It has been mentioned a few times before, the cycling trip, but what is it exactly all about? The plan started a few months ago, when I bumped into an old highschool friend, Maarten. Apparently he too, was focusing on travelling, not yet wanting to think about his studies. Maarten wanted to bike from The Netherlands to Tajikistan and after a few days of catching up, we found out that the two of us had a lot in common regarding travelling. Therefore we decided that we should cycle together, making it safer, more fun and easier. With his job, he had to postpone the trip from January to March, whereas I decided to use that time experimenting with hitchhiking in and around the Netherlands, which ended up being fairly successful. Besides that I had been practising a lot with making distance on my bike, seeing as I do not often bike far distances. Then when I returned, a date had been set and later due to sickness been delayed to the 12th of March.
Type of travel
This trip will be on low-budget, not just because I am near to no money, but it also seems like a challenging and fun way to travel. I had read in a post from Gaming Traveller a lot of details on bike trips (Travel without money by bicycle). That’s when I decided it would be fun to write down all the expenses and try to spend as little as possible, both before and during the trip, which can be fun and useful. Although Maarten and I agreed that some expenses will be necessary and that we will buy the souvenirs or go to the occasional attraction – such as a concert – when we really want to, as we still want to enjoy this journey at the fullest.
Both of us are willing to get our hands dirty for a bed and a meal or to earn some extra money, allowing us to keep exploring for longer. This includes getting food by dumpster diving, which is something I have done in South-Africa before, where you fish out the still edible food which is seen as waste by the supermarkets. It’s awful how much they throw away and seeing as we are trying not to spend any money, why not use this to our advantage? Yet when neither is an option, our diet will mostly exist out of beans, gingerbread and bananas.
A tent will be used as accommodation, when we have not found a place to sleep for the night. To find a place, we will try to ask locals for a bed, in exchange for small labour in and around the house, as long as it doesn’t cost too much time or energy for the day. Besides that, multiple sites ( such as CouchSurfing, BeWelcome or Trustroots ) will be used to find hosts nearby in hope for a place to sleep. Otherwise, we will have to camp.
For transport, we will bike most of our way, although when we have to cross a sea (such as the Black Sea ), it might be necessary to find the cheapest ferry, although an attempt at hitchhiking can always be a smart move. For the return trip, the thought of selling our bikes and hitchhiking back sounded appealing, but is not certain.
A lot of costs came with preparing this trip for me; I still had to get many things, being not experienced, nor equipped at the slightest. The most important and expensive items needed for a trip such as this one :
– A bicycle: €90.-
Probably the most important item when travelling by bike is the actual bike itself. It doesn’t have to cost too much, as a simple bike will suffit. I bought mine from the Dutch version of Ebay, where I got lucky to get a very well bike for a cheap price.
– A backpack: €50.-
Also very important. I got mine from a Dutch shop called: “Vrijbuiter”, where they sell many things related to travelling. This specific backpack had the best quality-price ratio. It is 35 litres. For the ones also looking for cheaper stuff, you have to ignore all the brands and seek for the ones from the actual shop. This is where I got my raincoat as well.
– A rain/winter coat: €70.-
It depends on the season you leave in, whether you need it or not, but as the trip for me can be very long and we are departing just after winter, we thought it’d be smart to come prepared. I would advise to have clothes against the rain no matter the season.
– Panniers: €28,54
Very useful to take more stuff with you and unless you have a bigger backpack, I’d say it is necessary. If I am not mistaken, I bought this online through Decathlon.
– A tent: €40,-
Unless making use of a different type of accommodation, a tent is a must, as it is a guaranteed sleeping place. Also ordered through Decathlon, we both got a 2-seconds Quechua tent, which supposedly is easy to set up and take down, although the first few tries might be disappointing.
– A gas burner: €22.-
This too, is highly recommended to take with. When taking canned food with you, the cans can be used to cook them in, instead of a pan.
– A sleeping bag: €??
I already had a sleeping bag, therefore it didn’t cost me anything. A must when travelling with a tent.
– Medicine/first aid: ±€8
Again, we had some in our cabinets to bring along. We have a first-aid kit, some pills against diarrhoea and something to help against dehydration.
– Maps/compass: €??
As my father did the ‘survival’ kind of travel some years ago, he had some stuff for me, including a compass. The map, one of whole europe – buying maps for every country might be too expensive – was bought by my friend.
We got food for the first few days, to later either buy more, or get more by working or dumpster diving. Beans, gingerbread and banana’s are the type of foods that are very efficient and cheap. Adding pure chocolate, oats, jerky or other simple yet efficient snacks can be helpful too. Bringing a lot of water is necessary.
– Tools for the bike: €0,-
I am taking equipment from home, thus no extra money spent. A key, extra tubes, an air pump and material to fix a puncture is mostly important.
– Clothes: ÷€30
There is no need to spend more money on clothes if you already have, yet I found out about myself, that my fingertips and toes are sensitive to cold, therefore gloves and thicker socks were required. Besides that, it is obvious to take with a few extra sets of clothing.
For the rest I am taking with me:
Books, toiletry, lights, good shoes, a towel, a Swiss knife, small and big bags (big bags can be used to keep your stuff organized), a journal to write in, a handful of batteries, my small camera and some rope and duct tape.
The total costs of preparing were roughly: €340. Travelling in a pair will bring down the costs and mosts expenses on preparing are made on things that can be used on your next trip again. Saving money on food, transport and accommodation is the most important. If you know any extra items that you think need to be on the list or have any advice to lower the costs, please let me know! 🙂
My friend and I have changed the end goal many times already, making it impossible for me to write down the official stop, as it can, and most likely will, change at any moment; we will see where the road takes us. This, the fact that we do not yet know where we will go precisely, is my preference when it comes to travelling. An example: The moment I found out that one of my favorite bands is doing a world tour, we had to adjust our plans to that, making a total of 800 kilometres detour, which will absolutely be worth it.
This saturday, we will be setting off on our bikes, following the sun from dawn til dusk. Our first goal going through Germany, towards Czech Republic. Whether we make it all the way to countries as far as our original goal, Tajikistan, or we have to return already after a few weeks, it will be a win in my book as I took on a new challenge and an experience will be gained. Neither of us know how long this trip will be, yet we don’t expect to be away longer than a year. Maarten and I are both not very experienced with low-budget travelling, nor with camping or biking, yet we hope that we will be able to make it to the end and prove that it doesn’t have to be difficult to travel without a lot of money. Feel free to follow along my journey, I will try my best to keep my family, friends and followers up-to-date on my whereabouts and all the travelling endeavours. 🙂
*Any given advice and or opinions is only meant to either describe my trip or to help people have a great travelling experience*.