Thursday, December 11, 2014

Motorcycle travel dream phase: accumulating travel funds.

After finding the time to head off on a motorcycle trip, step two of the dream phase is accumulating travel funds. Most people have only a vague idea of how much it costs to travel if it’s not something they do often. And travel costs vary wildly depending on how complicated your life is and how many fixed costs you have to cover while you are gone as well as what level of comfort you find acceptable when out on the road. I will cover minimizing travel costs in a future post, but most budget motorcycle travelers spend somewhere between 50 and 100 dollars a day all in. This includes the basics of food, gas, lodging as well as the hidden costs of border crossing, visas, tires, repairs, maintenance, replacing lost items, shipping the bike between continents, etc.

Of course it is more expensive if you fly and rent a bike in a foreign country. The last time I flew down to Costa Rica for two weeks and rented a bike it cost 600 dollars for round trip airfare, 600 for bike rental and 600 for food, gas and lodging. I started with 2000 dollars and had 200 left when I was done. So about 130 dollars a day all in.

And of course, some countries are way more expensive to travel through than others. Unless you are camping, riding a small fuel efficient bike, or staying with friends and traveling slow, it is very difficult to travel through Western Europe, the U.S. or Canada on the cheap. Whereas in Ecuador where gas was 1.48/gal last Spring and you can ride all day on a cheap tank of gas, places to stay on the beach or in the mountains are around 10 or 15 dollars, and food is under 10 dollars a day, you can travel all month for under 1000 dollars.

But you get the idea. It costs money to take a motorcycle trip. Once you have an idea of how much time you can take off from work and family, you can start saving money. Once you have a goal it becomes much easier to focus on. You start looking at things in a different light. Would you rather go to the movies tonight or stay home, put 20 bucks in your travel piggy bank and have another tank of gas out on the road?

Your mind starts thinking of all kinds of ways to generate money. You look around the house and see dollar signs on all your old camping gear, that pile of motorcycle parts in the garage, all the tools, boats, bikes, TVs, sporting gear and such that you bought but aren’t using anymore. Some people get carried away and sell everything they own. I know my former wife and I decided one January morning 25 years ago to sell everything we owned and go traveling for as long as the money lasted. We were living in Hawaii at the time and had accumulated all kinds of antiques, tools, a Martin guitar, 2 trucks, a garage full of tools and all kinds of building materials. By February we had 40,000 dollars, an empty rental house, two backpacks and two one-way tickets to New Zealand. Wow! I must say having no material possessions weighing you down and taking off on a trip is a very freeing feeling. Of course, after nearly a year we were ready to settle down again and had to buy things to replace them, but it gave us a new appreciation for the things we actually need. As well as just how much material possessions can weigh you down and make independent travel more difficult. Especuially things that need climate controlled space and eventual maintenance and repair. And today it is easier than ever to sell stuff for more money online instead of taking the time for a discount garage sale. Motorcycles and parts on ADVrider, household goods on or E-bay, that sort of thing.

There are other more creative ways to generate travel funds. For instance, the Dutch guy from Amsterdam down in South America who rents out his house on Air B-n-B for 200 euros a night while he is hanging out on the beach getting a tan. He has a trusted woman who cleans and takes care of finding maintenance people while he handles booking with his iPhone as he travels. Something to think about if you have a house in a touristy area that will be vacant while you are gone.

Equally important to the money you save is the money you don’t spend. It all adds up. By evaluating your spending habits and reeling in unnecessary purchases you may be surprised at how much money you can save up if you really want to. Especially recurring monthly expenses. Do you really need cable TV? Could you eliminate car payments and full coverage vehicle insurance by shifting to a paid for older more fuel efficient vehicle with basic liability coverage? These are all things to think about as you eliminate obstacles to motorcycle travel and accumulate only the things that you need. Which is what I will discuss in the next phase of the dream phase: motorcycles and gear you need.

more later……

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