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  1. #1
    Life is a fun ride safariofthemind's Avatar
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    Do You Budget for Trips Ahead of Time or Just Go?

    Been thinking about the way of financing the touring. These days money is tighter than usual, as it's probably the case for most of the world right now.

    Do you all set aside some cash each month then go when you have "enough" or do you just go when the urge hits and figure out the money later?

    I yearn for the serendipity of just going, but I am a family man with kids. Right now it's a budget and an allowance for me...

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    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    We plan a year ahead and then go and worry about the money later. But we know it's going to be a problem, and try to spread out the pre-expense with sales, etc., and then vary our expenditures w/r to funds on hand.

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    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by safariofthemind View Post
    Been thinking about the way of financing the touring. These days money is tighter than usual, as it's probably the case for most of the world right now.

    Do you all set aside some cash each month then go when you have "enough" or do you just go when the urge hits and figure out the money later?

    I yearn for the serendipity of just going, but I am a family man with kids. Right now it's a budget and an allowance for me...
    I generally don't spend more when on tour than when at home, so it really isn't a worry. I actually think I that on average I might spend less since I am not burning gasoline on a long commute. So just budgeting my time off and the extra expense of a plane ticket is about it for me.

    I kind of plan a year ahead, but in the end it comes down to a last minute decision whether a particular plan actually is realized or another one trumps it. Since I tour kind of "on the cheap", money is not a major factor.

    Edit, on the other hand my wife does tend to spend more while I am gone. I might come home and find a remodeling project, a new dining room set, or something.
    Last edited by staehpj1; 11-16-10 at 10:58 AM.

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    Life is a fun ride safariofthemind's Avatar
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    Funny about spouses and money - if you spend on your hobby it is optional, but if they spend it on a dining set it was a "necessity". Different priorities I guess

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    Depends. If, for example, the forecast for Monday before Easter weekend is looking good, we might decide to take a long weekend trip to a favorite place and just do it without a second thought. The $20/night to camp isn't going to break the budget and will offset by the less expensive food we eat during the trip.

    If I am planning something more elaborate that requires long distance travel, I will keep the future, abnormal expenses (e.g., flight, bike shipping) in mind and try to conserve a little here and there (e.g., going out to eat less often) to offset them, at least a bit.

    I don't have a wife or kids and my mortgage is my only debt other than my utilities and credit card bill, which get paid in full every month, so I have flexibility in that regard.

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    Heretic Caretaker's Avatar
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    At the moment I'm still working so time is more of a limiting factor than money.

    Sometime next year I should be retired (but then I've been saying that for the past two years) and then money rather than time will be the retardent.

    Normally I spend about six months planning my two/three week annual tour. Long weekends can just happen at short notice if a friend suggests going away for a cycle.
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    Senior Member Cyclebum's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by safariofthemind View Post

    Do you all set aside some cash each month then go when you have "enough" or do you just go when the urge hits and figure out the money later?
    Many retired folks seem to on the touring circuit. I'm in that group. Spent all my working career setting a bit aside.
    Now I can go when the urge hits and don't have to figure the money out. But, I certainly was in your place a few years back.

    Like Staehp1, the only 'extra' cost for me is getting to/from the start/stop place. I don't spend anymore while touring than I would at home. Actually, could spend less if I needed to.

    Once you've got the gear together, with discipline, touring can be very inexpensive as long as you're not paying big bucks for transport. Hub and spoke or round abouts from home or a car camp site.
    The bicycle is one of the great inventions of mankind. Delights children, challenges young men to feats of daring, and turns old men into boys again.--Me

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    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Fortunately both Rowan and I like cycling and touring so it is in our budget.

    But it depends ...

    If the tour is a weekend tour or something similar, we just go. We usually travel somewhere at least once a month for cycling (either a randonneuring event or a hub-and-spoke tour) so there are no special budget preparations for that.

    If the tour involves travel to another country and an extended time off work, however, there would be some budget preparations. We're currently in the process of preparing for something next July/August and we have a general sort of budget plan.

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    Life is a fun ride safariofthemind's Avatar
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    For the little trips it makes sense to just go. As a matter of fact, that's the status quo.

    What is itching right now is the desire to do a "biggie".

    Years ago I did a round-the-world trip without too much planning. It was a blast. But then things were simpler - no kids, no wife, yada yada. Certainly when retirement comes (if it comes, maybe more like semi-retirement) it'll be easier. But for now, I am in awe of the creative ways some people use to feed the yearning. Always nice to hear the clever ideas others come up with.

    I work in a non profit construction project in Panama btw. Should be doing that for a while. But regardless, kids going to College are going to keep things tight for at least 10 years. Not so tight that it hurts, but not worry-less. Somewhere in between if you know what I mean.

