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ADV PreppingWhat Does It Really Cost To Travel The World on a Motorcycle?

What Does It Really Cost To Travel The World on a Motorcycle?

A diverse range of RTW riders share their budgeting costs for world travel.

Published on 12.08.2017
Spencer Conway
Photo Courtesy of Spencer Conway

As more and more people set out to ride around the world, the influx of information online increases: bike choices, packing tips, visa and border crossing advice… But how much does it really cost to travel the world on a motorcycle?

The answers vary: most veteran RTW riders agree that it’s all about your level of comfort. For some, camping and cooking their own meals seem natural while others will feel deprived if they can’t stay at hotels and have restaurant dinners. Some will cut costs by couch surfing, some – by ditching expensive health insurance and opting for local medical services instead.


To find out how much riders actually spend when they’re riding around the world, we talked to different adventurers ranging from complete minimalists to more generous budgeters.

The Minimalists

Riding a small displacement motorcycle, wild-camping, cooking your own meals and fixing your own bike can cut your cost to travel the world dramatically. If roughing it is something you enjoy doing, the minimalist way of spending $35 or less a day can be the one for you.

Cost to travel the world: Elias Vrohidis riding the world on a Honda XR 250

Rider: Elias Vrohidis
Bike: Honda XR 250
Time on the Road: five years
Continents ridden so far: Europe, Africa, Asia
Daily budget: $15 a day; total – $ 5,475 a year

Elias Vrohidis, an adventure rider and travel author from Greece, says he’s using his hard-earned savings to travel. A long overland motorcycle journey had long been a dream of his, and Elias confesses he used to work two jobs at a time and live with his parents just so he could save the money to travel.

Elias spent $15 a day on average including fuel, food, lodging, visas, and bike maintenance on his travels across Europe, Africa, and Asia. “Yes, this is very minimalist – but my bike is very economical, I don’t need to party or drink celebratory beers all the time, I’m happy to wild-camp and couch surf a lot and take care of my own food,” says Elias.

TOP TIP: “Eat where the locals eat! Most of the time, I cooked my own meals to save money, but when that wasn’t possible or when I simply felt too tired to cook, I’d avoid touristy places and go to restaurants and cafés with the most locals in them. That way, I knew the food would be good – and cheap!”

Cost to travel the world: Kevin Hinricksen budget on the road

Rider: Kevin Hinricksen
Bike: Suzuki V-Strom 650
Time on the Road: since January 2016
Continents ridden so far: North, Central and South America
Daily budget: $35 a day; total – $12,775 a year

Kevin Hinricksen, an adventure rider from Nevada, is funding his travels using savings from the sale of his house and other belongings. “In four years, I’m going to start collecting my pension so if I don’t spend all that I have until then, I’m good. I travel really slow, and I volunteer from time to time to save lodging and food costs,” says Kevin.

TOP TIP: “buy your own groceries and cook your own meals! Taking care of your own food is so much cheaper than eating in restaurants.”

The Reasonables

Being on such a tight budget isn’t easy, so we also talked to those whose cost to travel the world is a bit higher; up to around $80 a day. There’s still a lot of camping and cooking involved, but a daily budget of around $60 seems to be the most popular among many riders.

Cost to travel the world: Spencer Conway Yamaha Tenere XT660z

Rider: Spencer James Conway
Bike: Yamaha Tenere XT660Z
Time on the Road: two years
Continents ridden so far: Africa and South America
Daily budget: $50 a day; total – $18,250 a year

Spencer James Conway, an experienced RTW rider from the UK, is funding his travels himself: filming and producing his own TV series on the road, Spencer sells them to the Travel Channel.

His daily budget of $50 includes everything: food, fuel, lodging, visas, bike shipping, insurance, flights, spare parts and bike maintenance.

TOP TIP: You can rough it completely-camping wild and eating minimum to keep budget down, but it will often be double what you expect. People must consider what it would cost them to live at home for a year and them add some. Any budget from $10,000 a year to $60,000 is possible but you need to be realistic about the kind of person you are and what you can put up with happily. If you are unhappy all the time it defeats the objective. My advice is to test the waters on a two week or month trip and see how you fare before facing the big one! Everyone is different, and your heaven could be someone else’s hell. Just go for it!

