Author Topic: Eating and spending on a two month biking spree  (Read 76651 times)

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Offline StephanieP

Eating and spending on a two month biking spree
« on: March 28, 2007, 08:55:43 pm »
Two friends and I are leaving in early may to bike from Illinois to California on route 66. While I've only a month left before we set off, I haven't really considered costs until now. We are going to be roughing it in the most severe sense of the word-sleeping next to the road, dumpstering when possible...etc...I am curious as to the very least I should expect to spend on this trip (2500 miles) with all excess costs cut out. Also, I'd prefer to eat only non-dairy foods, but I have been told that this will be impossible if I want to survive in the midwest. It would be especially helpful to hear from anyone who has maintained a vegan/vegetarian diet during long rides, or from anyone who may have trekked this route before. General advice is also welcome.  Thank you!

Offline RussellSeaton

Eating and spending on a two month biking spree
« Reply #1 on: March 29, 2007, 01:32:05 pm »
My general comment is why are you doing this if funds are so tight that you have to worry about them?  Bike touring is a vacation.  You don't have to do it to live.  Why not get a job and save up the money so its not a worry?  Your comments about money are analogous to a person on food stamps, welfare, etc. complaining that their cable and internet and cell phone bills are too high.  And they did not win the lottery even though they buy 20 tickets a week.  If money is tight, why are you buying luxury, non essential goods?  Or taking two month long vacations?  I don't care how cheap your vacation is, its still a vacation where you are spending disposable income and not earning money.  I always associated vacations with those who could afford it.  I guess I need to get up to date with the modern world.  Vacations for those who can't afford it and no vacations for those who can afford it.  Backwards.

If you ever do take the trip, there should be no food problems.  Here in the midwest we have many, many well stocked grocery stores.  We like to eat in the midwest.  As corroborated by the obese people you will see everywhere.  Lots of grain products such as bread, rice, noodles, etc.  2 pound bag of white rice is 99 cents at Aldis.  It would last me a day or two and be tasty and healthy.  Lots of vegetables and fruit.  Fresh or canned or frozen.  I've heard various kinds of beans have protein and they are sold in our grocery stores.  I've also seen those soy protein powders at health stores and Wal-Mart and Target.  They are a good substitute for protein and meet your vegetarian/vegan requirement.

As for other general recommendations, travel light.  Minimal gear.  Experiment at home with the cooking aparatus you are planning on using.  Since cheapness is a main requirement for you, you will have to cook your food from grocery stores.  Try it at home using a propane, gas, etc. stove and see how it works.  Take a sleeping bag because it can get cold at night in the midwest and southwest in the spring.

As you get further west, out of the midwest, you will have far fewer towns along the route.  Towns are plentiful in the midwest.  Less so in the southwest.  So you will have to carry more food and water with you on those stretches with less towns.

Offline ptaylor

Eating and spending on a two month biking spree
« Reply #2 on: March 29, 2007, 06:07:45 pm »
Hi Stephanie.

I'm pleased that you are planning a great x-country trip. I would like to help you make it a pleasant memory.

Fortunately, I see some areas where  I can offer some advice.
  • Sleeping next to the road. Do you really want to set up camp with no water and no toilet? Campgrounds, fairgrounds, churches/schools (preplanned) parks or motels are a must, in my opinion.
  • vegan/vegetarian - I don't subscribe to either of these philosophies, but I think it would be hard to get 5,000 calories per day on a restrictive diet. I  know, however that it can be done. Perhaps others will chime in.
  • Route 66. I know this has historical significance, mainly due to a TV series in the 1970's. But it is not, in my opinion, the best way to get from IL to CA.

    I will echo Russell, that, if money is a prime consideration, you save up for a while, and make the adventure when money is not the primary decision factor.


    This message was edited by ptaylor on 3-29-07 @ 2:16 PM

    Offline ride29

    Eating and spending on a two month biking spree
    « Reply #3 on: March 29, 2007, 09:36:18 pm »
    I don't think there is anything wrong with being frugal - even while on vacation. Perhaps some folks have an endless supply of cash...I don't. I can certainly still enjoy my time while living on the cheap, and in so doing can take longer or more vacations. There are a lot of things to enjoy that are free of charge - such as beautiful scenery, the freedom of riding, and the fellowship of others. I could go out and spend a thousand dollars in a week, or stretch it out over two months...I prefer the latter. Your results may vary - to each his own!

    Daryl Bernard
    Daryl Bernard

    Offline StephanieP

    Eating and spending on a two month biking spree
    « Reply #4 on: March 29, 2007, 09:51:14 pm »
    Thank you for your reply. Although I'm nervous about lack of funds, I am wholeheartedly committed to doing this, now, because I know that I may never get the chance again. And while I'm sure that opportunities abound when resources are plentiful, I also tend to believe that bicycling is one of those last frontiers that does not require a huge bank account to be richly rewarding. In the spirit of commercialism, adventures such as this may not always come so cheaply. Amen!

