Bicycle Touring On a Budget

During our trips, we always try to survive on the smallest budget possible. It is certainly not the easiest way of traveling and at times requires a lot of work and patience, but it is surely doable. Here are some tips we have for those who want to see the world, but money doubts stop them from undertaking this major step. Here is our guide for Bicycle Touring On a Budget.

A Blonde german man sitting on a carpet in front of his tent and tandem bicycle in Kosovo during Bicycle Touring On a Budget
Bicycle Touring On a Budget!

1. Find free accommodation while Bicycle Touring On a Budget

First and foremost, the easiest way to save some buck on lodging is sleeping in a tent. It is obviously connected to some inconveniences, especially while bicycle touring. As you probably won’t carry the most spacious tent- comfort doesn’t really come with a lightweight- you should have at least a good mat! You simply can’t sleep well and expect a pleasant ride the next day. Camping works on a short term journey, but once in a while, one needs proper rest.

There are also other drawbacks. First of all- the shower. There is no way you are going to attain this luxury which is kind of a crucial after a day of sports activity. Luckily this problem can be solved- what you need is a river or a nice person with a hose in their garden. It will be probably cold, freezing cold even, but you will survive and feel much better afterward. The same rule applies to do laundry- better to wash your clothes without soap than not at all. Not perfect but entirely free of charge.

Garden camping in Belgium during Bicycle Touring On a Budget
Garden camping in Belgium // Bicycle Touring On a Budget

Use the Internet

Second and a by far more interesting solution is using Internet platforms for travelers such as couchsurfing.com, bewelcome.org, trustroots.org, or hospitalityclub.org. To all bicycle lovers, we recommend warmshowers.org which is entirely devoted to the bike-touring community. Using this website you not only meet new people but also get familiar with their culture and surely get some insider tips about traveling their country.

The additional advantage of Warmshowers is a total understanding between you and your host. There is a high chance that they have been through similar situations or are at least familiar with whatever you are struggling with at the moment. They know you need to shower first, don’t want to necessarily party till dawn, and surely understand that your bike is your most important possession.

Couchsurfing with a beautiful Berber family in Morocco
Couchsurfing with a beautiful Berber family in Morocco.

RESCUE

There are also less popular ways to find free accommodation and we recommend using them only in case of an emergency. If you are in trouble, don’t have anywhere to go or mother nature is not merciful and sends you some storm, hail, or heavy snow- go and ask for help! It is always good to look for a priest or imam and hope for the interference of his boss. However, if the trees are already falling down or you are soaking wet and the temperature is dropping- skip this part and simply ask ANYONE. There is surely some space for you in somebody’s garage, stable or winter garden. If you are lucky enough and have a trustworthy face, you may even get yourself a night in an actual house.

A blonde German man blowing out candles on his birthday cake in Iceland while Bicycle Touring On a Budget
Ben’s 29th birthday: While traveling through Iceland, we didn’t have a place to stay so we asked a local priest for help. He then let us stay in the church which was connected to a little apartment.

2.  Move around as cheap as possible while Bicycle Touring On a Budget

This problem obviously doesn’t concern cyclists. We get to places only thanks to our manpower and it takes us only a few more weeks than to those depending on an engine. But what’s with far, oversea destinations? What’s with emergencies when- god forbid!- your bike is broken?

You can find some cheap flights offered by Easy Jet, Wizzair, Ryanair as well as any other low-cost airline. Or take a look at websites, where smart people, using their fine computers to fish out the current best flight deals, mainly done by manual typing mistakes and post them real quick. One of them is secretflying.com where you can find some real pearls!

two girls and two boys doing Couchsurfing
Couchsurfing in Morocco / Bicycle Touring On a Budget

Hitchhiking

The most known and old-as-the-world-itself option is hitchhiking. We’ve done it for years, once even with a bike. So put out this thumb and go for it, when absolutely necessary.

