Cut Costs On Your Motorcycle Trip (The 3 Biggest Ways)

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There’s no denying it.

Most of us have to watch the pennies we spend in the current economy.

Of course, if you’re happy touring once a year, it makes sense to save up and then blow the entire lot on nice hotels and good food with zero thought on the cost of fuel.

But for most of us, one trip a year just isn’t enough. We like to get out as often as we can. And that means budgeting to ensure we get as far as we can with the money we have.

Previous Posts

In a few of my previous posts, I’ve eluded to the unhappy trio of motorcycle touring expenses:

  • Accommodation
  • Sustenance
  • Fuel

And in this post, we’re going to look at how you can save money on the worst offenders of motorcycle touring budgets with a few considered alternatives.

cruiser on empty road - cut costs on your motorcycle trip
Image: Gelmis Bartulis

Related: Motorcycle Touring On A Budget? Yes, You Can!


Cut Costs On Your Motorcycle Trip: Accommodation

I won’t lie, I like a hotel. But there are a few alternatives to blowing over £100 a night on a hotel if the money simply won’t stretch far enough.

Look For Single Rooms

If I want to stay in a hotel but don’t want to pay hotel prices, one of my favourite tricks is to look for single rooms on websites such as Booking.com.

Single rooms are nowhere near as popular as doubles as most people prefer to travel with their other half or a friend.

Single rooms are generally unwanted. And if nobody is in them, the hotel is losing money.

The answer to this is to get rid of it – because a small amount of money is better than no money at all.

Quite often, these hotels will throw breakfast in with the price of the room. It might not be the best breakfast you’ve ever had, but it’s enough to fill your belly – and it means you don’t have to go out and buy it.

single room in hotel
Save money with single rooms. Image: Gabriel Alenius

Hostels

Another trick is to look for hostels. In my experience, the average hotel might cost £100 a night. But hostels can more than half your expenditure.

The other thing to remember with hostels is that many have private rooms – not just the shared dorms that hostels are synonymous with.

You can get a private room in a hostel for around £30 a night in the UK. And if you’re prepared to sleep in a shared dorm, the price halves to around £15.

Whichever way you look at it, £15 or £30 is a big saving from £100!

Whilst many hostels offer breakfast and evening meals, they’re actually not that much cheaper than dining out.

To get around this, I’d recommend stopping off at a supermarket on your way there and stocking up with groceries that you can cook yourself in the shared kitchen.

hostels cut costs on your motorcycle trip
Hostels can be a real bargain. Image: Ralph Katieb

Camping

If you want to reduce accommodation costs even further, you can camp. A pitch on a campsite can usually be had for a nominal cost. And many of them have access to proper toilets, shower rooms, power ports to charge your phone, and even onsite restaurants.

Cooking your own food on a camp stove will cut costs on your motorcycle trip even further.

And if you want to save even more cash, you can wild camp. Whilst there’s something romantic about wild camping, it’s not always sustainable for long periods.

You may need to book into a hotel, hostel, or campsite every few days to have a proper wash, get some decent food, and charge all your gear.

camping in the woods
Camp to cut costs on your motorcycle trip. Image: Tommy Lisbin


Cut Costs On Your Motorcycle Trip: Sustenance

Food is a recurring problem for me on tour and causes no end of hassle. I’m of those people who has a quick metabolism – which means I’m always hungry.

To make it worse, I enjoy incorporating running into my tours because it adds another dimension to the experience.

But this increases my metabolism further. So not am I always hungry, but I need to keep half an eye on the quality of food I’m eating to fuel those workouts.

Now, you might not be a runner. And you might not be hungry every two hours like I am. But you still need to eat, and you need to eat well to maintain your energy, endurance, and concentration levels on the bike.

Dining Out

The easiest option is without a doubt to eat in restaurants, diners, or cafes. But the problem with these is that they’re obviously expensive.

I’d never rule out restaurants altogether – even if you’re wild camping. It’s good for your body (and your morale) to get a hot, delicious, satisfying meal in you every now and then.

But what other options do we have to cut costs on your motorcycle trip?

dining out
Dining out is nice, but expensive. Image: De an Sun

Supermarkets

I’m a massive advocate of supermarkets on tour – especially in Europe. The quality of food is excellent, and they cater for all budgets.

Feeling flash? Head over to the rotisserie section and get yourself a ready-cooked chicken, some deli meats, a selection of cheeses, salads, olives, and bread. Hell, get yourself a bottle of local wine whilst you’re there!

If money is tight, you can still buy a selection of deli meats, a little bit of cheese, and some fresh bread for a few euros.

I also like to look at the end of the isles, where they usually display foods that will pass their expiration date at the end of the day. You can really save a lot of money shopping this way.

