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  1. #1
    Interested Backpacker
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    Average budget to tour Trans Am?

    Just curious, what is the average cost to do a tour across the US? Let's say 75% camping with half of that at free or stealth sites and the balance at hotels. About half of the meals at restaurants and the other half cooked at the campsite with groceries picked up along the way. Just trying to get a budget in mind.

    If I can figure out a cost per mile, will that hold true for a longer tour on the Northern Tier or a shorter tour on the Southern Tier? I would be interested in total on route costs from others who have traversed these United States from sea to shining sea.

  2. #2
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    It will vary widely person to person. I find $30 comfortable, but get rooms less frequently than you propose. I am inclined to get breakfast in a diner and sometimes lunch or dinner at either a diner, burger joint, or subway with the odd barbecue joint thrown in.

    I think the ST and TA are similar in costs, but I have not done the NT. If I had to guess I'd say the NT would be about the same.

    I find that I like to have both more time and more money than I will need and the freedom from the tyranny of a timetable or budget.

    Oh, and I have found that I don't necessarily spend that much more than I would at home. This was especially true when I was buying gasoline for a long commute. I might have actually spent less on tour than off at that time.

  3. #3
    Garlic
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    I rode the Northern Tier route recently for $25/day, with a motel every week and lots of good luck at free camping. From what I saw, that was on the low side, with plenty of cyclists easily topping $50 a day, and a few over $100. On the low end, I met a cyclist who had been living on his bike for several years at $5000 and 8000 miles per year, and he seemed healthy and had all his teeth. He was not above a little dumpster diving and roadkill harvesting. There's quite a range out there.

  4. #4
    imi
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    Average budget to tour Trans Am?

    The main costs for me are food from supermarkets and staying at campsites when not wild camping.

    I eat fairly basically: oats, bananas, pb-sandwiches, beans and rice, drink just water.
    Actually, the most expensive part of my daily food budget is bananas.

    I try to average every second night at a campsite, though the allure of hot showers is often irresistable after a long day in the saddle

    This is about as basic as I want to go. Wild camping and dumpster diving, or eating at diners and staying at motels would change the budget drastically, but the above is my sweet spot

    With 20 dollars/day I'd happily set off across the USA, 30/day as Staehp1 says would allow me hot showers everyday, and yeah, the older I get, the more I love starting and finishing the day with hot showers

  5. #5
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    This comes up at least once/year. Here is the most recent thread I could find:

    Cost of touring.

    As noted, what people spend varies widely. For example, some people who eat out are satisfied with a $5 foot long from Subway or a Whopper and fries from BK. Others want/need somerthing more and/or different that costs more. When it comes to cooking, sone people are satisfied with simple, inexpensive meals like rice and beans. I tend cook more elaborate meals, the ingredients for which cost more. Grilled a few salmon steaks on the 4th of July during one tour. In short, your personal preferences will likely affect your budget.

    You should expect to pay more for motels on the eastern end of the Northern Tier than you would on the western end. Same for camping if you stay at private campgrounds. In fact, private campgrounds can run you well over $30/night in some places. I am pretty sure we stayed here one night:

    Lake Pemaquid Campground

    Look at the rates. Crazy.

    Also, you may want to factor in bike repair/replacement costs that you might not have on a shorter tour. For example, when I did Seattle to the Northern Tier and then rode home from Bar Harbor to Philly, I replaced both tires in Minneapolis and the rear one again in New Hampshire. Absent abnormal damage, that wouldn't happen on a 10 day tour.

  6. #6
    Interested Backpacker
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    Thanks everyone. If it takes an avg of 90 days to cross the country and avg $30 per day...., sounds like $2,700 for day to day expenses. Throw in another $300 for bike maintenance, and another grand for transportation back home / emergencies and we are at $4,000 for a three month trip.

    Not bad.

    At 4,230 miles on the TransAm, we are averaging .95 per mile. And you are only off of work for thee months.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Doug64's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fullcount View Post

    At 4,230 miles on the TransAm, we are averaging .95 per mile. And you are only off of work for thee months.
    Yah, I tried not to think about the opportunity cost of lost income when I did long tours while still working.
    Last edited by Doug64; 03-27-14 at 06:46 PM.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by andrewclaus View Post
    On the low end, I met a cyclist who had been living on his bike for several years at $5000 and 8000 miles per year, and he seemed healthy and had all his teeth. He was not above a little dumpster diving and roadkill harvesting. There's quite a range out there.
    HO-CHEE-MAMA!! If that's what I had to do I'd probably give up bicycling altogether!

