Everyone travels in their own particular way. Motorcycle travelers are a peculiar example. Within the subculture of motorcyclists exists yet another subculture that love to travel for long periods of time and/or distances by motorcycle. They have that one “dream trip” in mind. Alaska to Argentina, London to Cape Town or South and South East Asia are some of the popular journeys people take. “How much money do I need?” Finances can bring about a lot of anxiety with this question echoing in your mind while you are preparing the motorcycle road trip of your dreams.
I recently finished a 19,000 mile journey that took me through Central and South America for eight months. Here are some helpful hints to keep road trip costs under control.
Before you can conceive of how much you will need for a one week or year long trip you should try and narrow cost considerations down to an average travel cost per day. Shelter, food, fuel and motorcycle maintenance is all I concerned myself with. During a speaking engagement, a member of the audience asked, “What about fun?” to which I replied, “The fun is during and in between all of these things.” But you may want to add a beer budget for good measure.
This two-part article will cover what to do about shelter, food, fuel, and motorcycle maintenance. First let’s take a look at one of the most important things: shelter in foreign lands.
Deciding where to lay your head for the night will greatly depend on your comfort level. There are four forms of shelter I used in Latin America: hotels, hostels, camping and people graciously putting me up for the night. They are listed in order from least favored to most for me personally. A hotel every once in a while can be nice after you’ve been roughing it for a while. Hot water is a luxury in some areas, and with it comes a price. If you can rough it and minimize hotel stays, you can save a lot of money.
If you can’t go without the amenities that come with hotels, but don’t mind a lack of privacy, consider hostels. They often have dormitories with 3-5 bunk beds and you can spend a couple dollars or $12-$15 on the high end in major cities. Hostels typically have a communal area which is always ripe with fellow travelers that you can meet. I find it better than staring at a TV in a hotel room.
If you can’t go without the amenities that come with hotels, but don’t mind a lack of privacy, consider hostels.
If you are outdoorsy then you are probably considering camping already. If you like privacy and can go without amenities this is a great option. I typically “wild camp” or “stealth camp,” meaning that I find a secluded place on public land and setup camp. Public land is perfectly legal to camp on, just ask permission if you plan on camping on private land. Obscurity is security. I had done this all over the Americas and have never had problems. If a place feels bad, then it probably is. Trust your instincts. Best part of camping is that it’s often free!
Then there are those serendipitous encounters where people open their homes to you without you even soliciting them. People are more generous than you might think. Take advantage of these encounters as much as you can. You can even plan to stay with folks who open their homes to fellow travelers; it’s called “couch surfing.”
Read more about food, fuel, and motorcycle maintenance in Part II of Take your Dream Motorcycle Road Trip Without Going Broke.