Financing Extended Overland Trips

Expedition Portal recently put out an article about financing extended overland trips that I thought was really great. wrrgdfgs

 

It’s a topic that pops up on the Expedition Portal forums with almost clockwork regularity. As if on cue every few months, a thread is opened with the question: How do people finance their extended overland travels? The answers when given seem to raise more questions and it would appear no reply fully satisfies the query. How do people finance their travel lifestyles? With assistance from a few overlanders, I have compiled a list of ways in which various travelers have made their prolonged journeys possible.

The Saver

Many people are almost devastated to learn that most prolonged journeys are funded by simply saving up before departure. I realize that’s not very romantic, nor does it sound very fun. The fact remains, if you want to hit the road for months on end, your best bet is to buckle down, fill your piggy bank, and when the time is right, hit the road.

In an interview with one particular motorcycle rider currently completing a full circumnavigation of the world, he said he spent the better part of four years saving up for his big trip. During that time he lived in a basement apartment, cut coupons, ate on the cheap, and made countless sacrifices to raise the $30,000 he budgeted for his two-year motorcycle journey. Another couple, also on their way around the globe, said nearly the same thing. They went so far as to move in with relatives for a year to shave living expenses and said they directed nearly 80% of their annual earnings towards their travel fund. They said their period of extreme saving, and it did sound extreme, was a perfect primer for life on the road where judicious spending is a critical skill.

The Sponsor Hunter

If there is a path few travelers should brave, this would be it. The biggest misconception in travel is that sponsorship is a substitute for earning a trip. If you aspire to fund a trip through sponsorships, you might reconsider as it represents the worst financial value of all time. To adequately provide a return on sponsorship investments, you have to work far harder than you would if you just got a second job flipping burgers on the weekend. Another telling aspect of sponsor-funded travels is that few sponsors and sponsorees ever sign up for a second go. It sounds great to have someone just hand you a fat check and a big sticker for the side of your rig, but that’s simply not the reality of sponsored travel. There’s an old adage in the sponsorship world: If you have to ask for sponsorship, you’re probably not worthy of it. That’s a harsh cliche, but true all the same.

The Tycoon and the Windfall

In the late 90s when I was traveling around Europe for the summer, I stepped out of my austere hotel and parked in front of the neighboring luxury hotel was a bright yellow 4×4 Mercedes convertible. Around the corner was a train of Unimog support vehicles. This was all part of Jim Rogers’ trip around the world. Who is Jim Rogers? He is a Wall Street tycoon with pockets deep enough to finance his lofty travel ambitions. As my grandfather told me, being rich is great work if you can get it.

I like to call it temporarily wealthy. The windfall has funded many trips, although most of these travelers are rather hushed about it. A college friend of mine was gifted a large sum of money from a relative with the stipulation it could only be used for travel, and travel he did. Others have sold businesses, had investments pay off, or inherited enough cash to hit the road for a while.

The Pay Later

This traveler is effectively the inverted saver. I admit, I’ve used credit in my younger years to fund some extended travels and in a large dossier where I file my bad ideas, this ranks right up there with the worst ever. If you think saving for a trip before departure is tough, try paying for it long after the fun is over. A year after putting a $200 hotel on my Visa, I wished I had slept in a box on the sidewalk. I’ve heard of travelers amassing tens of thousands of dollars in travel debt. That sounds like a great way to ensure your big trip is your last.

Joe Cruz uses his time away from teaching to explore the world. Photo Credit Joe Cruz.

The Seasonal Traveler

This is effectively a riff on the saver plan. School teachers, seasonal workers, and other professionals with long breaks from work are ideally suited for extended travels. Knowing when the next paycheck will arrive is a comforting logistic to lean on when a block of travel comes to an end. Adventure cyclist Joe Cruz has traveled around the globe when not working in New York City as a professor of philosophy. I worked as a seasonal professional in the guiding industry for many years and would often use the off season as a means of satisfying my wanderlust.

