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Old 13 Jul 2010
monkey sunshine's Avatar
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cost of travel

hi everyone,
I want to travel across north america for about a year, but everyone says you need $100 dollars a day?
this would cost me over $36,000 without even taking in to account the cost of bike, equipment, insurance and shipping etc etc.
is this true?, how will i ever save up the money for that ?, i'm totally bummed out
i need someone to give me hope that i can make this happen,

(i know a year might sound like a long time to be in 1 country but i want to go slow, spend time exploring and doing lots of photography.)

hope someone has some good advice
currently lost and often confused
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Old 13 Jul 2010
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Travelling on a budget

I'm planning a trip to North America too, probably only for 6 months although I'll stay as long as funds allow. The biggest thing I've considered to keep costs down is to wild camp as much as possible. Its free to wild camp in US National Forests and in many other places too. When I can't wild camp I'm looking to couchsurf, tap into the local HU communities or stay in hostels/cheap motels when I have to, for example, when in big cities.

I guess the other thing is buy a cheap bike... As much as I'd like that Gucci GS1200 suited and booted I know I can find something equally suitable and substantially cheaper! Check out the US private ads like CraigsList they're are some excellent bike on their at very good prices. Also keep your eye on the HU bikes for sale section as well as the ADV Rider fleamarket. Consider a bike swap with someone in the states. I put my Bandit up the other day, fingers crossed I'll get some interest. Push come to shove I'll ship my own bike by sea. Granted I'll lose that money but compared to buying in the US, in terms of cash flow it's probably better.

Thankfully we don't need a carnet. Bike insurance is reasonable with Progressive, I've heard good things about Wallenius Wilhelmsen for shipping by sea - of course it takes longer but it is cheaper, health insurance depends on your level of cover but isn't too bad and worth the expense 'just-in-case'. Same for breakdown cover - I know I'll be getting it because I am not at all mechanical and there are other advantages for the traveller to have AAA cover.

Hope this is helpful. I'd be interested to hear your thoughts and plans.
www.AdventureVagabond.com Mongolia & Siberia 2012: Adventure Moto Madness
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Old 14 Jul 2010
monkey sunshine's Avatar
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thanks man
i'm gonna wild camp too with a hennesey hammock, i guess the people who say it's a $100 a day are probably staying in hotels,

i did think of getting a bike when i got to the us, because i thought it would be cheaper than shipping one from the uk but it sounds like a crazy amount of bureaucracy as all the states have different rules and tend to require a us address for bike registration etc,
although i did find a guy on here who said florida was ok to register as a non resident.

i'll just keep saving and see how much i can put away in a year and plan the length of the trip based on how much i've got.
i know once i get there i'm gonna want to keep going.
i really want to go by bike, i know if i just went as a backpacker i'd regret it.
i'll have to find a different job that pays better.
hope you find a swapper for your bike
currently lost and often confused
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Old 14 Jul 2010
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You may want to look in the Shipping vs buying in the US some more. Many when looking at shipping fees and wear and tear vs buy and selling a bit of toss up.

$100 a day and more? Yes. Many people do spend that much and more, $40 on gas $50 on a hotel and $20 on food $110 US and that is keeping on the "cheap" for them. Me? When I get a shot at a long holiday I use $10 on gas $20 on camping and $10 on food $40 USD a day I see more and do more. If I need to be on the cheap $10 on gas free camping and $5 on food $15 a day.

All state have diffrent rules but once you have paper work done for one it will good for all of them. Some states do not have tax making it even cheaper for the bike and kit.

Many live in the US and do not make $36,000 a year like me. So you will not have any problem doing the same.

There are many hints and how to in the search but to sum much of it up.
1) ride slow. It uses less fuel.
2) ride a small bike and pack light. Better fuel use.
3) talk to people. Need a place to stay and a bit of food ask anyone you meet "where I can camp for free?" The person at the fuel stop may take you home and feed you but you will never know unless you ask.
4) feed your self. Most of the time in the US and Canada it will save you tons
5)ride fast and long where pays. Some places are way over priced so do not stay there. Some campgrounds I have stayed at are $40 a night and look like a parking lot kids yelling half time not fun. Riding a long day using $30 more in fuel and staying in a hotel for $50 will save you in the long run and a hotel at $10 more a night is cheap.

That all said you may want to go to HU meeting a be with people that are and have done what you are looking to do.
You did not where you are from so Im thinking the UK. You may want to ride around there first get your kit down to what need and use. Get your licenes at home, too many come to the US with out it thinking they do not need one some get away with it some do not.

You are talking about 1 country but did not say which one unless your thinking about hitting them all. Or did you mean USA as north america.
If you are taking the US you may need to do a bit of paper work. You may want to ask the US Department of state Travel about a year long stay. In any event you may want to ride the borders a bit to see what is like on the other side.

You can do this trip it will not run you $36,000. Do NOT backpack it you will regret it the rest of your life. It will not give you the freedom you are looking for and the savings will be small. Most of the kit you are looking at getting in the UK will be less in the USA any way. A $5,000 bike and $1,000 of kit will get you around the USA and most any place else in the Americas. Most the people you know will never do anything like this and do not like the idea that you can. Do not tell them till you are ready to go, save there problems for them.

