We are often asked on this trip how much it costs to cycle around the world.
Are we really rich?
Is a company paying for us?
How can we afford to leave our jobs and set off on what is essentially a glorified holiday for a whole year or more?
We are only a few months into our travels, but having completed our cycle trip across Europe thought it may be of interest at this stage to share details of our budget, both what we have spent so far and what we have budgeted for the trip as a whole.
It is not very English to talk about money, but we have tried to be as honest as possible, as these were things we really wanted to know when we were at the planning stage.
We hope this will show that you do not have to be very rich or spend months chasing sponsorship deals to set off on your bicycle. Money should not be a barrier and anyone could do a trip like this – but if you don’t believe us, have a look at this article by the marvellously thrifty Tom Allen.
Budget for the trip
We each saved approximately £5000 for this trip, which took us about one year.
We each set aside £200 per month from our salary, which gave us a decent start with £2400 after 12 months. Tim was on a comparatively low income during that year (£20,000 before tax), but still managed to put this much aside by making cutbacks elsewhere – it is possible if you are determined.
We saved the rest of the cash in a variety of ways. We made about £1000 each by selling some of our old bicycles (before this trip, we owned nine bikes between us), furniture and other items using Gumtree and Ebay. We were renting a flat in London and left this as soon as we finished our jobs to move in with our parents for the last few weeks before we left the UK, saving us a month’s rent (a whopping £600 each). We also applied for refunds on boring things like car insurance, which netted a couple of hundred quid, and Tim took on a bit of work alongside his usual job (such as writing articles) for a bit of extra cash.
Having a separate bank account for this money was very important to us, to see the total creep up and to avoid spending the money on the usual detritus of life.
Costs so far – cycling across Europe
Over three months, we spent approximately £700 each, or about £9 per day. This includes absolutely everything from food and accommodation to bicycle repairs and the cost of a ferry across the Channel.
This is exactly what we had budgeted. We kept track when on the road by having a wallet with our daily allowance in. Anything unspent at the end of each day was kept separately, for use as a slush fund.
We kept costs down by wild camping and cooking for ourselves on a stove almost every night. We rarely spent money in cafes or bars and did not visit expensive tourist attractions or museums. This may have been different if we had been less lucky with the weather: we had fewer than five days of rain in three months so were happy to be outside most of the time. It did not at all feel like we were missing out on anything – most of our daily budget went on food so we ate very well and we managed to see everything we wanted to, including hanging out in Milan and Venice, notoriously expensive places. Luckily, we both agree that you do not need to spend money to have a good time – on the contrary, pay-on-entry packaged tourist attractions tend to be the most sterile, and the most memorable times are usually the free ones.
We should also point out that this budget could have been much lower. We know of cycle tourists who will happily eat jam sandwiches and noodles every day for months on end but we (Laura) refuse to do this. We also spent about £150 on new chains and rear cassettes for the bikes in Greece, which pushed costs up significantly.
We are now in Asia, where daily living costs are cheaper, but we face bigger one-off expenses such as visas. At the moment, we are hopeful that we have enough money to do everything we want to do, and we will update this blog post as the journey goes on.
To see how our budget compares, have a look at this article that Tim wrote about the budgets of different cycle tourists.
How did you save for a big trip? How do you save money when on the road? Let us know in the comments below.