Cost to travel the world: Derek Mansfield Moto Guzzi Stelvio

Rider: Derek Mansfield
Bike: Moto Guzzi Stelvio; Moto Guzzi V7
Time on the Road: seven years on and off
Continents ridden so far: Europe, Central Asia
Daily budget: $45 a day; total – $16,425 a year

Derek Mansfield, an adventure rider and travel author from the UK, funds his travels by passive income from the sale of his software business and his book sales. “I pretty much never drink alcohol, couch surf a lot, and try to keep the expenses to the minimum.”

TOP TIP: Couch surf! This saves a lot of money when traveling, and you can truly experience the local flavors and colors this way. I’ll stay in a hotel once every two weeks or so, but most of the time, it’s couch surfing for me.

Cost to travel the world: Michnus and Elsebie Olivier Suzuki DR650

Riders: Michnus and Elsebie Olivier
Bikes: two Suzuki DR650’s (previously BMW F650 GS Dakar)
Time on the Road: seven years
Continents ridden so far: Africa, Europe, North, Central and South America
Daily budget: $80 a day ($40 a day per person); total – $29,200 a year (for both riders)

South Africans Elsebie and Michnus Olivier are veteran adventurers: after hitting the road in 2010, they decided to live on the road for as long as they feel like it. How do they fund their travels? “Carefully,” says Elsebie. “We invested a bit of money in a property trust and also packed up and rented out our home. Our aim was and still is passive income so we can travel freely, therefore our later start in life to travel. And of course, being on the road is cheaper than living at home,” she explains.

TOP TIPS: In some countries you win and in others, you lose. When we camp the budget is much lower and in cities it’s a bit higher.

For those who are only thinking of riding RTW – never stop dreaming, and think outside the box! Take your job on the road, consult, create your own business, volunteer, house swap, – there are many ways to make it happen regardless of your economical situation.

Best advice we can give is save up and then travel without having to pay back or be indebted to anyone or any brand. Don’t spend unnecessarily, make do without the latest cellphone, eat at home, only buy what you really need and just be aware of your spending.

Veteran tip: Careful with spending too much when with other people! As an example, visiting or staying with local people might cost you more in the end than just camping or staying in a budget hotel: you get invited to restaurant dinners or have drinks that you’d probably save on if you were on your own. You might also get invitations to go on rides with local motorcycle enthusiast but take into account that your bike (and you) must last your entire trip and a weekend of fun might end up being VERY expensive.

The Relaxed Ones

Travel and adventure is all about freedom – and sometimes, riders admit needing freedom from strict budgeting! Here are our top-tier spenders, budgeting their travels at around $90-$110 a day.

Cost to travel the world: Nevil Stow Suzuki DR650 Dual Sport Motorcycle

Rider: Nevil Stow
Bike: Suzuki DR650
Time on the road: 5 months
Continents ridden: North America, Asia, Europe (RTW)
Daily budget: $94 a day; total – $34,310 a year

Nevil Stow, a Canadian motorcyclist, funded his journey by taking out some of his retirement savings. He was in a unique situation: as a stroke survivor, Nevil wanted to ride round the world as soon as he could but because of time constraints, only had 150 days to do it. “on this RTW trip, I wasn’t governed by finances, but I was governed by time. Being a stroke survivor, I also wanted to live in relative comfort day to day,” explains Nevil.

TOP TIP: prior to this RTW lap, I always traveled frugally and in my old travelling days in the 80’s I would stretch money to last by wild camping and making soup from condiments stolen from cheap restaurants.

Cost to travel the world: Brian Thiessen BMW R1200GS Adventure Motorcycle

Rider: Brian Thiessen
Bike: BMW R1200GS
Time on the Road: 16 months
Continents ridden so far: the Americas
Daily budget: $106 a day; total – 38,690 a year

Brian Thiessen, a Canadian adventure rider, says he’s using his pension funds to travel. “In the last year of traveling, I’ve gone home twice to visit my kids and grandchildren. If I didn’t have those expenses, my daily budget would be about $95 a day. I think just like at home, you need to match your minimum comfort level to your income to enjoy your overland journey. For example, to thoroughly enjoy my adventure, I need to shower every day, which increases the spending. But for me, this is life, not just a trip, so I want to enjoy it along the way,” says Brian.

