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How do you guys afford the time and money and company to do long tours???

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How do you guys afford the time and money and company to do long tours???

Old 05-13-19, 04:48 PM
  #1  
fuji_owner
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How do you guys afford the time and money and company to do long tours???

I've been dreaming of doing a bikepacking tour for many years now. But I can't figure out how to get started. I mean, I see all these posts and photos about bike touring and camping in all kinds of places.

I wonder what kind of jobs you guys have, that you can afford to take several weeks or months off. I get 3 weeks in a year, and that needs to be distributed among all the vacations. Traveling to all these exotic places means it's not going to be just a Saturday day trip.

I wonder how you came to save up so much money. Don't you have mortgages, bills and other expenses?

I wonder how so many of you have willing and enthusiastic friends or partners who go with you.

Please answer these above 3 questions. Much appreciated!
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Old 05-13-19, 04:58 PM
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ironwood
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How to save money? Start early. Don't waste money with unnecessary spending, such as an automobile. Buy low, sell high.
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Old 05-13-19, 05:12 PM
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Leebo
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3 weeks and a week of sick days, plus holidays. My tours are long weekends, sometimes a S 240. One long trip a year, 5 or 6 days usually. I roll solo. Much easier that way. My schedule, my time, always subject to change. All my tours have been in New England where I live, drive a bit sometimes too. Once you roll down the driveway you're on vacay. I work from home and have some flexible hours sometimes.
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Old 05-13-19, 06:35 PM
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"I get 3 weeks in a year, and that needs to be distributed among all the vacations." I'm not meaning to be snarky here, but what you're saying is you could do a three week tour. You choose not do do it. I don't have a lot of money, and I have time irregularly, but getting out and doing things like bike touring and canoeing are things that I HAVE TO DO to stay human.

It can be tough to find good touring partners, but they're out there.

As for money, I can't afford to tour in exotic places, but that's fine, as I've chosen to do door to door tours in order to cut down on my carbon footprint.
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Old 05-13-19, 06:51 PM
  #5  
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Somehow your company is able to survive without you for 3 weeks a year.
How about unpaid leave for another 3 weeks a year? They might go for it.

As for your money situation....it's none of my business and anything I would suggest would come off as arrogant and you probably can figure it out on your own.

I tour alone. It's easier to decide where to camp that way.
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Old 05-13-19, 07:11 PM
  #6  
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when I started touring, I lived frugally, got the camping gear here and there, some as gifts from family, rarely ate out, didnt smoke, drink much, so was able to afford a plane ticket to somewhere, and then camped and prepared my own food most of the time, so even though I flew to France, the expenses there were very low.
I also didnt have a car, which helped for saving.

bottom line, a bike vacation is very much on the low end of expenses in terms of vacations.
and I did plan my vacation time for it.

sure, later in life, family, house, obligations meant I didnt do any long tours for a while, but then started up again years later as family grew.

its all doable, but as someone else said, money wise its not for us to really say how one should plan and budget their life, but it certainly is doable if you plan accordingly, and strangers on the internet can't tell you how to live your life , but at least know that for most of us, I presume anyway, we are just regular folks that are not wealthy and we worked things out.
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Old 05-13-19, 08:24 PM
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Originally Posted by fuji_owner View Post
I've been dreaming of doing a bikepacking tour for many years now. But I can't figure out how to get started. I mean, I see all these posts and photos about bike touring and camping in all kinds of places.

I wonder what kind of jobs you guys have, that you can afford to take several weeks or months off. I get 3 weeks in a year, and that needs to be distributed among all the vacations. Traveling to all these exotic places means it's not going to be just a Saturday day trip.

I wonder how you came to save up so much money. Don't you have mortgages, bills and other expenses?

I wonder how so many of you have willing and enthusiastic friends or partners who go with you.

Please answer these above 3 questions. Much appreciated!

I live and work in Australia where we get 4 weeks holiday time, plus an additional 12 (I think) stat holidays. In addition, my job allows me to purchase leave up to 10 days ... which I've done.

Here's a little news story you might like:
https://www.news.com.au/news/clever-...54cad9b32fad7a

For example, from that article:

"The 10-day Easter holiday hack: Turn three days off into 10

Easter is Friday, April 19 to Monday, April 22 in all states. Anzac Day lands two days later, on Thursday, April 25.

With two public holidays in one week, you can extend your holiday to 10 days — from Friday, April 18 to Sunday, April 28 inclusive — just by taking three days of annual leave."


Since my Easter was Friday to Tuesday, I took Thursday 18th off, Wednesday the 24, Friday the 26th ... and with the expenditure of 3 days of annual leave, I had an 11 day holiday and we travelled around Tassie during that time.


