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In preparing for a trip, it costs money…no matter how you add it up in terms of kit/equipment, visas, shipping, etc. Then there are the costs we incur en route…gas, food lodging, etc
So my question is the following….
Why are we sometimes so willing to spend the money on kit, visas, etc. without much thought…BUT when we are en route we worry about how much we spend? Considering some of the locales we pass through, could our expenditures in some ways be thought as charitable donations without the overhead?
It seems to be economics using a business plan. No, I don't have a business of my own, but this is how I understand businesses to run (in a very simplified way, of course).
When one starts a business, a person usually needs to get fixed assets. Going on a long journey, one would need to get the fixed assets to make it work--kit and all that stuff. Then, there are the costs associated with the trip that will remain generally fixed, such as shipping, etc.
The variable costs will be food, shelter, and fuel. Since there are usually unexpected expenses, it is best to be prepared to save for this--breakdowns, accidents, poor weather (mid-summer snow storm in the higher elevations), etc.
If one has saved $5000 for total costs for a trip, and already has a bike, that person usually has a general idea of what they need to get ready for the trip, and can budget it. The rest needs to be stretched as far as possible to keep running, eat, and sleep, and stay prepared for the proverbial rainy day.
Edde. I don't know about others but I am just as much a tightarse in my preparations as I am when enroute.
Examples from my recent journey include:
Used bike NOT new
Old used camping equipment ($35 tent now 10 years old but works fine so why replace it?)
Buying equipment off eBay whenever possible.
Buying last year's model riding gear which is available at run out prices, rather than paying a premium for the latest and greatest (or using existing gear - I finally threw away my old bike boots at the end of my last big trip - they were 23 years old!).
Avoiding buying all the latest gadgets and bike touring equipment which many people never use, end up throwing away and pay a small fortune for.
Using frequent flyer points for my airfares in and out of Australia.
Shopping around for lowest shipping costs.
Unfortunately when it comes to visas there is little that can be done to save costs other than simply leaving countries with expensive visas off your itinerary.
Ultimately though, the BIGGEST expense by far is the income you forfeit when you are on the road. I got around that one too - saved up my one month annual leave for the last 5 years in order that I stil received full income during my travels.
It's a good question - I'm sure there is an adage that says: Take half as much stuff and twice as much money...
Certainly I've constantly pared down my belongs each time I've headed off on a trip - (other than emergancy/repair stuff) if it didn't get used/worn last time, it doesn't come this time...
I can now contain everything I need in a 35litre Ortlieb Rackpack bag and a Camelbak Blowfish (2.5 litre water, and expands from 8 - 15 litre stowage, ideal for a couple of days food, or an extra water bag). Even when I was camping recently, my tent went in my main duffle, and I only took a couple of extra small Ortlieb bags - one each for my sleeping bag and Thermarest, under a bungee net on top.
Of course traveling around the USA, Europe, and even Morocco, you are never that far from a re-supply of food and water (unless you chose to be of course!) - I would concede that you probalby need more capacity for longer periods in the boonies.
I've found that you can always make do with what you've got, and that it's the unexpected that usually costs you a little extra money - so having a reserve is a good idea. Hell, sometimes it's nice to splurge on a decent meal or a more expensive hotel room, for convenience and/or your sanity!
I always questioned the worth of expensive and/or premium products, especially camping gear and clothing... but over the past couple of years I've replaced my budget gear with better alternatives when the opportunity has arisen.
I can honestly say that if you can afford it, then you tend to get what you pay for - either in quality, convenience, or size/weight. It all helps when packing light?
I follow your train of thought but enjoy spending my hard earned on nice shiny things Why is it deemed a sin by some to spend money, no reference to anybody particular.
My wife and I have no children, very small mortgage and both work full time and pay 40% tax.
Anyway I think the best way to get out of this global economic problem is to spend spend spend and we're going to take the lead.
(Please read the above in context, ie light hearted)
I'm a total cheapskate now on all aspects of preparation.
I spent a fortune on equipment and preparation on my first major trip, probably out of fear of being under prepared for any eventuality. I probably spent £2000 on equipment that was totally unnecessary. I had to cut my trip short as I ran out of cash and that £2000 would of gone a LONG way in South America.
I spent £900 on Metal Mules which were turned into scrap after 4 weeks. (£100 soft bags worked better after that)
Spent £250 on a tent when only a £50 was really needed. (it still broke)
Spent £300 on overpriced camping equipment and survival gear which again, was fear of the unexpected.
Bought and carried bearings, gaskets and spares for every eventuality which again was daft. They all ended up being sold on eBay for 30% what I paid.
The point being, once you have some experience and realise where money can be better spent, the experienced Overlander will cut their prep cost literally in half on their subsequent travels
When on the road, you HAVE to spend money on gas, food and lodging so I just don't think about it past looking for the cheapest place to stay.
Location: Dreaming of travelling and riding bikes in general..