    Offline DaveB

    Eating and spending on a two month biking spree
    « Reply #5 on: March 29, 2007, 11:32:50 pm »
    ....bicycling is one of those last frontiers that does not require a huge bank account to be richly rewarding.

    That's true but how much can you enjoy a trip where every penny must be carefully watched.  Poverty and privation are poor traveling companions.  

    I think Russell was a bit harsh but his overall concept is valid.  You don't need huge resources or lavish accommodations but  you do need enough money to more than barely get by.  you need to eat adequately, sleep in a safe place and be prepared for unexpected expenses and bike repairs.  

    Also, as a woman, do you really want to sleep by the road side with no other shelter?  Face reality, that's not a safe or intelligent plan.

    Finally, the vegan diet doesn't strike me as an attractive option either but it's your choice.  Just be careful to get a well balanced meals as your riding will be very demanding on your nutrition.  It's difficult to get all of the proteins you need on that diet unless you choose very wisely and that won't be the cheapest food available.  

    Offline dmw4322

    Eating and spending on a two month biking spree
    « Reply #6 on: March 30, 2007, 12:12:35 am »
    let me start by saying that i totally disagree with russell. don't let a lack
    of money dictate your life. when i was in high school a met a bike
    traveller named alton who came through my small town. he saved a
    little money and traveled for a year trying not to use it. he stealthed
    camped, ate out of dumpsters, and avoided luxuries. he was having a
    great time and had great stories to tell. i really do believe the best
    things in life are free.

    here are a few ideas:

    talk to lots of people and make friends. you will often find someone to
    give you a yard to camp in, a shower to use and a free meal.

    if you dumpster dive, try to talk to a stocker and asked them to set the
    food out in a box so you don't have to dig for it. also look for places
    that bake fresh and ask for their day olds before they throw them out.

    me and my friends use to go into pizza places and head for the
    restroom for a minute. come out and on your way grab some left over
    slices off tables. know one usually notices or cares. (not a great tip for

    i'm sure you don't mean capmping on the side of the road but stealth
    camping. i say don't worry about water. if you are willing to dumpster
    dive i'm sure you don't mind missing a couple of showers. hit public
    bathrooms for spit baths and every few days splurge on a campsite for
    a good shower. you can also pay the day fee at a state park and use
    there showers (though most frown upon it) and then go camp some
    where else.

    if your choice is traveling cheap or getting a job and not then i would
    choose the first. have a great trip.


    Offline Dan_E_Boye

    Eating and spending on a two month biking spree
    « Reply #7 on: March 30, 2007, 05:03:57 am »
    I'm a vegetarian and I did the Trans Am last summer.  It wasn't easy in most of the country.  I had to resort to a lot of granola bars and power bars and such.  I also had my wife send me care packages with TVP to help make sure I got my protien.  I would think that if you're going to dumpster dive you will have to give up on being picky.  I met a few vegans on the Trans Am and they said they had to slack up a little and do some dairy.

    I respect your spirit in not waiting.  I agree with that philosophy.  Don't count on tomorrow.  I wish I had begun touring when I was in my late teens or early twenties.  I let more than two decades of my adult life pass me by before I started touring.

    I think you might find people will be willing to look out for you more than they would for a male.  I met women on the road that told me about people handing them money.  That never happened to me despite having been told I have nice legs.


    • Guest
    Eating and spending on a two month biking spree
    « Reply #8 on: March 30, 2007, 08:33:49 am »
    It may be a fine line between a bicycle tourist and a bicycle bum. I can
    find nothing noble or special about sleeping in a drainage ditch or
    rooting around in a dumpster. Such practices may not be illegal or even
    shady, but do you REALLY wish to travel in that fashion?

    As for any suggestions to use facilities meant for others, to interrupt
    workers in hope of a handout or to pilfer food from restaurant tables -
    two words come to mind: grow up.

    Offline Stalls

    Eating and spending on a two month biking spree
    « Reply #9 on: March 30, 2007, 12:33:42 pm »
    Dumpster diving then going into pizza joints? This is how widescale highly infectious deceases get reborn back into society.  Am all for stealth camping and doing toruing on the cheap. But let common sence prevail please?

    Offline dmw4322

    Eating and spending on a two month biking spree
    « Reply #10 on: March 30, 2007, 12:55:13 pm »
    it's sad that someone traveling with little or know money is now
    thought of as a "bum". i always thought of a bum as someone who
    begs money off of other people. a 100 years ago traveling with no
    home or money was more common and not as looked down upon. that
    changed after the depression though.

    eating out of dumpsters and off tables is obviously not for everyone
    but i don't consider it immoral so have no problems with it.

    how do you get a "highly infectious disease" from eating a slice of
    pizza or a dented can of beans?

    i have never slept in a drainage ditch though i'm not to proud to if the
    need arises.

    i'm not sure what is meant by facilities meant for others.

    i don't want to use this space to debate the right or wrong way to travel
    with little or no money so i'll make no more post defending my views.
    let's just say different people have different views and all are valid.

    p.s. why grow up?

