America, land of the free home of the brave – or is it…a few closing thoughts on Greece

Day #377 on the road…
We have a few miles left to ride in Greece to a ferry to leave the country.
In 3 1/2 months we rode approx 4000 miles/ 6400km all over the country and still have a little to go…
Greece is about the same size as Alabama!
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There are a few things NOT so good about the country if you were to compare it to the US according to one site I stumbled upon…
  • be 3.8 times more likely to be unemployed
  • make 55.3% less money
  • have 12.22% less free time

but there are a lot more positives :-)

  • be 82.81% less likely to be in prison
  • spend 77.02% less money on health care
  • use 57.05% less electricity
  • consume 46.02% less oil
  • be 63.16% less likely to be murdered
  • experience 23.78% less of a class divide
  • be 22.53% less likely to die in infancy
  • be 83.33% less likely to have HIV/AIDS
  • live 0.74 years longer
  • have 34.43% fewer babies

It’s time to leave Greece, we will continue to ‘Peregrinate’. Do you ever have that, ‘Coddiwomple’ feeling?

The Greeks had a massive influence on the English language (along with Latin of course) and most of the more unusual words have all but disappeared. Maybe they need to come back and there are some great ones for travelers.

That title again, so it can be fully understood –

It’s time to leave Greece, we will continue to Peregrinate [travel or wander around from place to place].  Do you ever have that, Coddiwomple [to travel in a purposeful manner towards a vague destination], feeling?

 

or maybe I should have used a conglomeration of the following and used a little Greek –

  • Hodophile/s One who loves to travel. (Greek)
  • Vagary – An unpredictable instance, a wandering journey. (Latin)
  • Coddiwomple – To travel in a purposeful manner towards a vague destination. (English slang)
  • Strikhedonia – The pleasure of being able to say “to hell with it!” (Greek)
  • Eleutheromania – An intense and irresistible desire for freedom. (Greek)
  • Peregrinate – Travel or wander around from place to place. (Latin)

 

We have been in Greece for the last 94 days, from the very first person we spoke to, the passport control officer at the border, it has been great. His first words to us were, “welcome to Greece”, a quick look at our passports and he said, “have a good time!” This automatically gives you a good feeling as you ride onwards.

Along the way, we have met so many great people in this country and all of them have treated us like lost friends, and collectively we thank all you.

Greece seems a little off the radar for a lot of motorcycle travelers, it’s either a long ride thru the Balkans which entails buying extra insurance because the Euro Green Card doesn’t cover them, or an expensive ferry from Italy or an even longer ‘ride around’ though a selection of Eastern European countries.

For Non-European passport holders being restricted by the Schengen Agreement, it looks a little too far to go!

So when a magazine editor asked if we had any articles we would like to document and we said Greece, specifically Crete. He sounded surprised and said, “yes, we don’t get too much if anything said about Greece.” That article is here – LINK

Greece is a major summer destination and quite honestly gets very busy and maybe a little too hot for motorcycle riding for some, other riders are citing the Alps and mountain roads, good food, great scenery etc. as a better alternative. Well here’s a shocker…Greece has all of that, just schedule it a little later in the year and you can have the same twice in one year!

We arrived in mid-October and have ridden most days when we wanted to, the weather has been great, the food spectacular, the people are incredibly happy and friendly.

So as you sit at home in northern Europe or the US or Canada and wish you could go for a ride, maybe you should ship your bike here and come ride for a few months. For one thing, the Greek people would be very happy to see you, the roads are empty, the food is still great in the wintertime, accommodation is very affordable (we are paying $365 a month including utilities) and most importantly the economy needs it.

Our last week here and again we have met amazing people from the average Joe in the street to, dentists, university professors, journalists, beekeepers, shepherds, hotel owners, shop owners, mechanics and many more.

As a motorcycle rider, I am guessing you are saying, “what about the roads?” Greece as we know it hasn’t been around for that long in the grand scheme of things, but the Greek civilization basically taught the world the meaning of the word ‘ancient.’ Europe’s first advanced civilizations sprouted up in Greece around 3200 BC.

How did they get from place to place? Roads!

They are everywhere and in every type or form, any motorcycle rider who hasn’t ridden here will quickly feel like they have found motorcycle utopia. If you are on a street bike, adventure bike, dual sport or full on enduro this country has something to offer you. Amazing empty roads full of amazing switchbacks that go up and down mountain ranges for days in central Greece and on Crete – roads that will make any rider not want to stop except for fuel.

If they do look around then they would see graded tracks, a minimal amount of gates and fences, tracks that lead to the horizon and beyond, perfect for those riders with knobby tires. If you really want more extreme then there is that too, single track, goat and sheep trails heading off into the mountains to go and meet the shepherds that will greet you with a smile.

