What does it cost to go bike touring? A mere $23 U.S. a day, if our record of expenses is anything to go by. A bargain!
Try booking any other type of all-inclusive holiday for that price. Even if you just hop in your car and drive around for a month, you’ll spend at least as much at the gas station alone.
First though, let’s look at how the costs for our 3-year, round-the-world adventure can be broken down. We have the following categories:
- Daily Expenses – daily food, lodging and sightseeing
- Bike Maintenance – new wheels, rims, derailleurs and other parts
- Gear – sleeping bags, clothes and shoes also had to be replaced
- Visas – permits and letters from embassies required to get visas
- Insurance – a 12-month policy, which we renewed each year
- Transport – planes, trains, taxis and buses (not public transport in cities)
- Healthcare – doctor visits, medication
Daily Expenses by country :
Europe – $39.64 per day x 278 days = $11,019
Morocco – $40.00 per day x 64 days = $2,560
Syria – $23.89 per day x 57 days = $1,362
Iran – $17.16 per day x 88 days = $1,510
Turkey – $53.97 per day x 36 days = $1,942
Turkmenistan – $15.21 per day x 7 days = $106
Uzbekistan – $19.09 per day x 18 days = $344
Kazakhstan – $18.07 per day x 29 days = $524
Kyrgyzstan – $26.58 per day x 27 days = $718
Thailand – $32.33 per day x 70 = $2,263
Cambodia – $34.11 per day x 29 days = $989
Laos – $22.00 per day x 27 days = $594
Malaysia – $28.59 per day x 30 days = $858
Singapore – $20.70 per day x 3 days = $63
Australia – $33.01 per day x 60 days = $1,980
New Zealand – $34.67 per day x 87 days = $3,016
America – $39.00 per day x 38 days = $1,482
Canada – $30.06 per day x 138 days = $4,148
*You may wonder at some of these costs. Why was Turkey so much? We drank a lot of beer there! A desert tour drove up the average daily price in Morocco. Singapore was so little because we stayed with friends. For more information, read the small print.
Daily Expenses Total: $35,478
Bike Maintenance: If you go a long tour, of course you’ll have to budget for replacement parts. The first year, we didn’t need to do anything to our bikes but in the second and third years we had a variety of expenses related to our bikes. We each went through 3 sets of tires, we had to replace our rims twice, we had our bikes cleaned and tuned up in Bangkok and then there were issues like a broken rack and frame for Andrew, which we had welded in Cambodia and then again in Australia.
Bike Maintenance Total: $1,399
Gear: It’s not just the bike that needs a bit of tender loving care. We also went through a bit of gear. We replaced our sleeping bags and tent once. We had to buy new clothes occasionally and sometimes we added little extras to our camping equipment.
New and Replacement Gear Total: $2,600
Visas: Visas didn’t feature in our expenses for the first year or towards the end of our trip. For the second year in the Middle East and Central Asia however, these costs started to mount. In Central Asia, you can count on spending at least $100 per person, per country. Sometimes, you have to pay not only for a visa but also for a letter from your home embassy, testifying that your passport is valid.
Visa Total: $1,499
Insurance: Some cyclists travel without insurance. We prefer to be covered in case of catastrophic events so we purchased coverage for bicycle touring from the BMC. We never used it, but it was good for peace of mind.
Insurance Total: $1,847
Transport: We didn’t always ride our bikes. In addition to a few trains, ferries, buses and 5 days on a cargo ship, we also took flights.
- London – Montreal – London
- Almaty – Bangkok
- Singapore – Perth
- Auckland – San Francisco
Transport Total: $7,038
Healthcare: We never used our insurance because, thankfully, we never had a big problem. Little things weren’t worth claiming because they never went above our deductible so when we went to a doctor or saw a dentist, we paid out of our own pocket.
Healthcare Total: $571
The Grand Total: Add all of this up and you come to a total of $50,432. Divide that by 1,102 days on the road and then again by 2 people and you come up with $22.88 per person, per day.
Let’s call it $23. Better yet, let’s call it an amazing price for the adventure of a lifetime.
The Small Print: Costs change, exchange rates vary and travel styles are unique. These figures reflect 2006-2009 prices, a strong British pound until near the end of our trip (our savings are in a UK bank account) and a lifestyle that was above rock bottom but not quite flashpacker. All prices reflect the cost for 2 people travelling together.
To give you a better sense of our travelling style, we did a lot of wild camping, but in towns we often took the second or third cheapest hotel, not the one at the bottom of the heap. We also spent time with friends and family along the way, helping to lower our accommodation costs.
We cooked almost all our own meals, aside from street food in budget-friendly countries like Thailand, but equally we enjoyed a few beers. In New Zealand, we didn’t go bungee jumping but we did frequent many bakeries and ice cream shops. You get the idea…
Also, it’s important to note that we did not keep careful track of our set-up costs (buying the bikes, initial gear). If you want high-tech equipment, you might easily spend $1,500-2,000 on a custom bike and another $1,000 on gear. Spending $3,000-5,000 on new gear would add between $3-5 to your daily cost over 3 years. This is a high estimate and also remember that you will likely come home with much of this gear and still be able to use it. Our bikes are still good to go for the next tour, as is our stove, our cooking equipment and our rain gear, among other things.