How much $$$ for approx year long trip around the US?

Discussion in 'Americas' started by jackc1027, Jan 2, 2013.

  1. jackc1027

    jackc1027 Adventurer

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    I am considering a trip in May of 2013 around the US for about a year, no indefinite time frame really, I really just want to get on the road and ride. Money will be an issue, and I was wondering about how much do you experienced guys think I would need for a trip this long?? I am 26 years old, and plan on doing this as cheaply as possible. I plan on buying a tent, couch surfing, using the thread on this forum for places to stay, possibly WWOOFing for extended stays and meals, NO hotels/motels, buying/cooking all of my food, and even working odd jobs for some cash while I am on the road.

    I have been reading through the thread also on how to travel cheap and safely, LOTS of good info in there!!
    #1
  2. Pantah

    Pantah Red Sox Nation

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    My Father and 3 buddies left Superior Wisconsin in 1926 for a hardscrabble grand mystery tour of the west. They were 23-year-old chums from schooldays and were gone nearly 2 years. They drove a model T Ford and worked as they went; Places like Glacier Park, steel mills, Gates Rubber etc. They saw the west up close and personal...in 1926/7... That special adventure instilled a wanderlust for his eventual spouse and the generations they made after that. Our wanderlust is always held close to our hearts.

    Don't even ask. Just do it.
    #2
  3. Jnich77

    Jnich77 Been here awhile

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    Dude, WWOOFing sounds like a great opportunity! I spent 35 days on the road last December and went from Tampa Florida to Alamogordo NM and spent about 1,800.00 for the trip. This included fuel, a few hotels, more fuel, food, and a set of tires. It was about 7,800 miles total. Slept next to the bike most of the time in a camp ground. When I didn't have access to a shower I would spent 10.00 at a truck stop and get a nice hot shower and blow up the shitter.
    #3
  4. Blindstitch

    Blindstitch Supertanker Captain

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    This is a real tough call. Some people can't go a week without spending $1000 and others can do it on pennies.

    The biggest cost for you along the way will probably be food for you and the bike. If you can learn to eat cheaply making simple meals you should be able to keep the costs down.

    Do you plan on stealth camping or campground camping? If you're doing the stealth camping there are forums that try to point out every legal free place like churches or certain city parks. I was going to do it from Milwaukee to Denver and back but ran into problems on that. Then the next trip was 10 days to and from St. Louis and the places I ran into for camping were cheap like $11 a day. In some places I could have probably just went for free asking gas stations and other places near grass lots.

    But no matter what you think it will cost make sure you have a friend, family member or extra credit card that can get you money. Bikes break down, people break down and times can get tough. But times can also be great.

    On thing I learned is research the area you're going if possible. When I lived in the U.P. of michigan free camping was everywhere but in Milwaukee it isn't.
    #4
  5. jackc1027

    jackc1027 Adventurer

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    I gotta say, that is a pretty amazing story. It's pretty much exactly what I want to do, only solo, on two wheels.

    The last part is probably some of the best advice I have gotten.
    $1,800 in just over a month!! That amount would put me at flat broke in about two months! However, if you had hotel's, tires, expenses I am hoping to avoid, hopefully I can do it on quite a bit less. I have never WWOOF'd before, however I did just setup a profile on a helpxchange website only for WWOOFing. Even thing's like the $10 shower, I will be trying to avoid. I will really be relying on Couchsurfing and other's whenever possible for things like showering and whatever else is offered while on the road.
    #5
  6. nuttynu

    nuttynu Long timer

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    Gas will add up quick too
    #6
  7. Mr_Gone

    Mr_Gone The Lejund!

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    $5,673.27. Exactly.

    Just kidding. The math is pretty simple, really.

    (Daily mileage / bike's mpg) X price of gas per gallon. Multiply by 52 weeks.

    Take a guess at how much you'll spend on food per day, multiply by 365.

    Hotels, camping, stealth camping, free sofa — you'll have to take some sort of guess at what you're going to spend per night on lodigng.

    Add it all up. It's a guess, but it's your best guess. All you have to do is get close.
    #7
  8. lightcycle

    lightcycle Nomad

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    If I could suggest building in a fudge factor of 1.3 to 1.5x what you think everything will cost: A stiff headwind will decrease your optimum mileage; sometimes cheap food will be scarce and the only Co-Op grocery charges $1.50 for a loaf of bread, not the $0.99 you were thinking of paying, etc.

    The worst feeling in the world is tallying up the daily totals and realizing that you've critically underestimated the costs, and at the current burn rate you'll run out of money a lot sooner and shorter than your destination.
    #8
  9. ThanatosF

    ThanatosF Been here awhile

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    I just bookmarked this page that another inmate noted, and it can at least help you plan a little:

    http://www.gasbuddy.com/Trip_Calculator.aspx

    Where are you starting from? What's your route like? I will be quitting my jobs in June and will be on the road in July at some point heading from ND to WY where I hope to meet up with family/friends to do some backpacking. After that I want to be on the road as long as possible with my pending route taking me around ID, MT, WA, OR, CA, NV, UT, and CO. I'm 27, no responsibilities! :D I've always been interested in WWOOFing too, seems like a really cool possibility!

    Let me know, man!

    -Bryan
    #9
  10. Marine By Choice

    Marine By Choice Sergeant 0311

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    Over the years I have found 2.8 to 3.2 times your guesstimate to be pretty accurate:-(

    Many factors cause this: headwinds, breakdowns, tires, price gouging, etc.

    As mentioned earlier one needs a "backup" in the event of a disaster.

