Want to quit your job, buy a bike and cycle around the world? Before you fire off an email and cash in your holiday pay here’s 5 unexpected costs set to bruise the hip pocket before your backside even hits the saddle.
You’ve bought a one way ticket and saved two years worth of disposable income to ensure at least four years of global travel (albiet on a diet of two minute noodles).
Everything seems pretty straight forward but suddenly the unexpected, hip crushing, soul-destroying costs hit.
N0-one wants to insure you without charging you the price of a small Mediterranean Island, your doctor warns you of death by brain swelling while camping in Mongolia if you don’t get three injections that cost $300 a pop and the gear you need to get you around the world costs almost a house deposit alone.
You’re now wavering dangerously close to a weekly budget that requires dumpster diving and squatting and there’s a growing fear the fabulous four-year trip might be a six month sojourn.
So here we are – less than two months away from our ultimate adventure and the financial blows that seem to be part of the preparation territory keep coming.
Here are our top 5 unexpected costs of a long-term bike tour.
1. Vaccinations. Your two-week trip to Bali might require a couple of shots equalling $200 but a global bike trip covering almost every continent requires a hell of a lot more. You need rabies, yellow fever, hep a and b, tetanus and tick born encephalitis (if you’re like us and camping in rural Mongolia) just to name a few and the last one alone required a special order and three shots each totalling a bank breaking $1380. Add that to the $700 you’ve already spent and the $200 first aid kit and you’re looking at well over $2000 for two people.
2. Visas. Once you’re on the road it’s not just cheap bottles of wine, food and the occasional night in a hotel you’ve got to budget for, but entry and exit visas. While this is currently future Sarah and Scott’s problem our already diminished funds also have to incorporate over $5000 in visa fees thanks to some countries charging over $100 just for the priviledge of entering. For Aussies, that’s not your only hurdle. Thanks to those short-sighted creators of the “Schengen Agreement” (of which all of western Europe now falls under) the great European road trip is harder to navigate than a moon landing. You get just one 90 day visa for the whole lot (it makes boarder crossings easier but long stays nearly impossible) which means rather than apply for just one country at a time to get 90 days each you’re forced to apply for a work visa just to get a year worth of travel. We know we’ll take a while to pedal across Europe so we’re applying for a French working holiday visa – a cumbersome and slightly expensive feat.
3. Gear. Some clothes, a nice tent, some cooking gear and a small bundle of mechanical tools – sound’s pretty straight forward right? Wrong. I’ve no doubt there’s a whole host of free-spirited nomads out there trekking the world with a small, mouldy old backpack and one pair spare of undies to their name but I’m not one of them. Planning your gear for a long trip isn’t just bloody hard and time consuming, it’s expensive. You want your winter gear to be decent (if you’re fragile little Queenslanders like us) so that means merino, goose down and hefty price tags. You don’t want your tent to die on the plains of Turkmenistan so that means forking out over $500 and you also want your shoes, tools and electronics to survive the tough life on the road so skimping on quality isn’t an option. So far we’ve spent well over $10,000 and we’ve still got a few big ticket items left to buy. We also know stuff will die along the way and unless a rich millionaire decides to sponsor us (if there’s any reading this that fit the bill – call me) we’ll have to foot those costs later on.
4. Health. In a move that was testament to the grey hairs (but let’s call it growing maturity) invading our head we decided to get complete medical and dental checks in the lead up to our departure. Scott was slogged with a quote of almost $6000 for dental work (root canal, wisdom tooth extraction, fillings and crown) and I was told I had a filling and a dangerously horizontal wisdom tooth that needed to go. It looked like a medical trip to Thailand was on the cards but at the last minute we discovered the local dental school and quickly booked in for a third of the cost. We managed to save a fair bit (even if the students weren’t overly confident and the procedures took five times as long) but the entire ordeal was still a huge blow to our savings.
5. Flights/ excess and public transport. Even if you’re catching one flight, a couple of buses and one train (like us) before you unpack the bike and start cycling those seemingly insignificant details are financial leeches. Taking a bike box on public transport is painful at the best of times but when you’ve got about $1000 worth of excess baggage to boot it’s downright crippling. Bare in mind that the cheapest fares (be it bus, plane or train) won’t allow either bikes or much of a luggage allocation and even the most expensive of them have strict size limits on how big your box can be and how much crap you can put in your bags.