How to Finance a World Bicycle Tour and Living Like a Stoic

How to finance a world bicycle tour and living like a stoicHow do you finance a world bicycle tour?  Is probably the question that a lot of people would like to ask but don’t always feel comfortable asking directly.  I wanted to address the topic because answering this question was certainly high on my agenda when researching the trip.

One of the reasons for choosing a bicycle is the fact it is a very cheap way to cover ground relatively quickly (the current world record for cycling around the world is just over 106 days to cycle over 18,000 miles).  The other benefit is that you can carry pretty much everything you need to survive all but the most extreme weather conditions.  It is the most basic of mobile homes.

You will see from the pages on Kit and Bike that the initial outlay is considerable at around £3000, however, this does potentially cover the cost of transport overland and accommodation for the four year duration of the journey.  I say potentially because even with the most stringent and disciplined approach, living in a tent for four years, would take a level of self control and masochism, most, simply don’t possess.

Deciding on a budget therefore is difficult to quantify and entirely influenced by how far away from basic living you venture and how often you do it.  Sat in the comfort of my well equipped house, sipping tea after a hot shower, my intention is to spend only one night per week in basic accommodation, where I can shower and clean clothes – think; hostel.  Six days in the saddle covering between fifty to a hundred miles a day existing on baked beans, pasta and rice, might change my perspective on how often a hostel, or maybe a hotel, no wait… a luxury hotel, will seem reasonable.

At present the magic number is £10 per day average spend.

I could make up some elaborate equation taking into account the number calories burned per day, divided by the number of calories in a pound of pasta multiplied by the cost of a pound of pasta, blah, blah..  Or, I could take the amount of money I want to spend and divide it by the number of days I would like to travel and hay presto, £10.  This will be used to pay for food and accommodation, I also have a small reserve to help pay for visas and transit between continents.  No question though, this is a tight budget and I will need to be disciplined to make it work.

This is when living like a stoic comes in

The basic principle of stoicism teaches you to value only those things which can not be taken away and to experience this by actively practicing poverty; living with only basic clothing and a meagre supply of food, for say, one week in every month, as an example.  All the time asking yourself while doing it, in Seneca’s words “Is this the conditions I so feared.”  Linking this with the idea of eliminating the trivial many, both materially and otherwise and you have the basis for a very effective saving strategy.

Applied to everyday life you can start to strip out everything that you don’t need and get used to living well, with less.  This has allowed me over the last few years to reduce my outgoings to a minimum and save the difference between what I earn and what I spend.

To give you some idea of what this looked like for me;

  • I Moved from renting a house and paying the bills, to renting a room with bills included – saved £500/ month immediately
  • Stopped smoking and drinking, £big saving?!  Not to mention the saving to my health.
  • Got rid of my personal mobile phone to use only the mobile provided by my employer
  • Cancelled my TV license – Dodging the TV licensing people is a pain but keeps you on your toes
  • Started cooking food from scratch for lunch and diner instead of buying pre-prepared meals – Added benefit, healthier food = fat loss
  • Quit the gym and bought equipment to use at home for less than the cost of two months membership – Still using the same equipment four years later, total saving £70 x 12 x 4 – £100 = £3260

Overall I have easily saved £1000/ month by changing my spending and consumption habits.  I’m also selling most of my possessions before leaving and anticipate I will raise £2000 in total, which brings my net start up cost down to just £1000.

Have I made sacrifices?

At the time of “giving things up” it certainly felt like a sacrifice, would I revert back to the way things were?  Not yet.

£10 a day seems like a fairly arbitrary figure, I did however base it roughly on the experiences of a couple of cyclist who’s’ stories inspired the journey in the first place; Alistair Humphreys and Rob Lilwall.  Alastair cycled 46,000 miles in over 4 years with a budget of just £7000, Rob cycled home from Siberia, via Australia over 3 years and spent £15,000.

