It’s not difficult to drop a lot of money on bicycle touring. Who doesn’t want to save money where they can? Saving money means traveling further on less. I have split touring costs into four main categories: gear, transportation, camping, and food.
Gear can be the most expensive category, especially if you don’t already have a bike. If you are brand new to touring, use third party resources such as Craigslist and Ebay to accumulate gear. There is a plethora of gently used gear that people just never got around to using and they would gladly take any money for things they’ll never use. If this isn’t your first rodeo, then this category may not be as significant for you unless you plan on upgrading. In such case, keep an eye out for deals on sites like Modern Bike, REI, and Backcountry.com. They run deals like no other.
Everyone knows transporting a bike across the country or the world can be expensive. If you have the option and the time, the cheapest route for transportation is pedaling to your destination. That’s right, start from your front porch. There’s nothing to it but to do it. If you aren’t lucky enough to have that kind of time laying around then subscribe to websites like Momondo and Scott’s Cheap Flights. They’ll let you know when low fare’s pop up. Ship your steed via bikeflights.com or check the baggage fees for your airline.
Camping is an easy money saver. Once you have a bivy or tent you are ready for stealth camping. Stealth camping is easy. Start looking for a secluded spot BEFORE dark! I’ve made the mistake of waiting until dark to camp but only once. I woke up only to find I was practically camping in someone’s front yard. Its best to find some tree cover if possible and hike in a little bit away from any road or path. Lastly, set up your tent and be mindful that you are stealth camping. The whole point is to not be heard or seen. I don’t recommend campfire concerts for this one. Use Couchsurfing.com and Warm Showers for cities, a break from camping, or if stealth camping isn’t your thing.
If you have ever toured before you know that you can basically eat your weight in food every day. I’ve never eaten more food than I do while touring. While it is nice to treat yourself to a prepared meal every now and then, if you want to travel on a budget go to the markets and grocery stores. Carry a stove and cooking system to cook your own meals. Veggies, peanut butter, tortillas, and fruit are usually pretty affordable. Stay away from fancy grocery stores, you know the ones.
I hope this helps you tour on a budget. Leave any comments or questions below!