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  1. #1
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    Questions about funding a tour

    How much money does it normally cost a day to tour?

    What are some of the ways to continue on a tour when running low or even out of funds on a tour?

    I am planning on doing a Trans-America trip. Is there a way to do it without having any money saved up?
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  2. #2
    Senior Member delux68's Avatar
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    good questions, I'd also like to know the answers. It sounds like we are in similar situations. I want to poor tour as well. I've never done it but my plan is to camp free as much as possible, maybe find soup kitchens to eat at, and when i run low on cash, find a job for a few days. I have no idea how much of this is possible but that is the way i'd want to do it.

  3. #3
    imi
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    The cheapest way I would go is stealth camping and a diet of mainly peanut butter sandwiches, bananas, beans and rice (or bread and cheese if you don't want to cook)

    I work and save first rather than trying to find jobs along the way... The idea of being broke and looking for jobs on the road sounds, imho, more romantic than the reality of it (yeah I've been there)

    Most often a job you'll find in your home town will pay more than casual labor which equates to more time travelling for less days worked.

    OTOH if you're leaving home for good, packing your bike and heading off into the sunset forever - go for it!
    Last edited by imi; 08-23-10 at 11:24 PM.

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    Depends also how many bills need to be paid, and mouths fed while you are on the road...

    Stealth camping isn't cheaper, there are lots of ways of camping or even staying with people for free. If anything it runs the risk of being more expensive since you can't generate an income or discover opportunities as easily hiding behind some bush as waiding in among people.

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    Banned. Bekologist's Avatar
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    advice from a long time dirtbag -

    that sounds like more of the vagabond thing. you're going to get hungry quick, and stall out shortly thereafter.

    if you are good at dumpster diving, and living like a derelict in ditches, you'll be fine for a while. look for the grocery stores in the nice neighborhoods.

    The day labor thing is tougher than you would expect and there is a lot of social pecking order at day job lots - a person passing thru does NOT typically make out well in the day laborer lineup.

    A restaurant with a lot of customers, and a help wanted sign in a small town will sometimes be good for a free meal and twenty bucks if you can wash dishes or short order line cook, could lead to a few days or a few months of work, depends on how you play it.

    you could always beg, or busk, or twist balloon sculptures. I've had good results with a harmonica, but I'm a good harmonica player. Busking for a few dollars on Layafette Square in New Orleans remains one of my indelible memories.

    asking for help or getting hitched up with a travelling bicycle cult wouldn't be so bad either.





    Realistically, i wouldn't tour in the US with a budget of less than 10 bucks a day and I'm used to living on the cheap.

    Avoiding anything premade or beverages in bottles, you could do it even cheaper.

    of course, with a credit card, and the ability to make a few minimum payments by internet from a small bank account, you could tour VERY cheaply, like 15 bucks a MONTH -until you had to pay more than the vigorish.
    Last edited by Bekologist; 08-24-10 at 12:06 AM.

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    My recent tour was around $17 per day. That was buying fast food and going to grocery stores. If I really skimped, I could probably do $13-14/day without resorting to dumpster diving.

    I stealth camped the entire way, I had no trouble find a place to sleep whatsoever. I did sleep in some trees in a Walmart once, so if you want to go as cheap as possible don't be afraid to go dumpster diving or sleep wherever.

    Also if you want to go cheap, stay on the east coast, on the west coast where all the cities are further apart, you have to buy food from small local shops and all of your food is going to be twice as expensive.

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    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by delux68 View Post
    maybe find soup kitchens to eat at.
    Do you really want to tour in places that have soup kitchens? That would seem to imply an urban setting. I know that would not be my cup of tea.

    On the camping for free... On the Trans America we found it really easy to stay for free a good percentage of the time without the need for stealth. We found cheap campsites quite a bit too. On my Santa Fe Trail tour camping for free in town parks was pretty easy although I did splurge a few days on motels. In the Sierras camping for free was tougher. Some of the time we could have wild camped pretty easily, but many places we were on land where camping was specifically not allowed.

    Personally I think going with no money sounds like a bad idea. Better to work for a bit before you go, sell some of your possessions, or raise money in some other manner before you go. You can go on a tight budget, but being completely broke will grow tiresome pretty quick especially in the wide open empty part of the country which you will have to pass through if doing a Trans America like the op says he (she?) wants to do. I think most people will be very surprised just how empty and desolate much of the country can be. When there isn't water for 80 miles on some sections, there probably aren't dumpsters to dive for thousand mile stretches in some places.
    Last edited by staehpj1; 08-24-10 at 06:31 AM.