 

Gene and Neda sold everything and hit the open road. Their blog is a fascinating read: www.ridedot.com

The Sell All

I’ve tried this method as well, and while it works if you have the inventory of possessions to liquidate, re-entry into society at trip’s end can be brutal. Pulling into hometown empty handed and tired is sometimes a welcomed new beginning, or a harsh return to reality. After years on the road, my wife and I flung open the door on a small storage unit and she said, “This is the junk we opted to keep?” If you’re going to sell it all to finance a trip, have a well defined plan for the return to normal life. The worst way to end your trip of a lifetime is to come full stop with your pockets turned inside out.

On the road for ten years, Coen and Karin-Marijke of Landcruising Adventure have a beautiful website they maintain from the road. www.landcruisingadventure.com

The Traveling Professional

It’s not the easiest gig, but getting paid to travel sure sounds dreamy, doesn’t it? There are a handful of prime examples, and some don’t necessarily pay all of their travel bills from outside sources, but those travelers with a few marketable skills can turn a day’s adventure into cold hard cash. The most common way to get paid is through editorials and images published online or in print. Make no mistake, for every individual managing to turn their travels into a paycheck, there are countless dozens offering content for free. It’s also fair to point out that not everyone with a love of travel has the gift of gab, or the ability to take a good photo. Lastly, selling your material just once is quite an achievement. Doing it frequently enough to keep up with travel expenses is a monumental challenge.

In a recent interview with Coen Wubbles of Landcruising Adventure, he delved into the world of travel-writing and what it takes to work from the road. It’s a job much like any other. The Wescotts of the long-running Turtle Expedition also outlined the challenges of working from the road in a recent issue of Overland Journal. Every traveling professional I’ve spoken to is quick to point out the challenges involved. Brad Van Orden of Drive Nacho Drive has commented that servicing a blog and writing a book from the road is not always easy and consumes a good portion of a day’s travel time. Even individuals like Allan Karl who wrote his book well after his travels were completed, had to spend extra time during his trip to photograph and record the experiences as they unfolded. To make money off of your travels, you have to record them, and do it well.

The Sour Graper

If you take a lap or two around the discussion of trip financing, you will inevitably get feedback from the Sour Grape traveler, or rather non-traveler. This person’s only contribution to the conversation is to say with face in full frown, “I wish I was lucky enough to get to go on a long trip.” To his credit, anyone able to slip away for weeks or months on end is truly fortunate beyond words, but good luck can be squandered or misspent. The best way to chain yourself to your front door is to rack up a small hill, not even a mountain, of debt. Mortgages, car payments, and credit card obligations, all of these things foil more travel plans than anything else. Some say it is familial commitments that keep them homebound, and in many cases that is true, but even large families with tiny kids find a way to travel for months or years on end. It is the home-bound financial tethers that are the most binding.

As you can see, there’s no magic formula for trip financing. The most successful travelers employ a mix of funding options. They save, work from the road, have probably sold off a lot of excess stuff, and maybe even lured in a sponsor or two. Regardless of how the funds are gathered and spent, all would agree, it’s well worth the effort.

Very cool stuff there. For me, the only way I’m ever gunna get that epic adventure is to save up the cash and just do it. I’ve had a few offers for sponsors for this site, but nothing that I could stand behind. I wouldn’t sell you guys something that I wouldn’t buy myself. So that leaves taking a ‘credit card trip’ around the world, or getting a second job to pay for it. I hate debt with a passion. I wen’t down that road once, it sucked and nearly ruined my marriage. Won’t do that again. So that leaves only one option left. Saving the cash.

But how much cash do you need? I guess that depends on where you are going, and how long you will be gone (duh). For me, an extended trip would be a once in a lifetime deal. I gotta do it right the first time, so I wouldn’t want to miss anything. I want to go all the way around the world for sure. I’ve seen RTW trips cost as little as $15k. But the cheap trips always skip Europe and Australia. I spent 2 years in Germany, I went to Frankfurt a couple times, saw a couple castles that were nearby, but I was a 4 hour drive from Paris, and never went. I was broke (see above comment about debt!). I want to see all of Europe, I want to ride the Simpson Desert in Australia. Those places aren’t cheap.

I also have to maintain my house while I’m gone. I need enough cash to hold me over when the trip is done to find a new job…at least a couple months. I would venture a guess that the trip would be over a year, so I gotta save up a ton of cash.