In my experience, it’s best to avoid popular options such as packets of noodles or boil-in-the-bag rice. Whilst tasty, they offer you little by way of nutrition. Plus, they never (ever) fill you up.

Proteins are generally the most satiating of foods. And don’t forget good sauces of fat, too.

Foods such as hard-boiled eggs in salads, tins of tuna, deli meats, and nuts provide you with good sauces of protein and fat.

supermarket foods cut costs on your motorcycle trip
Supermarkets offer great food at a fraction of the price of restaurants. Image: Kate Hliznitsova

Cooking On A Stove

If you’re wild camping and have nothing but a stove to cook with, you can still supplement whatever foods you have brought by buying perishables from the supermarket. 

Bread, nuts, and cheeses are a good way of bulking out your camping food.

Speaking of camping foods (ration packs), pay attention to the ingredients and nutritional values of the ones you intend to buy.

Generally speaking, the more expensive camping foods offer better nutritional value, more calories, and are more satiating.

Cheaper options lack substance and contain more ingredients like salt and sugar.

The problem with quality camping foods is that they’re expensive. I generally find it best to collect them throughout the year. This way, I don’t need to spend a fortune on them right before I’m due to tour.

man cooking on camping stove
Cooking on a camping stove can cut costs on your motorcycle trip. Image: Will Truettner

Related: Camping Foods For Those Who Love To Eat!


Cut Costs On Your Motorcycle Trip: Fuel

The cost of petrol usually isn’t a problem for those who plan to go on a week-long trip to the Alps. But it’s a different ball game if you’re touring for 4-weeks or more.

Before the recent price hike in fuel, I used to spend around 15-20 euros on a tank of fuel. It will now cost over 25 euros when I get to Norway in July.

And when you think I’ll be there for 30 days (and filling my tank once a day), that works out to be a lot of money.

So what can you do about the price of fuel?

fuel prices - cut costs on your motorcycle trip
Fuel prices are becoming a concern for touring motorcyclists. Image: Ouael Ben Salah

Go Somewhere Cheap

It’s worth remembering that fuel prices are different in different countries. Fuel prices are astonishingly high in places like Norway, Iceland, and Monaco, for example. 

But if you go to some South American countries, the Middle East, or even some European countries, fuel costs a few pennies per litre.

Now, I’m not saying you should necessarily plan your trip around which country has the lowest fuel prices. But it’s worth bearing in mind – especially if you’re border-hopping.

It might be worth filling your tank and carrying fuel if you’re planning on crossing the border into a more expensive country.

rickety fuel station in the desert
Fuel prices differ from country to country. Image: Jakob Owens

Related: How Fuel Prices Could Affect Your Motorcycle Tour

Mind Your Right Wrist

Everybody’s bike is different. But I know that if I ride at 65-70 mph (105-115 kph) on my bike, it sips fuel.

If I push it to 75-80 mph (120-130 kph), fuel economy is noticeably worse.

And if I exceed 85 mph (135 kph), my bike simply drinks petrol, and it isn’t long until I need to fill up again.

Now, we all have days on tour when something happens, and we have to make a mad dash to the ferry port.

But if you’ve left with plenty of time and aren’t particularly in a rush, what’s the point?

rider taking it easy - cut costs on your motorcycle trip
Mind your right wrist! Slow down and enjoy the scenery. Image: Rowan Freeman

Avoid Motorways

Rather than riding at 130 mph (210 kph) on the autobahn, take the non-motorway roads that run parallel. The speed limit is lower, the scenery better, and you’ll likely enjoy it more.

We all know that fuel economy is better on the motorway. So riding through towns and cities won’t necessarily get you any further.

But riding on the faster roads that run parallel to the motorways are usually limited to around 60 mph (100 kph.) This allows for better fuel economy, plus you’ll save even more money by avoiding the tolls.

rider stopping to admire the scenery
Save money by taking the scenic route over the motorways. Image: Tim Cook

Cut Costs On Your Motorcycle Trip: Conclusion

So there you have our top recommendations for cutting costs on tour. As mentioned, we all have different priorities. There are some things we’re not prepared to compromise on.

But generally speaking, if you can save money on accommodation, food, and fuel, you’re onto a winner.

It’s also worth remembering that if you really can’t afford it, is it worth doing? I’m a firm believer that touring should be enjoyable.

So if you’re going to spend a month getting cold and wet field whilst watching your fuel gauge and eating nothing but noodles, you need to ask yourself if it’s worth it.

In situations like this, it might be better to save the cash you have and add to it over the next few months.

Then you can go on a tour you can actually enjoy.

Top image: Thanuj Mathew

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