  8. #8
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mthayer View Post
    How much money does it normally cost a day to tour?
    The lowest amount I've been able to manage on was $30 per day, touring in Australia, and that did not include the $2000-ish it cost to fly to Australia and back.


    Quote Originally Posted by mthayer View Post
    What are some of the ways to continue on a tour when running low or even out of funds on a tour?
    If you were here in Australia, I'd suggest looking up the Harvest Trail: http://jobsearch.gov.au/harvesttrail/default.aspx Many Australians of all ages and all different walks of life, spend some time following the Harvest Trail, working and travelling and seeing the country. We've both done a bit of it, and are considering a more extensive trip in the not-too-distant future. Perhaps there's something like that where you live?

    Otherwise you might opt to try something like travelling 1/4 of the way, then settling for a few months and signing up with a temp agency to get some work (I've worked for temp agencies for years and really like going that route for work) ... then travelling another 1/4 of the way and finding some more work, etc. That might give you the chance to see more of your country than just riding across. You'd spend time in various parts of the country, working and living, and cycling all over the place in that area, and really getting to know that area. Wouldn't that be so much more interesting than just cycling across?


    Quote Originally Posted by mthayer View Post
    I am planning on doing a Trans-America trip. Is there a way to do it without having any money saved up?
    Why not save up the money. Many of my Canadian friends pick up a part-time job prior to Christmas, during the Christmas rush, in order to save money for a vacation somewhere warm in January or February. Assuming you're not planning to do the tour till next May, you've got time to pick up a part-time job and save the money.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by mthayer View Post
    How much money does it normally cost a day to tour?
    I did my first and only tour so far on 5 euros/day, stealth camping and couch surfing. (your hosts will often be happy to provide you food, even if you refuse)

    As Peterpan1 said, you'll have more luck finding some cash to earn if you stay with someone. (Either through couchsurfing.org/similar or by generating intrest for your trip in random strangers you meet)

  10. #10
    Senior Member delux68's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bekologist View Post
    you could always beg, or busk, or twist balloon sculptures.
    I'ts funny that you mention this, I am in fact a balloon artist and get paid quite well. I thought about this as a way to make money while traveling by car. I guess I could just bring the bare essentials and leave the fancy electric pump at home, although that would I think make me appear less professional.

  11. #11
    Banned. Bekologist's Avatar
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    there's a fella that has funded his around the world bicycle trip using balloon sculpture to both break cultural barriers, make friends and a little money.

    get a manual balloon pump and learn to operate it theatrically, you'll do fine!

    I also met a couple from South America in a 1920's town car, driving the entire Pan Am and up to Alaska. They were partially funding their trip by selling a self published story about the dreams to travel, their adventures with the car, and believing in making things happen.

    a lot of these types of extended, extreme low budget trips do go on faith and reliance.

    Not necessarily on the handouts of others, but on the guidance and assistance and offers from others to lead you thru.

    Pan your prospects. And, Wash those dishes!
    Last edited by Bekologist; 08-24-10 at 11:20 AM.

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    How much it costs depends to a large part on where you're going and how you're travelling. This is what I'd consider in Canada. Even if you're getting cheap food and making your own meals, you're probably looking at $15 or more a day for that. You will eat more on the road. For camping, it would be good to allocate another $25 a night. Add another $5 to $10 a day to cover any unexpected costs.

    I'm estimating high here, but that's because it's a good idea to be prepared for worst-case scenarios. They have happened. More than once. If you can tour cheaper, that's great. But be prepared, just in case.

    Your costs could vary widely and I realize that. If you do wild camping, then you've saved the price of a campsite entirely. People might let you pitch the tent on their lawns, again saving the cost of a campsite. But you can't do wild camping everywhere, nor can you rely on the kindness of strangers. Sometimes, you're going to have to pay. For paid campsites, I've paid as little as $10 a night and as much as $37. (The $37 a night place was in a fairly expensive city and it was the best deal in town.)

    I strongly discourage using soup kitchens when you're on tour. The reason is one of ethics. These facilities are for those who are impoverished and have no other way to get a meal. Cycle tourists do not fall into that category. A cycle tourist who takes a meal at these places is leaving a little less food for those who truly need them.
    Life is good.