Next is how to do it. My wife is coming with me, that’s for sure (she is my buddy after all). But she has no desire to learn to ride, see thefor sale postfor details on that! But am I good enough to do the Simpson Desert 2-up, loaded for RTW travel?!? Probably not. So do I add a 4×4 to the trip? Do I go without a bike and we both ride in a 4×4? What about a really small bike that would fit into a 4×4? I would hate to be stuck in a lifted SUV on the Stelvio Pass in Italy!!!  

The Stelvio Pass

Maybe I’ll take the ‘ute, and then rent bikes in cool places like that. The only time I could fathom not wanting the bike is through Africa. Most of the wildlife parks will not let you ride through them. I guess they are afraid you will get eaten!

I’ve got a lot to think about! But one thing is certain, I need a pile of cash to make anything happen! Tomorrow I’ll discuss my plan to get that pile!

Kickstarter

There are tons of cool things over on Kickstarter. But I’m always a fan of motorcycle stuff (duh). So, when I was contacted by Dennis Ottar Flack about pimping his campaign on AdventureTouringMotorcycle.com I thought it would be great.

A Motorcycle, a Camera and a Tent. 30 Days in Ireland.

A photo book. Images captured from a month long motorcycle trek through the streets and fields of Ireland.

As I travel through Ireland, I will ask the people I meet a series of questions.  The answers to those questions will dictate what is in front of my camera next.  Hopefully those folks will also let me take a picture of them.  The photo book will be made of at least one photo from each day. 

I have traveled on a tight budget before and will be doing so for this project. I will spend 30 days on a motorcycle to capture images from around the island of Ireland. Motorcycle rental costs are high (~$130/day) and will take up a significant chunk of money for this project.  Housing will be cheap. I already have my tent! I still need to purchase the appropriate gear to get me through the cool and damp nights.  I am not committing to the tent every night I am there, but it will significantly reduce my costs while I am in Ireland. It will also open me up to many more situations that I otherwise wouldn’t be photographing if I was staying in a hotel or B & B.  I am excited to have at least a few photos in the book that are looking out of my tent, framed by the tent walls.  You will see it just like I saw it.  

My trip will start briefly in Dublin and end with a few days in Dublin.  In general I will stay close to the water as I head around the entire Island. Southern and eastern Ireland are much more populated than the west.  The motorcycle I end up renting will have to be able to handle regular streets and some (light) off-roading.  From what I hear the roads in western Ireland might as well be off-roading.  Motorcycle rain gear will be essential.  I will have to purchase that before I head over.  At 6’4″ I doubt I would have many options if I waited to buy that gear in Ireland.  

The majority of my tools are already paid for. I have a professional camera (Canon 1D mark IV) and will bring three lenses with me (Tentatively – Canon 16-35mm 2.8, Canon 50mm 1.4, Canon 70-200 IS 2.8) along with a couple flashes. I still need to spend some significant money on a sturdy compact tripod, extra batteries, media storage and waterproof storage for all of my gear. I also will purchase a go-pro and mounting bracket for video purposes. The go pro will be used to record first person from the motorcycle or from my helmet. That video will later be edited with still images and music for all my kickstarter backers to enjoy.

For him it’s more about the photography then the motorcycle, but that’s cool with me! Not everyone shares their passions in the same order as I do, as long as there is a bike, I’m game. So if you feel up to it, throw the guy a couple bucks.

You can view some of his work at http://www.redstormphotography.com/ I wish I could post his pics here, but you know… the whole… copyright thing (artists are a funny breed aren’t they). He’s got some good stuff over there, spend a few minutes browsing!

Good luck with your trip Ottar, I look forward to the ride report!

State Route 21- Arkansas

State Route 21 – Arkansas

 

At just under 100 miles, State Route 21 is one of the most enjoyable rides that Arkansas has to offer motorcyclists. Beginning life on the south end in either Clarksville or Berryville, riders will travel north until they hit the Missouri state line. With switchbacks, tight corners, beautiful scenery and a clean, natural environment, riders will find themselves closer to nature than anywhere else in the state. While State Route 21 is a popular travel system, it’s never too crowded to enjoy. Whether you’re local or simply passing through, State Route 21 has something for riders to experience time and time again.

