Practical advice on how to afford that extraordinary 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 your comfort zone. With a bit of planning, travelling fairly cheaply is possible anywhere in the world.
Serious discipline, commitment and planning.
Let me be very frank and open about this and my best intentions. Saving for your once in a lifetime expedition takes unwavering commitment, discipline and sacrifices. As with planning for your degree, or a work project or anything else in the world that takes serious commitment and planning. If you are a trust fund beneficiary, have access to loads of GreenBack or the morals of brick to beg and bum of other people then you do not need to read any further.
We have met people with such hardcore 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. And that passion goes for everything else you take on in life.
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.
- Wild camp! Okay I know you are gasping in horror and pulling the comment section closer to tell me it’s too dangerous. Practising 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.
- Campsites and great apps for places to stay such as Tracks4Africa IOverlander and Motostays an example.
- Hostels, Backpackers and overland cribs like Jungle Junction Kenya, Wim’s Holland house in Ethiopia, Filandia Steel Horse Colombia. Strange in the USA and Europe we could not find one. If any let us know, please.
- 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 Bed & Breakfast 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 option. Living 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 favourite of many long-term travellers. 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.
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 travelling. 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….
Is the point of travelling to try and cram in as many travel experiences in a short amount of time as possible and brag about the passport stamps? 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!
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, break a leg, get robbed, 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.
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.
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 and dudedettes!
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 round 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.
About sponsorship and those free stuff
The pros and cons of sponsorship is an article we added on the pitfalls and benefits of securing sponsorship for trips. The link below is to a podcast with AdventureRiderRadio also on the pitfalls and benefits and how to go about getting sponsorship.
Living frugal, the cheap-skate guide.
This is where your trip will become a reality or just stay a pipe dream. This is the tough decisions and determination part of it all.
Overlanders and travellers, in general, are a tight-arse bunch of people. Do you really need the Iphone, 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$40 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 is 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 cigarettes, it is insane as well as that US$38 KTM/BMW branded T-shirt.
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
A wealth of information – Shannon and Mike from SMBoilerworks have 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 of the cost of travel.
Nikos and Georgia have been on the road since 2012 travelling with their van and wrote an excellent book called Travelling 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 make 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 are open to help with advice and tips.
Megan & Matthew: Greatamericantrek Tanya & Mick: Earths-ends Leoni & Peter: Amsterdamtoanywhere Shannon & Mike: Smboilerworks Daniel & Sara: Worldwideride Elias: Madnomad Bea & Hell: Timetoride
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.
- 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. It is just an idea, but that said, there aren’t that much money in t-shirts except if your art work is bonkers cool stuff and goes viral.
- Freelance work: You might be a good writer, designer, artist, and only need a laptop to work. oDesk, Elance, Freelancer, Guru, People Per Hour, Freelance Switch Jobs and, Fiver
- 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. Same as t-shirt’s there’s not much money in this, but it can make some beer money.
- 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 travelling 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, farm stays, 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.
Need more ideas, tips and information from an expert?
Egle Gerulaityte was so kind to contribute some of her incredible experience working on the road for years and the creative ways she came up with to earn an income.
How to Earn an Income While Traveling:
Freelance Work and Online Work
Back in the day – that is, in 2010 or thereabouts – working online was only possible if you were a web designer, an IT virtuoso, a coder, a writer, a photographer, or a videographer. For some strange reason, people still assume that this is the case now.
In 2020, there were 59 million people working freelance in the US. Globally, that number is much bigger; we bet it’s partly due to C-rona, as folks are starting to realize working from home (or, hell, from the Bahamas) is now more accessible than ever. But more to the point, are all these online and freelance workers web designers and bloggers?
If you want to work online, you no longer need to be a writer, a web maniac, or a video editor. You don’t even need to be on social media. In fact, all you need is laptop, passable English language knowledge, and basic internet skills. Whatever it is that you do professionally back home can be transferred online: there are people working in accounting, consulting, fitness, security, gardening, teaching, coaching, pet training, and, we kid you not, chicken whispering (more on that later)…online.
So how can you become, say, an online plumber?
Unsurprisingly, plenty of people clog their sinks and battle grimy showers on a daily basis. Can you set up a simple blog or website and consult them on their bathroom troubles? And charge for it? The answer is, yes, absolutely.
How about if you’re a high school teacher?
You can teach Chinese kids English online – platforms like Preply offer hundreds of online English teaching jobs, and it’s a good place to start.
Another way to transfer your skills online is creating online courses. You create your own curriculum, lesson plans, and prices, and off you go – Teachable, Skillshare, and tons of other platforms offer dead-easy setups for online courses. The beauty of it is, people love learning on their own terms, and you’d be surprised what they want to learn. From molecular biology to Japanese knitting to cryptocurrency trends, the sky’s literally the limit.
Another great place to start if you want to work on the road is Upwork. Upwork is a huge freelancing site where companies, individuals, NGOs, and businesses look for freelance workers to help them with one-off projects, continuous work, and everything in between. The process is simple – create your Upwork profile, list your skills, set your hourly rate, and go job hunting. Upwork is great for freelance content creators, copywriters, accountants, social media managers, finance consultants, translators, artists, designers, CAD engineers, and hundreds more. The good thing about Upwork is that when you get hired, the client puts your salary in escrow, which means you never get cheated out of your hard-earned cash.
If the transition to online freelance work sounds too scary or too sketchy to you just yet, start at home. Ask your boss if you could work from home a few days a week; if they agree, ask for more remote workdays in a couple of months. If that works out, can you agree to do your work remotely for six months in a row? Or permanently? Once again, #rona made it possible – so use it to your advantage, keep the job, and hit the road.
Finally, you can always mix and match. Perhaps you can keep working remotely in your old job at 30% capacity, hunt for some gigs online, and build your own online empire in the meantime? Nothing is impossible, which bring us back to the chicken whisperer we mentioned earlier. A few years back, Andy Schneider, a chicken farmer from Alabama, decided to take his passion for poultry to the next level and started a podcast. In a span of just two years, the Chicken Whisperer grew exponentially – it turns out, chicken farmers need good, solid advice, and they love listening to podcasts; now, Schneider runs a million-dollar business publishing the Chicken Whisperer magazine, growing his podcast, and doing live events.
That’s not to say you should start researching poultry or animal whispering methods just yet, but it does show that working online as a freelancer is now easier than ever – regardless of what you currently do for a living.
Don’t believe us? Check out these two posers on bikes who are sustaining their hobo lifestyle by working online.
About being a social media celebrity earning the big money.
Beware the influence of social media and its unrealistic image of easy fame and fortune. It is only an exceedingly small minority of people actually making money from it. In our many years of travel and meeting people, chatting to them about their social media accounts, less than a handful was generating enough money to buy more than beer from it.
As with everything else generting income from social media, grow an online following takes times, dedication and consistancy.
With that comes the work to generate content everyday and spamming up people with that content. Social media is a jealous god, it wants your attention all the time. Stop the content flow and the income dries up. That is after you worked tirelessly for months to beg, hustle and get a big enough following to earn a few cents.
Social media is a good marketing tool to assist your other business ventures or means to generate money. But as a money generator is not all bright lights and parties.
The video below is a couple who made their income a reality by working and doing jobs online. Which is a much more sustainable, rewarding and ongoing income stream than trying to be a famous celebraty on social meidia.
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.
In the end
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.