two cyclists and two dogs on the beach, what is the cost of longterm cycle touring

Cost of longterm cycle touring and where do we get the money?

posted in: Cycle touring | 4

Ever since the first article about us appeared in media about a year ago, there has been this question appearing in the discussions and comments. Often with negative undertone. So we’ve decided to write it all down and finally reveal this top secret to the world.

The money comes from our bank accounts, dear friends. We saved for it!

No one is sponsoring us financially, no one is paying us to do this journey (as unfortunate as it is). We pay for everything ourselves and we managed to get few collaborations, when we got some equipment as a gift or just borrowed. In return we promote them on our social media, provide photos and videos.

How long did it take to save for this trip?

We decided roughly in January 2016 and boarded the plane from Paris to Vancouver on 26th of May 2017. So more or less 17 months, because money were flowing into our accounts until the last moment and even for a little while after we started.

What were the sources we got money from?

Money you can use to travel is all around you. It’s not just your monthly wage. It’s all about how you set your priorities, if the daily Starbucks coffee is so important or you can make your own at home/work and if you really have to down all those beers every Friday night with your friends.

For almost three years before the trip we worked in London as doctors and since January 2016 our spendings and earnings were conformed to our future journey. It didn’t mean we just sat on our asses doing nothing. We’ve been to Iceland, Greece and even short trip to “hunt” the aurora in Norway. All our other expenses were under much tighter control than before though.

When we made the decision back in January 2016 we were both working for the NHS (National Health System – Goverment run system in UK). We wanted to increase our income and the only way to do that was to work as a locum dorctor – a doctor working for agencies who fill vacant job posts in many hospitals – with better hourly rate. That’s what Tom started doing in August 2016. I took 60% part time job in September 2016 and did extra locum shift with agencies or in hospital I worked before. We also started our own company through which we got all locum jobs done for more tax optimization options.

Our touring caravan from the drone

About two months before departure we focused on selling our material possessions. We were renting and apart from huge sofa and kitchen we furnished the place ourselves. So along with most of the furniture we were selling clothes, magazines, books, sports equipment and all the thing we knew we won’t need and were not willing to store for long time. We also did three trips to the car boot sales, but over there people are trying to negotiate the price down to the point of ripping you off and it was quite sad at times. It’s also good to let all your friends and colleagues know you’re selling lots of useful stuff. My colleague bought good portion of things from us.

We also sold the car. For a while we were thinking to park it somewhere safe and it will wait for our return. But it was already second hand when bought and staying still for couple of years would not make it any good, so we rather sold it for 1000 £ to a nice gentleman.

Another thing we were researching back then was storage options for the stuff we didn’t want to get rid off. Payed storage for long duration was so ridiculously expensive tough, that we got even more strict and sold more things. All the leftovers are spread between our homes in Slovakia and our good friends’ attic.

Since we payed the rent a month in advance plus a deposit, we received nice few thousand pounds at the end of rent term.

We completely changed our coffee and food habits as well. No more coffee shops and lunches from Pret a Manger. Thick nutritious smoothie for breakfast, lunch box and coffee made at work. Commuting on bicycle or running whenever possible. No more shopping malls or even those unuseful but pretty things. All these preparations really changed our view (mainly mine, Tom was always like this) of what’s important in life.

So what’s the cost of longterm cycle touring?

Surprising answer : that’s individual. We didn’t want to push our budget too far down. We are four, not two. We wanted to have some reserve in case of expensive repairs, stolen things, unexpected flights, doctor’s visits for us or the dogs. Having Phoebe and Lolo with us makes us spend more – private room instead of a dorm in hostel, paperwork from a vet before each border crossing, regular anti-flea and anti-parasite medications about which we are much more careful than “back home”, we don’t try to save money on their food…). So we set a limit of 60$ per day for all of us (apart from first flight) and we originally planned to take about year and a half (silly, right, now we know too…). Put that into calculator and it shows something like 32 850$.  But you can do similar trip for much less, if you are not vegan (or rather if you are resistant to the offers of all the vegan restaurant in the cities, which we are not and enjoy it massively), if you don’t take dogs with you and can really restrain yourself from spending on all fronts. We read about cyclists who travel around the world for 5$ a day. The only remaining question would be if they still enjoy it this way.

We managed to save around 40 000£ and that’s what we are living from. If you find this number too high and thin how easy it was to save this from London salary, I think it’s worth mentioning our monthly rent used to be 2000£. The income and expenses of this life were equally high.

Even in USA and Canada we managed to stay within the budget and most of the time not even close to the limit. Mainly because we used paid accommodation very few times (in Canada only once for example). So even though it’s been almost two years already since we started, the funds are still not dry and hopefully will keep us on the road until the end of our adventure. And if not? We’ll cross that bridge once we get there, but let’s say we’re not afraid even of manual labor.

