Practical advice on how to afford that extra-ordinary motorcycle adventure trip. 

There are three aspects to earning, affording and saving for that once in a lifetime, or hopefully many life-changing motorcycle expeditions. Basically, the same tips apply to any type of travel.

Have stories to tell not Stuff to show.

Buy experiences, not things.  Take sabbaticals now and then.  Travel.  See new places, get out of the comfort zone.  With a bit of planning, travelling fairly cheaply is possible anywhere in the world.

How to Save Money While Traveling:

One of the biggest myths in travel is that taking that adventure of a lifetime will be expensive. Often the cost of living when travelling as a budget overlander, is less than the regular expenditure associated with day to day living back home. However, learning all the ‘how to’s’ is a process that can be mastered over time. The less you spend the longer you can travel; it is that simple! We list some of the ways in which we have learned how to save while touring on the motorcycles:

The bulk of the money is spent on sleeping, eating and fuel.

Sleeping.

    • Wild camp! Okay I know you are gasping in horror and pulling the comment section closer to tell me it’s too dangerous. Practicing safe wild camping can save buckets of money and you only need to apply some common sense. Wild camping is about simplicity – it’s easier than you think and closer than you expect, i.e. pull off a road close to sundown, try to get into a small side road away from the main road, never near a town or village if possible. It’s fun sleeping in the open every now and then. But please take the following into account: Ask farmers for permission to camp on their property. Do not make big fires and be quiet! Packing out the garden gnomes is best left for campsites. Not all places are safe and if you plan your entire trip along these lines you will only see nature and not much of the cities and populated areas, so a little bit of a mix is the way to go.
    • Couch surfing: Poverty spec touring is not for everyone, the fun is that it’s easy going and cheap. There is generally more interaction between people and fun when staying at these places. B&B’s and hotels tend to be boring. I mean who wants to eat, drink a few beers at the bar and then go sit in a stuffy hotel or B & B room and watch TV? And with pricing your 2-year trip will shorten to a few months. But this is not for everyone and can turn into hard work for introverts who are not easy with having to talk to the host.
    • House sitting: We have yet to explore this optionLiving in and looking after someone else’s home and pets while they away open up so many opportunities to travel cheaply. It offers a place to pack off for a while and doing some work at the same time. It is a favorite of many long-term travelers. Trusted Housesitters & House Carers, & Mind my House. Take note: There is a sign-up cost to all of those.
  • Exchange work for lodging and food: HelpX is an online listing of host organic farms, non-organic farms, farmstays, homestays, ranches, lodges, B&Bs, backpackers hostels and even sailing boats who invite volunteer helpers to stay with them short-term in exchange for food and accommodation. Also see: Workaway and search for others on Google, there are loads of such listing companies. Be careful of this as we have spoken to both sides of this coin and it can turn into a slave job.

Eating local

While travelling we are often struck by the number of travellers eating at fast food joints when local cuisine is all around. Even if you’re not necessarily a globetrotter with adventurous taste-buds, by making an effort to eat locally you’ll not only save yourself a lot of money but you can explore new culinary delights. Restaurants will empty your pockets in no time.

Eating local is also about the experience and getting into a countries customs and culture. Local food markets and grocery stores still offer the best value for money. If, however, you prefer spending as little as possible living on onions and veggies won’t kill you while traveling. Skipping breakfast for a very late brunch means you can also skip lunch and only eat two meals the day….or drink 4 beers for the day….

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Camping is not just fun but it’s also one of the cheapest ways of travelling for extended periods.

Slow down

Is the point of travelling to try and cram in as many travel experiences in a short amount of time as possible? Hopefully not. Moving everyday costs fuel, doing nothing hanging at a beach or overlander resort for a few days will only cost beer money. Aside from having a more meaningful and richer travel experience, slow travel will also make sure you save money in the long run. There is no need to race from Cape to Cairo in a month when it might be a better option to store motorcycles in different countries and do the trip in portions, thus experiencing so much more of the countries and the cultures.
Do the maths on the fuel consumption on the motorcycle you ride. Riding 100km/h vs 130km/h can save up to 20% more on fuel and increase distance.

Take time and meet the locals!

Travel part-time

It is possible to travel for a short period at a time. Store the vehicle go back home and work for a few months or a year. There is a bit of psychology at play here. Travelling is not a commute to work. Many times unforeseen things will happen. Engines blow up, breaking a leg, getting rob, it’s all part of the travel job. Setting a definite goal just to get validation and show people or family you are not a failure to accomplish the Ushuaia to Alaska will only leave a bad taste in the mouth.
Part time travel allows a bit of time off from travelling non-stop. Recharge the travel batteries again. It is tiring dealing with corrupt border officials in Africa on end okay they are not all that bad. Travelling scraping the bottom of the barrel having no money is not travelling, it’s agony, it leaves people miserable and depressed. Every single traveller we have met so far with a long term travel mindset travel by taking time out to grow income for the next part. Generally, those folk is a happier content bunch of people. Rather do a part of a region or a few countries well than rush from Europe to Australia in 60days just because you want to tell people you did it.