    Will all that stated, BEST OF LUCK ON YOUR JOURNEY!
    #10
  11. lightcycle

    lightcycle Nomad

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    Wow! Either your last name is Murphy, or you like going on one hell of a bender when you arrive at your destination! :D
    #11
  12. Flashmo

    Flashmo Whatever...

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    You can do it, no problem.

    Most people on this site travel during a vacation period from their employment. They travel 200-350 miles EACH day, wether it is for a week long trip out West, or a month to Alaska and back.

    That would equate to 73,000 to 127,750 miles for you for the year. For my bike, that fuel bill at last summer's rates would have been $6,430-$11,254. That's a lot of tires as well. The pace is not realistic, the cost is not realistic.

    More likely, you will travel more like 12,000 miles. That is the average miles that an American car gets in a year of commuting, leisure and vacation.

    Think about it...the US is about 3,000 miles across. This gives you plenty of miles for criss crossing areas, seeing the sites, and commuting here and there for short stints of steady work. This more realistic number works out to an average of 32 miles per day for the year and $1,057 for my personal fuel calculation. This is do-able, but you have to be comfortable with not moving everyday and hanging out with people, taking in sites, working, or chilling for a day in some beautiful, free campsite in a meadow next to a clear mountain stream.

    1. Use the Tent Space list, this is what it is for. Don't be a leech looking for a free bed (haven't met one off this site yet!). Contribute to the experience, however you can...usually, talking about your experiences on the trip until too-late at night is payment enough. If you can help cook, or buy good beer...even better.

    2. Hook up with other riders when you can, the camaraderie is nice. Don't fall into someone else's plan and change your trip. If you both happen to be going the same way, great, but keep your and your trip's individuality.

    3. Tell your story to anyone who will listen. Especially when traveling alone. You would be amazed at the amount of people who will help you along the way, just to be able to live vicariously through you for an afternoon or a few days. Don't just ask for assistance when you need help (like finding a place to camp, or a job for extra funds). Tell people your story and free beds, free campsites, meals, and odd jobs will appear out of no where, and as a result...so will $20 bills (takes less than a $20 to fill my tank).
    #12
  13. Mr_Gone

    Mr_Gone The Lejund!

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    I forgot to say one thing: Ride safe on your journey!!!
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  14. BrianF

    BrianF Immoral & Immature

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    My biggest piece of advice: DO IT. Don't let anyone tell you not to. Don't let family or a girl get in the way. It'll be one of the greatest experiences of your life. I know...I did the exact same thing when I got out of the military, at 24 years old. One year, alone, camping only (okay, I stayed in a hotel once each month). 45,000 miles, 35mpg average (84 GL1200). I budgeted $10,000, and spent roughly $9,000. About $5000 was on gas, and I averaged $7/day for food. If you have a tolerance for smelling bad, sleeping alone in fields, and eating grade D food, you'll be fine. I didn't do it on a shoestring budget, but I was frugal. Gas was the killer, as is bike maintanance. I went through 3 sets of tires, 6 oil changes, and had some electrical and clutch issues.

    Discipline is probably the most important thing. You'll be tempted to eat at BBQ joints, buy pot from dudes you meet camping on the beach, and stay in KOAs with hot showers. You're your own worst enemy. But DO NOT skimp on rain gear. You'll use it more than you can imagine.

    Lastly, don't overthink it. Wander. Soak in the culture. Stay a week in places that are wonderful, and get the hell out of dodge when they're not. I'd do it again in a heartbeat. Have fun, and ride safe.
    #14
  15. randyo

    randyo Long timer

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    #1

    gas will not be your only expense for the bike, you will need oil changes, tires, maybe chain/sprockets, other repairs, so don't bother with fuel as an individual expense

    calculate that is costs you per mile to own, operate & maintain, do not use DIY repair estimates calculate the cost/mile as if you were paying a professional.

    not sure what you ride for a bike, my 07 V-strom 1000 costs me 44¢/mile to cover fuel, repairs, routine maintenance, insurance, ownership
    #15
  16. victor441

    victor441 Long timer

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    so you have about $3600 then?? that would only allow $10/day, hard to figure how you would fuel yourself and your bike on that amount even with no other expenses....though as was said many have hit the road and made it work somehow with what they had. Since you have a year it might be worth thinking about touring on a bicycle rather than a motorcycle, much less expensive and equally enjoyable in my experience (have done a LOT of bicycle touring)
    #16
  17. Mr_Gone

    Mr_Gone The Lejund!

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    :clap

    That is probably the best advice you will ever receive once you're on the road. American is a fantastic country, and huge. You should try to enjoy every square mile if you can.
    #17
  18. wheatwhacker

    wheatwhacker It's raining here

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    What kind of work can you do?
    Woofing is a good way to start, maybe get some seasonal work and just live for free. You can spend years drifting around the USA.
    Custom cutting is another way of living cheap if you can run a combine harvester.
    If your good you'll get $3K/month and all expenses paid. Starting out you might get half. You have a lot of time off and you get to see the country.

    http://youtu.be/ASgAzoto3Tg
    #18
  19. Mr_Gone

    Mr_Gone The Lejund!

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    Woofing? Is there a lack of people who can bark in America? And what sort of salary can a woofer expect?

    Sorry, just had to be a smartass. I'm assuming you meant "Roofing."

    Just about any construction trade can land you a temp job, depending on the region of the country you're in.
    #19
  20. ThanatosF

    ThanatosF Been here awhile

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    WWOOF: World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms

    http://www.wwoof.org/
    #20