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Cost of touring.

Old 03-18-14, 09:44 PM
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Cost of touring.

Ignoring gear and any pre trip expenses, how much do you usually spend while on tour? I am planning to ride across the country and am wondering what to budget.
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Old 03-18-14, 10:19 PM
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Stealth camping and host camping are free. Campgrounds cost $5-25, sometimes more. Motels $40-80, sometimes more.

Food in grocery stores a bit more than at home, restaurants $10-20+.

Of course, dumpster diving and begging will reduce your costs....
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Old 03-18-14, 10:54 PM
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I've never done it but at least one source said budget $5K. That seems pretty stiff to me. I'm kinda hoping I can get senior citizen discounts at some campgrounds.
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Old 03-18-14, 11:10 PM
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I never toured. But I really like the idea of it... and it plays on my mind. Read about a limitless number of people touring experiences here https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/
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Old 03-19-14, 03:28 AM
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Originally Posted by Louis Le Tour
I've never done it but at least one source said budget $5K. That seems pretty stiff to me. I'm kinda hoping I can get senior citizen discounts at some campgrounds.
It seems pretty stiff to me as well. I never spend that much and don't need to resort to begging or dumpster dipping. I do try to avoid staying in expensive campgrounds but don't usually resort to stealth. It isn't too hard to stay for free more than half the time. I find that I can eat at diners once a day or so and only drop $6-8.

A lot depends on your personal choices. I know of folks who managed on $10 per day and others who spend $100.

It is nice to have more than you will need or spend, so I'd set aside $2500 and probably spend less than $2k, but I am fairly frugal and resourceful. If I had to I could get by on a good bit less but don't really want to.

Also remember that you won't be spending on the stuff you would be at home. When looking at the paper trail after one of my trips, my wife commented that since I wasn't buying gasoline for my long commute I was spending less than I did when at home.
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Old 03-19-14, 05:59 AM
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If you base your daily budget on what I usually spend you will end up on the higher side. While I don't go out of way to spend as much money as possible, there are some things that drive costs. I don't "stealth camp" or put much effort into finding free camping. If it's apparent, I will take it, but I am not going to roam around town knocking on church doors, etc., looking for a free place to pitch my tent. I eat breakfast out and often buy something prepared for lunch. I usually cook dinner and make much more elaborate meals than Ramen noodles, and I have wine with dinner. And I won't pass up things like a local "delicacy" because I would have to open my wallet.

It all depends on how you want to do it. Region can also have an effect, especially on camping costs. Private campgrounds in my neck of the woods can run you $30-$40/night and up. State parks in NJ are $25/night. It varies in PA, but they are often high teens to mid-20s.
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Old 03-19-14, 06:00 AM
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For my last XC tour, it was about $25/day, including gear fixed or replaced along the way. That added up to just over $1,500 for a 4500 mile trip. That included roughly one motel a week and mostly free camping otherwise, and roughly one restaurant meal a day.

I travel on the frugal side, though some spend much less. I met one cyclist living on about $5K per year, traveling about 8,000 miles per year, less than a penny per mile which is pretty incredible.

Or you could make it a 90 day spa-to-spa trip and spend well over $10K. There are so many variables in traveling style and speed, it's impossible to predict your costs.
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Old 03-19-14, 06:18 AM
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I spent less than $20/day average on my coast to coast US tour in 2010. Mostly I free/stealth camp and cook my own food. But that cost does include some nights in pay campsites, a couple of hotels, a local diner here and there, subway sandwiches at times, an inner tube & chain, and laundry. Personally, I enjoy the concept of touring simply and frugally, so keeping costs down is not a problem.

Staying in pay campsites can easily cost $20-$40/night and buying food at restaurants can cost the same per day. That said you can spend as much as you want by staying in B&Bs and eating in pricier restaurants.
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Old 03-19-14, 11:03 AM
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Well, my plans of winning the big lottery were shot down because someone else won my jackpot again. (some people insist I should have actually bought a ticket to make that statement, but I don't see how, statistically, buying a ticket would increase my odds...)

So the original plan of "keep it under $7 million/day" has gone away. I'm now also trying to figure out what budget I need to consider for my 7-day tour. At this point, I'm trying to determine if I can keep the costs under $40/day, with 2 people, and still have access to a shower every night.
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Old 03-19-14, 11:47 AM
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Originally Posted by jmilleronaire
At this point, I'm trying to determine if I can keep the costs under $40/day, with 2 people, and still have access to a shower every night.
That will depend on a large degree on your choices and the location of your tour. If you go somewhere with hiker-biker sites it should be pretty easy if you travel on the east coast it is just about impossible unless you stay with warmshowers.org hosts or something.

