Now that we have been going for two years we find ourselves being asked more and more frequently, "How do you afford it?" Here's the figures:
Total cost per person per year (All inclusive) is £4000 sterling (about 6000 US dollars I think!)
This works out at around £11 a day per person
We budget roughly half of this for day to day expenses (£5 a day per person). The rest goes on a mix of visas, bike parts, postage, sightseeing trips and medical expenses. (over £100 to visit good Hong Kong doctor)
Yes a bit: In Europe we spent slightly more although expenses were almost all on food as we camped each night and did very little sight seeing. Our families treated us to meals and luxuries when they visited us in Rome, Corfu and Athens. Thankyou Thankyou!
In Russia and Mongolia we spent less. Food is cheap, camping is free. The big expenses here are the visa and its registration and some 70 % duty on imported bike bits. Our Russian friends in Ufa, Omsk and Novosibirsk put us up. This way we could help a little towards cycling in Russia instead of spending over $40 a night in business hotels.
China is cheap all round, but as we stayed in rooms and enjoyed more tourism, our overall bill was just a bit less than in Europe.
Thailand is proving a bit more expensive. In tourist centres the rooms are cheaper than in Chinese tourist centres, but in the countryside, where we mostly are, hotels are aimed at buisness, rather than peasants and truck drivers hence they are twice the price of their chinese equivalents. There are also many temting tourist activities to enjoy.
This is not a polite question in English society, but we are regularly asked this abroad. As I believe there is far too much secrecy over this sort of thing I will tell you the details. Hopefully you can see that we are fairly ordinary English folk.
Firstly we sold our house. We bought for £26,000 (90% fifteen year mortgage). Six years later we sold for £35,000 pounds, this gave us £17,000 after we paid back the mortgage. As you can see, we had a very cheap house and this was a big factor in being able to save money from our salaries.
Ju worked as a teacher for six years, some of it part time earning on average taken over the years of £17,000 pounds a year. She has no mobile phone, car, television, computor or interest in clothes or beer. In short she is a "bit tight" allowing her to save over £26,000 in that time.
Mark worked as an Engineer for eight years, earning on average over the years £20,000 per year, but having a more healthy interest in computor gadgets and beer. He saved a bit less that Ju, £18,000.
Mark worked for his company providing documentaion and advice. Mostly in the first year of riding. He has earned around £10,000 pounds since we set out. He also cashed in a company share option worth £6,000.
This amounts to our total funds. There is no secret stash of cash for our return, so we would be unwise to blow it all!
For a year before leaving, we tried harder to save by buying big sacs of potatos and making one meal in three a baked potato and butter meal. This is surprisingly effective.
We have internet banking and most places have cash machines that will take a debit card. This can go wrong eg. if cards are lost. We have to thank our parents for handling things, such as dealing with banks and paying credit bills from our accounts. To do this you need to get the papers for "power of attorney" This has proved vital. We owe the greatest thanks for this. It has to be done before you leave on the trip.
Yes. Most of the folk we meet day to day could not do this sort of thing. Usually they have family commitments. Many are simply too poor or have family memories of extreme poverty that would prevent anyone from selling up their only asset. Having said this, we have met some people who lack the advantages of a western salary and have never the less set off for adventure.
For those readers who don't live in nations with a strong currency it's harder, making the folks that do it all the more remarkable: Here's a few such people we have met. They gave us inspiration. Maybe they will inspire you too!
Olga and Alexai, the Russians who clean skyscrapers on abseil have just completed a ride from China across Tibet to Kahzakstan.
The Thai-bike-world crew who have raised sponsorship to be the first Thai people to do 60 000 km trans world.
The chinese pilgrims walking to Llasa with a hand cart.
William of Omsk, one of Russia's top cyclists, who has twice biked round the world both times in collaboration between the USSR as was and the US to promote peace between the countries and to highlight the sporting achievement of disabeld sports persons.
The meteor club of DP in Ukraine, who have been on state sponsored rides of epic proportions in Altai and Kazakstan in times of the USSR. The group still tours, with children too, but closer to home in Crimea's mountains well away from roads.
Olga and Kira of Asha in the Ural mountains of Russia, who last summer rode accross the mountains to Ekaterinsburg and back with their group leader Victor. They are 17 years old.
Robert from Poland who had bought his bike for $30 in China and rode over 6,000km through Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. He had worked in London to raise the money for his travels.