 

Greece you have been amazing and we thank you (ευχαριστώ/ efcharistó) and look forward to a return visit to do more exploring in the future.

 

Packing for 2 up riding – what do you really need to bring!!!

Packing, for reference this the bike fully loaded for two people on a multi-year RTW

  • Jesse Luggage panniers (90 liters)
  • Mosko Moto duffle (60 liters and its not even 50% full)
  • Wolfman Blackhawk tank bag (8 liters)

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Last thing I want to be loaded like is this guy I met in NC back in 2012 and he was solo and NOT camping!!!

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or couples riding together seems to carry even more? :lol3

Ewan and Thingy

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S&L

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You want to know what I carry, I want to know what they carry!!!

Our current set up

clothes quantities are pretty much the same for both of us (so just double the numbers for two people)…if at any point we need something we don’t have then we go and buy it – because there are shops in other countries. :jack

  • 3x t-shirt
  • 2x pants
  • 3x underwear
  • 3x socks
  • 1x seal skinz socks
  • 1x warm top and bottom base layers, we use Under Armor 4.0, packs to nothing, dries very quickly and is very warm
  • 1x fleece jacket
  • 1x waterproof small pack away jacket
  • 1x trainers
  • 1x flip flops
  • 1x beanie (me)
  • 1x baseball cap (me)

riding gear, there are a few differences between us

Me

  • TCX X-Desert Gore-Tex Boots
  • Klim badlands jacket
  • Klim Mojave pants
  • Goretex waterproof over pants
  • Arai XD helmet
  • Smith cycling glasses – v90
  • Thor MX gloves
  • Alpinestars winter goretex gloves
  • synthetic long sleeve UA shirt
  • Klim hydration pack

Egle

  • TCX X-Desert Gore-Tex Boots
  • REUSCH jacket
  • REUSCH pants
  • waterproof over jacket and pants
  • no name helmet
  • Seal Skinz waterproof lightweight gloves
  • Goretex winter gloves
  • synthetic long sleeve UA shirt

Gear

  • Hilleberg Anjan 3 GT – 3 person tent
  • 2x Thermarest sleeping pads
  • 1x Big Agnes King Solomon 15 deg. double sleeping bag
  • 2x Big Agnes pillows
  • 2x camping light
  • 1x Alite Monarch Butterfly Chair
  • MSR 10 liter dromedary bag
  • MSR whisper light stove – multifuel
  • Olicamp Ion Micro Titanium Stove, google it, you’ll understand why
  • large 450gm camping fuel
  • GSI 10″ fry pan
  • Sea to Summit X21 kit and additional bowl and cup
  • Sea to Summit plates x2
  • 1 liter bottle of mixed spices
  • UCO Grilliput Portable Camping Grill
  • Camping-Fire-Wind-Stopper-Break-Shield-
  • Silverware
  • Svensaw
  • Camping ax/ hammer
  • toiletries
  • clothes washing powder
  • 2x 15″ laptops
  • 2x backup hard drives
  • 2x P&S cameras
  • 1x GoPro
  • loads of go pro mounts
  • 1 big tripod
  • 1 small tripod
  • bag full of charging cables, extra batteries and chargers
  • bike cover
  • 2x extra 20 Liter waterproof bags
  • 2x backpacks
  • Antigravity Xp10
  • 4x large rock straps
  • 2x tie down straps
  • tow strap
  • air compressor
  • CO2 kit
  • hand pump
  • large first aid kit
  • spare clutch plates
  • front and rear bearings
  • drive shaft replacement seal
  • valve cover gasket
  • 1x 18″ tube
  • 2x toolkit
  • puncture kit
  • fluorescent safety jacket
  • multiple HD velcro straps

I think thats about it…it covers all weather and riding conditions in the last year hottest temp 108f/ 42c, coldest 25f/ -4f, enough equipment to camp/cook for weeks on end in any weather, fix everything but a catastrophic failure on the bike

Its funny when we get asked if we are out for a ride for the weekend because we have so little stuff and we say no we are riding RTW…the looks are priceless, then the questions start, but you don’t have…this, this, this, this etc, and when we answer yes, yes, yes, yes the look now is even better

Packing is somewhat of a learned art, I feel WE have way too much stuff and am always looking to try and reduce the volume.

If there was one tip I could give you to pack smaller/ lighter is know what you want/ need before you buy your luggage, use cardboard boxes to measure liter size then buy smaller luggage than that. The other way around if you buy the luggage you think is right and you have extra space YOU WILL FILL IT!