Another option is finding a job on a cruiser, cargo ship, or sailboat which is far more difficult because there are many people who also like that idea and pimp up their CVs right now. Nevertheless, it is worth giving it a try. Also here you can find plenty of websites that help you along the way. There is also a high possibility that the only way to get a ride is to spend countless hours or (more likely) days in a harbor to catch a ride.

A tandem bicycle on a mountain road in the Alps during Bicycle Touring On a Budget
The Alps!
SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES
Trekking through Cape Verde
Blonde German man hitchhiking through Western Sahara in Morocco
Hitchhiking in Western Sahara, Morocco.

3. Spend at the beginning and save up later

This may sound rather discouraging for people who want to hit the road immediately without spending much time on preparation, but we really recommend you invest some money in good quality equipment while bike touring. This is the easiest way to save some serious inconveniences on the way. The better gear you have the better the chance that it will last longer without failing. The perfect examples are our Schwalbe tires which survived almost 14000 km kilometers. The Rohloff speedhub is the non plus ultra for bicycle touring. Now that’s the investment we’re talking about!

4. Go freegan!

While traveling by bike or on foot there is a high chance you will find some wild fruit trees, berries, or even gardens of people who wouldn’t mind if you pick up few apples from the ground. These are your feast points! Countless times we stopped in Croatia to eat cherries or in Spain to enjoy our favorite figs. In Great Britain berries saved our skin many times when our sugar levels dropped significantly. Keep your eyes open!

Blackberries in a hand
Blackberries
Collage of cherries and a bicycle rider eating cherries
Freegan cherries

5. Know your gear

The more you know about your equipment the more money you can save. Being able to fix the bike, equipment, or electronics you can skip seeking others’ help and get it done by yourself free of costs. We’ve spent a lot of time in Vertical Ride Shop learning about how to fix our tandem in case of a breakdown.

two German man standing in a bicycle shop
Ben and Georg in Vertical Ride shop in Kandel
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Preparing for the next adventure

6. Prepare your food by yourself as often as you can

It’s no news that cooking your own meal keeps your wallet in good shape. Especially if you are bike touring that is very important. One restaurant meal rarely makes you full after 10 hours of bicycle riding and surely can’t provide you all calories you need in form of precious complex carbohydrates, preferably Monounsaturated and Polyunsaturated fats and a protein source.

A polish woman holding a red backpack and backing pancakes in a kitchen while Bicycle Touring On a Budget
Marta, as fried as the pancake (sunburn), preparing breakfast in Bolzano.

7. Talk to locals

They live on-site and know the best spots. Listen to the locals as subsequently there is a high chance you can avoid placing yourself in some terrible tourist trap. Instead of that visit unknown beautiful (free of charge!) spots. Thanks to local people once we participated in some great Krishna feast and got a huge Indian meal.

two man sitting on a table eating dinner and woman setting the table while Bicycle Touring On a Budget
In Bosnia: After a short chit-chat with locals, we got invited for a delicious meal and had a wonderful evening talking and laughing together.

8. Don’t buy bottled water while Bicycle Touring On a Budget

At least in most of the places! Especially in Europe, there is no need to avoid tap water if the locals are drinking it! If you run out of the water while cycling doesn’t sprint to the closest shop but rather ask someone around to fill up your bottles.

Marta Sobczak pumping up well water in Belarus
Marta Sobczak pumping up well water in Belarus / Bicycle Touring On a Budget

9. Don’t be shy, be approachable

The key to not spend all of your money in a time of trouble, is to be bold. Instead of looking for a hostel when forced to sleep indoors, first, ask the help of others. Smile, look neatly and be polite- make yourself approachable and people will find you trustworthy and, with a little bit of luck, help you solve your problem. If you like setting off for a bike journey, leave your shyness at home.

 

This was our article about Bicycle Touring On a Budget. Read everything about 5 TIPS FOR TRAVELING BY BICYCLE’

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