As for money, Rowan and I were able to spend 8 months touring and travelling because we lived on one salary and saved the other for about 3 years. I've been able to go on 1-3 month holidays by setting aside a certain percentage of my salary each pay.

We rent, so no mortgages. We pay things off as quickly as possible so no bills outside the "life bills" (groceries, utilities, etc.), and we try to keep those relatively low. We don't rack up large amounts on the credit card. We don't drink alcohol. We've both lived several years without a motor vehicle, and even now we only use our car on weekends.


As for partners, I started cycletouring with someone I met through Randonneuring/Audax. Then I met Rowan, also through Randonneuring/Audax, and we married a few years later.

Last edited by Machka; 05-13-19 at 08:27 PM.
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Old 05-13-19, 08:24 PM
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Best thing to do is go on a Sub 24 hour trip. Shorter trips like that get you started and then you can move onto bigger and better things. Me personally I don't really have time for long tours but shorter trips I can do say leaving on a Friday evening and getting back Sunday evening is doable for average M-F office type workers and still can allow for a fun tour. I know I have done plenty of 2-4 day tours without spending a whole ton of money or having to take off or take off much.

As far as company I have done solo tours and ones with friends when they can. It is all about finding friends who are also interested in touring or at least riding a bike and camping.
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Old 05-13-19, 08:37 PM
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The key is to not have kids.

I have 3, so I haven't done an extended tour in more than 20 years.
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Old 05-13-19, 08:56 PM
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Originally Posted by revcp View Post
I'm not meaning to be snarky here, but what you're saying is you could do a three week tour. You choose not do do it.
Not necessarily. Many jobs will deny requests to use tons of vacation time at once, not to mention that they'll often make vacation time buildup impossible by not allowing much year-to-year rollover.
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Old 05-13-19, 09:08 PM
  #11  
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I spent my career crafting the type of lifestyle that allowed extensive travel. As mentioned above, no kids. My wife and I steered our professional careers away from stressful management positions. We kept to low-level design work that was easy to leave without pay for long periods, up to six months every couple of years in our case.

Most important, our first decade together we made a concerted effort to pay off our mortgage early. It was a lot of hard work back then, but we were out of debt by our early 30s. Then we really started saving. By age 40 we were financially independent. That's when those six month trips started.

Look up Mr Money Mustache's blog for ways to achieve financial independence. The author is an avid cyclist, too.

I attribute my early retirement directly to a bicycle lifestyle. When you commute by bike, it's easy to keep work in perspective. You don't bring work home, figuratively or literally. And you tend to not buy much of anything larger than you can carry on the bike, so you're less encumbered by possessions. It's easy to move to take advantage of opportunities. It's easy to travel. You're in great health and you're happy. You do stuff with other healthy, happy people.

My best cycle touring partners I've found while cycle touring. Many long friendships began on the road. Not only that, I married one.
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Old 05-13-19, 09:55 PM
  #12  
raybo
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I started touring after I retired (at 48).

I tour solo.

I do month long trips because that seems to be the sweet spot between my desire to tour and my desire to see my wife and friends.

Touring is what I spend my money on.
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Old 05-13-19, 09:59 PM
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No extended trips yet, but from the long tours I've seen, they either have very flexible jobs or they just quit and worry about it afterwards. I try to organize my trips around holiday weeks, that way I use less vaca days to do a week trip.
I am debt free, so when I know a trip is coming up, I set aside some funds for several months, which just means not going out to eat and such.
Most trips have been solo, so no comment on company.
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Old 05-13-19, 10:05 PM
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Originally Posted by fuji_owner View Post
I've been dreaming of doing a bikepacking tour for many years now. But I can't figure out how to get started. I mean, I see all these posts and photos about bike touring and camping in all kinds of places.
Keep in mind too that we live in all kinds of places.


On my Flickr page, I've got a lot of photos of cycling in the Canadian Rockies which is a spectacular place to cycle! I could do that because I lived quite close to the Canadian Rockies ... close enough for day trips.

Lately, I've been posting photos of Tasmania, Australia ... because that's where I live now.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/machka-bb/sets


Start with where you are now, and go to the most scenic place that you can go for a weekend cycling trip.

Then, when you've got a week to spare, go further afield.
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Old 05-13-19, 11:23 PM
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I've spent my entire adult life below-average when it comes to income. Money's barely an issue. Once you have a bike, riding it is essentially free. Bike tours are probably cheaper than an average American's typical vacation.

Time off, yeah, that's a biggie. I'm a teacher, so I get two months off in the summer, and I still feel like it's not nearly enough. Most people don't get anything close to that. So I understand your frustration there.

As far as finding a partner, you got me. I'm pretty happy touring on my own, but sometimes, I think it'd be good to have a companion. I can only think of a few people that would want to do it with me, and even fewer with which I'd want to do it. And none of them have the means (time off).