Al Jesse is a good friend of mine and has told me numerous times that he tries to sell smaller panniers to a lot of buyers for that very reason, they refuse and buy the biggest, usually with the same reply…”just in case!”.

 

Yes, you should try and go where these two guys have gone…if you know who they are, they are VERY well traveled and they could give you some amazing tips…but don’t take packing advice from them.

 

The question everyone wants an answer about: MONEY. How much does a RTW cost?

There a few regular questions that you get asked as a RTW rider.

What’s your favorite place or country?

Where haven’t you been yet?

How fast does your bike go?

How do you do it?

How do you afford it?

How much does it cost?

Let’s deal with that last one, how much does it cost?

Firstly I want to preface this post by saying: traveling finances are as individual as you are, no two people will ever spend identical amounts of money as no two people will ever do identical trips. Even on what is supposed to be a set track to follow like the TAT, I have never read two reports the same so it is unlikely they spent the same either…as a RTW is hugely different and potentially a lot longer thusly the costs will vary a great deal too. Therefore, this article is to give you a ‘feel’ for the expenses, take these thoughts with a pinch of salt and adjust according to your tastes.

Since early 2011, I have spent around 1000 days on the road, ridden through 44 countries, 4 continents, and crossed 86 borders, so I think I have a good feel for costs.  I will say that travel expense is a unique thing, though. One man’s comfort is another’s hardship. I don’t travel at a luxurious level but I also don’t travel scrimping and saving every single penny I can. I like to camp, I don’t love to camp or get upset if I’m not in my tent every night.

I think if I looked at myself comparing with other riders as a line depicting money spent on a graph I would be somewhere in the lower half expense wise for travelers I have met.

People have ridden RTW on less than $5,000 and I have heard and met others that have done it on more than $100,000. You need to decide where your comfort level is, what you feel like you can reasonably spend.

Using an analogy to gambling, don’t spend more than you can afford to loose, save a little cash for your eventual return because at some point it will happen. Don’t go ALL IN…THERE WILL BE AN END TO YOUR TRAVELS, whether you like it or not.

The one plan no one likes to think about is the return, have a little hidden away in a separate account for your eventual return because at some point it will happen. In my situation, I opened an investment account and bought (reasonably) secure investments for when I get back and if I’m lucky in the time I’m on the road they might make a little as well, as a long-term investment.

Most importantly, spend and budget what YOU can afford, there is a RTW for every budget and you can still come home with the feeling that you had a great time full of lifelong memories and stories to tell.

Its funny the people I meet who spend more, and I mean a lot more than me don’t always seem to have seen as much, or been as many places…do they spend the difference on beer or alcohol or cigarettes?

…and just so you know that ONE beer at the end of each day you congratulate yourself with, it will average about $3 a day, which is $1095 a year or around a month or so less travel a year.

This is my story, my version of a RTW currently in motion. I left on this RTW 365 days ago, one full year and no plans on stopping anytime soon. It included two major motorcycle shipments, no major breakdown expenses or motorcycle expenses besides tires and oil changes, 27 countries and actual distance that I rode was – 35,458 miles or 57,064 km.

Honestly, that figure surprises me, the distance covered: it doesn’t feel like I’ve ridden even a quarter of that distance which works out to average 97 miles or 156 km per day.

To put 35,458 miles into perspective, if I could ride non-stop in a straight line RTW, using an imaginary road with bridges crossing oceans, that line from Las Vegas heading eastbound would go RTW one and a half-times almost and land me in central Mongolia on the second lap.

The following is based on two people traveling on one motorcycle and doesn’t include the cost of the motorcycle or any of the gear related to travel. The bike was completely set up with all new consumables in place before mile 1 was ridden.

I estimate that the passenger adds $10-25 per day depending on the countries traveled if you are looking to calculate numbers for a solo traveler. The reason for this increased number is obviously food, but also a slight increase in fuel costs, tire wear and some hotels/ motels/ hostels/ campgrounds charge more for two people rather than one.

How do I figure a budget? Experience. I like to keep track of where the money goes and as a reminder of certain countries or certain instances, what they cost individually.

From previous experience, for this RTW I budgeted/ guesstimated costs for the Americas at $75 and Europe to be $82 a day for how I like to travel. Spoiler alert: I came in below that number.

Those costs are broken down into four major categories: FUEL – FOOD – LODGING – MISCELLANEOUS.

FUEL – Just fuel for the bike, NOTHING else.

FOOD –  This is obviously is self-explanatory. Good food, some eaten in restaurants, some roadside and some I cooked myself.

