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  1. #1
    afoot and lighthearted Boondock's Avatar
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    Theory- "The least expensive/most efficient way to bike tour, is in groups of 3"

    So during this tour, I've had alot of time to think. And one of the things I've concluded is that the cheapest way to tour, is to ride in groups of 3 (or multiples of 3). The 2 most expensive things while touring is... 1.Overnight accommodation and 2. Food. (this assumes you don't travel to a distant location to begin or end a tour and have to pay shipping, travel fare, etc)

    I came to the conclusion that traveling in 3's would be the cheapest and easiest way to go, mostly because of food and how it is packaged for sale. But also because of energy expended hauling food miles before it's consumed

    3 bike tourists can...

    eat a dozen eggs
    a pound of bacon
    drink a quart of orange juice
    eat a loaf of bread in a day (and a jar of peanut butter/jelly)
    kill a 12 pack
    eat a half gallon of ice cream
    eat a 1lb box of pasta
    eat a bag of tortillas
    and so on...

    I buy a box of pasta and it takes me 3 meals to eat it, and usually I wind up pedaling it 200 miles before its finished. I buy a pound of rice and I haul it for a week or more before it's eaten. Pasta/rice/tortillas are my staples while touring and I usually carry all 3, or at least 2. All this food is weight that groups of 3 might not have to carry because they can eat it in one sitting. Bicycle tourist are not backpackers... we generally pass a place to resupply daily.

    And splitting campground costs and hotels also drives the costs down. I would probably stealth camp less, and stay at either State Parks or private campgrounds more is I could share the cost

    I've been on the road as a solo tourist for over 8 months, and I prefer to travel solo. I stop at every KOA for the sole purpose of going to the counter, and asking the cost of a campsite and then decline to stay because I'm not spending $35 to set up a one man tent. I have not stayed at KOA on this tour (but I have heard that the KOA near Manchester Beach SP in CA is a good deal)

    The groups of 3 might not be perfect for all cycle tourists. For some it might be in groups of 2 or 4, depending on how much food is required to fuel the group.

    I think traveling solo is the most expensive way to tour. It's the way I prefer, but sometimes I think that travelling in a small group would be better. I would also not have to buy a newspaper daily. I guess I'm cheap... but these are the things I think about

    any thoughts?

  2. #2
    Senior Member Newspaperguy's Avatar
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    In larger centres, one can often find a bulk food store or a grocery store with bulk bins. These are great places to get pasta, rice or lentils as well as trail mix, salt, sugar and spices. For small amounts of meats, stop at a grocery store with a deli counter. For bread, go to a grocery store or a bakery and get a few buns at a time, if you want.

    As far as the quart of orange juice, it's easy for a solo cyclist to go through that much in the course of a day. One quart will more than fill a large water bottle and it can be refreshing on a hot day.

    For the campground costs, ask if they offer cyclist discounts. One campground in Hope, B.C. has a great rate for cyclists. Another, in North Vancouver, does not have such a rate, but gave me the seniors' rate when I asked about discounts. Normally, I prefer provincial campgrounds which are very reasonably priced.

    Traveling in threes has advantages. The biggest drawback, however, is finding a pace that satisfied everyone.
    Life is good.

  3. #3
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    I agree that sharing costs is a sure way to travel more cheaply, but it presumes that the group is happy eating the same thing(s) at the same time(s) and staying at the same place. Most groups fall apart for these reasons...

  4. #4
    Stoker's View seenloitering's Avatar
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    I agree. Groups are the most cost-efficient way to tour.

  5. #5
    afoot and lighthearted Boondock's Avatar
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    I know that there are threads with titled "how much to tour cross-country" every couple of months. Before I left, I was sure I was going to keep the cost to below $800 a month, but I'm surprised that I'm spending about $1200 a month. I'm planning to spend 12-14 months on this tour, so budgeting is necessary.

    I agree with you Newspaperguy with the bulk food idea, and that was true on the coasts, but in the interior of the country, many of the places I shopped had very basic grocery stores. I also think your right about the pace... I'm very slow... I can pedal all day... but I'm not happy when I have to go faster than I really want to go. That's the main reason I prefer to travel alone.

  6. #6
    BWF
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    Quote Originally Posted by Boondock View Post
    I've been on the road as a solo tourist for over 8 months, and I prefer to travel solo. I stop at every KOA for the sole purpose of going to the counter, and asking the cost of a campsite and then decline to stay because I'm not spending $35 to set up a one man tent. I have not stayed at KOA on this tour (but I have heard that the KOA near Manchester Beach SP in CA is a good deal)
    I stayed at the Manchester Beach state park right next to the KOA. The price was the ususal $6 for hiker/biker. In hindsight, I wish I would of stayed at that KOA instead. The biker sites for the state park were in an open field, restrooms far away, and no showers. That KOA looked pretty nice though. In general, the biker sites in Oregon state parks were far better than northern California state parks. If a California park even had showers they were most often shut down due to lack of budget for repair (as of October last year). I personally don't mind spending some cash on tour to enjoy my time. I'm more of a penny pincher in my normal lifestyle at home. But I'm not doing the kind of long term touring the OP is talking about. For me it's more along the lines of a vacation. I like indulging in big/expensive meals on tour.

