The answer is simple. Everyone has a different budget when it comes to bike travel. Some cyclists spend 1 euro per day, others 100 euros per day on their bike trip. Which is a huge difference in costs for bike travel. It all depends on how you live life on the bike; as a dirt bag tourer, a credit card cyclist or somewhere in between.

Besides that traveling the world on a bike is a beautiful way to discover new places, a world trip on a bicycle is often way cheaper than many other ways of traveling. There is no need to spend a lot of money on expensive tours, hostels and transport.

With your bike being your transport, costs for gasoline, buses or flights can be close to zero. Often are you forced to camp somewhere for there is no accommodation around anyway. And going on expensive tours is out of the question. Every day on the bike is a tour. So you can understand, it not so difficult to keep costs for bike travel low.

The lower your budget is, the more creative you have to get to cut down on costs. Hotels and restaurants are probably off limits for long term budget bike travelers. They will have to wild camp or use warmshowers a lot, find places or ways to buy food cheaply and maybe even work from time to time. We found, the longer we are traveling, the easier it is to keep costs low. We’ve adapted to a relatively cheap way of life.

Costs for bike travel

Dirtbag touring: What can you expect with a budget of €5,-  per person per day in South America?

  • 80% wild camping, warmshowers, casa de ciclistas and hospitality of complete strangers
  • 20% cheap hotels and hostels
  • No pizza, no latte machiato’s or any other fancy stuff
  • Any thing you want to eat while cycling, within reason of course
  • Able to pay for replacement parts or bike mechanics

Long term bike travel: What can you expect with a budget of €15,-  per person per day in South America?

  • 40% wild camping, warmshowers, casa de ciclistas and hospitality of complete strangers
  • 50% cheap hotels and hostels
  • 10% sort of fancy hotel or airbnb
  • Occasional pizza, latte machiato or any other fancy stuff
  • Any thing you want to eat while cycling, within reason of course
  • Able to pay for replacement parts or bike mechanics

Credit card touring: What can you expect with a  €100,- per person per day in South America?

  • Jet set lifestyle
  • pizza everyday
  • pick up truck at your disposal
  • champagne & kaviar
  • no adventures

Our budget and costs for bike travel in South America

We budgeted €1000,- euro per month for two people , € 500,- per person, for our bicycle trip in South America. That is about € 15,- per person per day. This includes all the daily costs for that year.

Daily costs are food, accommodation, bicycles expenses like replacement parts,medical expenses and any other unexpected expenses. The € 15,- per day does not include flights and initial costs of the gear.

The first few months we lived slightly above our budget. At that time, our costs for bike travel was high. Which in hind side was unnecessary, but we felt we needed some luxury. Eventually, we naturally grew into living on a budget. And our budget is, as you read, not a very tight one . But we kept to it and mostly live under budget now. We are content with our costs for bike travel and the way we live our cycling lives. So for 15 euros per person per day, we have the freedom to travel the way we like.

What do we spend our budget on?

The funny thing is that we don’t spend a lot of money on cycling days. On the days off the bike and the periods of rest in bigger cities we spend most of our money. Those days we stay in a hotel, a comfortable cottage, or an AirB&B. We treat ourselves that delicious latte macchiato with oreo cheesecake.

When we are on the bikes, cycling in remote regions, we are often forced to wild camp and make do with what we have. We love camping by the way, so that’s a bonus. When only bread, tomatoes, pasta and bananas are available in the next village, that is what we will have for dinner. 

What are the costs for bike travel? 1
Wild camp
What are the costs for bike travel? 2
Ordering not one but two cheesecakes and cappuccino!

Accommodation 

Lots of cyclists cut down on accommodation costs by using warmshowers. It is a lovely platform where cyclists welcome fellow cyclists into their homes. However, we haven’t really been using warmshowers ourselves. Cycling provides a lot of freedom and our plans change constantly. We don’t like the hassle to contact hosts a few days in advance and stick to that plan. 

When we are in a small village and want spend the night there, we ask locals, people at a school, at the fire- or police station if we can pitch our tent somewhere. They are often very willing to help to find a good and free camping spot.

Food 

We don’t cut down on costs with food. We eat what we like, because it is too important to get some proper food. Being hungry all the time is already a pain in the ass, so cutting down on food to keep costs for bike travel is a no go for us.

Vegetables and fruit are relatively cheap and make good nutritious meals. But you cannot beat the low prices of menu del dia’s  (€ 2,50) in Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia.

costs for bike travel
We are always hungry

Transport 

Ok, the bike is our transport, but we still took quite a few buses. Depending on the country and bus company these can add to the costs for bike travel. Extra costs are charged to put the bikes in the cargo hold. On average extra costs for bicycles in the bus is half of the price of the bus tickets 

Gear 

Gear and the few clothes you will have are used intensively. We lost a few things on the road and had to replace some parts. New brakes, a rain jacket, shorts, shirts, shoes, etc. Some things will brake down on your trip and you will have to spend money on it.

Costs for bike travel per country 

Of course the costs per country differ. When we crossed the border into Chile and ordered two coffee we were shocked to hear the prices. We looked for a camping to keep costs low, and they asked 35 euros to pitch the tent. We thought we would never be able to travel in Chile on our planned budget. But in expensive countries you just have to get more creative. More wild camping, no luxury buys and pay a bit more attention to the prices in the supermarkets. 

Because we knew Argentina and Chile would be more expensive. For that reason we had a lower daily budget in Peru and Bolivia, to compensate for the extra expenditures in Argentina and Chile.


1 Comment

Anna · 10th January 2020 at 7:51 pm

Love the double-cheesecake-approach!:)

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