  9. #9
    Walmart bike rider gpsblake's Avatar
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    You can eat for $10 a day, or $20 a day if you include one fast food/reasonable restaurant stop. What will eat up your money is stopping at gas stores and grabbing drinks and snacks. So let's budget 20 bucks a day on food.

    Let's say 60 days to cross the country.

    That's $1,200 in food. Hotel once a week equals 75 a day. Factor in how many times you will staying at a hotel. Stealth camping is free, paid camping sites vary but let's say $10 a day. 9 x $75 plus perhaps $100-$200 in camping fees.

    So factor in another $1,000 or so.... That's $2,200

    Cost of bicycle repair and/or maintenance. That has to be someone flexible but at a minimum you will go through several tubes. You should have several $100 ready just in case of a major failure (or in my case, enough to buy a brand new Walmart bike). Let's call it $400 to be on the safe side.

    $2,600

    Cost of your gear or any gear you will get on the trip. That also can vary, you can get stuff at Goodwill or spend oodles of money at an LBS shop. Unknown how expensive.

    Then any recreational money you want to spend, again variable.

    Then add the cost of getting back across the country, shipping your bike back, etc...
    Another $500

    Factoring in everything, a basic no-frills trip runs about $3,500......Not including the initial cost of your bike, gear, etc.... You can do it cheaper of course or if you stay in hotels every night, much much more.

  10. #10
    Walmart bike rider gpsblake's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by imi View Post
    Actually, the most expensive part of my daily food budget is bananas.
    Mine was sodas at convenience stores. I am a sucker for cold diet-sodas. I learned later to buy a value size drink at a fast food joint and refill up about 4 times.

    I did my tour for around $400 over a month from SC to Abilene. Had I Cut back on cold sodas, I could have done it for under $300. That was eating junk from Family Dollar, McDonald's/CiCi's/junk food and enough pop-tarts and bananas ever to want them again. Stealthed camped every night.

    I did only get two showers on the way and I know I had to smell like shi#. But I couldn't smell it myself.

  11. #11
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    sorry, but anyone who chooses to participate in what is being called 'dumpster diving' goes from being even a frugal cycle tourist to a simple vagrant.

    SC to abilene --- texas, i presume ? 2 showers ? really ?

  12. #12
    Senior Member Cyclebum's Avatar
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    $25-$30/day for reasonably comfortable, reasonably frugal, x-country touring. Less with discipline, more as the budget and mindset allows. $2500 should get you there, with a bit of luck and no dumpster diving. You can cross the country on oatmeal, peanut butter, apples, and Snicker bars.... and be healthier for it. What is that? $7/day? Jeez, does anybody have that much discipline?
    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

  13. #13
    Has opinion, will express
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    One of the things that hasn't been factored in is entertainment. If you have any interest in natural or historical features, or even parks, you will likely need a budget for entry fees.
    Dream. Dare. Do.

  14. #14
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fullcount View Post
    Thanks everyone. If it takes an avg of 90 days to cross the country and avg $30 per day...., sounds like $2,700 for day to day expenses. Throw in another $300 for bike maintenance, and another grand for transportation back home / emergencies and we are at $4,000 for a three month trip.
    For me that is quite a bit on the high side. 90 days is very generous (we took 73), $30 per day is as I said fairly comfortable, and the $30 for me includes some reasonable amount of bike repairs transportation and what not.

    I don't think that on the TA I spent quite that total even if you include airline tickets, my bike ($599), and the new gear I bought for the trip. So $2700 would have a pretty good bit of cushion built in, for me at least. The cushion is good to have though.

  15. #15
    Senior Member zeppinger's Avatar
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    Catch up bus to Mexico and tour there for three months. Your budget will be much cheaper. Still cant afford it? keep going south to the cheaper countries. China was insanely cheap when I was there. I was spending around $200-$300 a month, total. That included hotels most nights, not always with showers but a roof over my head. Almost all of my meals were eaten out as well. Now the flight to someplace as far away as China would set you over budget but not central america! Have fun!

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