My budget is definitely closer to Rob’s than Alastair’s and if I spend more than £10 per day I will either reduce the number of days I take to get around, or find a way to make money and fill the hole in my budget.

So there you have it how to finance a world bicycle tour and living like a stoic.

Feel free to leave comments below or email me with any questions you have.

The next post will be about how to train to cycle around the world, subscribe to get free updates below and I’ll send it straight to your inbox.



11 Responses to How to Finance a World Bicycle Tour and Living Like a Stoic

  1. Alastair Humphreys July 5, 2013 at 7:45 am #

    Live cheap, travel long.
    Every time you are tempted to stay in a hotel or eat luxury items such as chocolate [eat bread instead] or Pepsi [drink tap water instead] just weigh up whether you would rather do that or have a longer journey.
    There is no right or wrong answer, of course!
    Good luck!

    • Fraser July 8, 2013 at 6:10 pm #

      Hi Alastair,

      Thanks you for taking the time to visit and for your comments. It will be a constant battle to keep spending down and the journey long!!!

      Many thanks,


  2. Jane July 6, 2013 at 1:07 pm #

    With that approach you are sure to succeed. Love the way to weigh up short term pleasure on one hand with the long term goal on the other. Really easy interesting read. Good luck x

  3. Fraser July 8, 2013 at 6:11 pm #

    Thanks Jane x

  4. Tom B July 28, 2013 at 2:49 pm #

    Hi Fraser,

    Its been a long time!

    As old friends of your Mum & Dad and parents ourselves we cant help but be amazed/shocked/horrified/thrilled to learn of your plans. Cant pretend that we understand how we would feel if one of ours had announced such a scheme and can only begin to imagine how you are all feeling right now and what an incredible mixture of excitement, adventure and a little terror, perhaps, is keeping you all awake these final days.

    (Please note : I have not mentioned the word “crazy” once in the above paragraph.)

    We wish you a wonderful, unforgettable trip and hope it lives up to your expectations. They will develop as you travel so please dont be fixated on a specific objective but go with the flow. Be very careful and keep safe. Sadly this is a world where not everyone can be trusted but we hope you will find that not to be true and discover many new friendly faces, see some wonderful sights and bring back unforgettable memories.

    We look forward to following your tire tracks and to hearing a little of your news. Have a wonderful journey,

    With very best wishes,

    Tom & Marjory B

    • Fraser July 28, 2013 at 6:53 pm #

      Hi Tom & Marjory,

      It has been a very long time, it’s great to hear from you, very wise words indeed. Your avoidance of the word “crazy” has been noted!!

      I have very few specific expectations, other than challenge, an ever changing view and saddle sores.

      Thanks Again,


  5. Dorothy July 28, 2013 at 10:21 pm #

    Hi Fraser, Will be eagerly awaiting each new report and willing you on each step of the way.
    No doubt your strength and determination will see you through the rough spots, so take care and enjoy the experience. We’ll be thinking of you, especially on the 4th.
    Dave and Dorothy

  6. Dave Briggs November 29, 2013 at 9:36 pm #

    I would say your 10 pound a day budget would be about right overall. There are other factors of course, such as some countries being cheaper than others etc etc. What many cyclists forget though, is that replacing say a rear derailleur takes a chunk out of your budget. 10 pound a day on ordinary living, and perhaps and extra 500 pound a year on extras such as spare parts/clothes/visas would be more realistic.

    • Fraser December 4, 2013 at 6:00 pm #

      Hi Dave,

      Thanks for your input, very sensible and accurate from my experiences so far.

      Great blog by the way!


  7. Marcela February 22, 2014 at 1:44 am #

    Its like you read my mind! You appear to know so much about this,
    like you wrote the book in it or something.

    I think that you can do with some pics to drive the
    message home a bit, but other than that, this
    is excellent blog. An excellent read. I will certainly be back.

    • Fraser February 27, 2014 at 3:09 pm #

      Thanks Marcela, welcome along!

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