How much does it cost to cycle around the world? Here are some practical bike 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?
You can cycle around the world for less than $15 per day. This includes daily costs when traveling by bike.
Typically, these are food, accommodation, bicycle repairs, visas, and sundry purchases on the road. It would not include the initial expenses of buying a touring bike and other gear.
In this article I will explain from my own experiences of cycling around the world just how cost-effective bike touring really is!
World by Bike Budget
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 around the world reasonably comfortably on an average of £10 a day. (That's cycling on $15 a day if using dollars is easier for you!).
Note: If you're thinking “Who is this guy, and what does he know about bike touring?” check out two of my long distance bike tours:
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 for longer tours.
For bike tours of around say a month in Europe, a figure of £20 a day would be more accurate.
This allows the more expensive countries to be averaged out with the cheaper ones. They're realistic numbers 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?
Bike Touring Tips
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.
How To Save Money Cycling Around the World
Here's a look at where your money is likely to go when biking 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.
By wild camping for five days in a week, it might be possible to stay in cheap accommodation 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.
Read what you'll need here: Wild camping essentials
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!
There's also a couple of hospitality sites that you might consider joining. These are Warmshowers, and Couchsurfing. If hosts are available, you get somewhere to stay for the night, and a like-minded person to share stories with!
Food for Bike Touring
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.
When cycling in Greece, I like to enjoy one big meal in a taverna per day, and then make the other 2 (3,4, or 5!) meals for the day myself.
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. You wouldn't believe how much money I saved since then! Also take a look at my tips on how to save money for a trip).
Another example of a treat that can get out of hand, is paying for internet access whether it's by SIM card, coffee shop or internet acfe.
Unless there is a genuine need, try to avoid logging onto the internet once a day (or several times!) if it's going to cost you money.
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. Honestly.
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.
What is the best money travel card for bike touring?
Accessing your money can be a hidden cost when bikepacking across the world. A few percentage points here and there coupled with a bad exchange rate, and you may end up losing money to the banks. And we don't want that!
The best money travel card is Revolut in my opinion, closely followed by Transferwise. They give much better rates of foreign currency exchange and are easy to manage online.
So then, how much does it cost to bike 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
How Much Money Bicycle Touring?
Readers planning a bike tour around the world for a few years or more, often wonder about the average cost, extras like bike repairs, replacement gear and daily expenses. Some of the most popular questions regarding a world tour by bike include:
How much money do you need to bike around the world?
On a multi years trip, you should allow $10-$15 per day for normal expenses as long as you cook your own food on a camping stove and do a lot of wild camping. Factor in more money on a yearly basis for replacement parts, visas, flights, and emergencies.
How much does it cost to ride around the world?
To cycle round the world, it would be wise to allow for $10,000 per year. You will spend less money in developing countries than in for example Western Europe, but you should always allow for travel costs like permits, visas, insurance, replacement camping gear and other surprises.
Is a long tour cheaper than a short tour?
Short tours seem to eat up more cash than shorter ones, but it's not to say that it's always the case. It depends on how strict you are when it comes to budgeting and what your priorities are.
How long does it take to cycle around the world?
The total distance and time taken to bikepack on a world tour really depends on what route you want to follow. Some people finish a RTW route in a few months, others are still riding 10 or 20 years after setting off!
How far is it to cycle around the world?
The minimum distance that must be cycled is 29,000 kilometers (18,000 miles), according to the Guinness World Record.
You might also want to read these other cycle touring blogs and reviews:
- Best Rear Bike Rack For Touring By Bicycle
- Best Pillow for Camping When Bike Touring – Travel Pillows
- Electronic Gear To Take On A Bicycle Tour: Cameras, GPS, and Gadgets
- Best Saddles For Touring: Most Comfortable Bike Seats For Cycling
- Best Powerbank for Bike Touring – Anker Powercore 26800
- Cycling Across Europe
nice, this article helped me a little. For last 2 years I’ve been collecting money and equipment for this trip and so far I have 48k euro … I think it will keep me fed for 2-3 year journey around the world 🙂 great! thanks and cheers!
$15 dollars a day. Wow! Sound like an amazing adventure. I’ve gotten inspired by your article. It sounds like if you plan well enough it is do able. Thanks for the great advice
Ryan Smith says
I think that cost per day can be misleading. Sure maybe $15.00 per day cash, but if you factor in the cost of all your gear that you have with you and then average it out that might show more of the true cost of bike touring.
