If you’ve ever dreamt of riding your motorcycle up the West Coast, there’s no time like the present to hit the road. This budget planning guide includes ideas to help make your dream a reality, whether your budget is “money is not a factor” or “how do I make ramen noodles on the go?”
Map out your desired route and calculate the total round-trip mileage, then multiply that figure by 15 to 20 percent to account for side-trips, or any times when you venture a short way off-route for gas, food, or lodging. For example, a coastal trip from San Francisco to Vancouver — motoring by Multnomah Falls and other parks along the way — could represent a roughly 2,675 mile round-trip. Check to see if there are toll fees on your planned route and remember to save some points of interest for your return trip as well.
Gear and repairs
Make sure your bike is in top condition before you leave, as trying to find a mechanic in the middle of nowhere is not an ideal stop to add to your trip. Research essential motorcycle gear, including rainwear and proper boots, to ensure your comfort and safety, and add these items to your budget.
For the purpose of this guide, we’ll use an average of 40 miles-per-gallon to account for loaded weight travel. Using the sample trip above, we’ll need about 67 gallons of gas, and you can consult AAA’s daily gas price guide to estimate prices along your route. At $2.75 per gallon (assuming a summer price and overall increase) we’d be at about $185.
Miles or hours per day
Figuring out how many hours or how many miles you can comfortably ride in a day can help you determine your food and lodging costs. How many sights you want to see and how many times you need to stop to rest or stretch are important factors. Remember, you’re not going for the Ironbutt challenge, you’re enjoying a vacation.
The sample route above is just under 24 hours one way, so you could break that into anywhere from two to four days on a one-way trip, but always give yourself some leeway so you don’t have to rush when things like a sudden rainstorm or interesting side road pop up along your route.
If you’re able to snack on items from the grocery store and stick to a food budget of $20 per day over six days, splurging on two restaurant dinners of $30 each during your trip, you could keep your food budget just under $200.
Peace of mind
Keep copies of your insurance card and check the expiration date of your license and passport if you are traveling across the border. Since rules of the road can vary, it’s wise to look up professionals near your destination. For example, saving the number for a personal injury lawyer in Kelowna, BC can give you peace of mind in case trouble should arise.
If you plan on entering national parks, museums, or other points of interest along the way, add the cost of entry fees or tickets, and account for parking fees accordingly.
Now that you have an idea how many days your trip could last, it’s time to think about lodging. Bringing along a tent can sometimes be the most economical solution. Hauling a motorcycle pop-up trailer can represent an upfront expense that brings down your fuel economy, but it also gives you more freedom and flexibility on when and where you stop for the night.
If your budget includes hotel rooms, search your route to check pricing. Using the example above, if you travel for six nights at an average of $120 per night, that $720 chunk of change could go toward the purchase of a new or used motorcycle camper-trailer to save money on future trips.