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A Common Misconception About Cycle Touring in the UK and Europe

A Common Misconception About Cycle Touring in the UK and Europe
From feedback received as a result of the e-Bike Cycle Tourists recent blog entitled “How to Afford the Long Distance E-Bike Holiday You Never Thought Possible”, it has become clear that there is a common misconception about cycle touring in the UK and Europe.

That it is possible to cycle tour for a measly few English pounds or Euros per day!
A good example of some of the correspondence we have received on the subject comes from Craig who coincidentally comes from the Gold Coast in Australia, our home town.

His email read:
Hi guys
Firstly, well done, what a great achievement, we have spent hours on your website as we are planning a Europe trip next year following the EuroVelo Routes.
Your website has inspired us even more now.
I would appreciate it if you would help with the following ....
We have been looking at a budget to work towards but got nervous when seeing your $A90 a day, I know that's all inclusive, but do you have an average of what you spend on food and accommodation only for two?
Thanks and safe pedalling.
Craig

In part our email response to Craig read:
Hi Craig
Now to the cost of touring. I don't know how often you have travelled in Europe and the UK in recent times, but it IS NOT a cheap experience, especially for Australians.
At one stage in the UK we were handing over $A1 and were receiving just 44 pence - ouch!!!!!
In other words a 4 pound coffee (average price) was actually costing us more than $8. While the exchange rate in Europe in Euros is marginally better, there is no escaping the fact that when you are using the Aussie dollar as your base currency everything is VERY expensive.
That is why we believe our budget of about 60 Euros per day is very reasonable when you take into account that this includes all costs such as bike repairs and parts, ferries, camp fees, food, flights in Europe, etc etc etc.
As far as your question about the cost of food and accommodation, we would probably spend about 20 Euros each day on food (3 meals, we rarely eat out) and campgrounds in Europe range from about 10 Euros (very ordinary) to mid-20 Euros, with the average probably about 20 Euros per night.
So you can see there is 2/3 of our daily budget gone before taking into account any of the other many costs that come along. We have also been stung up to 5 Euros extra for powered sites (obviously necessary when you have to charge e-bike batteries), so you can see how the costs quickly mount up.
Regards
Gary and Rachel

In reply to the reply, Craig said in part:
Hi Guys
The costing makes sense now that you have broken it down. It seems like your information is a lot more accurate than what I see on the forums etc. where everyone wants to give the impression that they can live on the smell of an oily rag.
Cheers
Craig

First and foremost contrary to what the above mentioned gung ho individuals will have you believe through their writings on internet cycle touring forums etc, it is NOT possible to cycle tour in the UK or Europe on a few Pounds or Euros per day.

This is a fact no matter whether your base currency is the very weak Australian dollar, US dollars, Canadian dollars, Thai baht or whatever.

It may be a different story if you want to rough it in parts of Asia, but the plain and simple truth of the matter is that it is impossible to live on a meagre amount of money for any length of time in Europe.

In fact, we challenge anyone to live legally – no matter whether they are e-bike cycle touring or touring on a conventional bicycle – for any length of time on a measly few Euros.

To do so you would have to wild camp every night, would have to beg, borrow or steal food and the other basics of life, not to mention the all-important electricity needed to stay mobile.

More accurately your cycle tour would be akin to a travelling pauper show, devoid of many of the amazing experiences that are there for the taking with a more realistic daily living allowance.

While it is possible to spend less than the 60 or so Euros that we do every day and still cover all necessary expenses, it would be a much different cycle tour.

After all, if we cut out things such as our daily café lattes, what else would there be to look forward to?

Seriously though, just remember that while there is an amazing view at every turn of the road to be marvelled at in Europe, untold memorable experiences to be had and an army of new friends to meet along the way, it is a fact of life that like everyone else in this world touring cyclists have to pay their way.

Sure, you may get the odd night’s free accommodation here and there, you may get invited to enjoy the occasional meal at the home of one of your new-found friend’s, but in-between there is food to be purchased on a daily basis – and remember a cyclist’s appetite is HUGE - there are bicycles to be repaired, campgrounds to be stayed at and a myriad of other daily expenses to be covered.

The point being is that if you are planning a cycle tour in Europe and the UK do your planning with your eyes open and have a realistic budget.

If you do you will enjoy the trip of a lifetime.

If not and you try to survive on that oily old rag, the experience will not be anywhere as rich and fulfilling.

In fact, other than being able to boast that you lived liked a roaming vagabond for whatever length of time, you will have failed in your endeavours to enjoy yourself in absolutely every other respect

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Gary Corbett is an award-winning Australian journalist who has written for a wide range of newspapers, periodicals and travel magazines for the past 30-plus years.

After years of writing about other people’s travel adventures, in the mid-2000s he  booked a personal holiday with a difference – a one week guided cycling tour in the Loire Valley in France – and was instantly hooked on those “how good is this” moments that only cycle touring can provide.

In ensuing years he has gone on to cycle well in excess of 30,000 kilometres completing guided, self-guided, bike and barge and solo long distance tours in Europe, Australia, Asia and South America.

Gary now writes exclusively about cycle touring and travelling in general and as such the attempt to set a new electric bike world long distance record along with his wife, Rachel, is his latest “fact finding” cycling adventure – however this time it will be on an e-bike.

His future goal is to see more of the world from the seat of his trusty Trek 520 touring bicycle, and now that he has discovered the world of e-biking, his new Haibike xDuro Trekking RX e-bike. There is, after all, always another country to be explored, new cultures to be experienced and more cycle tours to be completed.


Before this epic journey Gary (a.k.a. The Cycle Tourist) contributed many excellent cycle touring articles to the Cycle Tours Global blog - you can read them at cycletoursglobal.com/Gary-Corbett.To find out even more about the expedition please visit http://ebikecycletourists.com.
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By: Gary Corbett
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