How much does it cost to travel around the world on a bicycle? Here are some practical bicycle touring tips on reducing your travel costs, so you can go cycling RTW for longer!
How Much to Travel Around the World on a Bicycle?
People often ask me how much does it cost to travel around the world on a bicycle. My answer is that it will cost as little or as much as you like! That's because there is no one answer to the question, as everyone approaches bicycle touring differently. Some people might like to stay in hotels for the majority of nights. Others will steadfastly refuse to pay for any accommodation, and wild camp 100 percent of the time. Personally, I can cycle reasonably comfortably on an average of £10 a day. (That's cycling on $15 a day if using dollars is easier for you!).
Bike Touring Reality Check
Now, you will often read about how someone cycled around the world on 3 dollars a day, or how someone spent say just £8000 on four years of travel. Let's take a reality check. These people are either being economical with the truth, have a diet that would frighten nutritionists, or did a heck of a lot of freeloading. My personal experience is that £10 a day is about right. This allows the more expensive countries to be averaged out with the cheaper ones. Its a realistic number that allows for a few treats every now and again, or for emergencies like having to buy a new rear wheel or derailleur.
Even $15 a day is too cheap, right?
Most people who have never undertaken a long distance cycling tour before, will think that £10 or $15 dollars a day is still incredibly cheap. Duh… that's why I do it folks!! I can spend less in three months travel than some people spend on a two week vacation overseas! It's one of the reasons that cycling around the world appeals to me so much. So, how exactly can I get by on £10 a day?
Firstly, that figure assumes that I have already bought the bike and all the kit that I need. Sure, bits will need replacing from time to time, especially items of clothing. Generally speaking however, the £10 a day budget allows for most of this. With the kit already bought, that just leaves the daily living expenses, which are accommodation, food, and treats.
The Cost to Cycle Around the World
The vast majority of cyclists pedalling their way around the world will carry a tent with them. By either choosing to wild camp, or stay in a camp site, accommodation costs are greatly reduced. Even by wild camping for five days in a week, it might be possible to stay in cheap digs for two days a week. This provides time to sort kit out, wash clothes, update blogs and all the other things that inevitably need to get done.
In some countries such as South America and Asia, accommodation can cost as little as $5 a night. With this being the case, it often makes sense no to use the tent at all. Why not enjoy a few affordable creature comforts, albeit not in the Ritz!
In a way, food is more important to a long distance bicycle tourer than accommodation. After all, if the body isn't fuelled properly, the wheels don't get turned! Most cyclists will carry cooking gear such as a camping stove with them. They will also have a few days food supplies so that they can wild camp at will. Preparing food yourself is a huge money saver. The basics such as pasta, rice and oats cost very little, even in the most expensive countries. Throw in a few in-season veggies and greens, as well as tinned fish or meat, and a pretty well balanced diet for very little cash can be had.
Cheaper to Eat Out?
In some countries though (especially Thailand), it is almost impossible to cook for yourself cheaper than it is to buy street food. Even if it is cheaper to cook yourself, the cost of a fully prepared meal with a variety of ingredients will offer better value in these countries. Again, its not about living like a skinflint, it's about making what money you have work the best for you.
This is the part where most people fall down. The main treat that people get carried away with is alcohol. A beer at the end of a hard days bike ride might seem a nice reward. Have more than a couple, and the budget starts to get blown to pieces. (Note – I stopped drinking completely in October 2015).
Another example of a treat that can get out of hand, is paying for internet access. Unless there is a genuine need, try to avoid logging onto the internet once a day (or several times!). Most people should be able to live without seeing what amusing pictures of cats have been posted on Facebook for a week or more at a time. Its far better to take advantage of free internet access when available rather than paying for it at every opportunity. The same applies for calling home to family and friends, especially from a mobile phone.
So then, how much does it cost to cycle around the world?
It all comes down to the individual, but I hope I have shown that it is possibly the most economical way of travelling there is. £10 a day goes a long way as a cyclist, and of course, the most important thing to remember, is that the less that gets spent, the longer a trip will be! I will leave you with a couple of equations that I subconsciously follow, and would love to hear from you in regards to how much you think it should cost to cycle around the world.
Daily Budget = (Accommodation + Food + Treats)
Trip Duration = (Starting amount of money / Daily Budget)
It really is that simple!
If you are interested in finding out how to REALLY reduce the costs further, check out this article – How to cut costs on a bicycle tour