An Absolute Beginner, no practice, no experience, not even a regular cyclist! I must be crazy :)
Stephen Peel

Stephen Peel

Cycling Around the World

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, 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.

And without doubt, there are scroungers too, those that will take whatever they can from anyone they meet along the way. But I want to concentrate on the costs that a cycle tourist who doesn't scrounge or doesn't get donations or sponsorship may face.

I will be lucky to be able to cover 20 or 30 miles per day for a short while, due to having never ridden a bike built like a tank, or a bike with panniers full of crap, but I do expect and hope to be covering around 50 miles per day on full days in the future. 

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 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, but that said, I am putting my personal things and my furniture into storage. Some things I have gotten quite attached to. I will still be able to purchase another house on my return, but not quite as big as the one I'm selling now, in fact, probably a lot smaller. Sometimes great things require great sacrifice.

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 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 able 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 and wild camping, 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 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.

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 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, 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, well for me anyway.

Go will the idea of £50 a day all in, and if you have a load of money left after your trip, you can go on another one :)