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Take it slow, spend less money and enjoy the journey.

The art of saving for motorcycle overlanding

“How do you possibly afford to travel indefinitely for months? Did you win the lottery or something?”  The notion that long-term travel is an unimaginable reality is still quite a common perception. The reality is that extended motorcycle overland touring is truly achievable with enough discipline, dedication and prep work.

Here’s how:
Serious discipline, commitment and planning.

Saving for your once in a lifetime expedition takes real commitment and discipline. We have met people with such hard core dedication that they have peddled to work by bicycle and have lived like paupers to be able to quit their jobs to travel for 5 years with an old Land Rover. Your absolute passion and appetite to travel must beat all other excuses. Sell your house and cars.

The issue of begging, freeloading and funding.

We live in an instant gratification world. People want stuff now and with all the exposure on social media of travellers cavorting around the world it is sure to have an impact on the urgency and wanting of people to travel as well. Taking time to work and plan to travel is now being replaced with asking complete strangers to fund a paid holiday with the promise that they can live vicariously through their travels – not on dudes! Pay your way, it’s the right thing to do!

The starting point is if you cannot afford to travel and plan a trip without asking people for money and help, then you simply cannot afford to travel. Obviously, you can, but that is then going to be either hiking or taking public transport not seeing much. It’s the same as asking strangers for money to buy a car, in fact a Ferrari at that. We have met with people who simply don’t have the means and funds to travel, yet they set out with the full intention of asking for money and assistance, they include that as part of their budget to get along. Freeloading on the goodness of others is now a business and the new normal.

In the same instance there are people who worked for 5-10 years then sold their houses to afford a 2 year around the world trip without having to beg or ask for donations or swindle sponsorships. It’s a tough sacrifice to make, but at least they keep their dignity and their self-worth, they also have the rewards and satisfaction of doing it themselves.

There is a very fine line between begging and freeloading on the goodness of people and accepting a few days stay over or a little discount on a product. Eventually begging and freeloading affects your dignity, morals and integrity and puts people off helping other travellers who would be prepared to pay their way.

The pro’s and con’s of sponsorship is an article we added on the pitfalls and benefits of securing sponsorship for trips.

Living frugal, the cheap-skate guide.

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Eat local it’s cheap and in the same time support a country’s local economy.

Overlanders and travellers in general are a tight-arse bunch of people. Do you really need the Iphone6, the tab the new car, the expensive pimp suit?  Cut the payments on the gym and go jog instead, take the bicycle to get to work.  Do not eat out as much  …. you get the message.  For example it is possible to travel in Africa on less than US$25 per day, fuel included. Every US$20 saved is another day travelling

Get rid of bad habits

Stuff like gambling, drinking, smoking, and buying impulsively are a damn sure way to burn your hard-earned money while keeping your dream just that, a dream. Have parties and drink at home or crash at your buddy’s crib instead of painting the town.  Bar bills quickly rack up.  Okay I must admit, stop drinking?  Not a hell, that’s just wishful thinking, beer is a must.  At US$3.50 for a packet of cigarette it is insane as well as that US$38 KTM/BMW branded T-shirt.

Moderation

Living in moderation is beneficial regardless of whether a person is saving for travel or not. An uncluttered life actually opens up more disposable time to pursue hobbies and other activities, except if it is biking, then one might have a problem as biking is a serious addiction we really love. Basically it is not rocket science, spending less allows increased savings.  It’s quite simple: Less = More

Planning:

Wealth of informationShannon and Mike fromTraveliving - Romantic practical guide to affording overland travel SMBoilerworks has put together an excellent article with enough information about a budget and how much money is needed to choke the US Treasury.  Helle and Bea from timetoride also offer an explanation around the cost of travel.
Nikos and Georgia
have been on the road since 2012 travelling with their van and wrote an excellent book called Traveliving how to afford such trips and loads of other information.

Meet the people that actually did it:

These are some examples of the people we have met who actually planned and carried out their plans to travel on a long term or semi long term basis. Their stories and how they went about and sacrificed to be able to live their dreams makes for captivating reading. There are many other excellent examples of such bad-ass travellers. We mention some  of these people as we know them personally. They are a huge source of information and open to help with advice and tips.
Megan & Matthew: Greatamericantrek Tanya & Mick: Earths-ends Leoni & Peter: Amsterdamtoanywhere Lara & Alberto: Motolara Shannon & Mike: Smboilerworks Daniel & Sara: Worldwideride Elias: Madnomad Bea & Hell: Timetoride

You do not need the best bike, the best gear the biggest ego or look like some Dakar god who has just finished the race and now on his annual holiday with a borrowed bike. Just go and have fun.
Coraline & William have been travelling South America with around 2000us on a 20us per day budget for the last year. We ride in South America since 1 year. Best of video of some moment, route and landscape through Argentina – Chili – Bolivia – Peru – Ecuador and Colombia WeRideSouthAmeria

In the end

Big variety of foods on offer in at the street markets in Tel Aviv.
Big variety of foods on offer in at the street markets in Tel Aviv.