 

While the entire length of State Route 21 is easily ride-able in a single afternoon, riders should focus their attention to the Ozark Highlands Scenic Byway. At just over 35 miles, this stretch of SR-21 offers riders both a white-knuckle ride and beautiful scenery over the state’s most recognizable natural features. Sweeping corners, death-defying drop offs and gorgeous backdrops provide the Ozark Highlands Scenic Byway journey from start to finish. Because the wildlife in this area is so abundant, riders should be cautious of animals entering and exiting the highway at all times. But don’t let that deter you from opening the throttle and dragging those knees!

State Route 21From highway 16 in Newton County to U.S. 62 in Carroll County, State Route 21 intersects with many important highway systems throughout its 99 miles. Riders can choose to follow 21 through its entire journey – and it’s very much encouraged – or they can opt to choose a more popular route, such as U.S. 62, and continue east to New York or west to Texas. Whichever path is chosen, State Route 21 helps motorcyclists find more fun and exciting roads for their adrenaline needs.

 

Proper attire for a motorcycle outing can be as difficult as choosing the right tires for your whip. If you choose the wrong gear or equipment, it could greatly impact the rest of your journey. Of course, it really does not to be that hard of a decision, as a flexible but snug jacket can make your ride that much more enjoyable. For a region such as the Ozarks, River Road makes a great line of vests and leather jackets that fit comfortably and allows riders to breathe. Of course, riders may choose to wear something a bit heavier and weatherproof during the fall and winter months, and Icon’s Patrol lends itself nicely to the task at hand.

 

There are plenty of campgrounds along State Route 21 if you so wish to connect with nature in a personal way, but other lodging options are available if you desire. The great thing about State Route 21 is that it truly has something for everybody, no matter the budget or recreational preference. Before heading out, though, you should check the local area for forecast and traffic details. You wouldn’t want to suit up for a brisk ride through the Ozarks if rain is guaranteed to stand in your way, because that area gets really wet!

 

 

Kevin Parker enjoys reading and writing about motorcycles, safety, motorcycle tours along with many other interesting daily topics at Motorcycle House. Furthermore Kevin Parker has been riding for over 6 years.

 

 

Special thanks to Kevin for his contributions to AdventureTouringMotorcycle.com! Got a story or review you want to share? Use the contact page and let us know what you’ve got! 

For Sale: Cursed 1997 Yamaha XT 225

I’m going to tell you a story. I’ll give you the facts as I remember them. I have a bad memory.

Back in ’97 or so an older gentleman wanted a motorcycle to putz around on his farm. He bought a Yamaha XT 225. After putting on a number of miles, he decided to sell it.

A fellow looking to get his wife into riding picked it up. She road the bike for an indeterminate amount of time before crashing. I don’t know the details, but the crash was bad enough for her to no longer want to ride the bike. It sat for awhile before being sold to another woman.

This lady rode it for awhile. If memory serves me, she was enjoying the bike until she crashed at a stop light. It sat in her garage for a few years. She was afraid to ride it.

That’s where I come in. My wife wanted to learn to ride. I found this bike and picked it up. (story here) My wife really liked it. She rode it for a couple weeks around the local park. Then took her MSF. About a week after the MSF she was feeling pretty confident. We had gone around the neighborhood a few times, and she was really getting the hang of it. “Hey, lets go ride over to our friends house!” she says.

Great!, I get to go on a micro adventure (about 25 miles round trip) with my wife! How cool is that?!

We get about a quarter mile from our house, she target fixates on the ditch across from the intersection we were stopped at. Rides into the ditch, stays in the ditch for about 10 yards, out the other side, up a hill, then finally falls over. She messed up her knee bad enough that she had a leg brace and a handicap sticker for a couple months (those are fun!), and a broken toe.

“I don’t want to quit riding because I’m scared” she says. Great! Lets get you healed up and back on the bike! Then the excuses start…I’m not saying she was making stuff up, just that she was not letting herself beat the fear. I managed to get her back on the bike one time, in a parking lot, for about 10 minutes. She didn’t like it.

Now that it’s starting to warm up, I’m in the garage doing spring maintenance on the bikes. She comes out and says that just looking at the bike scares her. I’m not gunna push it. “That’s okay” I say! “I’ll just raise the suspension back up and use it for trail riding!”

