Cross country trip cost planning

Discussion in 'Americas' started by GravelRider, Jan 26, 2012.

  1. GravelRider

    GravelRider AKA max384 Supporter

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    I know this has probably been asked tons of times before and I know there have to be threads on this, but I tried doing a search and came up with nothing... Which isn't surprising, as this site probably has the absolute worst search feature I've ever encountered on the internet.

    With that being said, how much do you guys budget for food, lodging, entertainment, etc.?

    I haven't done many long motorcycle trips; my longest was a 1700 mile, two day, one night, trip late last summer. On that trip, I brought along a small tent and just did stealth camping in the woods, so my only expenses were gas and food.

    I'm planning on doing a cross country trip either this summer or next summer on my SV, depending on my school schedule. My tentative route will be about 7,000 miles, and I plan to do about 500 miles per day when I'm traveling. I am also budgeting in about a week of sightseeing days, so 3 weeks in total (though knowing me, I'll probably finish earlier than that). I will be camping out every night on the trip. I'm tentatively planning on stealth/free camping two nights, then pay for a site that has showers every third night. I will leave on a fresh set of tires, so they should last me the trip. I'll bring a full can of chain lube, bring along a couple of oil filters with me, and buy oil on the road, and thus do my own oil changes. I will do mostly grocery store food (sandwiches and stuff, with a very occasional restaurant). With this in mind, I have budgeted $100 for maintenance (probably an overestimation), $20 per day food, $10 per day lodging, and $5 per day entertainment. What do you guys think about these figures? Do they sound reasonable?
    #1
  2. TwoShots

    TwoShots Vagabond

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    Hey Max: Based on what what you outlined, my short answer is no it's not enough.

    On maintenance:
    An underestimation assuming you haven't got a good towing (get it and/or yourself home) plan. Your contingency fund for worse case scenarios is $_________?

    On food:
    $20/day is doable. I dig your focus on eating from grocery store shelves. Certainly a good way to go.

    On lodging:
    $10/day? How so?

    You didn't mention fuel.

    Some here are ultra cheap stealth campers... sleeping on picnic tables, living on 5-dollar foot longs, etc. Others budget ~$100/day for food, fuel and lodging not including maintenance. No doubt both types will chime in.
    #2
  3. GravelRider

    GravelRider AKA max384 Supporter

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    I've got AMA for towing and I always have an emergency credit card with several thousand dollars of credit available if need be in emergencies.

    I came up with $10 per day for lodging as a high estimation. I plan to only pay for lodging every 3rd night, and in the form of paid campgrounds. I think the most I've ever paid for one night at a campground is about $20, so I figured $30 would give me plenty of breathing room.

    I didn't mention fuel because that is pretty self-explanatory. Take the estimated mileage of the trip and divide by my fuel mileage, then multiply by the price of fuel at the time.

    Hopefully these clarifications will help.
    #3
  4. Flashmo

    Flashmo Whatever...

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    Sounds doable with your Credit Card for backup.

    I normally budget $50 a day when camping (including gas) but I don't take a scheduled motel break either.

    edit: "motel" should have been "paid campground".
    #4
  5. Jamie Z

    Jamie Z I'm serious. Supporter

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    For future reference, starting a post by insulting the site we all use is probably not a good idea. Sounds to me like you're not very good at searching.

    To answer your query, I did an 18-day ride last year. My rough daily breakdowns:

    Food: $9
    Lodging: $8
    Entertainment: $4
    Gas: $22

    I also spent about $3 per day on maintenance, which includes almost entirely adding oil to my bike, which uses a bit more than a quart per 1000 miles. Your bike may not have that issue.

    My financial analysis is here: http://www.advrider.com/forums/showpost.php?p=16211663&postcount=90

    So from your budget standpoint, I think your own figures are reasonable, as long as your capable. I'm pretty sure most people wouldn't be able to travel on such a budget. It takes some skill and effort to do so.

    500 miles per day is a lot. You'll be spending a lot on gas and a lot of seat time, and not so much time and money on entertainment. Your post says you did a two-day 1700 mile trip, so maybe that's the kind of riding you like. For my own trip, I covered a bit less than 300 miles per day when I rode, and that includes two long days at the end when I had to hurry home. Without knowing the kind of riding and traveling you like, I'd suggest cutting your mileage estimate almost in half. It'll make for a much more enjoyable trip where you can stop and see what you want.

