How 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.