“Deal” she says.

To make a long story even longer, the XT is not the trail bike for me. It’s nice, light, and a hoot to poke around on, but the thing just doesn’t have enough ass to haul my ass around.

I’m not sure why the old man sold the bike, but the two people before my wife sold it because they crashed and were afraid to ride it. That makes three people this bike has turned off from riding. I’m calling that cursed! This bike is not for someone that wants to learn to ride! Buyer beware!

My wife put about 50 miles on it, and I put about 200 on it since we got it a year ago. No sense keeping something we / I use so little, so it’s for sale!

Here are the details.

1997 Yamaha XT225

Price: $2,200 negotiable, not really looking for trades

1,912 miles

Clarke 4.1 gallon gas tank

YZ peg mod (wider foot pegs)

DID rims

Moose Racing rear expedition rack

Small Pelican case (fits a tool kit and some other stuff)

Acerbis Handguards

It was lowered, a lot. I don’t know how much, but the seat was also shaved. (see pictures) My daughter is 5 feet even and has a 24 inch inseam to the ankle bone. You can see in the pic that she can just barley touch. She weighs about 105.

The only thing wrong with the bike is the bars are bent from my wifes crash. It’s noticeable, but I forget about it after a mile or so. I’ll replace them if the buyer wants to throw in another $100. It didn’t bother me enough to change them, so you will have to be the judge.

I’ll deliver the bike anywhere north of the Darién Gap, for the price of gas and a plane ticket home. Bike is located in NE Ohio 44024 zip code. Test rides require full asking price, in cash, in my hand (or equivalent value in spouse or children). I’ve never had someone ride off with my bike before, but I’ve heard of it happening. You can email me: Mike@adventuretouringmotorcycle.com or use the Contact page. Ask questions in the comments below. If I forgot something, then I’m sure other people are wondering as well! It will be posted for sale here until this weekend to give you guys first shot at it. Then it goes to Craigslist and forums.

XT225 XT225 YZ footpeg DID rim XT225 Engine XT225 Clarke 4.1 gallon tank XT225 Moose Rack XT225 Pelican Case IMG_0061 XT225 Dash XT225 Acerbis Handguards XT225 Acerbis Handgaurds XT225 Front brakes XT225 shaved seat XT225 shaved seat XT225 Pelican Case XT225 XT225

Open Letter to my 16 Year Old Self

With all the April Fools shenanigans almost over, I thought I would give you guys something that isn’t a joke. I found this cool moto blog called “Maico Rider” and he did a great post called “Open Letter to my 16 Year Old self

I’ll copy the text here, but please head over to his blog and have a look around, it’s really a great blog! http://maicorider.wordpress.com/

 

“The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong,

but to those who can see it coming and jump aside.” ― Hunter S. Thompson

Dear 16 year old Me,

I’m writing you from our 51st year of life and though it may seem hard for you to imagine being this “old”, believe me, it’ll go by faster than you think. I’m writing you this letter in the hope that the information I share and the advice I offer will be heeded and your journey will thus be made a little easier. Unfortunately, I realize you currently have a bit of a stubborn streak especially when it comes to taking advice and thus I fear much of my advice will be ignored. But I’m going to give it shot, so here it goes…

 First off, I realize – and remember vividly – how much fun you’re having right now and I want to tell you to enjoy every minute of it. Life seems pretty sweet, You’ve managed to get a half-day schedule at school and get credit for earning a paycheck the second half of the day, giving you what seems like ample funds to get around on your newly acquired and quickly customized street bike. Though you’ve been riding since you were a young boy, the street bike thing is very exciting to you – and so I’m sure you’ll be pleased to know you’ll not be without at least one motorcycle in your possession from now on. In fact you’ll own several, many at the same time. Riding them will come to define who you are, it will be your grounding force, your means of putting it all into perspective, both your anchor and your sail.