Tips how to save for your adventure

  • you don’t need to buy new gear if you already own some perfectly functional one (our bikes are with us since 2010 and we only had to have them serviced and prepared for the road)
  • same goes for most of our camping gear, we really only replaced camping matts and sleeping bags for ones for rougher and colder conditions
  • get rid of unnecessary luxuries – coffees, magazines and services subscriptions, expensive hairdresser, car…)
  • go through all your stuff and carefully think about what you can sell and do it
  • ask your friends to store your stuff you’d like to keep instead of paying for storage
  • use savings account alongside your normal one and send there the “leftover” money at the end of each month
  • if you want to be more hardcore, count the regular expenses plus some pocket money and send the rest to the savings account as soon as possible after your pay day
  • keep calm and have only one drink (instead of 5) when you go out with friends, you can have a good chat without breaking your weekly budget
  • say no to taxi and even public transportation. Use your bike or you can even walk (whenever possible)

Cycle touring is a cheap form of long term travel

Many people asking about money don’t realise that our form of travel allows us to travel longer and cheaper. Cycle touring can be very cheap. If you chose a destination like south east Asia or South America on top of that, you’ll save even more.

Carry a tent and a camping stove and the only significant expense is food. Food is your gasoline and you eat at least for two when on tour. Even so it’ll be cheaper than backpacking, where you have to pay for transport and accommodation.

Cycle touring allows us to enjoy the nature without paying entrance fees. Because believe it or not, nature is beautiful even outside of national park boundaries. Cycle touring also allows us to use the warmshowers hospitality network and this network is quite dense mainly in USA, Canada and Europe. In Latin America people let us stay with them overnight when we ask (camping on the property, next to the house, on the porch or sometimes we get a room and real bed), bicycle is a great icebreaker. In US it’s often different. Many people without home basically live here on their bicycles, so sometimes people look at the cycle tourists as vagabonds. And because all we have we also need to carry ourselves, we don’t buy useless things, souvenirs…


By now yes, we have some gear sponsors, but no financial.

We started the trip with the gear we all paid for. Our first sponsor was Czech outdoor brand Husky. They sent us new tent after our old one was by the ants in Mexico. It was their idea and they even sent us some clothes we had to replace.

Later, when we had our 6 months house sitting (more about house sitting here) break, we’ve decided to try and approach some brands to upgrade some of the gear. It’s not easy and we spent many hours creating the ideal sponsorship proposal and many (most) companies reply negative or not at all.

But hard work pays off and so now we have our bike packing gear from Acepac, trailer from the dogs for a discounted price from plus their unique suspension for the trailer for free. They are kind of our guardian angels, which was confirmed even now in Colombia. The doggies got their protective goggles from Rex Specs and some great treats to try from Traverse Dog Co. Drone borrowed from Airhero. Magifešn sent us amazing t-shirts and So psom na tripe as well. By Lago Atitlan we’ve met Jess and Greg from Ruff On The Road and Phoebe and Lolo now boast their amazing collars with typical Guatemalan patterns wherever they go (made by local artisans). And our latest sponsor is Brooks England and we can’t wait to test their first non-leather seats Cambium

Have you expected something else? A magical tree that grows money for us?

Let us know in the comments below if something surprised you and generally what you thought about this side of our journey. It’s also very interesting for us to know how it may look from outside. And please no hate :)!

4 Responses

  1. Lost

    Great tips! you are legends, proof you can do anything you put your mind to and with the added challenge of travelling with two dogs.
    Having a frugal mindset, knowing your specific goal and clear vision to make it happen. Also you was cycling more to save money and this was part preparation of saving and building some fitness.
    I have friends in the UK who earn 3 times more than me, but have no money or understand their goal in life, but happy to keep buying crap they don’t need. Enough is enough and you can make it happen……………..
    I look forward to your next post. .

    • Tomas Smejkal

      Thank you, Martin. Exactly, I know many people who have “no money” but when you realize what they buy every day…I used to be the same 😉

  2. ravenbanner

    I think “WWOOFing” is a brilliant way to stretch the budget. 4-6 hours a day work for food and board, means for that week you’re eating without having to spend a cent.

    My longish term plan is to get enough money to retire on, and cycle tour incorporating WWOOFing. The idea being that you go to a certain spot and stay at a particular farm for 1-2 weeks. During that time you get your down time to explore the area or just recharge and get all your gear back in order… then head off for the next 2-4 weeks to the next WWOOFing spot. It really would stretch ones budget further and further. Hell, if you wanted to you could live on nothing except replacements of worn out gear :).

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