Budget bike tour: 7 ways to do your next adventure on the cheap
In the UK, we love to go away for the summer. And naturally for cyclists, our favourite travel companions are on two wheels.
One of the main perks of cycle touring is that it’s cheaper than your standard getaway. It’s also a great way to meet new people (cyclists or not) while discovering lesser-known sights and making impromptu pub stops – all rather spontaneous.
However, be careful not to rely too heavily on your future self. A lack of planning (trust me, I’m well versed in this area) can lead to stress, dead bike light batteries in the dead of night and in many cases, wasting your money.
Sort the core details out before you set off and your trip will run as smoothly as some freshly-serviced brakes. Try these tips to save some cash while you’re at it.
Use the Warm Showers website
The first place to shave your costs is accommodation, and with Warm Showers, you can stay with a fellow cycle enthusiast for free.
Warm Showers is essentially Couchsurfing for cycle tourists. Just create an account which says a little more about yourself and your adventures and search for people to stay with on your next trip.
The idea is that you would host them and other cyclists in the future. I can’t host as I live in private shared accommodation, so I give my hosts wine or chocolate instead.
Oh, and mention dietary requirements on your profile too – you don’t want to get there starving and be given something that you can’t eat.
Some areas are a little sparsely populated when it comes to hosts so in those cases you can either try finding a place to stay through Couchsurfing or by heading down a more traditional camping/hotel/hostel route.
Do your research
Being clued-up ahead of the tour will save you time as well as money.
Look up route essentials like nearby rest and food shops, bike shops and diversions. Have Plan B routes and accommodation in mind should your journey take longer than expected.
You could miss out on must-see sights like historic buildings, markets or viaducts if you don’t do your research first.
If you’re travelling internationally, pick up a guide book about your chosen country. Have a read over Travel the world by bike: 7 of the best books for international cycle trips for more ideas.
And if the book you’re eyeing up is a behemoth, you can rip out the pages you need and take them on the road with you.
Pack food and drink before you go
It’ll soon become apparent how important food is to your journey and you may not always be in a town or village with food shops.
But when you need to eat, you need to eat – otherwise you’re going to bonk. Expect to chow down by the roadside with drivers thinking you’re rather peculiar.
Bars and gels are good when you’re on the road, but they’re also very expensive. Instead, go for small, calorie-dense food like malt loaf, banana bread or peanut butter sandwiches. Of course, take plenty of water. Just don’t try anything new on your trip just in case it doesn’t agree with you.
Share the load
If you’re heading out with someone else, divvy up the budget to split the costs.
Sit down with them when you’re planning your trip and sort out who’s covering what.
Find discounts where you can
It could be yellow sticker items in the supermarket or a pre-trip sale on bike essentials.
You might even find a last-minute offer on accommodation if it’s piddling down and you don’t fancy another night in the tent. Getting to know the locals helps too as they might know cheaper places that aren’t so tourist-y.
Check your bike is in good nick before you go
It sounds financially counter-intuitive, but depending on the length of your trip, it’s worth taking your bike in for a tune-up or a full service before you go.
If something happens when you’re on a trail, there probably won’t not be a bike shop available to see to it. Even if it doesn’t cost you money in damages (or possible injury), it could cost you precious time which means that you might miss out on the accommodation that you were going to stay at (time for that Plan B!).
So, if there are any persistent squeaks, rattles or clinks coming from your steed, take it to the mechanic!
Let’s finish on the obvious one – booking early is essential if you want to save money on your trip.
Train tickets are released 12 weeks before departure and flight seats can be released as early as 11 months before departure so, the bigger the trip, the earlier in advance you should book.
This also goes if you want to plan a big night for your accommodation or go to a popular visitor attraction.
Do you have any more tips for saving money when you’re touring? Are you going away anywhere in the near future? Tell us in the comments below.
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