The Cost Of Motorcycle Touring: Where Your Money Goes!

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The overall cost of motorcycle touring is one of the first things people search for when considering a trip.

And that’s a perfectly reasonable question to ask!

Gone are the days where motorcycle travel was a cheap form of transport. We’re a part of a global business – and travel is lucrative.

In this post, we’ll break down the cash cows of modern-day motorcycle travel in the hope it will allow you to plan your trip effectively.

Consider What’s Important To You

Before you start researching what everybody else is spending their money on when touring, take a moment to consider what’s important to you.

On some trips, I want to camp. For others, hostels will suffice.

But in the main, I want a hotel with breakfast. I want a shower. I want to eat nice food in nice places. I want fresh coffee. I want pudding after my evening meal and I want to finish my day by getting into a bed.

And I make absolutely no apologies for that!

If the above paragraph describes you as well as me, does that make either of us inferior to the adventurers out there on RTW trips?

No, it just means our wants and needs are different to theirs.

Don’t listen to people who condemn others for spending money on luxuries. Just because they enjoy eating nothing but Pot Noodles for 6 months doesn’t mean you have to do it too.

Your tour is exactly that.

Yours.

So do what makes you happy!

Related: Why Riding Motorcycles Is Good For Mental Health & Well-Being

viewing area at silvrettestrasse - cost of motorcycle touring
My dad living the dream in the Alps: The cost of motorcycle touring depends on what makes you happy!

Accommodation And The Cost Of Motorcycle Touring

Accommodation is by far the most expensive thing on your shopping list (assuming you already have a bike.)

But it also make for the biggest money-saver if you’re prepared to compromise.

I tend to spend less money on accommodation if I’m only there for one night. This allows me to spend a little more on future accommodation where I’m staying for multiple nights.

You may be different, but I find this makes my trip more comfortable.

 cost of motorcycle touring - accomodation
Accommodation drastically adds to the cost of motorcycle touring (image via Yan Allegre)

Look For Single Rooms

If I’m travelling alone, I will always look for single rooms rather than double rooms. Of course, I would rather have a double bed. But single rooms are often less popular and hotels just want to fill them. This often means you can get them at more favourable rates.

Consider Hostels Or Camping

If you’re into camping, you can save yourself a lot of money over hotels. But if you’re going to camp, don’t just go to the local supermarket and buy whatever kit is cheapest.

Camping (comfortably) takes a lot of planning and thinking ahead. And to buy decent kit is expensive.

If you’re buying everything especially for your trip, consider whether you plan to camp again in the future. If the answer is “probably not” then it will be cheaper for you to spend your money on hotels rather than camping gear.

You could, of course, stop in a hostel in a private (or even a shared) dorm. Some of them are really quite nice and come in at a very reasonable price.

Whether you chose to camp or stay in a hostel, be sure to check out their facilities. Many campsites and hostels boast onsite shower facilities and even a bar or restaurant. Others do not.

Related: Motorcycle Camping For Beginners

reduce the cost of motorcycle touring by camping
You can lower the cost of motorcycle touring with camping or hostels

The Cost Of Motorcycle Touring: Travel, Transportation & Rental

Depending on where you’re coming from (and where you’re going to), you may need additional transportation to get to your starting point.

If you’re travelling to Europe from the UK, chances are you will simply ride your bike to your destination with the aid of a ferry.

But for some further afield destinations, you may wish to have your bike transported. And this means you’ll have to fly there to meet your bike.

Ferries

From the UK to Calais, the ferry crossing or Eurotunnel is around £50 return per vehicle.

A ferry to Santander or Bilbao used to be reasonable. But when I checked recently, the price had rocketed to over £500.

Don’t underestimate the cost of your ferry. On many liners, expensive cabins are mandatory. And some ramp up the price for taking a vehicle.

I ended up changing my entire trip this year because the ferry was too expensive. So make sure you check it out before you start booking hotels!

ferries add a lot to the cost of motorcycle touring
Ferries aren’t as cheap as they were and can significantly add to the cost of motorcycle touring

Bike Transportation

As mentioned above, the cost of transportation really depends on where your bike is coming from and where it is going to. Whether it travels by boat or by plane will also affect the cost.

Shipping by boat is often cheaper. But it can literally take weeks (or even months) for it to reach its destination.

Horizons Unlimited offers some great advice and you can see what others have paid to have their motorbikes shipped to the same destination you are searching for.

If you’re going to Europe from the UK, companies such as Bikeshuttle offer a range of services.

Airfare

If you chose to have your bike shipped, you will also need to pay to ship yourself! Your flights will obviously depend on where you are, where you’re going, and at what time of year.

Bike Rental

If you’ve decided to rent a bike, then you have a few options.

For European trips, I would book and pay for this in advance online.

In India or Pakistan, there are tonnes of places where you can literally just walk in and hire a bike there and then.