  13. #13
    Senior Member BengeBoy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Newspaperguy;11346261I
    strongly discourage using soup kitchens when you're on tour. The reason is one of ethics. These facilities are for those who are impoverished and have no other way to get a meal. Cycle tourists do not fall into that category. A cycle tourist who takes a meal at these places is leaving a little less food for those who truly need them.
    +100

    World does not owe you a living, or a meal. I hate to sound harsh, but if you're able-bodied enough to go on a bike tour, you're able bodied enough to get a job, save up for a tour, and pay your own way. Or find gainful employment along the way. That doesn't mean that we all aren't occasionally the beneficiaries of the kindness of strangers -- especially in an emergency, or bad weather -- but planning a bike vacation around eating at soup kitchens seems like a terribly misplaced set of values.

    I read somewhere a few months ago about some websites for folks who travel around the country in RV's, camping out, and working temp jobs around the country. They share tips on where the best temp jobs are (seasonal warehouse work, seasonal farm work, etc.). That's a little easier to do if you are in an RV because you can pull up stakes and move hundreds of miles in a day to get to the next place where a job is, and you can also "camp out" for extended periods of time in more comfortable surroundings. But you might try tapping into this community; sorry I can't remember what they call themselves.

  14. #14
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BengeBoy View Post
    I read somewhere a few months ago about some websites for folks who travel around the country in RV's, camping out, and working temp jobs around the country. They share tips on where the best temp jobs are (seasonal warehouse work, seasonal farm work, etc.). That's a little easier to do if you are in an RV because you can pull up stakes and move hundreds of miles in a day to get to the next place where a job is, and you can also "camp out" for extended periods of time in more comfortable surroundings. But you might try tapping into this community; sorry I can't remember what they call themselves.
    I posted a whole set of links like what you're describing. They are called the "Grey Nomads" and seem to be fairly unique to Australia. They quit their professional jobs, or retire, and follow the harvest trail through Australia. They range in age from their 40s or 50s up into their 70s amd 80s. I joined them briefly working in a cherry packing plant in this area.

    But you might look to see if something like that exists in North America.

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    Senior Member Newspaperguy's Avatar
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    We have something a little different here in the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia. Young adults, mostly French-Canadians, make the trip out here in summer and then get work up and down the valley picking fruit for the summer. If you're thinking about that, it can be a rewarding experience, but it doesn't pay all that well. Some of the orchards will have the Help Wanted signs, but far more common are the ones with signs that say pickers are not needed. Check in advance.
    Life is good.

  16. #16
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    I work in the poverty industry and I get perturbed when I see the able bodied people abusing the system and expecting a “free lunch”. However I do remember the “romantic period” of my own travels when I had little money and heaps of free time to see the world. At that time I was fortunate to have worked in the building trades and was able to make money as a carpenter. So, if you are willing and capable of working in the trades often you can find work on construction sites just by showing up with your work boots, hardhat, pouch and a hammer.

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    We toured Europe for 4 months averaging about 50 euros a day. We stayed in camping grounds, sometimes 4 star ones and ate out about every 2 days. Mostly bought lunch instead of making it. We could have done it for much less but this was a comfortable amount to live on.

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    If you have the internet with you (or some other reliable means of accessing it on the road), I can see things being a little easier. Check out WWOOFing, maybe, and definitely CouchSurfing. If you're sending out CouchSurfing emails every day as you go, you should be able to find plenty of free places to stay and probably a lot of food and other charity as well.

    But what the others said about the American West is absolutely true. It can be desolate.
    1988 Miele Azsora

  19. #19
    Senior Member delux68's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bekologist View Post
    there's a fella that has funded his around the world bicycle trip using balloon sculpture to both break cultural barriers, make friends and a little money.
    i kinda remember seeing something about this years ago. i think he was in Africa.

  20. #20
    Senior Member delux68's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BengeBoy View Post
    +100

    World does not owe you a living, or a meal. I hate to sound harsh, but if you're able-bodied enough to go on a bike tour, you're able bodied enough to get a job, save up for a tour, and pay your own way. Or find gainful employment along the way. That doesn't mean that we all aren't occasionally the beneficiaries of the kindness of strangers -- especially in an emergency, or bad weather -- but planning a bike vacation around eating at soup kitchens seems like a terribly misplaced set of values.
    let me revise my statement. i would only feel comfortable eating at a soup kitchen if i could also help out and volunteer for the night.

    i would like to also say that if a person is riding across, and all around the country, it will take months and that person is basically homeless and jobless. i think soup kitchens are set up for feeding homeless/jobless people regardless of whether they are riding through on a bike or not.