The hitch is the fact that you require showers every night. That may require either a room or an expensive campsite in many locations. On the Oregon and California coasts the hiker biker sites would make it possible. In the middle of the country staying in town parks might work, but counting on all of them having a shower is asking a lot.

Where are you planning top tour?

Maybe consider getting by with a wipe down with a wash cloth or save more money before your tour if you are not in an area where it might be difficult. Also if you are fussy enough to require a shower every night it makes me wonder if you might be fussy in other ways as well. I don't intend that to be an insult, but expecting a cheap place with a shower every night while camping is kind of unreasonable. In many locations it just isn't likely.
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Old 03-19-14, 12:14 PM
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Originally Posted by jmilleronaire
I'm trying to determine if I can keep the costs under $40/day, with 2 people, and still have access to a shower every night.
It's possible if you stay away from hotels, restaurants and c-stores. I spend about 50-60$ a day with a mix of free and paid camping and 1-2 rooms a week. I also have about one restaurant meal a day (usually breakfast). I travel alone and smaller food packages are more expensive. I'm in Canada and things are more expensive here as well. Free camp where there's access to water so you can swim or give yourself a good sponge bath.
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Old 03-19-14, 12:15 PM
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Originally Posted by staehpj1
The hitch is the fact that you require showers every night.

Where are you planning top tour?
Unfortunately, my son has a skin condition that makes sweaty skin break out pretty quickly, so showers are much preferable to baby wipes. I understand that this isn't ideal for keeping costs down.

Touring in Minnesota. I have found a few campgrounds, but I think I might have to find cheap motels for several of the nights.
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Old 03-19-14, 12:20 PM
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An earlier cost of touring thread here:
https://www.bikeforums.net/touring/86...tour-cost.html
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Old 03-19-14, 12:23 PM
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maintaining a home and paying those bills at the same time ?


moving out of rentals, and putting my stuff in storage made touring more affordable.
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Old 03-19-14, 12:50 PM
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Originally Posted by jmilleronaire
Touring in Minnesota. I have found a few campgrounds, but I think I might have to find cheap motels for several of the nights.
Only a few? I just searched Google Maps for "camgrounds near Champlin, MN." Looks like plenty of places near by and more the futher you zoom out. While riding ACA's Northern Tier route we didn't have any problem fiding places to camp during our 14 days in MN except for the two days in Minneapolis, which was off route, and the two days we spent at the HI hostel at Lake Itasca. We even camped for free at the city park in Grand Rapids.

Also...Does your $40/day take into account the money you will not be spending because you are touring? For example, I usually buy my lunches out during the work week. I also tend to buy fresh, more expensive dinner ingredients when I am home compared to when I am touring, and I usually eat out at least once a week when home. If you drive to work every day (I walk) you won't have gas costs if your tour starts and ends at home.
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Old 03-19-14, 01:17 PM
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Originally Posted by jmilleronaire
Unfortunately, my son has a skin condition that makes sweaty skin break out pretty quickly, so showers are much preferable to baby wipes. I understand that this isn't ideal for keeping costs down.

Touring in Minnesota. I have found a few campgrounds, but I think I might have to find cheap motels for several of the nights.
You can wash up quite well with a sink and a washcloth or a pan of water and a washcloth for that matter. No need to resort to baby wipes.

I have not toured in Minnesota but I would think the rural parts would be much like Kansas or other lightly populated areas with very small towns. In those place's I have often camped in picnic areas in small town parks. I usually didn't have specific permission, but also have never been run off. I usually ask if there is someone in charge to ask like a town police, but usually the towns were too small to have police. It the park is posted no camping I ask around and have always found somewhere to camp with permission.
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Old 03-19-14, 02:15 PM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz
Only a few? I just searched Google Maps for "camgrounds near Champlin, MN." Looks like plenty of places near by and more the futher you zoom out. While riding ACA's Northern Tier route we didn't have any problem fiding places to camp during our 14 days in MN except for the two days in Minneapolis, which was off route, and the two days we spent at the HI hostel at Lake Itasca. We even camped for free at the city park in Grand Rapids.