Oh, and don't have kids. That goes without saying.

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Old 05-13-19, 11:41 PM
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One of the best and most active touring cyclists around this forum at the moment is Indyfabz. He's been doing it for a while, and seems to choose his times, periods and destinations well.

The job situation is one of the considerations behind it all. I think I've had around five jobs since I took up cycling. None have been the type to make me hugely wealthy, but I have been able to organise my life to change the states and even country where I have lived, and found a true love that also was and remains an incredibly enthusiastic cyclist at several levels.

Right now I am without a job but am still being paid as a result of an almost fatal workplace accident. Even then, if I can get back to work, the intention is to stay employed until I am 70. Retirement to me just seems to be a bit of time doing something until dying... and that doesn't appeal to me at all. An old acquaintance of mine has been demonstrating this by getting out of his long-time senior training career in his 60s and still is actively out in his early 70s pursuing different work.

Cycling is a main part of the lives of Machka and Rowan. Travel is part of those lives, too. Neither of us drinks nor smokes, and our occasional outings are the classical music concerts to reasonably valued seats.

Travel with bicycles is not the pain in the butt many people seem to think it can be; a rider can choose cheapest accommodation (I've done quite a bit of camping in wild bush and alongside roads and I've still got the tent that I bought around 15 years ago, and do a good amount of Trangia cooking); and the availability of money linked with the desire not to do absolutely everything being passed can sure help.
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Old 05-14-19, 12:07 AM
  #17  
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Married, mortgage, three kids and 18 days holiday a year. On the plus side I don't drink, smoke or buy expensive clothes/cars/gadgets. Like some said, I take time around stat days to extend time off and try for both a one week and two week trip with some shorter multi day trips in between. Even a long weekend gives you time for a three day trip. My kids are older now and don't really want to vacation with dad and my wife has been singing competitively for years so she uses her holidays for international competitions. We make it work. During the young years with the kids I did scouting and day trips diving for myself, forgoing extended personal tours for a bit.

I camp for the most part and tour a lot in my own region so travel is basically by van, domestic flight or train. Fairly cheap. I rebuild older bikes and use what I have, upgrading along the way so it's not a big hit to the pocket book. I'm 55 and in 2017 finally bought my first new bike for a whopping $800. (It was a discounted 2016 model). My last little trip cost $120 train and campsites + food... say $150 all in.

If you wanna do it you just do it.

Grant Peterson coined a phrase S24O which means sub 24 hour outing; basically just loading up the bike and going camping overnight somewhere https://www.rivbike.com/pages/camping-vs-touring

It's a great place to start.

Alastair Humphreys also talks about Micro Adventures, which is the same concept https://www.alastairhumphreys.com/microadventures-3/

Last edited by Happy Feet; 05-14-19 at 12:17 AM.
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Old 05-14-19, 01:52 AM
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Thanks for the referrals to the micro-touring concept. It makes a lot of sense for someone starting out in bike touring and allows them to decide if they can camp or need hotels or some other form of under-roof accommodation.

The food factor also is a big one -- cooking own food hinges much on buying fuel for heating over quite a few days, or spending much more buying sit-down meals at least once a day.

The micro-tours are a guide to time and distance potentials, and the amount of energy possibly needed to see through a day out and then another back. Hence that food factor thing. But ultimately, the time and distance potentials can be established to help realistically plan for three days, a week, a fortnight, a month or six months.
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Old 05-14-19, 05:03 AM
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Currently I get 5 weeks of vacation. I like to take 1 one-week trip, 1 two-week trip and several three-day weekend trips and/or overnighters. If this country had a rational health care system I would probably semi-retire next year.

I pad off my mortgage way early, only have a small auto loan at 0% and live below my means.

I tour alone. With nobody else. It's nice to take a break from constant interaction with others. Funny, because I had a brief discussion about that subject with Gen. George Patton's grandson last May during a tour that included a two-day stop at my 35th high school reunion. He opined that I must not like to be around people. I noted that I am usually around people every "normal" day. I also noted that when I am touring it's not like I don't interact with others. They are simply different types of interactions. When you go it lone you need to be comfortable with your own company.

BITD I took nearly two years off from the working world. Took 3 extended trips during that period, including one of nearly 4 months. Financed them all myself (no government benefits) with my severance package, the money I had saved for years in preparation for being downsized and flopping with mom when I wasn't traveling. You have to keep in mind that back then (1999-2001) you could get over 7% interest on something like a Fidelity money market fund.
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Old 05-14-19, 05:06 AM
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indyfabz
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Originally Posted by Rowan View Post
One of the best and most active touring cyclists around this forum at the moment is Indyfabz. He's been doing it for a while, and seems to choose his times, periods and destinations well.
Heh. Just saw this. Thanks, but I think there many people who are far more active. With that said, I will be getting away for a three-day weekend this coming Friday. Did an overnighter a few weekends ago. One of those rare weekends that we have not had one (or two) very rainy, chilly days. Looking forward to it because I will be gone for two weeks starting June 15th and am sorely undertrained.

Forgot to mention above that my only dependent is my cat. No wife or kids to account to.
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Old 05-14-19, 05:27 AM
  #21  
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Living in Australia helps. We get paid well and other countries are cheap, so it makes sense to tour overseas. Plus I work in Antarctica so I get 7 months off a year! My partner works for the government so she can usually organise plenty of leave too.
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Old 05-14-19, 06:20 AM
  #22  
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1st tour was summer break before senior year in college. flew to luxembourg, cycled to vienna, stayed in youth hostels. paid for by college loan.

later tours while in the army stationed in europe. could save 30 days leave per year to use at one time.

18-month tour to nz/oz after getting a couple more degrees. 99% camping back when the $us-$oz rate was heavenly, so made more in dividends/interest than spent on tour.

later worked contract engineering, taking 3- to 6-month jobs, leaving plenty of time for touring. paid cash for new or used cars, so no car payments. paid cash for small house in small town in texas....(cheaper than my car!)...so no mortgage.

sold all and moved to asia, taking uni lessons in china or thailand.....plenty of time to tour where cost of living is much lower. touring costs if staying in hotel/guesthouse average about $20-25/day.

last 7 years teaching in china. three months paid vacation and cheap flights throughout the region.

am also retired in thailand (it's complicated....) where one can live comfortably on a us social security check, assuming one were receiving a social security check....

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Old 05-14-19, 07:26 AM
  #23  
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I'm living on disability, and started riding bicycles as physical therapy, so it doesn't require much money. I never had kids, and don't use alcohol or tobacco, and haven't driven a motorized vehicle since around 1983. And don't own a house.
I've always been a loner type, so prefer my own company most of the time. But everyone needs some human interaction, lol, and I get plenty, just not in the normal family setting. 😉
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Old 05-14-19, 07:42 AM
  #24  
indyfabz
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Originally Posted by stardognine View Post
I've always been a loner type, so prefer my own company most of the time. But everyone needs some human interaction, lol, and I get plenty, just not in the normal family setting. 😉
Yeah. I neglected to mention above that the first part of my first tour was a group tour of 13. We rode from Seattle to Bar Harbor, ME. After that, I rode home to Philly solo. My third tour was a in the U.S. and was about 7 weeks long. (Second one was in Andalucía.) I noticed that during my two U.S. tours that I had more interaction with strangers when I was solo than with a group. I chalked that up to the perception on the part of strangers that you are more self-sufficient and less lonely when you are with others than when you are solo. Also, I am sure it's easier to offer one person a beers and hot dogs or a slice of pie than it is to offer that to 13 people. The last time I was in Glacier N.P. the wife of the campground host gave me some fresh out of the RV oven oatmeal raisin cookies.
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Old 05-14-19, 07:55 AM
  #25  
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fuji owner, lets talk now about gear and gear choices and costs.

for someone starting from scratch, looking at the internets and what is in and cool and light and great, its pretty easy to come to the conclusion that for bikepacking anyway, you will tend to need the smallest, lightest stuff--which translates into "expensive".

yes, stuff has gotten lighter over the years, but one can still shop around and NOT spend 600 bucks on a tent, 250 on a campmat and 500 on a sleeping bag. Im in Canada, and prices are always a fair more expensive than in the states, but what Im getting at, is that if one shops and informs themselves well about what is on the market, there are perfectly good tents, sleeping mats, etc etc out there that wont be as light as the lightest, but you'll probably spend a third of the lightest and brightest.
There are also lots of pannier choices out there, if you go that route, reasonably priced panniers that will work well, and reasonably priced racks that will work well also.

bottom line, now as in the past, there is always a balance of finding material that is of good value and will work, but wont cost an arm and a leg, and this helps a lot for someone starting out and trying to budget for setting oneself up for a trip--which also may be an activity that you wont want to do again, so reasonably priced stuff, or heck, even finding used stuff, is a great way for an introduction to it.
Same goes for bikes, all kinds of prices, yet you can have a fun experience on a lot of diff bikes, new, used, etc, but of course there are all kinds of bikes and some are not really suited to carrying stuff.

the time thing, well, as others pointed out, doing some short trips is a good start, and then one has to look at bigger picture stuff if you decide you really would like to do longer trips, and hopefully find ways with work to create time--but again, short trips at first is the best way to go, to see how you like it, and go from there.
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