How to save money while traveling by motorcycle
If you’re dreaming about traveling to a foreign country with your motorbike, one of the biggest obstacles that you can think about is, of course, money. Gas, food, places where to sleep: everything seems like a continuous flow of money that goes out of your pocket.The good thing is, as a biker, you are probably not looking for the most comfortable way of traveling, so with some attention you can save money by using a smart approach.
How can I save money while traveling on a motorbike?
In my experience, most of the expenses you have on a motorbike travel can be tracked down to these categories, that basically will cover most of your time and needs:
- Moving (including gas, highways, ferries…)
- and, depending on what you are looking for, Attractions
Excluding attractions, where the same old rules applies, like buying tickets online or buying multi-attractions passes (like the Jordan Pass), for the other points you can be smart and save some money.
How to save money on food on a motorcycle trip
You are probably gonna eat less while riding, considering that you wouldn’t spent a lot of time wandering around your kitchen looking for something to eat. In fact you will probably be busy riding, with the only goal to reach your next destination in mind, eating just because you have to.
Of course, once you’ll arrive in some beautiful locations, the need to try the local food will be strong: I remember eating twice for dinner while in Budapest just to try the local vegan restaurants.
But even with that in mind, you can save some bucks or euros adopting these strategies:
Buy food at the supermarket
You can find a lot of food at local supermarkets that you can consume right on the spot or, better off, carry with you on your trip. From crackers to biscuits to sliced bread, from (dried) fruits to some vegetables that you can consume raw, you can buy as little as you need at the moment or bring them with you for some days. In some supermarkets you can also find prepared meals, but they will probably cost you a little bit more.
Cook your own food
You may get tired of eating “cold” raw food. If you are sleeping in a hostel, they would have a kitchen where the guests can cook their food. You will also be able to use the fridge, so if you are staying in a place for several days, you can keep your fruits, vegetables and drinks fresh.
Even campsites could have a kitchen for guests, but this is not always the case. A camping stove is something you should carry with you, even if I used it less than I would have expected.
Bring some powered meal or prepared meal with you
Using “ready to eat” meals while at home could be more expensive than cooking a pasta with pomodoro or some potatoes. But while on your motorbike, I bet you won’t always have everything you need to cook properly (and I bet you won’t carry bags of potatoes with you). Having some prepared food can help, especially when you don’t want to lose time cooking or looking for restaurants or supermarkets while in the middle of the Balkans.
You can take with you (or buying on the road) some instant meal that you just need to warm up using a small camping stove. Examples of that are the Asian noodles that you can find in any ethnic shop. Or you can take with you some powered meals. I like this approach because you just need a shaker, some water, and the desired amount of powder for making a light meal that will help you trough the day.
The most interesting one that I tried is Huel, a well balanced vegan powered meal that will cost you less than 2€ per meal and takes 1 minute to prepare. Take a small bag of it with you and it will save you on more occasions that you think. 10€ discount here.
Avoid touristic places
Of course, like in every travel, try to avoid restaurants in touristic areas. Prices will be inevitably higher. Try to eat outside of the city center, in places that seem frequented by locals. Better off, ask to locals if they know some cheap restaurant to suggest to you: they will be better informed than Google Maps or TripAdvisor.
How to sleep cheap on a motorcycle travel
Sleeping will be one of your few needs during a motorbike travel. You have several options, but some of them won’t apply based on where you are.
The idea behind Couchsurfing is relatively simple: you can host or get hosted for free. You don’t need to do both: you can use it just for finding a place where to sleep without ever hosting anybody in your house. Every time you host/get hosted you can leave a review so other people would be more prone to host you. It is also a great way to know locals that may be so kind to show you their hometown.
I know guys that basically used just Couchsurfing for their trips, but I personally wasn’t so lucky. I wasn’t really able to find hosts, probably because I was traveling in high season and because I didn’t have the time to try asking more than 3-4 people.
I suggest you to try to use Couchsurfing while having a back-up plan.
Camping (including wild camping)
Camping, of course, requires that you have some camping gear. If you wanna start a motorbike adventure, I hope you’re gonna bring a tent and a sleeping bag with you. Camping sites can be pretty cheap, especially because you are gonna pay for one person, one tent and one bike.
Wild camping may seems dangerous. Actually most of the adventure bikers do it without big problems. Just check the country’s regulations before and try not to camp in a place where you can be easily seen.
Thanks to websites like Booking.com, find a cheap hostel or hotel became easy. Just go to the website (or download the App) and check for the area you would like to spend the night in. The cheapest accommodations will be dormitories. This means you will share your bedroom with other 3 to 15 other guests. Having a lock to secure your things in the room’s wardrobe and some earplugs will enhance your staying.
Hostels are a great way to meet new people that basically are doing the same thing that you are doing: traveling cheap. You can share your stories and suggestions with them and learn about new places to visit. Grab a 15€ discount code for Booking.com here.
How to save while riding
Motorcycle traveling can be more expensive compared to a car, where you can split your expenses among all the passengers. Despite on that, it remains a pretty cheap way to move (good consumptions, cheaper highways/ferry tickets, free parking…). There are some things you can do to try to save some money:
In many countries highways are not free. Sometimes you have to pay at toll posts for the road you are riding on (Italy, Greece…), while in some other countries you need to buy a weekly or monthly Vignette that let you drive on any highway (Austria, Hungary, Slovenia…). In some other countries (Romania and Bulgaria) highways are free just for motorcycles.
Even if it will take longer, using secondary road is something I couldn’t recommend enough: they are free, you will see more things, you won’t get bored or fall asleep, and you ass won’t hurt as much as riding straight at 130km/h for 3 hours in a row. After all, riding is (a big) part of the traveling.
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Check for gas prices
Even if your motorbike has a small tank (usually 15-20 liters), it’s worth checking the gasoline price before entering a new country. In some places, gas will be cheaper than the next country, so it will be smart to fill your tank (and additional gas tanks you are carrying) in advance.
Consider buying a local sim
If you are traveling in a country that’s not included in your Mobile plan, it’s worth to find out local operators’ offers. Paying for some gigabytes that you can use on your phone for a couple of weeks could be cheaper than going in bar and drink a coffee just for using their WiFi. But you may prefer this second option.
Bring some spare parts
This is not just a money advice, but also a very practical one. If there are parts of your motorcycle that are prone to break, take a spare part with you. You will then be able to repair your bike on the go, without any need of road assistance, saving also a lot of time and effort!
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Of course, these are only some of the ways to save money on a motorcycle trip. I will update the post as soon as other ideas come to my mind.
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