Your soul is ready to go ride around the world, but your bank account begs to differ? It’s more common than you think – but don’t despair. Adventure travel doesn’t need to be an expensive undertaking at all, as long as you’re willing to compromise (a little) and plan ahead (a lot). And no, adventure travel on a budget doesn’t mean sleeping in ditches and surviving on pot noodles – it just means a smarter way to ride around the world.
1. Set Your Priorities
What level of comfort do you need? You can buy a $20,000 bike and ride around for a month, or you can buy a $5,000 bike and ride around the world for a year. It’s all about the level of luxury you require. Do you absolutely need a big, comfy bike, nice restaurant meals and decent hotels? Prepare to spend $100 and more a day. Are you happy with a smaller, maybe second-hand bike, simpler lodging and cooking your own meals once in a while? Your expenses might drop to $50 and less a day.
Be honest with yourself and manage your expectations. Are you going on a fancy holiday or an adventure ride? Those two things don’t have to be mutually exclusive, but just think about whether you want to invest in things or happiness and freedom.
2. Get Creative
As mentioned above, compromises are important but it doesn’t mean you’ll have to sleep under a tarp and eat canned tuna all the time. There are ways of making adventure travel both exciting and comfortable without depriving yourself.
• Barter - Miss staying in a nice hotel? See if you can ask for a discount or a free stay in exchange for, say, great photos or a website upgrade for the owner.
• DIY - Want a good steak for dinner? Instead of splurging on a restaurant meal, buy a nice piece of filet mignon at a local butcher’s and cook it yourself. This will reduce the cost significantly but you’ll still have a fantastic dinner!
• Pause - Life on the road can get exhausting sometimes – so plan a little break once in a while. Stay in a peaceful jungle lodge and catch up on reading or get an AirBnB in a beautiful city someplace and go out for drinks if that’s your thing. Stopping once in a while and doing the things you’ve missed while traveling can be a huge boost for morale – and finances, because the slower you travel, the less you spend.
3. Travel Slowly
Speaking of slowing down: most of the time, it’s wiser to pick a country, a region or a continent and explore it slowly rather than race around the world. If you travel slow, you spend less on gas and accommodation, see more, and have a much more in-depth experience of the places you’re traveling through.
Adventure travel isn’t just about motorcycling – it’s also about immersing yourself in local cultures and experiencing the world on a very human level. So hold your horses, spend less, and see more!
4. Cheat Currencies
If your budget is tight, think about where you’re going. North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand will be very expensive to travel, so if you can’t afford it just yet, go to Asia or South America instead (Africa is also on the list, but the sheer cost of paperwork – visas and carnet de passage – might be on the pricier side).
If you are planning to hit all six continents though, see if you can leverage currencies. Splurge on good hotels, restaurants, and activities in places like Bolivia, Tajikistan and Laos, but consider camping and cooking your own food as much as possible in Norway and Canada.
5. Be Prepared
We make irrational decisions when we’re under stress or duress – so plan ahead to avoid this as much as possible.
If you have great riding and camping gear, you’re more likely to camp more instead of caving in and checking into hotels when the weather turns bad. If your bike is well maintained, you’re less likely get stranded somewhere and spend a fortune on DHL services to get you parts. Equally, research political situations and borders ahead of the trip: having to detour for thousands of miles because of civil unrest or buying an expensive carnet de passage or a guided tour last minute can get very costly, very quickly. Sure, you can’t be prepared for everything, and unexpected things will happen – but being aware and having a plan B just in case can save you a lot of headache and expenses.
So what’s the bottom line? Adventure travel is achievable for as little as $15 a day and as much as… well, I guess there’s no limit of how much you can spend if you want and are able to! The point is, a little creativity, willingness to compromise and slow travel can all be huge factors in your budgeting decisions. So do your research, decide where you want to go and what you’re comfortable with, and hit that open road!