  10. #10
    Senior Member skilsaw's Avatar
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    In the past, my revenue exceeded expenses and I banked the difference, then my trips on a whim were paid for.

    This year I bought a new bike, then had a major repair to the condo roof. My share was $6k. That gobbled up my discretionary funds. Another major repair in the $50k range is looming. In a small building, that is big bucks for each owner.

    Expenses exceed revenue!!! I'll have to look at touring in the hinterland where stealth camping is a readily available choice. I can't afford $30 a night for camping and $30 per day for restaurant food.

    But I can still tour!
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  11. #11
    Life is a fun ride safariofthemind's Avatar
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    It is refreshing to appreciate the simplicity of the revenue vs expense approach skilsaw. Reminds me of our grandparents for whom being able to afford anything meant having the cash in hand.

    Since the 1980's life in the US has been complicated by easy credit. Our family largely resisted it and we are thankful for that now.

    The biggest factor that throws budgets off in this country is health care and educating one's kids. This is not a political statement - every country makes its own social contract. I am well aware of the pro's and con's of other systems like Canada, the UK, Australia and New Zealand's. Rather than moan we must take the system we inherit and work to improve it. This country has been good to us so no complaints. But the lack of resources in these 2 areas means families need a cushion for the random and the large events of life. Until having kids that never fazed me as I am a natural risk taker. It is a different calculus when someone else's life is involved however.

    This year has me considering selling some stuff on ebay. First time ever. Problem is, that is a band-aid as it is a one-of event. I admire those who have chosen the path of being super lean and frugal. A spouse can make that very tough to pull off but it is admirable to have grit and determination to make touring work with few monies.

  12. #12
    mev
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    For shorter trips, I'll have some money saved up and will just go.

    For longer trips, I'll have money saved up with assumption of certain $/day, plus fact that I'm not earning wages on the trip. Those estimates have almost always been conservative and I then spent less than I expected.

  13. #13
    Senior Member neilfein's Avatar
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    I generally don't spend any more on a tour than at home, other than expenses getting to the starting point (or home from the end point). These are usually either train tickets or maybe some gas and tolls, and the occasional ferry. The most expensive transport expense on a tour was a car rental to Pittsburgh, and Amtrak tickets that are around $50 - 120. Campgrounds are cheap, and I utilize Warm Showers quite a bit. Once in a while, I'll break down and get a hotel room for the night, often spending more on that then on the entire rest of the tour. But most of the money I spend on a tour is for food -- grocery runs and restaurants.
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  14. #14
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by safariofthemind View Post
    It is refreshing to appreciate the simplicity of the revenue vs expense approach skilsaw. Reminds me of our grandparents for whom being able to afford anything meant having the cash in hand.

    I admire those who have chosen the path of being super lean and frugal. A spouse can make that very tough to pull off but it is admirable to have grit and determination to make touring work with few monies.
    Educating myself recently put me into a little bit of debt when I returned to University to get a degree I have wanted for some time. The debt would have been significantly more if I had opted to take a student loan rather than working part-time while I was in University, and full-time often with a part-time job on the side during the summer. Fortunately, 18 months after graduating, that debt is almost gone.

    Having a spouse does not necessarily make it tough to live frugally, and to live as your grandparents lived. Both Rowan and I prefer to live that way because we have more important things to do with our money than to give it to the bank in the form of interest. Both of our interests lie in cycling (and some other sports), camping, travelling etc., and that tends to be what we spend our money on.

    We would both like to spend an extended time travelling in the relatively near future. I say travelling because it will not be all cycling, and won't be a more traditional style of cycletouring that doesn't involve extended stops. The plan is to save up as much money as we can before our proposed departure date. I can work in Canada, we can both work in Australia and we don't mind the idea of picking up seasonal and temporary work.

    So we'd travel a bit, and maybe end up in Canada for a while to work a bit, then travel a bit more, then return to Australia to work a bit more, etc., etc. Australia has the Harvest Trail which starts way up north, so we could become "grey nomads" for several months, working our way down the Harvest Trail and thus also getting to see more of Australia.

    We'll see how the next several months go, and maybe then start making more concrete plans.

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    Life is a fun ride safariofthemind's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    We would both like to spend an extended time travelling in the relatively near future. I say travelling because it will not be all cycling, and won't be a more traditional style of cycletouring that doesn't involve extended stops. The plan is to save up as much money as we can before our proposed departure date. I can work in Canada, we can both work in Australia and we don't mind the idea of picking up seasonal and temporary work.
    Years ago, in my 20's and early 30's I was a nomad of sorts. I would work for a bit, save, then go on long trips. The longest was 6 months to Europe. Over the years the method of working-going-working-rinse and repeat worked reasonably well. The realization that age can't be stopped made me rethink having kids and a family so that prompted a major change in habits. Have absolutely no regrets about that. But it does mean having to rethink how one thinks: one has to think about 4, not 1.

