Motorcycle Touring Expenses For Those BIG Trips

I find that people who travel around the states, continent or world are consistently asked, “How much did that cost you?” As with most topics that involved money, it’s a sensitive one that not many like to get into. Regarding motorcycle travel, I have put together a spreadsheet for those of your who are wondering. This is a fictitious trip that starts in the Florida keys, takes us through mainland Mexico, Baja, the western coast, Alaska, Canada, Maine and back around to Florida through the Appalachians. It’s over 15,000 miles and 3 months long. In other words…it’s a BIG trip.

I have organized everything down to daily costs. How much money do you need per day to travel 2,000 or 20,000 miles on a motorcycle? I have broken these daily costs down to the following categories:

  • Fuel
  • Food
  • Lodging
  • Miscellaneous
  • Motorcycle Maintenance
  • Bills from Life Back Home
  • Initial Costs

With any kind of financial forecasting there are assumptions to be made. How many miles per gallon will my motorcycle get? How much will I eat, and how frequently? How much will border crossing fees cost? What will the average lodging costs be? How much camping verses hotel/hostel use will I be doing? With all these variables, this is where a spreadsheet comes in handy. Check out the one I’ve made below:

It’s a big sheet, so let’s open it up in a new tab if you don’t feel like scrolling like crazy:

Motorcycle Touring Expense Spreadsheet (Google Docs read-only)

This example may not apply to you, so you can download the Excel spread sheet and play around with it here:

Motorcycle Touring Expense Spreadsheet (Excel File)

You can use Google Docs (my preferred method), OpenOffice, or Microsoft Excel to save your own version or keep around as a template for future trip planning.

Food and lodging seem to be the biggest factors when planning a budget for a trip. Camping can help offset those costs quite a bit. So if you decided to camp 4 out of 3 days a week it would save you about $120 for the week, which buys you 4 more days on a trip if you are averaging $40 a day.

You can cook your own food instead of eating at restaurants, but finding groceries and hauling additional cooking equipment may be more than you want to take on after a long day of riding. All the more reason to keep the miles shorter per day perhaps.

With all these factors I think this gives you a good starting point to consider what finances it would take for that big trip you’ve been thinking about. I think you’ll find that the cost is cheaper than you might have thought otherwise, but that all depends on your style of travel.

I hope this helps anyone out there thinking about embarking on one of those BIG trips, and for you seasoned BIG trippers feel free to add your opinion about anything I might have missed or exagerated.

  • Dinkoman

    Wow, this is great! I’ve been planning a few trips big trips around Europe recently (granted not as big as this one though haha) and this should help get estimations of the costs a lot. I’ll have to fiddle around though seeing as gas (petrol) is now around $8.5 (£5.4) per gallon here in the UK and most of Western Europe in fact. For the moment it is far cheaper to fly to the countries and rent a motorcycle which is what i’ll be doing this year – Tunisia and Portugal.

    Thanks for the spreadsheet though, it should really help. Do you have any big trips planned for the future?

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  • Sixx

    Great idea organizing a budget this way. When I head out on a trip on my motorcycle, I typically bring cash, debit and credit card and think about the budget part when I get home.

  • boxrnr

    By my count, wouldn’t that be 3 countries instead of the 2 listed???

    Sounds like fun. When you want to go?

  • boxrnr

    Another observation, and I’m not poking fun but truly am interested. How do you figure a daily average cost of lodging that is lower than both your hotel and camping costs?

  • sleeping dog

    Your lodging costs don’t look right. 90 days on the road is roughly 13 weeks, or 65 nights camping for a camping total of $650, plus 26 nights in hotels would total $1040, giving a trip total of $1690.

    But the categories and format are comprehensive.


  • ukgser

    The hotel/camping figures don’t add up to $722.

    The US must be incredibly cheap. Unless I lived on burgers and fast food there is no way you could get away with those dinner figures in Europe.

    Impressive stuff but I’m afraid I’m with the chap who says he sorts out the expenses when he gets back!

  • James

    Thanks for this! It’s a great worksheet – I especially like how you included the general maintenance items as well. Those tend to never make it into my estimations.

    The problem with the lodging costs can be fixed by adding an extra set of parentheses to the second half of line 61, changing it to =(B4/7)*((B56*B58)+(B57*B59))

  • Atlas

    Thanks James. I fixed that and the spreadsheet should be updated now.

  • Chris Sorbi

    Food does tend to take a majority of the cost and it does help a lot to make meals. Nice work on the budget spreadsheet.

  • bill rod

    camping in national forest can help cut costs..fee–free to $12 per night

  • nansyeartho

    Bonjour, Polite to yoke you, I am Nancy

  • DreamsSewn

    Thank You for this Spreadsheet. My husband and I are planning on taking 3 months off and traveling around the US. Was suppose to have been this year but it’s been postponed a couple more years. This will be a big help in planning.
    Thank You. ~ Sandie in NC

  • Used Cars Bad Credit

    Thanks, I usually just start out with minimal planning on one of my trips but this sometimes get me into trouble later down the road. This time around, I may try one of these charts.

  • wescus

    I always plan on $200 a day and limit my trips to about 10 days. I try to save the cash but also carry credit cards for emergencies. Eat what I want, stay where I want, hot shower every night. I’ve been doing it for years and $200 a day (some days more, some days less) seems about right.

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