    Jamie
    #5
  6. RozzyCat

    RozzyCat Bleeds orange Supporter

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  7. GravelRider

    GravelRider AKA max384 Supporter

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    Do you mean that you exclusively camp for free?

    LOL. I debated deleting my first paragraph, so as not to offend anyone, but decided to leave it, since it is the truth. I frequent, and have frequented, several forums, and this site's search feature is just abysmal. This says nothing of the forum members by any means, just a subjective observation/gripe from me about the site itself. The members on this site have been a wealth of information for me. I always try to search for any questions I have first, as I know it gets tiresome to have new members ask the same questions over and over again, but I've always come up completely empty-handed on this site. Again, this isn't meant to offend anyone... and yeah, I guess I kinda do suck at searching! :lol3

    Wow. Those are some pretty thrifty numbers. What kind of food did you eat on your trip?

    I like to do big daily miles. When I did my 1700 mile trip over the summer, I did 500ish miles the first day, helped my friend move for several hours, did a couple hundred more, camped, then did over 1000 miles the second day. Helping my buddy move is what really wore me out. If/when I do this trip, I actually want to start it off with the 1000 mile/24 hour Iron Butt, then start on the 500 mile days. I figure if I end up not being able to actually do 500 mile days, I would have at least started off way ahead on mileage. I also planned in a full week for just sightseeing (not consecutive, but interspersed), so I have plenty of fudge room built in if need be.

    I may end up cutting my daily mileage estimates down anyhow though.

    Thanks for the tips and advice!

    By the way, here's a screenshot of my preliminary plans in Excel. I love making excel files with formulas and such.

    EDIT: I just realized I took a screenshot after playing around with different numbers, so my entertainment costs are higher than I previously posted.

    [​IMG]

    Thanks for the link. I'll check it out and hopefully be a better advrider searcher!
    #7
  8. rocker59

    rocker59 diplomatico di moto

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    In 2009, I took a 4,000 mile / 11-day ride to Colorado and back that included riding in The Colorado Classic and attending the MGNOC National.

    One motel. Otherwise it was camping or crashing at a friend's place.

    Total expenditure was $600. I ate lots of granola bars and trail mix, drank lots of water. There were some meals at the MGNOC National Rally and a couple meals provided by the friend who's house where we crashed.

    The ride report: http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=486258

    I was broke and made that trip happen.

    Normally, it's more like $100 per day on long trips with a mix of camping and hotels and trail mix and restaurants...

    Your mileage will vary...
    #8
  9. willys

    willys Long timer

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    2 summers ago I did a cross Canada and up to Inuvik(as far north in Canada as you can possible get by bike etc) and back home,Toronto area. The whole trip was 17,000kms and the total cost was $3400 give or take. We were planning on stealth camping until a bear walked out of where thought was a perfect spot the first night.....lol From then on it was cheap campsites, so split the cost in two. We ate one meal a day in a greasey spoon, had no maintenance costs as I brought my own oil with me and no breakdowns. Life is more expensive up above the border from what I hear as well. I'm not sure how one eats on $20 a day and still stays healthy? I tried to eat off of the shelves etc and in the end it cost more than a $4 burger so we gave the shelf plan up. We also never stayed in a campsite costing more than $20 each. Most were usually well under that. Gas was the biggest expenditure.
    I did buy a few small gifts for the misses and a few "T" shirts etc. Add the cost of showers at some rip-off places, maybe a buck or two, the cost of laundry and any entertainment such as the D2D costs or admissions to any sightseeing locals etc.
    My adventure was 34 or 36 days long, so the $100 a day is very close to other's estimates and I wasn't too worried about costs. It just worked out that way. But we were planning on doing it the cheapest way we could.....just because.

    This summer I'm doing it again, and will try to do it cheaper yet. Again with trying the stealth camping with 2 others, so maybe it will work out better this time.

    But I imagine the costs to be the same as last time.....and will budget accordingly......but for a 6 week adventure this time around.

    Hope this helps......:freaky
    #9
  10. Flashmo

    Flashmo Whatever...