    It's doable, to be a Nomad, but you need an exit strategy for the inevitable day when age and health concerns will not allow it anymore. In those countries that have social medicine and some type of old age plan that is considerably easier of course. For us Americans, this is the cost of our freedom: more uncertainty at the tail end of life.

    By the way, in the Nomad days, IT was very good to me. Very portable skill and everyone needed computer work done in those days. Can't say about today though, but it was a most excellent way to pay the bills in the 80's and 90's.

  16. #16
    Kip
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    Touring for me is more expensive than staying home but not significantly more. The largest cost is if I have to fly to where I am touring. The past couple of tours I've taken have been here in the Pacific Northwest so I am able to start at home. A couple of years ago I rode through the Adirondacks and along the Erie Canal for a couple weeks prior to attending a professional meeting in Rochester. So my business travel helped cover some of the cost of my tour.

    I save for these trips by tossing my change into a container at the end of every day. Then prior to a tour I cash it in and find I have a significant amount to cover expenses. Yeah, I know I could be banking this but at the current interest rates I'm not missing much in the way of earnings.

  17. #17
    Life is a fun ride safariofthemind's Avatar
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    It is surprising that so many say it is no more expensive to tour than to be home, except for airfare or transportation to/from the launching point.

    The cost of "existing" or the "base cost" is housing, food, utilities, clothing, etc. If one wants to compare touring versus not-touring then one must account for the part of the cost that is variable, or marginal. Those would be the costs incurred only if touring but which would not be there if only existing at home in the base state.

    Since we all have to eat no matter what, have to be clothed no matter what, and so on, what people say makes sense, but only up to a point. For example, any additional lodging expense is a net add as is any repairs incurred because of the touring which would not be incurred when home. The overall effect is small, maybe 20 dollars a day I guess (for argument's sake, obviously, it can go up or down according to one's choices).

    This is very helpful fellas. Puts things in perspective.

    If one goes on a "big" trip to say, Australia, the net cost is really the one-time cost of any extra equipment, the airfare and transport to the launch point/back to the airport, and the 20 dollar "per diem" when looked at as a net addition to one's budget. In my specific case this would mean say 1000 dollars net-add of equipment since I already have most of the kit, about 2000 airfare (kayak.com), plust the 20 dollar per diem, say 600 for 30 days, plus let's say 400 for incidentals and transfers. So even a "biggie" trip like this can be had for $4,000 net add to the budget.

    Not bad. Not bad at all. For you youngen's this is a real do-able trip even if one just does a little farm labor or bar tending here and there...

    What's amazing about this mode of travel is that a 60 day trip would only be 600 more!

  18. #18
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    direct Deposit worked OK, but abroad, I had to settle some where
    for a while to get Bank Statements mailed
    to see what my balance was and what the exchange rate costs were
    to withdraw Via Debit card, a different currency,
    from the dollar denominated deposits at home..
    Last edited by fietsbob; 11-17-10 at 04:27 PM.

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    Life is a fun ride safariofthemind's Avatar
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    These days electronic banking makes this much easier. It's a piece of cake nowadays. Your ATM card even takes care of the exchange rates. One must shop carefully for a bank with low fees however, as there are some banks that are plain thieves in suits.

  20. #20
    Senior Member cyclist2000's Avatar
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    I look at it as a cost for a vacation. My tours have mostly started within 1000 miles from where I live and I drive since I pick up a friend that is half way there. I normally camp so there is low cost for lodging and I don't normally eat too rich. My tours are normally only a week long so I'm not going to buy much while on tour since I don't want to lug it around. For next years tour we may be doing a credit card tour staying in hotels so it will cost much more but again it's only a week long.

    To answer your question, I don't have a budget, normally I carry a credit card and a few hundred dollars, and I hardly spend the cash.

    I am also a family man with a kid but the wife and kid don't mind if I leave for a week of bike riding, its better than lots of other things.
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  21. #21
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by safariofthemind View Post
    It is surprising that so many say it is no more expensive to tour than to be home, except for airfare or transportation to/from the launching point.

    The cost of "existing" or the "base cost" is housing, food, utilities, clothing, etc. If one wants to compare touring versus not-touring then one must account for the part of the cost that is variable, or marginal. Those would be the costs incurred only if touring but which would not be there if only existing at home in the base state.

    Since we all have to eat no matter what, have to be clothed no matter what, and so on, what people say makes sense, but only up to a point. For example, any additional lodging expense is a net add as is any repairs incurred because of the touring which would not be incurred when home. The overall effect is small, maybe 20 dollars a day I guess (for argument's sake, obviously, it can go up or down according to one's choices).
    Food = approx the same as what is consumed at home, maybe a bit more while touring. But one thing to take into consideration is location. If you're touring through Victoria, Australia, for example, the food costs are going to be approx. what they would be in Manitoba, Canada. But if you were to tour down the Icefield Parkway in Alberta, Canada, you'd be looking at higher food costs.