  21. #21
    Senior Member BengeBoy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by delux68 View Post
    i would like to also say that if a person is riding across, and all around the country, it will take months and that person is basically homeless and jobless.
    I can't express in polite terms how much I disagree with your point of view on this.

    I think soup kitchens are for the involuntarily homeless and jobless. In the context of this thread, I think we're talking about bicycle tourists who are voluntarily homeless, jobless and itinerant.

    Obviously there are people without jobs or resources who also happen to travel around by bike. I don't think that's what we're talking about. I think we're talking about people who could:

    a. get a job if they tried long enough and hard enough, but
    b. choose to travel around the country by bike instead

    If you fit that definition, I think you should be prepared to fend for yourself, and not rely on soup kitchens for the involuntarily unemployed/homeless.

  22. #22
    Senior Member delux68's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BengeBoy View Post
    I can't express in polite terms how much I disagree with your point of view on this.

    I think soup kitchens are for the involuntarily homeless and jobless. In the context of this thread, I think we're talking about bicycle tourists who are voluntarily homeless, jobless and itinerant.

    Obviously there are people without jobs or resources who also happen to travel around by bike. I don't think that's what we're talking about. I think we're talking about people who could:

    a. get a job if they tried long enough and hard enough, but
    b. choose to travel around the country by bike instead

    If you fit that definition, I think you should be prepared to fend for yourself, and not rely on soup kitchens for the involuntarily unemployed/homeless.
    i agree with you

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by delux68 View Post
    let me revise my statement. i would only feel comfortable eating at a soup kitchen if i could also help out and volunteer for the night.

    i would like to also say that if a person is riding across, and all around the country, it will take months and that person is basically homeless and jobless. i think soup kitchens are set up for feeding homeless/jobless people regardless of whether they are riding through on a bike or not.
    I have to agree with those who feel that eating in soup kitchens while on tour is ethically wrong. Bicycle touring is always a voluntary action, by definition, thus rendering the state of being "unemployed and homeless" intentional. Whether you could help out or not, the fact that you are fed may mean that there is nothing for someone who has not intentionally rendered him/herself in need of food/shelter.

    Short and sweet: taking advantage of something "because it's there" isn't the ethically correct thing.

  24. #24
    Senior Member simplygib's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BengeBoy View Post
    I read somewhere a few months ago about some websites for folks who travel around the country in RV's, camping out, and working temp jobs around the country. They share tips on where the best temp jobs are (seasonal warehouse work, seasonal farm work, etc.). That's a little easier to do if you are in an RV because you can pull up stakes and move hundreds of miles in a day to get to the next place where a job is, and you can also "camp out" for extended periods of time in more comfortable surroundings. But you might try tapping into this community; sorry I can't remember what they call themselves.
    Workampers.

    http://www.workamper.com
    Edit: Didn't realize this was a paid subscription site. I'm not endorsing it - I know nothing about it. Maybe instead, just google workkamper and you'll come up with other options. Not sure how well this would work out for a touring cyclist though.

    If it were me I'd plan a tour around warmshowers, couchsurfing, stealth camping, temporary work, and anything else I could think of, then save up enough money to cover a minimal daily expense before leaving on the tour.

    One thing's certain - I wouldn't want to be caught without enough money for a decent meal on tour - ever.
    Last edited by simplygib; 08-27-10 at 09:31 AM.

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    One strategy that works really well for saving money and improving nutrition is simply reducing the cost and processed nature of your foods. There are a lot of cheap, possibly free foods that are very nutritious. The downside tends to be palatability. I've joked about juicing dandelions before here, but that could be don, one could try and find a non-acidic legume, and grains diet, mostly out of the bulk barn. A lot of charitable, or even dumpster diveable food is very low quality. Canned soup is pretty much poison. My dad has had a range of bad diseases, each of which came with new lunatic privation diets, but at least over time one got used to eating pretty much anything. I you can take it, there are cheap options, and doubtless some are even palatable though that might be difficult on the road.

    Maya Pedal crew seem to have worked out how to mount appliances to the bike rack...

    http://whileoutriding.wordpress.com/

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