A 10.000 kilometer motorcycle journey through Europe and Turkey: a financial review
Let’s jump into this: we are going to talk about money. Straight forward, without any euphemistic and linguistic magic – which we all love so dearly when it comes to money talk. A few weeks ago we reached the 10.000 kilometer mark, making it a good moment to look at the figures below the line. How much did we spend? On what did we spend it? And where did we spend it on?
"Mo Money Mo problems, Biggie Smalls already taught us back in 1997"
Mo Money Mo problems, Biggie Smalls already taught us back in 1997. Anno 2020 not much has changed. When you have big or small travel plans it often starts with the money question: how much can or do you want to spend? – or burn, like Alexander Supertramp. We did our research before we left and to make this long story short we agreed on a daily budget of €50 for the two of us. Now, 10.000 kilometers later, we can say that this is correct. It is actually so precise that we end with a daily spend of €50.42! Crazy accurate right? Well, you can stop reading now and start planning your motorcycle trip. If you, however, want to have a look at a more detailed cost breakdown, then stick around and read on.
First disclaimer. Although we have pretty accurate tracking of our spending, we did use a lot of cash money, which makes the cost items harder to trace back compared to credit card payments. But with some reverse engineering we believe our calculations are quite correct.
Second disclaimer. We only present the costs which are made during traveling. All pre-travel costs we made (e.g. buying a motor, tent, clothes, etc.), and insurance and shipping cost are out of scope.
Travel conditions, days on the road, route and distance per country
- Transport: a Honda Transalp (650cc) and Honda Africa Twin (750cc)
- Overnight: always on camping’s, only a handful of hotel and wild camping nights
- Food and drinks: we cook our own food, and visit restaurants 1-2 per week
Days on the road
We are now 17 weeks on the road. In this period we alternated extensive riding with chilling and relaxing. When we chill we use one bike for transportation, saving fuel and hassle – and, not to forget, the other can have some beers and a solo party at the back. Yes, you can drive 10.000 kilometers much faster, saving money on basically everything. But then you travel with a different purpose compared to us. Journey versus destination: you decide.
On high level we drove the route as shown below. As we are still on the road it is not a loop. We also made a breakdown per country.
Now the “theoretical framework” is presented we can breakdown the cost – it almost feels like writing another thesis. For this calculation we took the total spending divided by days on the road.
There are a lot of factors determining the cost of bike maintenance, think of:
- Old or new bike
- On or off-road riding
- Garage or self service
- Buying local parts or shipped from abroad
We prepped our bikes pretty good for our trip, but things always break down, especially when you drive older bikes as we do. (One side note for determining whether to buy an old bike or not. The advantage is that they can be repaired by every handyman. The disadvantage is that they can break down more easily. You can replace can by cannot to understand the (dis)advantage of buying a new bike).
Most of the maintenance I do myself – or at least, I try to do myself. During our trip we repaired (or replaced) the drive chain, inner back tube, fuel pump (this was expensive and had to be imported. Tip: bring a spare!), oil filter and oil, spark plugs, and after a minor slip we had the front forks reset and part of the crash bars repainted. And of course we consumed some WD40 and chain spray.
As said before, we cook our own meals and rarely go to restaurants. We just love to walk around local markets to see what is in season and to get into that exciting F2F negotiation. For us it is essential during our travels to learn about the local products, in order to understand the local culture. And if you spent too much, you can always make our delicious oatmeal wonder - check the video here.
Here you can go all ways. Sleeping in a ditch beside the road, wild camping, camping at the farm, hostel dorms, glamping with white linen sheets, or five star Hilton boogie nights. We stick to camping at the farm, with an occasional wild camp or hostel night. The country you are traveling to determines the cost. In Turkey we paid a maximum of 10 euros per camping night (often it was 6 euro), while in Greece it starts around 20 euros.
Petrol is a big spend category which is determined by how you drive and where you drive. To make the picture complete we listed the liter prices per country. Guess you understand why we drove our most kilometers in Turkey (besides the fact that it is beautiful there).
Strongly related to the cost of groceries and in which country you are dining. West Europe is crazy-expensive when it comes to restaurants, while in East Europe and Turkey you can have a beautiful dinner for only a couple of euros. On average we visit a restaurant serving local dishes twice a week, and always avoid the lovely tourist menu.
All remaining cost like e.g. new clothes (I really needed new shoes. My old shoes were in such a state of despair I left them in the store and walked out on the pair I just bought), entrance to museums and other sightseeing’s, sim cards and internet, toiletry, and you name it. Riding a bike makes this quite easy: you have hardly any space to carry irrelevant stuff with you. So you are perfectly safe to walk through city centers without buying things you definitely do not need!
A final note from our side. What we definitely have learned over the last few months is asking ourselves the why question before we pay an entrance fee. We literally stop, look at each other and ask: ‘why are we paying money for this’? If we can give a solid answer (and are truly honest with ourselves) we go ahead, buy the ticket and enjoy the experience. But if we cannot, we skip it and move on!
Often we, The Tourist, are tricked by paying high entrance fees. By paying we assume the thing to visit is worth the money. It implicitly assumes the experience is validated. I mean, there must be a reason they are charging money for this, right? Wrong! – most of the times. There is some truth in the old saying that the best things in life are for free. Our most beautiful memories didn’t cost a thing: they were free like sunrises.
So there you have it. A clean 50 euro cost breakdown for your upcoming motorcycle journey through Europe and Turkey. What remains is wishing you all the best, great and safe travels and that we might meet on the road ahead! Take care.