, but nowhere near as big or as nice as the one I'm selling now, in fact I will be luck to be able to afford a flat. Sometimes great things require great sacrifice.
No doubt some with think I'm completely bonkers, but I don't have debt or finance of any kind, and I don't like renting property out. Yes, I'm risking a comfortable retirement for the sake of a lifelong dream to attempt to cycle around the world, but you know, over the last few years all my lifelong mates have died. There was a gang of us from the late 70's and early 80's, and all of us were around the same age. It was a real wake up call when my mates started to die. Heart failure, brain tumour, stroke. Young men in their late 40's early 50's.
It broke my heart and made me realise how precious this short time on this Earth is, and how I had to attempt this world cycle while I still could, to live life while alive, after all, I am to be next at some point.
The interest I hope to get from savings will be small, but hopefully enough to cover my furniture and other items in long term storage. Having to buy a much smaller home or even rent on my return is a small price to pay for what promises to be the biggest adventure of my life. I expect that bills in the UK while away will amount to around £30 per week including storage, cloud storage to upload photos and notes while away, and mobile phone contract which is a package I can continue to use throughout the EU on the same rates I have here.
As I am going to be away for maybe years, I'm going to need the best gear and bike I can afford to stretch to. After that, I have a budget to last 3 years of GBP£350 per week / GBP£50 per day ($63 US).
The famous and still out there world cyclist Leana Niemand told me about how much cheaper it is to travel in China and South East Asia, and I am assured that finding digs for under £10 per day is easy and pretty typical, and a reason why many travellers don’t bother even taking a tent to those parts of the world. So my budget of £350 per week will obviously go a very long way, and might help me to travel for a much longer time or spend more time in one place.
Of course, compared to nearly everyone, my budget is quite high considering I will be doing mostly campsite, hostels, the odd budget hotel, and any nice kind local that can find me a nice safe spot for the night in the garden for my tent, and even some wild camping. And of course including flights, visas and other costs.
I didn’t want finances to affect my adventure to the point of not being able to make the most of it, or not being able to afford to go on. I would like to think I will spend far less than my budget, but I am prepared in case I spend more, after all, I will only ever get one chance at this.
It’s a shame that money plays such a huge part in it, but there is no such thing as a free ride to those who like to pay their own way. Having said all that, I have heard about Warmshowers, where people like you and I offer a room for night to a cyclist who is passing through. I would gladly stay at a home like that, and would offer others a nights sleep at my own home once I complete my tour. I think that's a fair and nice system.
If anyone has any other experiences with regard to costs of cycle touring, let me know, it would be great to hear it. I'm sure many cyclist might not have kept a good record or may even not be entirely truthful for whatever reason, but I will be honest with you and give it to you as spot on as my records and memory permit.
After my first 3 months on my tour
Yep, I wasn't far wrong with my calculations, at least up to now anyway.
I have easily average £50 per day. Some days I have spent maybe a couple of quid on a bit of food and wild camped, but other days I may have spent a night in digs due to having nowhere else to stay and no wild camp options, and it has cost me as much as £70 plus food for the day.
Mostly though, I manage to find campsites costing between £!0 and £25, so I get to have a shower and wash my clothes, and its nice to have other people around after a long day alone on the road. Add to that the cost of the food and drinks you might need, and you get somewhere near.
So yes, for a reasonably comfortable day in Europe, expect between £30 and £50 per day including foods and digs, and you will be all set.
Constantly wild camp and living on instant noodles and water and if your as tight as a fishes backside, you may get away with it costing you less than £5 a day, but what a crappy experience that would be, for me anyway, and I still doubt it's really possible for any length of time. That said, as time goes on I might learn to enjoy that kind of living. The night's I spent wild camping felt weird but I still managed to sleep soundly. It is lonely though to spend all day alone as a solo traveller, then all night alone too.
Not so bad once in a while, but I'm a social creature and I love being around people, so I seek out campsites mostly. I can image that groups or couples will find wild camping and cooking meals together so much easier and nicer with just by having the company, and so costs can be kept down a bit.
I think when working out costs, also consider that it will be cheaper if travelling in couples or small groups. Sharing digs and campsite costs will obviously save a lot of money. Having company during the evening and morning means you will likely cook your own food and be happy with the company you have rather than paying to be near others. 1 night in digs for the solo traveller in Europe may cost you the best part of your daily budget or more, but sharing a means being under budget. For sure, solo travel will likely cost much more.
A major issue with my bike had me paying out more than I wanted and having to return to the UK. This was a cost I hadn't allowed for and has put a little dent in my funds, not to mention my mood, but I will go on, as I'm not one for giving up easily. I expect I will encounter other major issues on this adventure.
Go will the idea of £50 a day all in on such a huge trip. Bikepacking for a few weeks will cost you a fraction of that, and cycle touring for a few weeks or months might cost you very little too, because you are only on holiday and you will be able to put up with plenty of discomfort as you will be back home soon.
I could easily go without washing or eating right or staying on campsites if I were to travel for a little while, but for such a huge trip that will take years will require getting into routines, carrying more gear for comfort, maintenance, travel between different countries, keeping clean and keeping sane. In fact, I am in not doubt that I could wild camp for weeks, eating porridge and noodles, if I knew I had a nice snug bed and life waiting for me after my holiday.
A world cycle attempt is a very different beast then a few weeks or months bikepacking or touring, and requires much more preparation. Financing is a massive part of those preparations, probably the biggest part. It's not just a case of getting someone to feed the cat, turning the key in the door and watering the plants, it's a complete change of life and lifestyle for what could be many years. A whole new life and way of living that will take a long time to adjust to, physically, mentally, financially.
For me as a father of 2 young adult daughters, it will be mentally tough to be away from them for so long, and I also have to be prepared for things that might happen while I'm away. Who know, grandchildren may arrive, marriages, and other amazing events that I simply won't miss, and god forbid if anything not nice happens. I am prepared for returning at a moment's notice not matter what, I am a father after all and love my children dearly.
So after just a few months on my tour, how would I change things to keep costs lower you may ask
Well for starters the KOGA has been my biggest let down and waste of money. £4100 and only managed 3 months out of it before having to find my own way to get the bike back to get fixed as no help was available for me on the tour. If I were to start all over again, I would not pay more than £2000 for a bike and it would be a derailleur setup so that it could be repaired anywhere. Not only have a wasted money on the bike, but it has cost me to return to the UK and to live for the months I am there, and then there is the cost of returning to the point I left off.
If the bike had been derailleur or from a manufacturer that provided real support, it will no doubt have been very different and saved me a lot of money and time. So keep things simple would be my best advice, it might save you money.
I will update as I go.