    Clothing = well for me, on an extended tour I'm not buying clothing, I'm just travelling with what I've got with me. But if were at home during those 3 months or 6 months or whatever, I would likely buy a few items of clothing because that's just something I do.

    Accommodation = $20/night (hostel or expensive caravan park camping) * 30 nights = $600/month. Presuming that you've either sold your house, sublet your apartment, or whatever, $600/month for accommodation is less than renting an apartment.

    Repairs = I cycle almost as much when I'm not touring as when I do, so general bicycle maintenance and repair is always a part of my budget. I might go through an extra tube or two when touring or something. I have had a fairly major repair on an extended tour, but then I had the same repair again when I wasn't.

    So yes, it basically does come down to the cost of the flight to get to another country, and if you shop around you can get those relatively inexpensively too.

  22. #22
    Life is a fun ride safariofthemind's Avatar
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    Machka, and other long term tourers, how do you deal with health care? I know the UK and Australia have some kind of reciprocity deal. Does Canada also have such a deal? For us gringos, we have to do cash-and-carry I guess. Wondering how others deal with that. Before having a family, I just had a credit card with the thinking being, I could at least pay to get back stateside where I have insurance. There must be other options out there.

    Heard some backpacker's used this
    http://www.travelinsurance.co.uk/bac...-insurance.htm
    but never knew anyone who actually had to invoke it.

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    I don't think Canada has reciprocity, if the Queen came to visit here loyal subjects on the same rules her countrymen it would cost her about 3K a week in insurance if she has any pre-existing conditions. Apparently the UK used to just take care of visitors. Kinda thing you would think they couldn't afford any longer.

    One thing I am a big believer in, not so sure how this applies to bikes though, is the idea that everywhere is special. I used to sell outdoor gear about 30 years ago and noticed that our doingest customer was a guy who just packed his backpack, and wondered off into the forest somewhere. I thought is was weird at the beginning, why didn't he go to proper places with real trails, etc... He did occasionally travel to places but even then didn't go on the trails. There is a destination fixation, where water is only impressive if it is going over niagara falls, rocks are only noteworthy if they add up to El Cap. Some sports are more easy going than others and produce interest just about anywhere. Sailing just needs wind and water though polynesia wouldn't hurt. Particularly when you are starting out, you can work up through local experiences, if you do the best first, all that is left the less. So think local. I did some great trips along mining and snowmobile roads when I started out. All pretty near home. Budgeting wasn't an issue.

  24. #24
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by safariofthemind View Post
    Machka, and other long term tourers, how do you deal with health care? There must be other options out there.
    I use travel insurance ... never leave the country without it. Most of the time I got my travel insurance through CAA (Canadian Automobile Association) with whom I had a membership and from whom I also picked up a lot of travel information (maps, accommodations booklets, etc.) Insurance through CAA was relatively inexpensive (I'd have to dig out the paperwork, but it seems to me it was something like $250 for 3 months).

    When I travelled to Australia in 2009, I came here on a visitor's visa first so I got travel insurance as usual. But this time I went through one of the Canadian banks which had a marginally better rate than CAA.

    Now I can't really compare the two when it comes to invoking the insurance because I did not have to invoke the CAA insurance ever on any of my trips. However, in 2009, I did have to invoke the bank travel insurance because I developed DVT on my flight here, and eventually ended up in hospital for 2 weeks, plus ongoing treatment after. What a pain!! It took months to settle everything! I had applied for, and received my Temporary Spouse Visa and was working here more than 6 months later before everything was finally paid. But ... the entire hospital stay, all the tests I had, and the treatment while I was in hospital and for about a week after, etc. etc. were all covered. I paid about $250 or so for the 3 months of insurance, and they paid thousands of dollars for my medical treatment.

    We are with the RACV here in Australia (sort of similar to CAA in Canada) so when we travel, we'll look into their travel insurance plans.

  25. #25
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    One Canadian province's CAA travel insurance page: http://www.ama.ab.ca/cps/rde/xchg/am...4.htm?link=tsr

    Another Canadian province's CAA travel insurance page: http://www.caamanitoba.com/insurance/travelhealth.jsp

    RACV travel insurance: http://www.racv.com.au/wps/wcm/conne...avel+insurance

    There are, of course, other options too ... banks and other places like Blue Cross, etc. also have insurance options.

    And for the Americans, there is AAA ... I find their site difficult to navigate (they want you to enter a zip code in order to get anywhere), but they do refer to travel insurance and that would probably be the first place I'd go to get a quote.


    Given the difficulties I had getting everything paid, I would ask a lot more questions in the future when we get travel insurance ... like, have they ever had to pay claims in the country to which I am travelling, and how did that go?

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