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Touring Newbie Ready to Dive In. Cheap Tour of Europe Possible?

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Touring Newbie Ready to Dive In. Cheap Tour of Europe Possible?

Old 08-14-13, 02:01 AM
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Touring Newbie Ready to Dive In. Cheap Tour of Europe Possible?

My friend and I both love biking and backpacking, and recently decided we want to tour the US for a couple months next spring. We both got ourselves some decent touring bikes and have started doing some over night camping trips and a few somewhat longer trips. I've been thinking about it and and I'd Love to do Europe rather than the US come spring if possible. Is that a reasonable at all for 2-3 thousand dollars each, or are we looking at much more money needed for such a trip? We also have decent camping gear, if that helps. Quality tent, sleeping bags/pads, cooking gear, etc. I don't know anything about the possibility of camping over there(or much of anything about "over there" for that matter, which is one reason I'd love to go), but I figured that's the cheapest route if it's possible in most places. And neither of use would care about eating very cheap food day after day if it meant we could do the trip. Is it possible? If it is possible, are there any resources you'd recommend to help us in the right direction?
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Old 08-14-13, 02:22 AM
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I've done a few tours in Europe, which I've talked about on my website: www.machka.net

1. Your flight to Europe will likely be the most expensive part. Check your flight options. For me, the cheapest flights have been into Heathrow, and then we go from there.

2. Europe is BIG. The overall size of Europe is about the same size as mainland USA. If you're only there for a couple months, you'll have to pick which part of Europe you want to see.

3. Yes, there are camping facilities. And in some countries, you can free camp. Scotland is one of those countries.

4. There are grocery stores all over Europe. If you buy groceries, you should be able to eat relatively inexpensively.

Touring through the UK 2012: https://www.machka.net/RTW_2012/RTW_Europe_2012.htm
Touring through Europe 2012: https://www.machka.net/RTW_2012/RTW_Europe_Main_2012.htm

Touring the UK and Europe in 2007: https://www.machka.net/pbp2007/2007_PBP.htm
Touring the UK and Europe in 2003: https://www.machka.net/pbp/Machka.htm

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Old 08-14-13, 11:40 PM
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Thanks, Machka! Browsing around your site now.

Last edited by 3speed; 08-14-13 at 11:58 PM.
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Old 08-22-13, 05:40 AM
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Yes, may be possible.

I will answer your question with my experience.
My wife and I toured Germany, France, Luxembourg and Austria this May and June.
We were hoping to camp at least half the time. However, our tour route had a lot of rain this spring (and historic floods). Some campgrounds were flooded. Others were muddy/wet enough to discourage us from camping. Spring is a great time to tour Europe, since foreign visitors usually arrive in late spring or summer. But, be mindful about the expected (and unexpected) weather conditions. Spring, being off season for tourism, you might be able to find cheap bed and breakfasts. Consider these.
Also, the round trip air ticket to Frankfurt was $1000. If you take your bicycles on the flight, it is VERY expensive. Think about renting them at your destination and try to do a loop route.
If you get intrigued about biking in Germany, do message me offlist, and I would be happy to provide more info.
Lastly, our 6 week trip cost the two of us about $7,000 total. But, what we gained was unmeasureable. We primarily rode through small towns and avoided large ones. Connecting with people of another culture was the best part of the trip.
Good luck.

Last edited by mojobiking; 08-22-13 at 05:41 AM. Reason: redundancy
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Old 08-22-13, 08:55 AM
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We toured in the Czech Republic for 3 weeks last year on our tandem bicycle. For two of us, our air fare to Prague was $2700. We flew Condor Flugdienst from Seattle. Our uncoupled tandem cost us $75 going and $100 coming back. Other than our tandem, we had no extra/excess baggage. In country, we spent $1700, camping about half the time. We did not take a stove and ate all our meals in restaurants or on the street. Obviously one could do it for less. We had a wonderful time. The CR is very bike-friendly. We rode on no main roads. They have a system of paved tertiary roads and bike routes which we used.
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Old 08-22-13, 09:11 AM
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Travelling as an I , not a We, putting my stuff in storage, So not also maintaining a house in the States,

and being over 15 years ago, Inflation and currency exchange changes Etc.

I think my bike touring* was less than staying Home , and paying for the Cable TV, phone , rent , utilities , car costs, etc.

*( Ireland and Scotland , last big trip.)
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Old 08-22-13, 11:42 AM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy
We toured in the Czech Republic for 3 weeks last year on our tandem bicycle. For two of us, our air fare to Prague was $2700.
The air fare. That's what can kill a budget. You did pretty well. I flew direct Philly to Venice the Friday before Memeorial Day. $1,300/each for coach plus the bike charge. Maybe it would have been somewhat lower had we flown a different day, but I can't imagine it would have been that much lower.

OP: Southern Spain (Andalucia) is a nice place to tour in the spring. You can go as early as mid-March and find some nice weather in places. However, I might wait until late March/beginning of April to be sure. I had some unseasonably cold and wet weather in mid March the Sierra Morena, which border the northern part of the territory. Unless the law has changed, with certain restrictions, you can camp on public land. There are also some private campgrounds. Cordoba has a fantastic one within walking distance of the sights. Lots of empty roads and countryside dotted with little villages usually conveniently spaced. Varying terrian. Great food. Friendly people (but don't expect much, if any, English outside the major cities unless you are on the coast, which I would try to avoid.) Michelin makes a great map of the territory, and "The Rough Guide to Andalucia" is a great travel resource. Sevilla and Malaga are the easiest to fly into. I flew into and out of Sevilla. There is a campground right next to the airport that held my bike box in storage for seven weeks.

One logistical PITA can be Semana Santa (Easter Week). It's a heavily travelled week. If you show up in one of the larger cities like Granada, Cordoba or Sevilla without a reservation you will either be SOL or pay through the nose for accomodations. I ended up in Ronda the Thursday before Easter. The campground was overflowing. The owner advised me to stay there until Monday, which I did. Getting to see the processions leading up to Easter was really cool.
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Old 08-22-13, 08:56 PM
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Hi 3speed,
Madison? Perhaps you know "Caveman Cycling for Earth" Charles Brigham III. I met him on the Grand Illinois Trail Ride in 2007, when he was just starting his world tour, and he is from Madison.
He would be the guy to talk to, he's been all over Europe and would be able to give you some good pointers. A few searches (or a local telephone book) you might get him to help.
Now, since you are in Madison, you're not far from map GITride07 on the Grand Illinois Trail Ride.
Maybe a fall "check-ride" is in the cards? https://www.GITride.com
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