LODGING – Hotels/ motels/ hostels/ Airbnb/ Couchsurfing/ staying with friends or family/ campground/ wild camping/tent space

MISCELLANEOUS – Catch-all for expenses not covered by the other three: museums, entry fees, ferries, tolls, shipping, tires, oil changes, parts, tires, flights, replacement of broken/ lost/ stolen/ worn out items, haircuts, dentist appointments, Euro green card insurance, medical insurance, country entry fees, visas, TVIP, etc.

FUEL

One year total fuel costs – $3629.36 or 10 cents a mile/ 6 cents a km

Accurate fuel prices for the whole world can be found here and are updated daily and weekly depending on location – http://www.globalpetrolprices.com/Iran/gasoline_prices/

Highest price for fuel I paid was in Norway  – $6.70 a (US) gallon!

FOOD

One year total food costs – $7769.13 or $21.28 per day or $10.64 per person.

Most expensive country for food was Norway (surprised) averaging at least three times more than any other country.

LODGING

One year total lodging costs – $4890.76 or $22.54 per night**

**148 days of that were $0 because of Couchsurfing/ staying with friends or family/ campground/ wild camping/ tent space

Most expensive night in a hotel was in North Carolina…WTF!

MISCELLANEOUS

One year total miscellaneous – $7745.49

Shipping to Cuba and back – $2613

Shipping to Europe – $1365.68

Oil changes – $298.24

I have a reusable stainless steel oil filter, so $0 cost

Ferries, abnormal amount mainly because of Norway! $609.69

GRAND TOTAL ONE YEAR ON THE ROAD = $24,034.74 or $65.67 day avg.

The problem is that it’s not a real average for everyone because of the unique expenditures. It would be very rare that a RTW would have these large expenditures in the first 12 months – 2x shipping, and the ferry total. If we remove those it will become more realistic for most travelers.

New Total = $19,446.37 or $53.28 per day for two people

If I was solo, I could realistically deduct $10 per day (maybe more) to make the year total = $15,796.37 or $43.28 a day.

**As a side note, to show how the numbers really average out against different times for me on the road and lots of different countries, to show its not a fluke number –

When I traveled solo RTW in 2014 my total expenses including shipping from Canada to South Korea came in at $44 per day avg.

When I traveled solo from Ushuaia to Prudhoe Bay to Newfoundland to Key West, back thru Central America, to Colombia and Venezuela and back to the US  I averaged $41 per day, that’s was in 2011/ 2012

Try not to see RTW travel as a daily expense, be aware of it, but try to see how it will average out over the months or years. Learn your own spending habits, become aware of the fluctuations that can happen – a rear tire might cost a weeks expenses but it’s inevitable and a requirement to the trip. That tire you need to average out over the total amount of days since the last tire was bought, so really it’s not a one-time $300 expense it’s $3 a day over 100 days. This way you will roughly know when the next rear tire is due and plan for it accordingly and maybe if you stay in that cheaper country for an extra week/ month you can also buy that tire there cheaper as well because you got to know a shop or some local riders who will help you out?

If you can, spend more time in the cheaper countries and less time in the more expensive ones. Also, if you can head to cheaper areas first, “learn the ropes” of traveling if you’ve never really traveled for long periods of time before.

To elaborate a little…

Where do I sleep? Hotels are decent, decent enough that my mother would stay in them! Campgrounds are clean and generally have showers, washers, and dryers, hostels I get my own room, only twice in 5 years have I been in a dorm. If possible I look for a place with cooking facilities. Secure parking is always a priority so I probably pay a little more because of that.

Where do I eat? Restaurants, street vendors for fruit and vegetables, roadside, fast food, supermarket food takes the majority so I can cook my own food, I enjoy cooking and then I also know the food is cooked how I like, its fresh and cleaned properly and it saves me a lot of money, usually 50-85%.

Motorcycle knowledge and maintenance? I owned three motorcycle shops (not metric, this is all new to me) for 17 years so I work on my bike myself and if for any reason I need to take it to a shop it never leaves my sight. The only reason it would ever go to a shop is if I need a specific tool that I don’t carry due to rare use.

In Romania, I went to a shop to have a tire changed because it was included in the price. I was the one that removed and replaced my wheel, I was watching the guy change the tire to make sure it was done right and I also did a little extra maintenance while I was there too because it was a convenient time to check brake pads, cush drive rubbers, final drive wear and tear etc. So, another way to save money for sure is to know your bike and how to fix as much as you can and do the service yourself, the only area you might fail in, is having a catastrophic failure.