These types of rentals are usually pretty cheap – just make sure you take them out for a test ride first!

If you’re traveling to Europe or America, prepare yourself in advance for the extortiante prices you are about to pay!

Anywhere between £120 – £150 per day is average. And many of these include mileage restrictions.

bike rental can ramp up the cost of motorcycle touring
Bike rental can sometimes lessen the cost of motorcycle touring

Meals Add To The Cost Of Motorcycle Touring

After accommodation and ferries, I would say food and general sustenance is the next most expensive item on my travel list. For me, it contributes heavily to the cost of motorcycle touring.

I eat a lot and it really starts to affect me when I get hungry. It’s worth it for me to add in a little extra money for food.

But there are still ways you can claw back savings.

Breakfast

99% of the time, I will book a hotel that comes with breakfast included in the price. Having to pay for one less meal per day makes quite a big difference to the cost of motorcycle touring.

And a good, wholesome breakfast beats McDonald’s any day of the week!

Lunch

Sometimes, I will stop off somewhere ‘proper’ for lunch if I’m riding with a partner or as part of a group.

But normally, I choose to stop off at supermarkets. The choice is endless and the food is as fresh as I could hope for.

Stopping at supermarkets also means I can stock up on stuff like water and snacks. And typically, I can use the toilet and fuel up my bike all at the same time.

Dinner

This is the one meal that every biker likes to enjoy. And rightly so!

Eating at local restaurants is always my preference when it comes to my evening meal.

The prices are usually cheaper than the chain-led counterparts in the city, and the food is representative of the area.

Bonus Tip: Try not to stop in an area where the ONLY restaurant within miles is the one located in your hotel. Whilst it may seem convenient, it limits your options and they usually ramp up the price, too.

Trending: 10 Tips For Motorcycle Touring Hydration

hotel zur post in hasliberg
Hotel Zur Post: One of our favourite local restaurants in Hasliberg (image via Hotel Zur Post)

The Cost Of Motorcycle Touring: Fuel

The last of the big spends that contributes heavily to the cost of motorcycle touring is fuel. You’re on a biking trip, so, unfortunately, this one is simply unavoidable.

The easiest way to budget is to look at how many miles you will be covering per day and then divide it by your tank range.

Fuel prices in Europe tend to be a little cheaper (or the same) as the fuel prices in the UK. If you’d like to know exactly, globalpetrolprices.com does a good job of providing current fuel prices in over 150 countries.

Bonus Tip: Believe it or not, not all fuel is the same. In some countries, the octane levels in fuel are lower than in the fuel that you are used to. The result of this is fewer miles to the tank. Be sure to make allowances.

Related: Free Motorcycle Touring Checklist

fuel adds to the cost of motorcycle touring
Fuel is a necessary evil and contributes to the cost of motorcycle touring

Adding To The Cost Of Motorcycle Touring

Okay, we’ve gone through most of the biggies. The following points are worth considering as they can ramp up the cost of motorcycle touring.

Sight-Seeing Trips / Excursions

If you’re the type of person who likes to go on excursions, be sure to add in a little extra cash to accommodate your trips.

Prices can usually be found online before you leave, so you can get a rough idea of what it’s going to cost.

You can also purchase tickets or entrance fees whilst at home – which usually means you get them at a discounted price, and you don’t have to find the money for them whilst there.

Insurance, Breakdown & Health Policies

Be sure to check your motorcycle insurance and breakdown policies to see if you are covered in the countries you plan to visit.

Sometimes you need to purchase insurance at the border checkpoint. Check online before you leave so you’re not hit with a fine or a large, unexpected expenditure.

And finally, check your health insurance provider will cover you in the countries you intend to visit. If not, you may need to take out a separate health insurance policy.

The ‘Just In Case’ Fund

My ‘just in case’ fund usually covers things like unexpected ‘treats’ or emergency cash for if something goes wrong.

I usually work out the cost of my trip and then round it up to cover a ‘just in case’ fund. So if I expect it to be £1,200 for example, I would round it up to £1,500. The extra £300 would be my emergency fund.

I like to plan everything (and if possible, pay for everything) in advance. This allows me to take care of the majority of outgoings whilst I’m at home.

Malaysian mechanic changing motorcycle tyre
Emergency funds cover the unexpected cost of motorcycle touring (image via Artem Beliaikin/Pexels)

The Cost Of Motorcycle Touring: The Bottom Line

For me, my daily budget for a European tour would probably come in at around 150 euros per day.

  • 100 Euro for accommodation (although I would aim for 50)
  • 20 Euros for a tank of fuel
  • 30 Euros for food
  • On top of this would be Eurotunnel and/or ferry costs
  • Total cost for a 10 day trip would be around £1,500 – £2,000 (1,750 – 2,300 Euro)

Ultimately, touring ain’t cheap.

But it’s worth every penny when you do it right!

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