Cost of Bicycling the Americas for Two Years, Part 1
So how much did it cost two people to bicycle 32,031 km (19,903 miles), over the course of two years (710 days) through fifteen countries, from United States to the southernmost city in South America?
The short answer is a total of $29,064 (or about $7,700 per person per year or about $21 per person per day), with some caveats.
We know people that spent more than we did while on the road and many that travel on far less. For example, when we hosted cyclists through the Warm Showers network, one person was traveling on about $1/day in the USA! That miserly sum consisted of food only, a chicken sandwich from the McDonald’s Value Menu. We spent the better part of a week fattening up our new friend before allowing him to leave.
We spent two years liquidating everything in our house. We netted $21,896 selling all of our stuff, including our car, prior to leaving Houston. This contributed significantly to offsetting the cost of our trip.
Several expenses incurred while we travelled are not included in the $29,064, such as two weeks of Spanish Language lessons and home stay in Antigua, Guatemala ($437) and the cost of our Galapagos trip (flights, park entrance, boat charter, etc.) which was an additional $3,374. Also not included, was the price of our flights back to the USA in October 2014. Additionally, I excluded the cost of our required private healthcare insurance¹, however, medical and dental costs we incurred while traveling were included in the $29,064 figure.
As a final note on this total cost calculation, it did not include our return trip costs to the USA after we arrived in Ushuaia. The cost was calculated from our starting point in Houston, Texas, USA (March 31, 2013) to our arrival in Ushuaia, Argentina (March 10, 2015). From Ushuaia we took a combination of buses and a ferry to Santiago, Chile before flying back to the USA on March 26.
Revised Costs Methodology
It was interesting to look at the costs per country. In earlier posts (USA and Mexico) I included the cost for gear, bicycle repairs, and other expenses in the average cost per day for the country. Revisiting this methodology, I concluded this did not make sense since these purchases and repairs could skew results. The cost of gear replacement could artificially inflate the average cost for that country. To see time spent and distance bicycled in each country, please see Overall Stats page.
For readers, especially those of you planning your own adventure, daily averages in a country for camping/lodging and food make more sense. In Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru we typically ate lunch at a restaurant or roadside stand where it was often cheaper to do this than make our own food. In relatively expensive countries like Belize, Costa Rica, Chile and Argentina we rarely ate out. We ate out way too much in the USA and I couldn’t resist the luscious beers from the small breweries in the West.
We camped most nights throughout this trip. However, in Ecuador and Colombia we could find hotels for about about $10/night with private bathrooms and often took advantage of the cheap lodging. The cost of budget hotels became significantly more expensive as we headed south and private rooms with shared baths as well as dorm rooms could run in the $30-$45 per night range for both of us. These were not proportionately cleaner or nicer with the increased price but seemed to be inversely related. We longed for the cheap, immaculately clean, simple rooms of Colombia when we were sleeping on top of the bed covers in our sleeping bag in Puerto Montt.
All other costs such as gear repair/replacement, bicycle parts and repair, and communications are listed as gross costs in the next post.
Average Costs by Country (for two people per day)
|Country||Camping/Lodging ($/day avg)||Food ($/day avg)|
In the next post, I’ll get into more of the details by category.
¹In the USA, the Affordable Care Act was signed into law on March 23, 2010. With a few exceptions, all US citizens are required to have (purchase) health insurance. Currently (and prior to this law), the majority of people receive health benefits through their employer or their partner’s employer. Prior to the law, the cost of private health care insurance was typically prohibitively expensive (and some argue still is) and excluded preexisting conditions.