 Planning and saving for that epic trip of a lifetime doesn’t have to be an agonising depressing exercise. In actual fact, it allows you to simplify your life, learn something new about yourself and grow as a person. Except if you can convince the parents to advance some inheritance money upfront, that is always an option worth pursuing.

How to earn income while travelling?

    • Living off passive income: This is our personal favourite and choice, we use property. There are also: Dividends from shares. Copyrights and royalties. Interest from loans or investments.  Income from a business that doesn’t need much active input from you. Recurring commissions from customer referrals (e.g. network marketing, affiliate marketing). Monetising blogs and websites. But, here is the kicker, nothing in life is free or easy, it still needs hard work, dedication, initiative, balls and vision.
    • Sidebar specific adverts from brands in the motorcycle target group. Ask brands related to motorcycles/overlanding/travel for small image style adverts for a fee to be hosted on your website for a specific period of time with a click-through link. You can add them to your sidebar for 6 months or a year depending how you negotiate the deal. Refer our T-shirt advert on the left in our sidebar.
    • Sacrifice and save up for a few years do not fall into an instant gratification weak character. Delayed gratification is much more rewarding and kinder to conscience.
    • Make T-Shirts or other products: Make your own cool T-shirt design and start selling T-shirts online. There are companies on the web that can help with that.
    • Open An Ebay, Etsy Store or Facebook shop: While travelling the world, often there would be some exotic goods which people would like to buy. These might be Dutch wooden shoes, Ethiopian coffee or camels from Egypt. Reselling products and clothes from the markets of the third world online might just pay for the beers and fuel.
    • Calendars: Motolara made good use of their photos to create cool calendars. Obviously you would need to generate a stunning collection of photographs and have some artistic creativity to produce the calendars.
    • Become A Photographer: Sit with gigabytes of pictures from your travels. Sell them all online! There are lots of photo stocks. GettyiStock, and Fotolia.
    • Start a small online business. There is a new growing trend of small successful niche business which uses social media to great effect in getting their products out into the world. Whether you make paracord or clothing it’s easy to manage and handle if family and friends are willing to help.
    • Any Kind of Blogging: You don’t have to start a motorcycle travel blog just because you’re traveling. There are always opportunities to earn some money no matter what you choose to focus on. Making money from blogging is not easy but again will pay for beer money for a start.
    • Day-Trading:This is not an easy option and you really need to know what you are doing, but there are people out there earning a living and traveling as a result of their efforts.Wanderingtrader.
    • Try and find temp work as you travel. It’s not always an option but worth trying to fund travels.
  • Exchange work for lodging and food: HelpX is an online listing of host organic farms, non-organic farms, farmstays, homestays, ranches, lodges, B&Bs, backpackers hostels and even sailing boats who invite volunteer helpers to stay with them short-term in exchange for food and accommodation. Also see: Workaway and search for others on Google, there are loads of such listing companies.

These are just examples but there are thousands of websites with information on how to earn extra moola while and before going on that Safari of your life.

12 Comments

  1. to travel slower and get free bed and food try workaway.info. you work for a host 4-5 hours a day they feed and accommodate you and you get to live with the locals

  2. I just love reading about your travels, especially Portugal, it is just unbelievable and definitely on my bucket list. I actually want to walk the camino through Portugal one day before I get 60!! Are you South Africans? Take care, safe travels and lots of blessings!

  3. Thanks Simon! I will add it to the list ??

  4. Informative post, thanks for putting this together Michnus.

  5. Summed up beautifully I must say, basically you have everything here to base a plan off and sustain roadie life. Earths End are pros at rolling around Africa cheap. It was hard to keep under 25 per day in West Africa (visas, population, sickness, fresh vegi) going for 20 per day plus beer for the drive up the east.

  6. Agree, Earth’s-end is doing the correct way. We managed East Africa on 25us per day for both of us. That was in 2010-2012.
    Thanks for the comment. ✌?

  7. michnus,
    i have only one problem, the motorbike. to rent, as i’m currently doing, is very expensive and most of the time not allowed cross border. i suppose the only way is to do extended trips like a continent at a time and then ship to the next.

  8. Toelie, yes a good option is like what we do. We store the bike in a country and then go back to ride further into new countries or continents. To rent is an expensive option and as you say not really allowed cross-border. In SA rental companies will allow you to take bikes into neighbouring countries.

  9. Great site and info. Thanks for sharing.

  10. Louie Bodenstaff

    Michnus, I’ve read all all your posts from the start, very very inspiring!

    You’ve given me the motivation to start travelling by bike too, but will start just visiting off-the-beaten-track places in South Africa to start with … will see from there where next.

    Thank you and safe travels 🙂

  11. Thanks so much for the kind words Louie! The intent of our blog was for two reasons, one, to inspire others to get out and explore the world and, two, to share our stories and tips. If only we manage to get one person going then it was all worth while.
    All the best and I hope you are able to do what you plan! 😀

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