  7. #7
    afoot and lighthearted Boondock's Avatar
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    BWF, I stayed at that (Manchester) State Park too, and then learned about the nice KOA (which is about a mile away) while chatting with some other tourers at the next Park down the road. They rubbed it in... hot showers and free wifi for $10... oh well... hindsight

  8. #8
    Professional Fuss-Budget Bacciagalupe's Avatar
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    A lot of bulk or cheap foods have a decent shelf life -- e.g. beans, pasta, nuts, granola etc. No reason why you can't carry that with you.

    Lots of campsites on the West Coast only charge $5 or so a night for bike campers, by the way.

    And let's face it, for a lot of people the real cost of being on tour for 8 months isn't your outlays for foodstuffs, it's the cost of Not Working. E.g. if you normally earn $24,000 a year, touring for 8 months means $16,000 of income you didn't generate.

    You know you've been on tour a long time when you start getting Budgetitis.

  9. #9
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    I did the TA with two companions and there are definitely some advantages.
    Quote Originally Posted by Boondock View Post
    3 bike tourists can...

    eat a dozen eggs
    a pound of bacon
    drink a quart of orange juice
    eat a loaf of bread in a day (and a jar of peanut butter/jelly)
    kill a 12 pack
    eat a half gallon of ice cream
    eat a 1lb box of pasta
    eat a bag of tortillas
    and so on...
    The problem is one will hate eggs, one won't like bacon, and one will be lactose intolerant. That said yes it works out well for a lot of things.

    Quote Originally Posted by Boondock View Post
    And splitting campground costs and hotels also drives the costs down. I would probably stealth camp less, and stay at either State Parks or private campgrounds more is I could share the cost
    As a group of three we did pretty well in this regard. There were quite a few hiker/biker sites that charged per person though.

    For sure it was nice to split a room three ways and the cost of a rental car to get to our start was nice to have split three ways. On the other hand we might have used the bus instead but the rack only holds two bikes and the bus runs only once a day.

    If you really like the other two, a group of three can work out well. Then again many times groups split and sometimes friendships are destroyed. The three of us had some friction from time to time, but we had a good time, stayed together, and are still friends.

  10. #10
    Dirt Bomb sknhgy's Avatar
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    A third of a half gallon seems like a lot of ice cream for one serving.

  11. #11
    have bike will tour catfish's Avatar
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    We did the same thing camped in the park it is out in the open and no showers . Id been fighting a bad cold for about 4 days so the second day we rode over to KOA got permission to take a shower and went back to the park and felt better

    Quote Originally Posted by BWF View Post
    I stayed at the Manchester Beach state park right next to the KOA. The price was the ususal $6 for hiker/biker. In hindsight, I wish I would of stayed at that KOA instead. The biker sites for the state park were in an open field, restrooms far away, and no showers. That KOA looked pretty nice though. In general, the biker sites in Oregon state parks were far better than northern California state parks. If a California park even had showers they were most often shut down due to lack of budget for repair (as of October last year). I personally don't mind spending some cash on tour to enjoy my time. I'm more of a penny pincher in my normal lifestyle at home. But I'm not doing the kind of long term touring the OP is talking about. For me it's more along the lines of a vacation. I like indulging in big/expensive meals on tour.

  12. #12
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    people used to having access to a comfortable income will spend more
    on a bike tour, than people used to just scraping by..
    Last edited by fietsbob; 04-30-11 at 11:28 PM.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Cyclebum's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Boondock View Post
    I know that there are threads with titled "how much to tour cross-country" every couple of months. Before I left, I was sure I was going to keep the cost to below $800 a month, but I'm surprised that I'm spending about $1200 a month. I'm planning to spend 12-14 months on this tour, so budgeting is necessary.
    FWIW, I spend about $1000/month touring comfortably, for me anyway. That's a motel room weekly, some camp fees, and at least one inexpensive restaurant meal daily, often a second breakfast, plus incidentals. More than expected. With discipline and luck, you can tour for $600/month, even less if you have to.

    Subtract what you'd be spending at home on yourself. Should make you feel better. Does me.

    As for solo vs group, I've discovered that the freedom of decision solo touring offers overides the support of having partners, especially if for more than a few days, hang the extra cost.
    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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