Budgeting for Touring (page 2) - CycleBlaze

Bicycle Travel Forum

Budgeting for Touring (page 2)

Brent IrvineTo Brent Irvine

Thank you to all for the input. We are comfortable enough to tour as we wish, and it is interesting to see how others have achieved the same.  We all appear to have followed a similar path in working hard, saving, living within our means and enjoying the fruits of this path.

Reply    Link    Flag
3 weeks ago
Scott AndersonTo George Hall

I couldn’t agree with your final point more, George.  If you’ve the urge to do it and the means to make it work, do it now.  At 77, it’s quite striking the sort of travel we felt to be within our reach even four or five years ago.  And, of course, make the effort to write it all down so you can look back on it later with amazement,  How did we do that back then, anyway?

Reply    Link    Flag
3 weeks ago
Jacquie GaudetTo Brent Irvine

I don’t budget, really. I just try not to be extravagant!  I think I’ve succeeded in that. 

Touring solo, I’ve brought a tent to save on accommodation but since Al no longer wants to camp snd the savings aren’t as great when travelling with two in Europe (compared to travelling in BC), we don’t carry camping gear to Europe anymore.  I do have a sort-of budget when booking accommodation for the two of us, though—I strongly prefer not to spend more than 100€ per night for two (and preferably less) and most of the time this is easy to stick to. 

Where our “budget” fails is food. Give a hungry Al a menu and he doesn’t look at the prices, he just orders. This can add up since he eats like a man half his age.  

Reply    Link    Flag
3 weeks ago
Graham SmithTo Brent Irvine

Brent I’m about to begin a longish tour, so the question of budgeting is very timely. 

I haven’t done a detailed budget, but I have a vague idea of what I’ll spend on accommodation, because that’s going to be the single biggest cost in addition to what I’m already spending daily, whether I’m cycle touring or not. For example, I’ll be spending money on food whether I’m cycle touring or not. 

Getting myself and the bike back home at the end of the tour will be another budget item. I’ll have enough savings to fly back if need be, though returning by train would be preferable.

My overall financial context is similar to what Greg described in his post above, except I only retired fully about 18 months ago. 

Your other question about income on tour reminds that on my first cycle tour about 44 years ago I did come close to running out of money a long way from home. This was before credit cards, internet, online accounts etc and the finances were cash and travellers cheques stashed on and in the bike. Handlebars work well as a safe.

After 6 months of cycle touring that stash of cash became smaller and smaller, so I had to decide whether to do a U turn and head home; or find a way to reverse the cash flow, or at least stop the cash from flowing from the limited stash on my bike.

The serendipitous solution appeared in the form of a couple of other cycle tourers who told me about volunteer work. So I tagged along with them and found horticultural work for a few months in exchange for food, accommodation, work clothing and a small weekly cash stipend.  That financial and physical respite was exactly what I needed at the time.  

 

Reply    Link    Flag
3 weeks ago
Bill GiffinTo Brent Irvine

If I toured more than I currently do, I would probably welcome a budget. As is, if I get one in a year, I'm doing good.  Finding time to get one in between work and family is the biggest challenge.  Once on the road, I want to have a great time. 

Reply    Link    Flag
2 weeks ago
Wayne EstesTo Brent Irvine

I think that the secret to successful bicycle tour funding is careful planning and budgeting when NOT touring. Design your lifestyle at home to maximize savings.

The "maximize savings" approach definitely works for people like me who do relatively short tours. In any given year I spend far more time at home than on the road. Budget discipline at home matters more than budget discipline during tours.

For multi-year expeditions the most successful funding approach is to accumulate a large and self-sustaining investment portfolio BEFORE the expedition. I have lived on investments for 19 years and counting. For the first few years of retirement my long bike tours didn't bust the budget because I camped and cooked most of the time. Because I quit camping 10 years ago, my recent tours have daily expenses higher than what I spend at home. I've gone from spending $40 per day to $200 per day.

I don't fuss about the expense of motel bike tours. I'm stimulating the local economy. I can afford it because my tours are less than 3 weeks. For me, the options are luxury bike touring or no bike touring. I choose the former.

Reply    Link    Flag
2 weeks ago
Larry MitchellTo Wayne Estes

Sounds like our story too!

Reply    Link    Flag
2 weeks ago
Paul MulveyTo Brent Irvine

Planner I am. I'll plan sometimes more than a year ahead of time, and figure out what I want to see, what my mileage is, where I'm going to stay each night, how I'm going to get to/from my tour destination. All of those costs are baked in - the transportation, meals, lodging, activities, etc. I then have a grand total for what the trip will cost, and then I divide that out by the number of months until the trip to get the amount I need to put aside each month so I'll have that in my savings account when AMEX comes calling. For example, if the trip will cost $2500 and it's 8 months to the trip, $2500/8 = $312.50/month I need to set aside.

Why do I do this? I feel with the planning I can get the best price on hotels. I have a reserved place each night and I don't have to "find" someplace to sleep. I know I have a rental car, or a train sleeper cabin, or a hotel at each place I want to go. Booking early gives me the best rate, and I check the rates every two weeks or so just to see if they went down. If they did, I re-book with the lower rate.

Here is a sample of the daily itinerary with charges grouped...
...which are then summed up in the estimate spreadsheet so I can see how expensive the tour will be. Keep in mind this is an example of a tour I never actually went on (and usually when wife & I tour, losing and food costs are more).

I tend to be frugal (nothing beats cheap), so I'll look for resources around certain trails where I could save money or stay in a town park. For instance, the Ohio-to-Erie trail has a great website with planning resources and I was able to find out an inn in Cedarville provides a discount for OTET riders (which I didn't book) and the village of Spring Valley has a town park you can stay in for $5/night (which I did) and the village of Danville has a primitive camping area for FREE! I'll plan my riding around these destinations so I can then stay at a hotel every few days and either ride out weather or do laundry.

With retirement coming up in less than a month, I may change my planning style since I'm not time-bound by the adventure. I don't have a job waiting for me back home, so I can stay out as long as I want. I may just plan an aggregate expense per day and call that the charge (say, $125/day which evens out for food, lodging, etc).

Reply    Link    Flag
1 week ago
Rich FrasierTo Paul Mulvey

Paul, just out of curiosity, how often do you see a price for a night’s lodging go down after you’ve booked it?   I plan like you do, for the same reasons, but I’ve never thought about recording the price of hotels and checking back to see if they’ve changed.  That’s a great idea if it happens enough to be worth it!

Reply    Link    Flag
1 week ago
Paul MulveyTo Rich Frasier

It's not frequent, but sometimes a hotel will offer specials after I've already booked the room. Also, hotels may lower prices as they get closer to the date and they want to fill up bookings. Maybe 10% of the time I've fallen into a lower price? And BTW, that's not like hundreds lower, but $20 less or something like that buys me a hamburger and fries (and sometimes a glass of wine :-))

Reply    Link    Flag
1 week ago