My second trip will involve more focus on getting to the special places and making the most of it when I'm there. Less about the kit. Every bit as much about the bike though.
Luckily, me and my travel buddy Dan are both engineers so we have an appreciation of what works and what is likely to work - we also know when to stop optimising and just get on with it! The kit you use the most needs to be up to the task - e.g. we bought good tents and they lasted and performed well. We knew we'd camp a lot but other travellers got by with more basic ones. Be honest, ask yourself if you really need that bit of kit - still take it by all means but recognise that that money could be deployed on other activities rather than blindly buying things that seem like they're needed only to be discarded on the way.
Considering some of the locales we pass through, could our expenditures in some ways be thought as charitable donations without the overhead?
I'm dismayed at the travelers who brag about how cheap they were during the day - talked the woman at the produce stand down from $1 for a bag of fruit to 75 cents - way cheaper than what they pay for the same fruit/vegetables when 'back home'.
Heck - pay the guy who does the gate at the backpacker place a couple dollars to wash your bike. He'll die for the opportunity.
Pay the woman a couple dollars doing laundry to do yours, instead of asking if you can use her stuff to do it yourself. And provide the wash powder (and tip her with the remainder!)
Stop at out of the way places for lunch. I was in Malawi and stopped at a lodge on the lake with no visitors. (2008 was a bad year for Africa tourism). The women kissed my hand, tears in her eyes, when I paid her a couple extra dollars for lunch (told her she had to except my money, I didn't have any smaller bills).
When in a group, don't all stop at the same restaurant/mini store and buy a bunch from one person - spread it around at a couple stands.
In the 3rd world, if these people made an extra buck or 2 a day, they might be able to feed their families better for a few days - way better than they make off their meager wages (in Africa, $1 a day is often the going rate for working 10-12 hour days).
Spread it around - with a smile - and skip the that night if you need to be that tight.
I'm with Farqhuar, Edteamslr and company (also a trained engineer, I wonder if that's why we go for the fit & function to a cost approach?). I'll buy or make equipment I view as useful, but view the time on the road as the main event and concentrate my efforts there. A pair of new tyres I'll cheerfully pay for (but the old ones go back on when I'm just running round the UK). The biggest reindeer steak on the menu and a stupidly expensive pint of lager/Vodka, ditto, if it turns a day of fog and punctures into something that seems like fun. Likewise I'll buy a round and worry about it later if I get talking to the locals. £900 tin boxes to hold my stuff I can live without out, especially if it's a toss up between bling and consumables.
The more I travel (scared myself the other day, I've been doing this stuff for 10 years!), the more I learn. I've seen BMW touring panniers explode on contact with rocks, I've seen Tourathingy boxes shear off the plastic pucks when meeting innocuous bits of tarmac, I've seen throwovers ooze melted plastic and drop a guys underwear onto the autobahn. I can understand the mixed messages people get about what works and I see how the marketing works giving the final vote towards their product. IMHO you develop a set of kit that meets your needs you can't buy one. For the panniers thing I'd go with a tubular rack (expensive) and E-bay/ex-MOD throwovers (disposable), but that might not work for everyone.
The business plan idea works for me, but I know my fixed costs (Insurance, Tyres, anything I broke last time), I don't have a choice of bike, spares, riding gear and so forth to worry about. The variable costs you can guess at (more tyres, border costs) and allow a daily allowance to feed yourself. I go back to my student days on this one. (Showing my age again), I used to live on 30-quid a week including fags and . The first few days/weeks you may try and skimp a bit (free camp, eat cheap, less and so on), but you soon build up a buffer that if you've done it right does allow those small treats that keep you sane.
The bartering thing IMHO you need to play by ear. If the bag of shopping is worth anything like a quid I'll pay. If it's worth 30p I'll say so and split the difference. You never know when acting like a rich idiot will bite you in the bum, if you paid a quid for 30p worth of shopping you'll be fine with £100 for a £30 tyre won't you? Tipping for good service in poor places once you've had it I agree with, likewise using local services, as it puts something back into those communities without encouraging the lower sorts that are always about to rip off the next guy.
This is a bit of synchronicity, just last night Elisa and I did "quentas" accounting... comparing expenses between our 7000 kilometer February/March 09 ride (2 Honda NX400s) around Argentina with our very recent 2000 kilometer drive (Ford) from La Coruña, Spain down to Madrid and return through Salamanca. and around Galicia...
ARGENTINA: Gas/lodging/food maintenance (oil changes, minor parts etc) + all extras, incl and wine...Each Honda NX400 got 22 K per liter. Averaged over the 2 month tour:
$24.00 dollars US per day each.
SPAIN: Gas/lodging/food maintenance ( oil change) + all extras incl and wine... Ford got 16 K per liter. Averaged over 7 day tour:
$98.00 dollars US per day each
Spain, seems to be 3 times as expensive as Argentina (after calculating differences between distances and gas consumption rates for each tour) and the big difference was that we did not camp in Spain, we slept in hostels.
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