Dave Briggs says
I mentioned in the post that the cost does not include anything that was purchased throughout the trip (the bike, tent etc). However, the cost does include any spare parts and extra equipment purchased during my trips. This has on occasion included derailleurs, tents, cameras etc. So with this in mind, I believe this is a fair reflection of what the true cost of touring has been for myself for my bigger, long distance cycling expeditions.
Jesse E Martin says
I noticed you have a Vaude Hogan tent. Just wondering about the durability of the shock-cord holding up the fly. I have the Vaude Hogan XT, seems way too narrow for the 4kg weight. It is as wide as my Big Agnes Fly Creek (1 person, weighs 1.1kg). Spending a year in South America with my wife. Lots of hard UV on the altiplano to destroy dainty shock cord with.
Dave Briggs says
My first tent was a Vaude Hogan – and the build quality was excellent. After 10 years of use, it finished the end of it’s life, and so I decided to replace it with like for like for my Alaska to Argentina cycling trip. Big mistake! In those 10 years the quality had gone down the pan! It didn’t even last as long as the end of the United States. For the rest of the trip, I made do with a 40 dollar tent which actually did the job very well!
The issue wasn’t in the shock cord – it was with the poles and fabric. For this reason, I would not recommend buying one to use. Of course, if you already have it that’s a different story. Going by just weight and size – If you have the Fly Creek which weighs in at less and has the same space, i would take that. Many people use the Hubba Hubba (http://amzn.to/1TOVUcx) – The price puts me off though.
For the altiplano – I would also pay some thought to the sleeping bags. It gets cold enough to freeze water bottles on the inside of a tent sometimes! I ended up buying an extra blanket to carry around with me.
Wishing you both pleasant tailwinds and lots of downhill sections on your trip!!
Great post Dave. We met quite a few people who where bicycling all the way from the US to the tip of South America. I would probably give up after a few miles, so I have the utmost respect for people who are traveling the world on a bicycle.
Dave Briggs says
It can be quite addictive – so if you start, be prepared for it to change your life!
Koushik Dhar says
Oho! Well written 🙂
Dave Briggs says
I think the next database should be a “calories consumed per km/per month” one!!
Hey, I’m planning my own tour next year – around April leaving from England to Australia – see you on the road! :p
I was wondering – Do you buy insurance on top of your daily budget or just risk it? I’ve been unable to find cheap insurance as bike touring is an ‘extreme sport’. Also, you obviously have visas on top of your daily budget too – does that add much?
Thanks, and good luck!
Dave Briggs says
Great to hear you are planning your own trip, and hopefully our tracks will cross!
You raise a good point in regards to insurance. For my last trip, I took out a years insurance, which covered me through the potentially expensive north american part of the route. For the rest of the time, I didn’t have any. If it came to claiming on hospital bills, I would just not have made mention that I was travelling by bicycle.
For my next trip, I am debating over insurance or not – It’s something that I am going to be looking into over the next few months, and I’ll certainly share whatever info I get hold of in regards to policies and costs etc.
The daily budget – Does take into account visas as well. These will vary from country to country though, as some will be expensive but others cheaper.
good luck also!
Louis Parkinson says
I’d be interested to know who you ended up using for travel insurance.
Planning a Europe/Asia cycle tour and finding it difficult to find the best (or anything) that will cover me.
Dave Briggs says
Travel insurance for bicycle touring is one of those things where you are never sure if you are quite covered or not! I honestly can’t remember the name of the insurance I had last time. I believe I got regular ‘backpackers’ insurance. For the last two trips, I didn’t have any.
Dave Briggs says
Great to hear that you are planning a cycling trip. It really is the best mode of travel, as well as a unique way of seeing the world. 🙂
I had contemplated organising a cycling trip – thank you so much for your insights and tips!
Time to hit the planning boards and make it a reality! 😀
I had a dream about cycling to Africa once, but I’m sure I couldn’t do it for anything near £10 a day. As you say – the cost varies from one individual to the other.
Dave Briggs says
Would love to hear where you are touring at the moment Matt 🙂
Matthew Newton says
I am about to bike around the four corners of Scotland, and next April take off for a RTW trip.
I’ll let you know costs etc.
Dave Briggs says
Do you have a blog? Would love to follow your journeys !
matt newtom says
Great to read this. I am sure it is true and it means I can go on my own tour for a very long long time.
Devlin @ Marginal Boundaries says
$15 a day sounds super reasonable, I spend less than that a day just living in Mexico, heh. I’m sure it’s easy to survive on that. Now if you cycling just through The Western EU you might not be able to get away with it heh.
All I can say is ‘Wow!’ Cycling around the world! What a simplistic immersive way to travel. And for only $15 a day…who would’ve thought. Great post thanks for sharing.