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  • Writer's pictureAndy Marks

The Cost Of Freedom - What my two week solo motorcycle trip actually cost

Updated: Apr 9

I don’t know if it is the same everywhere in the world, but in the UK, money tends to be a bit of a taboo subject. It can also be quite a sensitive one, especially given the current cost of living situation. I'm writing this post in full awareness of how fortunate I am to be in a position to get on a bike and clear off around Europe for a couple of weeks, and I am certainly not here to tell you anyone can do it if they just worked a bit harder, drank less coffee, or made 'better' life choices.

Now, with that in mind, let's get onto the main topic of this post...

This isn't a 'How to travel on a budget' or 'How to save for your next trip' post - I might do something like that later if I don't get shot for talking about money this time.

Traveling without a plan offers a freedom you don't get if you book everything in advance, but it's not as easy to budget for a trip when you are making it up as you go along once travelling. A package deal costs what it costs and you know, when you book it, pretty much how much you need. OK, unless it's all inclusive, you will have a bit of food and drink to add once you get there, but you know the major expenses, and have probably paid them before you set off.

When I was getting ready to head off to France last year, I scoured the web in search of, but found very little in the way of, some ideas as to how much money I was likely to need. Not many people wanted to share what they had spent on similar trips, and I understand that.

While I was away, I wrote down every last penny I spent and what I spent it on in the hope that I would have a better idea when planning for my next trip. Since then, I have started this blog, and my plan for this post is to break the mould and tell you exactly what 13 days touring in France, Switzerland, and Germany cost me - and how that expense was divided up in the hope that sharing what I spent might help someone else who is trying to embark on something similar.

Let's start with the bottom line: 13 days away cost me £749.66. That's pounds sterling and, for consistency, I have used GBP throughout this post.

I've divided my expenditure into four broad categories:

  1. One-offs

  2. Fuel

  3. Accommodation

  4. Food and Drink

1) One-offs

I've kept these separate because they are the expenses that will be the same regardless of how long I go away for. There were three of these on my trip last September:

Newhaven to Dieppe Ferry - £44.00

World Superbike Ticket - £44.09

Calais to Folkestone Tunnel - £52.00

Total - £140.09

Motorcycles parked on the Eurotunnel
The Eurotunnel is slightly more expensive than the ferry - but a lot quicker

2) Fuel

I spent £212.55 on fuel for the 2237 miles I covered. If we are being really fussy, I left home with a tank full of petrol and arrived home with half a tank, so I actually would have spent a few quid more than this if I'd topped it up again when I got home.

My Honda NC750 is incredibly economical. I averaged 68mpg over the trip. A lot of bikes don't get anywhere near this so the fuel bill would be higher on one of them.

3) Accommodation

Accommodation totalled £161.77 for 12 nights. That's an average of £13.48 per night and includes the tourist tax that I was charged in most places. I had one night in a small room above a bar with a shared toilet. That was £33.13 (€37) and was very cheap for the area.

Taking that night off the total and doing the sums for the 11 nights on campsites and I averaged £10.72/night for camping. I didn't spend much time looking around for the cheapest sites but if you don't mind trying a couple each day, I'd have thought you could quite easily get this under £10/night in France.

A motorcycle and a tent in the French Alps
One advantage of camping is the cost, another is getting to stay in places like this

The cheapest campsite I stayed on was £6.80 (€8) and the most expensive was £18.10 (€21), that was in Germany which appeared to be generally more expensive. The absolutely stunning campsite in the photo was €9, or about £7.70, for the night!

I was traveling in September, so towards the end of the season. Peak season is more expensive in a lot of places.

4) Food an Drink

Food and drink for 13 days came to £235.25 - I took a bag of pasta, some muesli and a few snacks with me from home, these aren't included here but probably only add £10 or so to the total.

Breakfast each day consisted of the muesli I had taken with me so cost virtually nothing. I'd stop at a patisserie in a town or village to buy some lunch; as well as being a lot cheaper than sitting in a restaurant to eat, it meant I didn't stop for as long and it was always very tasty. My evening meals were split 50/50 between cooking something I had bought in a supermarket that day on the stove, and eating at the onsite bar/restaurant.

A motorcycle next to a picnic bench in the trees
Lunchtime generally consisted of a baguette in a picnic area

Splitting this food and drink total a bit further; I spent £88.19 in shops and patisseries compared to £147.06 in cafes, bars and restaurants. Given that the £88.19 includes nearly all of my lunches and half of my evening meals, you can see how much cheaper it would have been to stay out of the bars and restaurants. However I was on holiday and buying a meal occasionally is part of the fun. If I was travelling for longer and having to watch the cost even more, this is one of the first places I would look to save some money.

What I haven't included

Where do we draw the line with a conversation about costs? I'm self employed so lack of earning when I'm not working is a significant factor, but not one that is particularly relevant to this post. I'm also still paying for the bike, so you could argue the cost of that should be included.

For the purposes of this post I have limited the costs to what I spent while I was away, plus the Ferry, WSBK ticket and the two campsites I booked before I set off. Here are a couple of things I haven't included but you might need to consider if you're using my expense as a starting point:

Travel insurance

I have an annual policy so didn't have to worry about one specifically for this trip

Breakdown cover

My Honda came with a two year warranty which includes European breakdown cover. Once this runs out I will probably add it to my insurance.

Wear and tear/tyres

I can live with the fact that the more I ride my bike the faster I will wear things out and I'll replace them when I have to. I if I was doing a very long trip it would be a bigger consideration. But I didn't include it in any sums this time.

Obviously this will be different for everybody as we all travel our own way, but I hope you can get some useful insights from my experience. Staying in hotels every night and eating in restaurants for every meal would have been well beyond my budget but, although I did have one eye on the cost, I never felt like I was missing out on anything travelling like this.

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Mar 22

Great article, that's the way to do it if you can and I try and follow all that where possible. As you say hotel accommodation will rack up the costs. You've got the bike neatly packed too, I like the panniers. Out of interest, what model of tent do you have as shown in the picture, looks like a dome type? Cheers John

Andy Marks
Andy Marks
Mar 22
Replying to

Thanks John. It works for me, and saving where I can leaves money for a hotel when the weather turns. The tent is a Vango Halo 300 which I've had for ages but I see they are still available. In truth there are plenty of other tents out there that fold up smaller and lighter but I just took what I had. I have no reason to change it, it stayed dry in some pretty awful weather and had plenty of room inside for all my kit.

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