Also...Does your $40/day take into account the money you will not be spending because you are touring? For example, I usually buy my lunches out during the work week. I also tend to buy fresh, more expensive dinner ingredients when I am home compared to when I am touring, and I usually eat out at least once a week when home. If you drive to work every day (I walk) you won't have gas costs if your tour starts and ends at home.
Yeah, around here there are campgrounds, but I'll be riding to Duluth, and with a 7 year old, not covering as many miles a day as I would do alone.

I think the $40/day will have to go out the window somehow, because I've already promised we could stop for ice cream whenever he saw some and wanted to stop, plus there are a lot of side adventures along the route we will have to stop for (hinckley fire museum, for example). Luckily, planning this far ahead, I should be able to wiggle the budget upward as long as I'm careful.
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Old 03-19-14, 07:16 PM
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I toured through across Northern MN and down the Mississippi River a couple of seasons ago. If you get a chance to go through the small town of Dalbo, MN, look up Donn Olson's bunkhouse. Adventure Cycling has his information--it's on their Northern Tier route. Donn knows how to do it right.

Most of my free camping in the state was only quasi-legal. I never trespassed on private property, but I stayed in public parks where camping wasn't allowed and it was easy to hide.

It's easy enough to bathe for free everyday in that area, too. There are plenty of public park restrooms where a sponge bath is easy.

One of your major expenses may be milkshakes, traveling with a young boy. Have a great time.
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Old 03-19-14, 08:52 PM
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My last tour was about 150 bucks and that was a lot of spending I didn't really need to do. However like most have said things can vary. I would bank on at least a grand to go cross country so you have plenty of wiggle room or if you needed to treat yourself you could. However you could easily do it way cheaper but it is better to have the money available and not need it then well you know.

Dumster Diving is awesome though maybe less awesome on tour because if you find a sweet haul you might not be able to take it all and bring it with you. We found an entire case of dark chocolate at Trader Joes once and I have found many other great hauls that would have been a bummer to leave.

Warmshowers is also a great idea because you can get free places to stay and sometimes more out of it. Plus some gyms and other places have free showers and amenities.

Basically without making this overly long you can pretty much go free beyond initial expenses if you wanted to and there are a lot of great resources out there for this sort of stuff.

Zinelibrary.info has a lot of useful zines about touring and living cheaply, as well as various alt-radical stuff to keep you occupied.
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Old 03-19-14, 09:07 PM
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If you can find a public swimming pool in town, every one that I know of provides showers.

I and a couple of other people did a two-week trip in 1988 through the Sierra together. Total camping fees & a couple of motel stays came to $70 a head. These were all developed campgrounds with showers, though some places showers cost extra, as in Yosemite.

If you have enough BTU power, you can heat up a quart or two of water to boiling and mix it with cool water in a gallon jug or even big water bottles, then use those to take a shower. Bike shorts stay on if I'm in public...

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Old 03-19-14, 09:56 PM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob
maintaining a home and paying those bills at the same time ?

moving out of rentals, and putting my stuff in storage made touring more affordable.
BINGO! We have a winner! Yeah, that's my game plan. No house payment, no rent, no car payment, just flat out living off the grid!
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Old 03-19-14, 09:58 PM
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Got a entertaining talent? Busking has kept people eating for centuries .
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Old 03-20-14, 08:33 AM
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Originally Posted by jmilleronaire
Yeah, around here there are campgrounds, but I'll be riding to Duluth, and with a 7 year old, not covering as many miles a day as I would do alone.
Well in that case, I would sketch out a general route. Google's bike route directions returns a 152 mile route from Champin to Duluth that incoporates some trails. Then I would use the search methodology I decsribed above, picking towns that are along the preliminary route and that are within range of your expected daily mileage. The route Google returns goes through Moose Lake, where there just so happens to be a state park with a campground. There are a couple of places along Rush Lake, which is a few miles off route.

If you ask Google for the route and then pick a town and search for "camgrounds near [name of town]" the campgrounds willl be shown and the lines showing the route will remain so you can easily see the locations of campgrounds in relation to the route. BTW...The route Google returns goes right in front of the Hinkley Fire Museum. Banning S.P., which has camping, is about 8 miles north, just slightly off route.
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Old 03-20-14, 12:59 PM
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Look into Warmshowers.org for cyclists who host cyclists. This can save some $$$$
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