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Thursday, 26 February 2015

The Financial Side of Things

By Jack Hawkins
Photos: Pixabay, Dale Coker

We all know that planning a big endeavour has it’s downsides… The main thing that many of us worry about when it comes to a bike tour (or any kind of trip which is typically lengthy) is the cost. How much will it cost? Is often the question that many of us are asked when we’re on the road, or even by friends and family.

There isn’t really a short answer, and there are many factors that can affect the cost of a bike tour. It is often simply ‘to each their own’. I may not wish to pay for my accommodation, it may simply be a personal preference, or it may be dictated by how much you’ve allotted yourself on the monetary scale.

Since I am soon to departing on a cross country trip, I thought I’d let you all in on some of the financial aspects of my own trip - yes, I’m still accruing funds, and will likely be so till I actually take those first pedal strokes on my way to British Columbia.

Setting Ground Rules

I’ve talked to many people who have undertaken bike trips about the cost of things, and many have told me that it helps to set yourself some ground rules. These can be whatever you like, but the aim is to cut costs. And in the hoping of saving myself a bob or two, I’ve set myself some ground rules!

  • Seldom (hopefully never) pay for accommodation, unless it is absolutely necessary. (I stole this from Leon McCarron, who did this on his journey across America in 2011.)

  • Never refuse an offer. That way, I remain open to invitations from people and remain open to the kindness of strangers. (Unless they want to give me a lift to B.C - unfortunately, that’d be cheating!).

  • Keeping to an average dollar expenditure for food. Seeing as I won’t be spending money every day, I’ll be sticking to an average of around $8 - $10/day, while obviously aiming for the lower end of that scale, or below. Friend and fellow writer, Andrew Hendrickson cycled across America in 2013. Estimating a need of 3500 calories per day, he calculated that he could keep food costs down, to an impressive $7/day by averaging 500 calories per dollar.

I will also be making use of organisations such as WarmShowers and Couchsurfing, as well as perhaps some guerilla camping along the way, and a fantastic website that I’ve recently found: freecampsites.net. While I cannot speak for the accuracy of FreeCampSites, it’s certainly a tool for me (and you!) to use. Thus far, the site only appears to expand as far as Canada, the United States, and the UK. It also features an interactive map.

Also, thanks to Canada’s large number of trees from which to hang my hammock, I hope to be largely stealth camping throughout my trip, or making use of the aforementioned website.

There are a myriad of options for a myriad of things those of you, like myself, who want to save money while bike touring. And, like anyone taking a trip on a tight budget, I want to save as much money as possible while on the road.

Thankfully, there are so many people with so many stories to tell of how they saved money while on their bike tour, that I needn’t have looked farther than a quick Google Search.

Everything is beginning to fall into place. And while the snow continues to fall outside, I’m looking ahead, looking forward to summer, and cycling across Canada.

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