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    Yes, that is one of the luxuries of the West (Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Oregon, Washington, mostly for me).

    If you get the time, read JamieZ's (he posted earlier in this thread) report on Stealth Camping.
    #10
  11. Jamie Z

    Jamie Z I'm serious. Supporter

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    Nice spreadsheet.

    Typical breakfast would be oatmeal and an apple, orange, or banana. I buy those single-serving, pre-flavored packages for about $1 per serving (I eat two packages), but if you really wanted to be thrifty you could buy bulk oatmeal and flavor it with sugar or honey. Apples or oranges bought in a grocery store run about 50¢ each, bananas are less than half that.

    Sometimes for breakfast a hard boiled egg or two with fruit. I also will occasionally carry dry breakfast cereal and dry milk. Per serving, about $1.

    I usually keep on hand an assortment of granola bars, pop tarts, and fruit/vegetables. I don't always stop for lunch, as I'll just grab a couple of my snacks on the go. Cost is probably around $2 on average for that.

    Sometimes lunch is a can of tunafish and some mayo spread on a tortillas. That costs about $1. Again, a piece of fruit for health.

    Dinner varies quite a bit. A simple dinner is a can of stew from the grocery store. Runs about $3-$4. A can of tomato paste, a pouch of seasoning, and some pasta costs about $2 for a serving. A box of Velveeta Shells and Cheese is a couple bucks, eat a couple of carrots with it for your veggies. A can of Campbell's Pork and Beans is about 50¢. Over rice or with tortillas, cheap, healthy meal.

    Subway's $5 footlong deal can be spread over two meals if you're not a big eater. Sometimes I eat half a sub for lunch and then the other half for dinner, or I'll make it dinner and then breakfast the next morning. $2.50 per meal.

    I do eat in restaurants too. The biggest tip I can give for restaurants is don't order a drink. Just ordering a coke turns a $7 burger and fries into a $10 meal. Water is free.

    My $9 per day figure includes a meal where I spent about $25. That thick pork chop accounted for about 15% of my total food cost for the entire 18-day trip. I don't mind splurging like that occasionally because other days I know I'm only spending a few dollars to eat.

    Do you spend $600 per month per person on food at home?

    Jamie
    #11
  12. Free Radical

    Free Radical High speed drifter

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    Doable. I rode 3000 miles last summer over 10 days and spent $570. The bike attained 40 mpg, with an average cost per gallon of $3.85.

    Have a GREAT trip. I did, and I'm thinking about doing the same trip again this summer.
    #12
  13. willys

    willys Long timer

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    Quote:
    <TABLE border=0 cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=0 width="100%"><TBODY><TR><TD class="dg-bbcode dg-bbcode-quote">Originally Posted by willys [​IMG]
    I'm not sure how one eats on $20 a day and still stays healthy?
    </TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>
    Do you spend $600 per month per person on food at home?


    Point taken.....Some how I never get to stay below the $20 a day on food.......but I normally don't count the food already brought from home. I have loads of room on the bike so I normally carry a weeks worth of food when I travel......last trip out west I towed my trailer and carried 2 weeks worth! This trip I want to buy all food except 2 days woth of just in case food.

    I don't have the will power you do it seems to not have a chocolate bar if the urge strikes me....best way is to not go into the gas station to pay for fuel I have found....lol:freaky

    This summer we plan on doing the carry no food trick mostly for bears etc and to try and keep costs low. Catching fish when possible and eating asap and not cooking then at camp etc.
    #13
  14. Jamie Z

    Jamie Z I'm serious. Supporter

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    Before I leave for a long ride I'll take a trip to the grocery store and stock up. I don't carry near as much food as you do, but I usually have at least a few day's worth. Every now and then during the trip I'll stop by a local grocery and restock.

    Your gas station idea is a good one. Buying a soda and a candy bar during a gas stop can add up quickly. For my chocolate fix, I buy a package of fudge brownies at the grocery. You can get a package of six or eight for a couple/few dollars. Spread some peanut butter on them for extra goodness. They also don't melt like chocolate bars. Nor do M&Ms. I'll buy a bulk bag of peanut M&Ms and it'll last me a week of snacking.