Before I left the shop the owner came over and offered me a job! I thought about it but declined as winter wasn’t far away and it was time to head south – but if I (you) look at it another way, I could have stayed and worked and earned some cash, doing something I enjoy to further my travels. If you have a useable skill and can get work in another country it could help extend your travels as well. It would also open you up to new experiences that may not happen otherwise…be open to change.

 

 

I was interviewed last week and asked about slow travel and why is it cheaper? I have elaborated below what I said to clarify the point a little more and show why certain people go RTW and are back in 1-3 years and others are on the road for 5, 10, 15 years with what seems like the same amount of money and are still going…its the following principal – SLOW TRAVEL!

What I said was….’the slower you travel, the further you will go, you will see more and you will have more control over your money.’

I was asked to define my statement in more detail – “how traveling slower is cheaper?”

Well, I will give you an example, right now I’m in Greece, accommodation runs around $20 -$35 per night in a hotel, mostly closer to the $30 mark. The day to day price can vary a lot depending on location, of course, if you can stay in each location longer you can get a better deal. If we were here in our current location for 1 night the price would have been $35, 3 nights it came down to $30 a night, a week it was $20 a night…we are staying a month and negotiated $11.50 a night. So based on our current location we are saving over $500 a month and probably close to that in food costs as well, because of being abe to cook every day…basically, an extra $1000 we still have in the bank.

The last place we stayed was $75 a night we negotiated it down to $17 a night with a month stay!

Now add to that if you are on the move every day you tend to eat out more than making your own food, if you are a little more stationary then its the other way around, saving you money as well.

The other thing traveling like this you will see more, a lot more – a great many travelers never figure this out for a long time or sometimes not at all, so I’ll explain why.

Take any point on any map, of any country, put a dot on it, now draw a circle with a 200-mile radius. You are staying at the ‘dot’, travel within that circle return to your cheaper lodgings each evening when you have seen everything now move 200 miles from your dot and repeat.

Think about it, really let that sink in…this is where and how you reduce your expenses!

As I say you will see more and it will cost you less by saving on accommodation and food costs and you will have the chance to meet the locals, possibly find out about places not in guide books, or on the internet, meet and ride with local riders, live like a local at their prices and see a lot more things (maybe even score some discounts) than if you simply rode thru with a final destination in mind.

“The traveler sees what he sees, the tourist sees what he has come to see” – Gilbert K. Chesterton

RTW travel looks more and more affordable, doesn’t it?

If you have read my whole ride report on ADVrider and understand what I have seen in the last year, would you think $43 a day would be worth you taking off? I think so!

If you haven’t read my Ride Report then maybe you should…my ride report is here – LINK

Questions?

 

 

 

2016 and the beginning of a new RTW

January 2016 saw the stat of a new RTW, the chosen bike is the Yamaha Super Tenere. The ride started in Las Vegas and has been fully documented on ADVrider to date, and that ride report is here…LINK today (26th December 2016) there are some 79 pages and 1579 posts.

I am not going to rehash it here, that is a better place to read what’s been happening to date, and its a lot.

In the last 12 months i have been thru the following countries: USA, Mexico, Cuba, Belize, Guatemala, Mexico and the USA again, Canada, England, Scotland, Wales, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Finland, Norway, Germany and Poland again, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Moldova, Romania again, Bulgaria and Greece.

To date, the route has looked like this

2017 is next week, the RTW will continue and be updated here regularly. There is some new surprises and unique location coming up…stay tuned

 

 

2015 and the TAT

2015 was the least I have ridden in a lot of years, the main ride was the Trans America Trail or the TAT as its commonly called…a fully documented ride report is here…LINK with lots and lots of photos. It took three bikes to get it accomplished and a chase by some coyotes

…and a quick video of the ride is here…LINK

the WR250R page is HERE

I rode the TAT from Oklahoma to the Oregon coast

 

2013 to 2014 and a quick RTW

A return from South America…again, and more riding in the US.

Spring 2014 would see me head off RTW on a KTM…this is all documented in this ride report here…LINK

On the fist page you can jump to where I swapped to the KTM or click here…LINK

…and there is a complete build thread on that bike on this website or with questions and answers from other inmates it’s on ADVrider HERE

 

It was March 2011

Following on from the “about” me page…for the rest of the year, I would just ride…

 

I flew from the US to Argentina and eventually made it Ushuaia where my bike was waiting. From there I would head north via, Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, Belize, Mexico, USA, and Canada.

The whole detailed account of that ride is here…LINK

2012 saw less riding, in the earlier part of the year, but by the end, I had decided to head south again for a few months and saw 2013 arrive whilst in Venzuela

The culmination of those rides created this red line on the map which was approximately 80,000 miles or 129,000km

 

 

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