I’ve just finished a 6-day bike ride (including a rest day) from Rotorua to Wellington.

One thing I learned is that bike touring is not for me. Well, solo anyway. It just didn’t excite me at all.

bike on the Desert Road in front of mount ruapehu

Moving on, one other thing I thought about on the ride is how easy it is to let your costs blow out when you’re travelling. A few people I spoke to where I mentioned the bike tour plan, said that it’ll be a good way to travel cheaply. And on the surface, I would agree.

Once you have go the bike, you don’t need to pay for transport costs between and within destinations. Sounds great. But I’ve found that once you add up all the additional costs you don’t think about initially, it’s not so cheap after all. And that’s not even factoring the cost of my time. And the potential for ‘oh shit’ costs are quite high.

‘Oh shit’ costs being those incurred when things go wrong. Like my bike tire going bust on the last day.

Other ‘oh shit’ costs for my bike tour include any fixes, buying special gear like bike shorts (I didn’t buy that), spare batteries, and staying at more expensive accommodation when you get stuck somewhere.

This reminds me of why people struggle to stick to their budget when they’re on the islands in Thailand. They feel like the food and accommodation are relatively cheap on all the islands. But they don’t put enough weight into considering the transport costs.

One ferry ride can be the equivalent of a few days food. And if you’re moving around regularly, suddenly you’ve spent the equivalent of a months food budget on a few ferry rides within a month. And then you’ve got the transport to and from the ferry terminals. This can often add up, especially in places like Koh Samui. The time adds up too, and you can often spend half or a whole day of travel getting from one island to the next. So in order to speed things up, they’ll suddenly splurge on a faster form of transport.

Bang, you’ve just spent another day of food on transport.

Before you know it, you’ve spent a whole lot more money than you planned.

This is a common mistake I see when people say they travel on a budget, but can’t explain where their money goes.

Using apps where you track your spending goes along with this really well.