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.
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.
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!).
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
You might also want to read these other cycle touring blogs and reviews: