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Old 12-03-12, 05:03 AM
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gordyb
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Budget

I haven't spent much time in the USA and I have never toured before so I'm looking for some feedback as to whether my budget is realistic.

From the beginning of May I'm going to be working my way across the USA on a solo tour.
I'm starting in SanFrancisco and for the majority of the route will be following the the ACA maps/routes.
I will most likely be camping in campsites although my preference would be somewhere with an actual bed
I am quite happy to try and cook my own food but ideally would prefer to avoid cooking my own food if possible.

Is $60 USD per day realistic?
Should I forget about eating out in diners and buying sandwiches etc
will I ever be able to afford the luxury of a Motel?

thanks
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Old 12-03-12, 06:38 AM
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I think it would be hard to stay in motels and eat in diners for $60 per day average. Much of the way you will be able to find rooms in the $40-70 range, but at some places you may find nothing under $100.

If you camp at least half the time and watch your pennies it might be do able. If you were splitting the cost of the room with someone you could probably also keep it to $60 or less on average.

If you just want to get a room once in a while and aren't extravagant with the meals or drink, $60 per day is probably fine.
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Old 12-03-12, 06:45 AM
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You can stretch that $60 some by hooking up with www.warmshowers.org, a hosting network for touring cyclists. Great way to meet and get to know your cycling peers.
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Old 12-03-12, 07:19 AM
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Originally Posted by gordyb View Post
I haven't spent much time in the USA and I have never toured before so I'm looking for some feedback as to whether my budget is realistic.

From the beginning of May I'm going to be working my way across the USA on a solo tour.
I'm starting in SanFrancisco and for the majority of the route will be following the the ACA maps/routes.
I will most likely be camping in campsites although my preference would be somewhere with an actual bed
I am quite happy to try and cook my own food but ideally would prefer to avoid cooking my own food if possible.

Is $60 USD per day realistic?
Should I forget about eating out in diners and buying sandwiches etc
will I ever be able to afford the luxury of a Motel?

thanks
On your budget, you will need a 2-person pup tent (for sleeping only), complete with a sleeping bag and blanket. You should also have a small pot large enough for a small chicken. You will survive off of a variety of nuts, dried fruits, cereal, vegetables, and whatever you can hunt with a pellet pistol, during the week. You shouldn't exceed $7/day. On Saturdays, rent a hotel room near a supermarket. Do not exceed $80 for the room. Purchase a whole cooked chicken and stock up on more nuts, dried fruits, and cereal for the week. Consume the chicken along with cheese and some of the fruits and veggies purchased at the market, while in your room. You should also carry a folding or collapsible fishing rod, just in case you're ever near water.

On a few days out of a month, you'll need to stop in order to get out of the elements (bad weather). Sometimes, you'll just need to stop and regroup. You'll need to center yourself...

Plan your trip, taking mostly southern routes during the cooler seasons.

Last edited by SlimRider; 12-03-12 at 07:40 AM.
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Old 12-03-12, 07:59 AM
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Motels alone would take up $60 or more a day, but if you camp most of the time and prepare your own food, you should be able to afford a room and a restaurant meal from time to time. Don't overlook truck stops and health clubs along the way as many will allow you to use shower facilities for just a couple of bucks and there are lots of places where you can camp for a night legally for free. Though it varies, overnight camping is allowed in many public parks in small towns and churches frequently will host travelers if you call ahead. Ask around the local coffee shop and you will frequently find someone who will let you use their back yard for a night. Stealth camping (camping on public or private land without express permission or the knowledge of the owner) while not necessarily illegal, has its drawbacks. Always have a backup plan in case the freebees don't work out. You should also make sure you have enough spare cash to put yourself up in a hotel for a couple of unplanned days in case the weather turns to ugly to camp.
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Old 12-03-12, 08:04 AM
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http://couchsurfing.com

I've used it and have hosted with it. I've met some interesting people that way.

Also, you can sleep/shower quite cheaply at a truck stop such as Pilot ...

http://guide2homelessness.blogspot.d...uck-stops.html
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Old 12-03-12, 08:42 AM
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To minimize costs, try to stay in free or lower-cost camprounds, such as city/county parks, state parks, U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management campgrounds. While not always the case, private campgrounds will usually be the most expensive. Some are insanely expensive (e.g., $40/night), especially in the east. On the flip side, they will usually have the more amenities. The ACA maps will tell you what type each campground is. Also note that you can camp for free on most U.S. forest land. Google "Dispersed camping" for more infomation.

One problem with eating out is that you may get to a distination to find that the only prepared food sources in town are closed on that day, or closed for the day before you arrived. It would be wise to carry something to eat in casde you get shut out.
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Old 12-03-12, 09:53 AM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
... ... One problem with eating out is that you may get to a distination to find that the only prepared food sources in town are closed on that day, or closed for the day before you arrived. It would be wise to carry something to eat in casde you get shut out.
At a minimum, carrying some bread and cheese or peanut butter and jelly would be a good idea. Or if that takes too much space and you prefer to avoid crushing your bread, granola bars cost more but if you have to go for a day on only granola bars you will easily survive. Some sausage meats do not require refrigeration until you open the package, that offers more variety if you get tired of peanut butter and jelly.

When camping, I prefer to cook for most evening meals, the amount of cooking gear I carry varies by trip but it ranges from one small titanium pot to a couple of stainless pots and large fry pan or skillet. A can of soup mixed with some rice can be quite filling.
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Old 12-03-12, 10:05 AM
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To me touring budget is about averaging your costs.

$60 per day = $420 per week:
  • motel: $60 x 2 = $120
  • campsite: $25 x 5 = $125
  • food: $25 x 7 = $175

That's doable but you'll need to limit your dining to one moderate priced restaurant a day.
You can also buy prepared food at most super markets.
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Old 12-03-12, 11:19 AM
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Originally Posted by BigAura View Post
To me touring budget is about averaging your costs.

$60 per day = $420 per week:
  • motel: $60 x 2 = $120
  • campsite: $25 x 5 = $125
  • food: $25 x 7 = $175

That's doable but you'll need to limit your dining to one moderate priced restaurant a day.
You can also buy prepared food at most super markets.
It should be really easy to get by with those numbers. The motel number is about right if you are careful. The campsite number is really a generous allowance if my experience is typical at all. The food allowance is pretty generous too unless you spend a lot on beverages or eat in fancier places in larger cities. Alcoholic beverages or maybe even lots of soft drinks will make the food budget a bit tighter if you tend to go that route.

To some degree it may vary with your route, but on both of my coast to coast tours and my other long trips I averaged WAY less than that for camping on every tour. Mostly I just completely ruled out anywhere that charged than much. I think we averaged under $5 a night on the Trans America, but we were splitting the cost of sites in the cases where they charged per site (a good many charged per person). Even alone and therefore with no cost splitting I think I have always averaged under $10 a night for camping on long tours.

On the Trans America and Southern Tier routes it is pretty easy to stay for free more than half the time with no need for stealth. Across much of the middle of the country just pitching a tent in a small town park's picnic area was always free and I have never been run off. Rarely they were posted and I found another free place to camp after asking around. I usually found a place to camp for free and in plain sight in just about any small town. In Texas I stayed in roadside picnic areas and had zero problems, but I did not pitch a tent in those. Most of them had a roof and if the weather turned bad I used my bivy sack. If you follow one of the Adventure Cycling routes the maps will list a lot of free or cheap places to stay.

In the East I suspect it is likely to be a bit harder for you to find free or cheap camping, but you can still get by fairly reasonably.

Normally I avoid RV park type places because they tend to be crazy expensive, but on the Southern Tier I found a few of them that charged $10 for cyclists.

I figure that you can eat pretty good on $25 per day so that should involve no hardship. Even $10 or $15 isn't crazy hard to manage on.
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Old 12-03-12, 12:11 PM
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If you're looking for hotel prices, map out your route and then go to tripadvisor.com. Enter the name of the community and sort the results by price from low to high. Continue to check when you're on your way because sometimes there are deals and discounts available. Also, there are some cases where rates in one community are significantly more or less than another one just a short distance away, so consider the town before and after the one where you're planning to stop.

Accommodations in small towns tend to be cheaper than cities and tourist towns. Midweek rates tend to be cheaper than weekend rates, so if you can roll into a bigger city Sunday to Thursday (or Sunday to Wednesday if there's a long weekend coming) you'll do better than if you try to find a cheaper room on a Friday or Saturday night.
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Old 12-03-12, 01:04 PM
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A few months ago when I was planning my cross-US tour, I read that an average touring budget was $30 to $50 a day. I tabulated my on-bike costs (not including travel to/from termini) at $25 per day so I guess I did cheaper than average. $60 should be pretty generous, I would think.

I stayed at a motel every two weeks or so, a few warmshowers hosts, some of those insanely expensive $35/night private campgrounds, but mostly camped for free. Food costs were about $15/day and I ate well--one diner meal per day on average and lots of bulk groceries. I spent money on high quality bike parts and tires before the trip and didn't have any mechanical issues. I didn't have any medical issues.

I just had a warmshowers guest who tabulated his costs for the last several years at $0.008 (8/10 of a penny) per mile, an average of less than $5 per day! This guy is an expert freegan.
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Old 12-03-12, 01:14 PM
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Originally Posted by gordyb View Post
I haven't spent much time in the USA and I have never toured before so I'm looking for some feedback as to whether my budget is realistic.

From the beginning of May I'm going to be working my way across the USA on a solo tour.
I'm starting in SanFrancisco and for the majority of the route will be following the the ACA maps/routes.
I will most likely be camping in campsites although my preference would be somewhere with an actual bed
I am quite happy to try and cook my own food but ideally would prefer to avoid cooking my own food if possible.

Is $60 USD per day realistic?
Should I forget about eating out in diners and buying sandwiches etc
will I ever be able to afford the luxury of a Motel?

thanks
I am in NJ so if you want a place to stay, let me know. You are more then welcome.
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Old 12-03-12, 01:40 PM
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gordyb
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Originally Posted by chefisaac View Post
I am in NJ so if you want a place to stay, let me know. You are more then welcome.
Thanks for the offer I will let you know if I go through that region.

And thanks everyone else for your thoughts. It looks like $60 should be doable from the general feedback. I'm just going to have to make sure I mix it up and save the motel room's until I really need them
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Old 12-03-12, 01:43 PM
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You should also make sure you have enough spare cash to put yourself up in a hotel for a couple of unplanned days in case the weather turns to ugly to camp.
+1

Also, a little reserve for the unforeseen equipment failure or a new set of brake pads or a tire. Also there are incidental expenses like laundry, stove fuel, etc.

We tend to use RV parks quite a bit, especially in the eastern part of the country where public campgrounds are scarce. Generally, they have not cost more than $20/day. A lot of the RV parks also have laundry facilities.

staehpj1 is right about the small town city parks and fairgrounds in the mid-west. Stop at the store (usually a gas station/convenience store) or the local city hall and ask about camping. We were not on an ACA route for our cross country tour, but we found plenty of camping this way.

While facilities may not be fancy, some city parks even have showers or a swimming pool complex nearby.



Sometime you don't even need a restaurant


Good luck with you venture!

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Old 12-03-12, 01:44 PM
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Originally Posted by chefisaac View Post
I am in NJ so if you want a place to stay, let me know. You are more then welcome.
thats what i love about americans salt of the earth
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Old 12-03-12, 02:01 PM
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I haven't spent much time in the USA and I have never toured before so I'm looking for some feedback as to whether my budget is realistic.
From the beginning of May I'm going to be working my way across the USA on a solo tour.
Do you have a US non resident work permit?
you realize you need private insurance for health care, no NHS, here.
accidents get expensive without Insurance paid up.

doing your first tours around where you live and getting some experience, there,
is a strong recommendation.

Are you familiar with the CTC, in the UK?

Realize, the Great Basin part of the US West has a Long ways Between Places
to get food and water.

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Old 12-03-12, 03:03 PM
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I rode a 23 day roundtrip ride this year from western NH to St. Louis. I spent just over $500. I only spent 4 nights in hotels and ate out most every night/breakfast after the first 6 days of the trip was over. Granted I wasn't eating high priced meals. The spots I camped out at included trailhead parking lots, behind churches, behind truck stops, stone quarries, business parking lots, baseball parks, cemetaries, city owned parks(probably not legal but no one knew I was there, got there after dark), and...yes...behind big box stores(Wal-Mart and Lowes). Your best tool for finding campsite before you ever leave home is Google Earth.

Be willing to camp out and cook, it isn't as bad as you think. I wish I would have had a camp stove and sleeping bag with me as I could have saved money and the whole cost of the trip probably would have come in under $250 for a 2800 miles trip.
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Old 12-03-12, 06:48 PM
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Originally Posted by SlimRider View Post
On your budget, you will need a 2-person pup tent (for sleeping only), complete with a sleeping bag and blanket.
A pup tent? Kind of old fashioned, isn't it?
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Old 12-03-12, 11:18 PM
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Originally Posted by gordyb View Post
I haven't spent much time in the USA and I have never toured before so I'm looking for some feedback as to whether my budget is realistic.

From the beginning of May I'm going to be working my way across the USA on a solo tour.
I'm starting in SanFrancisco and for the majority of the route will be following the the ACA maps/routes.
I will most likely be camping in campsites although my preference would be somewhere with an actual bed
I am quite happy to try and cook my own food but ideally would prefer to avoid cooking my own food if possible.

Is $60 USD per day realistic?
Should I forget about eating out in diners and buying sandwiches etc
will I ever be able to afford the luxury of a Motel?

thanks
How much did it cost on your most recent practice tour ... the tour you did over a long weekend or a week to see if this sort of thing is really your cup of tea?

And are you planning to work in the US, or is that just an expression to describe travelling across the US?

Last edited by Machka; 12-03-12 at 11:21 PM.
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Old 12-03-12, 11:20 PM
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Is this the City Park in Cody Nebraska?
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Old 12-04-12, 03:50 AM
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Originally Posted by Machka View Post
How much did it cost on your most recent practice tour ... the tour you did over a long weekend or a week to see if this sort of thing is really your cup of tea?

And are you planning to work in the US, or is that just an expression to describe travelling across the US?
I have never toured before. I'm diving in at the deep end. Once I get through the initial body shock what is not to enjoy though?

I will not be working n the USA and have money saved over and above my budget but I plan to spend that in my next country. (not on bike though - unless I catch the bug and decide to carry on
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Old 12-04-12, 03:54 AM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
Do you have a US non resident work permit?
you realize you need private insurance for health care, no NHS, here.
accidents get expensive without Insurance paid up.

doing your first tours around where you live and getting some experience, there,
is a strong recommendation.

Are you familiar with the CTC, in the UK?

Realize, the Great Basin part of the US West has a Long ways Between Places
to get food and water.
Thanks for the advice, I will def be travelling with insurance and will be using an extended tourist Visa.

Googling CTC now.

Between now and May I'm going to be riding as much a possible but prob won't be staying anywhere overnight
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Old 12-04-12, 11:41 AM
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tourist visas don't include legal work permits, but there is of course off the books work.. Aka 'under the table'.

Though those situations result in doing the task, then having been not legit , not paid, and have no recourse to redress.


its, http://www.ctc.org.uk/ US has ACA http://www.adventurecycling.org/

http://www.hihostels.com/ US hostels not as common , major cities , yes..
buy IYHA membership card at home or 1st overnight

and other people's trips, here:http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/?o=lt

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Old 12-04-12, 11:56 AM
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No worries about working. I'm holidaying No work for me other than riding across country..

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