    Offline RussellSeaton

    Eating and spending on a two month biking spree
    « Reply #11 on: March 30, 2007, 01:14:26 pm »
    Let me add and reply to a few comments.

    I am all for cheap.  I'm cheap.  Bicycle vacations are usually cheap.  I have taken many week long cross state bike rides where you pay $100 for them to haul your stuff and you sleep in a tent on the ground and buy your food along the way.  $300 for the week is pretty easy.  Cheap vacation.  I could even make it cheaper by eating out of grocery stores instead of restaurants during the week.  But it was a vacation from work where I earned money to afford vacations.  Even though they were cheap vacations.  Money, how little or much I spent on vacation, was not the concern.  It was the vacation aspect.  Being able to do a vacation cheaply added to its pleasure for me because I am cheap.  In some things.  So I am all for taking cheap vacations by bike.  Its great.

    Between college and starting to work, I traveled Europe via bike.  Cheaply because I did not have much money.  A few thousand dollars saved up after bike gear and flights were paid for.  It was enough to not worry about money though.  I wasn't too lavish.  But I don't mind eating from grocery stores.  I'm not too picky about food.  I just want enough food.  I stayed in hostels or pensiones each night.  Fairly cheap and comfortable and safe.  Stayed with friends I met along the way or knew before going over.  Ate at restaurants some.  Cheaper restaurants.  Cleaned up after riding each day to stay healthy.  Saw the sights of Rome, Florence, Pisa, Zurich, Munich, Amsterdam, etc.  A great vacation.  And maybe the last time I have 4 months off.  I also had a full time job waiting for me at the end of summer so I was going to be employed soon.  Now that I am in the working world, its hard to get away for long periods.  Regrettably.  So I understand taking the opportunity to take a long bike ride.  You might not get many opportunities in life.  But do it responsibly.  Work to earn some money before hand.  Get your life in order so you have something to come back to or do with your life afterwards.

    Someone mentioned meeting a person who traveled via bike cheaply and thought that was great.  Sounds great.  The person said this person got jobs and saved up enough to travel all year.  Sounds good for a portion of life.  Not an entire life.  But the person said they were a child when they met this bicyclist.  Therefore I am pretty sure the child did not really understand what the bicyclist was doing.  The bicyclist WORKED to SAVE up ENOUGH MONEY to travel via bicycle for a year, cheaply.  The WORK and SAVE parts seem to not be understood.  And I suspect this bicyclist also just stopped wherever they were when money ran out and got a job for awhile and saved money and then took off again.  Maybe harder to do this today.  But this bicyclist understood they needed money to travel via bicycle, even if living cheaply.  Don't need much, but you need enough to not spend all of your time and effort worrying about it.

    For the people who condone or advocate some of the less pleasant ideas originally presented.  How would you like it if there were people sleeping in the alleys in your neighborhood?  Or near your yards?  Or in your yards?  How about people going through your trash cans?  How about people coming up and using your outside house water hydrants to bathe and wash and drink from?  Or gong through your garden or fruit trees on your property to get food?  Or people sleeping in your town's city parks where you go for evening walks with your family?  I'm not talking about areas of city property out in the boonies miles from anyone or anything.  I mean parks where the people of the town use all the time.  The walking trails and bike trails that go by the elementary and junior high schools in my neighborhood for instance.  If you are against people using your house and property and neighborhood for these actions, why suggest travelers to these things to other people's houses, businesses, property, towns?


    • Guest
    Eating and spending on a two month biking spree
    « Reply #12 on: March 30, 2007, 01:15:03 pm »
    Well, if you are a vegetarian because you don't want to exploit animals, maybe it would be OK for you to eat road kill.  I mean, you would have taken no action to breed or raise the animals for consumption, and if you find something only recently dead, chances are that you wouldn't get sick if you cooked it long enough.  You might also be able to use the animals' hides to stich yourself some warm clothes.

    Seriously though, here is a list of the nasties you can catch by dumpster diving or eating off other people's plates.  You are foolish to do so.

    This message was edited by cyclesafe on 3-30-07 @ 9:31 AM

    Offline cara2u

    Eating and spending on a two month biking spree
    « Reply #13 on: March 31, 2007, 03:24:22 am »
    Hi Steph!Don't let some of these folks talk you out of going on your trip.
    Becoming a vagabond/wanderer for awhile could be an enriching
    experience that will provide many a story to tell your children one day.
    My advise, sign up for The website lists folks all
    over the world who can provide you with a free shower, place to sleep etc.


    Offline bruno

    Eating and spending on a two month biking spree
    « Reply #14 on: March 31, 2007, 01:32:44 pm »
    yeah steph!! have fun! don't listen to lectures from strangers on the internet. sheesh!!