    I'm not sure how not carrying food will keep the costs low. You still have to eat, and if you don't have any food, you have to stop somewhere and buy it each meal. It's far cheaper to carry bulk food as it seems you have been doing and prepare it as you go.

    Jamie
    #14
  15. willys

    willys Long timer

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    Bears are my problem menatlly speaking this time around as we intend on stealth camping most of the time. I do not want to attract them and from what I have seen they are plentiful where we are planning on riding. Even northern Ontario has too many to risk carrying so much food. If we were camping in campsites etc every night like before I would carry more than enough food. I always do....but this trip I want to risk the stealth camping at all costs. So, I will be doing it like you have said.....buy a day or so's worth of food and spending what is needed only.....or at least trying to to start with......lol:freaky
    #15
  16. City Man

    City Man Adventurer

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    Usually around 50.00 dollars a day when planning on doing camping with my trips.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:eek:ffice" /><o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    I also always have a credit card for back-up<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    Rule #1 &#8211; Bring more cash then you think you will need<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    Rule #2 &#8211; It will cost more then you will think it will cost<o:p></o:p>
    #16
  17. Lone Rider

    Lone Rider Registered User

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    Eating cheaply is an aquired/learned mode, and you will never really do such a thing longterm, unless you're motivated to do so. It's not a hard thing to do, and in most cases it's probably a much healthier way to eat than the currently accepted diets of eating out and slamming tons of carbs.

    Jamie mentioned carrying a small stash of basics at the start of a trip. This helps a lot in keeping down food costs. A can of chili bought at the right place might be $1-1.25, while bought on-the-road, not preplanned, might run $2.25. Store brand foil tuna packs at Wally were $.86ea last time I checked. You won't find that price at the small town IGA. I could write a long story about this, but not now...:)

    Once lack of planning and convenience over-rides your 'fantasy' of eating on the cheap, you're toast.

    If you know or have a very good idea of what you will eat for your next meal, you can have it knocked. Most of us are inherently lazy in this regard, so it requires a discipline. A plan that's comfortable.

    Unless racing, moto riding usually isn't a very strenuous exercise. Yeah, having to pick up your ride out of the dust every now and then does require some juice, but I don't see the need for big carb intake. Another subject, for sure...

    Want a $20 per day budget, a $10, a $5, or whatever, just make sure you include that Red Bull, that snack bar, and that bag of chips into your figuring. :D

    A person can easily do a $5 per day budget and eat much healthier than the vast majority of people in this country...if they wanted to. Talk to the person in the mirror.
    #17
  18. City Man

    City Man Adventurer

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    Willis - I do a lot of backpacking, when in bear country I use either a Bear Canister (Bear Vault) or a Ursack to keep my food in. I usually keep the canister 50 to 100 yards from where I camp. Not 100 percent safe (Close to 99% though) but I have never had a bear successful in getting to the food. Just a thought on a solution to your problem. :1drink
    #18
  19. IRideASlowBike

    IRideASlowBike Banned

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    How do you carry eggs on the bike? I bought one of those plastic yellow egg-carrier things at Walmart. Put 12 eggs in, put the case in my top box, and at the end of the day only 3 survived, so I fried them. I'm thinking the original cardboard container the eggs are sold in might actually be better, as at least it's soft.

    Pre-cooking eggs at home is fine, but eventually you'll run out if you're on the road long enough or if you're hungry.
    #19
  20. Jamie Z

    Jamie Z I'm serious. Supporter

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    I too have one of those yellow egg cartons. I can't stand it. First thing I did is cut in in half, because I won't ever have a use for a full dozen eggs.

    I rarely carry raw eggs. Most of my trips are only three or four days, so I'll boil up half a dozen at home and carry them with me in that god awful plastic Walmart carton. I line the inside with a paper towel to keep the eggs tight.

    On a small handful of longer trips, I've bought eggs at the grocery store (some stores sell them by the half dozen, but you could probably also talk the dairy guy into selling you a full carton with broken eggs in it for cheap) and carried them a short distance to my camp where I boil them.

    Hard boiled eggs are easier to carry and easier to eat, though that stupid carton still manages to puncture one or two every trip.

    Depending on the temperature, I've kept hard boiled eggs for three or four days in my topcase and eaten them.

    Jamie
    #20