There I made it possible and cheap for you to have the ride of your life. That is what we do here. Go to a HU meeting and tell no one of your dreams they will not get it. Most the people you know will never do anything like this and do not like the idea that you can. Do not tell them till you are ready to go, save there problems for them. Your trip is yours. Get your Achievable Dream.
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Old 14 Jul 2010
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One way to eat up some time and save money is to go to the many various rallies held all over the country. Check forums such as adv, bmw, moto guzzi (wild goose), klr, dr650, etc. The advantage of rallies, $35-65 for 3 or 4 days and a few meals thrown in, but more importantly you will meet people traveling all over and you can ride and split rooms and possibly stay with your new riding buddy and get a good home cooked meal. Camping is usually better in state and federal areas but showers are usually scarce, but most truck stops have showers for a few bucks and there are many municipal pools where one can shower and have a swim for a couple bucks. Do not be a stranger in paid campgrounds, I have been offered many s and meals by other campers. Stealth camping is great, but you have to ask yourself if you can sleep in a hammock with bears wondering around your campsite in the middle of nowhere. I live in bear country and really doesn't bother me but can be unsettling to many.
I just sold a fully kitted 08 KLR for $4000 and would take it anywhere. Many good deals over here for bikes all kitted out. $3-4000 will get you a bike you can use all year and sell it for $2000 when you leave--that my friend s a deal. Many fast food places have $1 menu items so for a quick cheep meal can't be beat. Never had a problem filling my camelback at gas stations with water and ice. I think $40 a day will be fine. BTW buy a National park pass for $80, will get you in all parks for free, some are $20 just to enter. If you run out of money you can go to home depot and hire yourself out for yard work and in addition to pay will probably get a meal out of it also. You will not starve here, many soup kitchens... I'm not advocating bumming but worst case you will be able to bum a few bucks for gas if needed and get fed. Travel lite as possible, socks, t-shirts, underwear and all can be had here very cheap. If you get caught in bad weather it is a perfect time to do your laundry, dry and warm, usually tv and magazines. Most places are very safe, if you get a bad feeling leave. Good luck, if you are around colorado springs, give a shout, meal and shower here. BTW Adv rider has a tent site with folks willing to let you camp in their yard--free, usually food and included
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Old 14 Jul 2010
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For $100 a day I could live like a king in the USA. I've traveled on as little as $18 a day ($10 gas, $7 food, FREE camping, $3 shower every third day) but typically average around $40 - $65 a day, which includes occasional motels and a fair bit of good food (I enjoy diners in small towns which frequently have exceptional food).

If you go through Canada & Alaska the daily cost will increase because of the long distances you have to cover in a short period of time and because you'll use hotels more often as safety from bears. But that can be balanced by visiting Mexico in the winter months which is a lot cheaper.

For camping ... national forests are usually free. Lots of lists of people who have "tent space" or space for "couch surfing". Ask around small towns for a park you can use to setup a tent/hammock. I've even used telephone poles (for a hammock) along side a dirt road in the middle of nowhere.

For registering a bike you buy here, find a state with lenient registration rules and someone living there who will let you use their address. I've heard Arizona is good for this but have no direct experience.
Traveling The World Since: June 2011
Bike: KLR 650
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Old 14 Jul 2010
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Location: Gulfport, Mississippi USA
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often it'll be cheaper in the end to double your daily alotment for fuel just to get through a city and camp on the other end... (ie spend $20 on gas and $20 on camping to save spending 60 on a hotel)

look for couches to surf on along the way (mine's up if you're coming through the gulf coast of Mississippi)

ride slow and take back roads, your bike will be more efficent, and you'll see more of the REAL country... not just the consumer driven facade that line the freeways

camp in national parks, very often free. also look for city parks... many of those also allow free camping.

also, though no personal experience, I've heard that many churches are open to people camping on their land if 1. you ask first, and 2. are polite and courteous.

Ride a small bike. no need to ride a huge bike if you're traveling slow, and the smaller the bike, the more effecient (most often), meaning your money goes further.

buy a annual pass to national parks... a one time fee and if you visit more than 4 or 5... it's paid for itself...
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Old 14 Jul 2010
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Please don't under-estimate the absolute need for a contingency fund.

Believe me, the completely unexpected - I mean, occurrences that you could never-ever predict in advance, will definitely happen along the way, probably more than once, which will require your precious $$$ to remedy. It happens every single trip to every traveller (inc me) every single time. Guaranteed.

Over the course of 6-12 months, to have at least a spare US$2,000+ ($5K+ would be better) emergency fund knocking around in the background for such event(s) would not be over-the-top. Otherwise expect to return home at the end of your travels in some considerable debt .. also guaranteed.

Good luck - and all the best


Right Way Round ...

Last edited by Keith1954; 14 Jul 2010 at 18:12.
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Old 14 Jul 2010
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Originally Posted by Keith1954 View Post
...occurrences that you could never-ever predict in advance, will definitely happen along the way, probably more than once ... happens every single trip to every traveller (inc me) every single time. Guaranteed...
Best traveling advice I've heard in a long time. Most everything else is fluff.
I've a feeling I'm not in Kansas anymore.
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Old 15 Jul 2010
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thanks everyone,
it's good advice,
i think the itch to go was so strong i was getting ahead of myself, i'm gonna take it one step at a time and save as much money as possible,
i probably will do a trip around britain first.

contingency money a very good idea i'll leave a stash of cash in britain in a savings account, and have it transferred into my main account if disaster strikes.
currently lost and often confused
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