 At times you’ll get a bit carried away with your riding, and physics will come into play resulting in injury. Your Grandfather, who used to take your for rides on his bike when you were a small child, will keep trying to tell “It’ll get you – the moment you really think you’re in TOTAL control and let your guard down is the moment it’ll happen!” Sure, he’s been riding for 40 years and still rides – but he’s an old man and knows nothing about what or how you ride and you won’t listen, you’re stubborn and certain you know better. I’d like to offer some advice here regarding several instances where you got carried away and rode well beyond your skills, but at your age, to you I’d just sound like another old man lecturing you. You’ll wear plaster – more than once – due to this inability to take advice, and it’ll be a rough lesson to learn but you’ll eventually figure it out. When you do finally figure it out, you’ll realize that though you always thought he was trying to get you to stop riding, he actually loved riding and wanted to see you live long enough to enjoy it as long as he had. You’ll grow to be very fond of the memories of those annoying lectures from Grandpa.

 I also remember the tough things you’ve endured. You’ve just gone through a few rough years of helping your Mother battle and survive cancer, not an easy time for either of you – it truly was you and her against the World at times and some of those times it really felt like the World was winning. But you both came through it and were stronger for people for it. You also have a bond with your Mother that is different and somehow closer than most as a result. This relationship will continue, and she will be your most honest and enthusiastic supporter in all that you do.

 You know that tall thin girl you like, the one you shared the first real kiss with?…That one you can’t figure out – but you want to…the one you sit up all night on the phone with, often just listening to each other breath, and when you finally get around to ending the call you spend another 10 minutes repeating “no – YOU hang up first” to each other…you know the one. Well she’ll be your first heartbreak as well. You’ll spend years trying to get each other’s goat (though she’ll get yours more than you’ll get hers) and eventually you’ll just try to avoid seeing her all together as it tends to leave you feeling down each time. You’ll date other girls, meet a pretty young lady and settle down – at about that same time, the tall thin girl you’ve known for years, your first love, will purchase a one-way ticket literally to the other side of the World seeking her fortune. You will both have very different lives apart – both successful in their own way, and it will seem as though you’ll never see or hear from her again – and you won’t…until the second half of your life.

 You will marry and have not one but TWO children – Daughters no less. They will be a source of great challenge and tremendous pride. You will be a loving parent and a good Father. The two will be very different from one another, and you’ll be both perplexed and amused by this – specifically the way they interact. Being an only child yourself, you’ll often find it difficult to understand their conflicts. You’ll get very wrapped up in trying to gain total understanding of what’s going through their heads – yet you never will. They will grow to be beautiful young ladies, and you’ll be no closer to understanding what goes through their heads. Best advice I can give you regarding these miracles in your life is to enjoy every second you can with them. Because when they’re out on their own, the silence can be deafening at times.

 Your career choices will vary, but have a common mechanical theme. You’ll pursue higher education, but only gather the knowledge needed for your immediate needs and move on. You’re innovative thinking will result in many new ways of doing things. You enthusiastically share these ideas with trusted mentors and employers, certain they will lead to financial reward. They do, but as the song says “The Man in the suit has just bought a new car from the profits he made on your dreams” (Traffic). If I could give you one piece of advice about the career part of your future life it would be to place higher value on your concepts and inventions – share them, but make sure you get your fare piece of the pie. Another piece of career advice I’d offer is to pursue your passion for motorcycles sooner – that’s right, you can and do end up making a decent living in the motorcycle industry but you could’ve probably started doing so in your early 20’s rather than just punching a clock and looking towards the next moment you got to ride. Once you do make the transition into your dream career, you’ll really find your stride. You’ll come up some very innovative award-winning designs that’ll make literally millions of dollars, but again, thinking yourself a “team-player” the ideas will merely be contributed by you for no more compensation than your normal paycheck. But you’ll be content, as your still get to support your family doing the thing your love…just don’t be so willing to let others take your share of the profits – because they will, and you deserve better.

 So there you have it, a glimpse into your future. I’d like to think you’ll take heed to the advice offered, but alas I know better. I know you have many caring people around you offering similar advice, yet you’ll chose to find out for yourself. Perhaps that’s just the way it’s supposed to go…the great cosmic plan as it were. I guess when I really think about it, in closing, the best advice I can offer is work smart, maintain a good balance between having fun and being safe, live without regrets, never be afraid to love or express your feelings, and every morning when you look in the mirror smile and remember you make your own luck…but for now, don’t worry too much about life…just enjoy and go for a ride – I’ll do the same.

 Enjoy the Ride,

Me