TOP TIP: Slow down. The best way to save money is to stop traveling. Whenever I hit a town I like, such as Oaxaca and Medellin, I stay for a month or more. If you stay a month you can find cheap accommodation and save on food, gas, and motorcycle wear. The added benefit is that you get to feel the rhythm of a town that you wouldn’t otherwise get by only staying for a few days!

One Size Does Not Fit All!

So there you have it: budgets varying from $15 to $106 a day, from small bikes and a minimalist approach to more relaxed travel on bigger motorcycles. There isn’t one magic formula that fits all, and that’s the beauty of it: you can mix and match different ideas to create your own perfect adventure, on your own budget. Get inspired, get informed, and get going!

Author: Egle Gerulaityte

Riding around the world extra slowly and not taking it too seriously, Egle is always on the lookout for interesting stories. Editor of the Women ADV Riders magazine, she focuses on ordinary people doing extraordinary things and hopes to bring travel inspiration to all two-wheeled maniacs out there.

Author: Egle Gerulaityte

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December 9, 2017 1:04 am

Great article!

Jihn Ivan Noircott
Jihn Ivan Noircott
December 14, 2017 12:00 am

Yes. Very interesting,especially for those like me at an advanced age who are unlikely to do a R W trip.

December 15, 2017 4:30 pm

Bom artigo. Pela America do Sul, deve se levar em conta a segurança. Não se deve posar em qualquer lugar.

2018 Suzuki V-Strom 1000XT Review - ADV Pulse
December 22, 2017 11:32 am

[…] shopping. The V-Strom is just enough bike to deliver big adventures at a price where you can still afford to go on those […]

Gilles Martel
Gilles Martel
May 11, 2018 2:04 pm

Very interesting to read, thanks!

Steve treloar
Steve treloar
August 30, 2018 1:37 pm

Back in the early 90s we did 6 months , London to Australia two up on a 1978 bmw R65. All up wel spent $10,000 Ozzie dollars which equates to $55. For the both of us. This didn’t include the cost of the bike which was $700.

Steve and Therese Treloar

How Much Does It Cost to Ride Around the World
September 10, 2018 12:04 am

[…] ride doesn’t have to be crazy expensive at all. Some people ride around the world on as little as $15 a day, while others spend anywhere between $35 to $110 and up. The sky is the limit when it comes to how much you can […]

Melvin Bandari
Melvin Bandari
October 1, 2018 6:06 am

I’m looking to do this, please advice on cost, best bike to travel rough terrain and easy mechanical fixes.

Pavel Shysh
Pavel Shysh
January 29, 2019 1:04 am

Michnus and Elsebie Olivier – I see 2 BMWs F650GS Dakar, not DR650.

Eric A.
Eric A.
January 29, 2019 8:42 am
Reply to  Pavel Shysh

@Pavel – They rode the BMWs for a little while but they are currently riding DR650s.

David Baynam
David Baynam
November 20, 2019 4:02 pm

in 1976 i rode a fairly standard MZ TS250 4 speed from London to Cape Town via Ireland,Finland.Spain.Sahara Desert,Nigeria,Kenya. 35,000 Miles.and took one year. MZ cost £260 and expenses worked out at £260.Petrol 19p gallon in Algeria.Sold the MZ in Zimbabwe for £500.
Two years later rode an MZ 250 Super5 from London to Alaska and Ushuia via North,Central and South America,and returned to London via Portugal Spain and France. 9 months and 48.000 miles.£2,500 (bike extra £400)total cost due to expensive flights and ferries .Fantastic time.

November 25, 2021 8:25 am
Reply to  David Baynam

1978 money today would be 15K Pounds.

January 10, 2020 9:24 pm

Nice, balenced article.

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