From the moment you hear that one of your friends went across country on a motorcycle, you’re instantly intrigued. The thought may have always seemed like a bucket list item; it’s something you want to do, but can’t do right now. Well, life is short. Tomorrow isn’t promised. So, make plans and go ride. With just a little bit of sacrifice and preparation, you can travel across country on ground and have the time of your life! I’ll share my personal story regarding my first cross country ride. These numbers are actual dollars spent on the road, and doesn’t include prep costs like bike maintenance, insurance, roadside assistance, or gear. Keep in mind, every one’s experience is different, and the cost associated with mine, may not be yours. It’s better to be prepared and have more, than to struggle with less. Whether you’re planning to join us for Running the LAW in San Diego, CA, the Bessie Stringfield Ride to Miami or the Sisters Centennial Ride from NY to San Francisco, this is a good starting place to calculate your traveling budget.
On July 4th, 2015, I left Long Beach, CA to Brooklyn, NY for my first cross country journey. There was lots to consider in preparation, but what weighed heavy on my mind was money. I had asked a few of my friends who were cross country riders, and no one could give me a definitive cost. Some weren’t even willing to estimate, because they didn’t want me to be held to their riding style or habits. At first, it was frustrating. After having made the trip, I can see why. These are my numbers for a 16 day, cross country ride. Yours may be more or less.
Lodging: Hotel prices vary depending on the city, time of year, and length of stay. If you plan to stay in hotels, budget no less than $100 a day for room and tax. Be sure to use your AAA, AARP, AMA, or Veteran’s discounts. You can save 10% – 15%. Booking at hotels that offer free breakfast will also help keep your overall cost low. You’ll likely find cheaper rooms, and in some cases, you’ll get the blessing of a host that will allow you to stay at their home. I was blessed to have club family host me along the road, and spent just $300.
Gas: Coming from California, we’ve got the highest gas prices in the country. We pay $1.00 more than the rest of the US. So, when you see these prices daily, traveling across country seems expensive. The good news is, once you leave California, the gas gets immediately cheaper. As you get into the midwest, the price drops 30%. And then when you get into NY, it goes back to California rates. I used the RoadTripGas app to estimate the gas cost. I used the California gas price (as it was the highest), calculated the gas milage of my bike (BMW R1200RT gets 49 miles to the gallon – Amazing!), and the amount of miles (9,000 to get there and back and everywhere in between). My total gas cost for 16 days was estimated at $551.02, and I actually spent $635. So, the app wasn’t far off, but it wasn’t perfect. There are other things that affect miles per gallon, like how heavy the bike is, tire inflation, and rate of speed. Heavier bikes traveling at a high rate of speed (80mph +) will reduce your milage.
Food: Here’s where you can really save money. My brothers and I didn’t really eat extravagantly on the road, and heavier meals were saved for when we arrived in our destination city for the evening. We were hosted for meals a few times by our club family. And, in all of the excitement, I might have forgotten to eat at all. Snack on trail mix, throughout the day and hydrate with water at every stop. My average food cost was $30 per day for 16 days or $480. I’d say budget $600, just to be on the safe side. You may need to be a blessing to someone and sponsor a meal.
Emergency Fund: This is an absolute MUST on the road. God helps those who help themselves. I lost 2 tires at $200 each on the road, and had I not had an emergency fund, I would have been stuck. I’m sure I could have asked for help, but it felt good knowing I was covered. This money doesn’t get used unless absolutely necessary. My emergency fund was $500.
Incidentals/Spending Cash: Hopefully, on your trip, you’ve planned to visit some interesting sites and places along the way. This money was used for admission, a haircut, laundry, souvenirs, tolls on bridges, manicures, etc. My spending budget was $40 a day for 15 days or $600.
When it was all said and done, I had spent $2317.22 to travel for 16 days across country. That’s 144.82 a day. You can definitely do it cheaper than this, depending on how you cut corners. For me, this was a perfect amount and I had an amazing time. I had tons of help from riders along the way, my club family, and other friends that just wanted to donate to the ride. Was it expensive? Maybe. But, the memories I created with my family and friends were priceless. Have you ridden across country? Drop us a comment about your experience!