August 20, 2011 - January 7, 2012
In order to travel the distance and for the amount of time we had planned, it was important to maintain a strict budget. Food, lodging, parts and repair expenses, along with fuel costs and efficiency were monitored and recorded. The expense data on this page represents all expenses up to the point where we got into the accident. After the accident, an additional CA$1,250 was spent on a flight home, CA$1,310 was the cost to ship the motorcycle from San Salvador by sea, and CA$150 was spent on a hotel on our last night in El Salvador. These expenses were not added to the total cost shown below since these costs do not represent normal travel expenses.
Of all our expenses, the least was spent on lodging. Paula and I did as much stealth camping as we could. Neither of us could justify spending $30 at a campsite to sleep outside. Near the end of the day just before dusk, we would begin to look for a suitable and discrete place to set up camp. This turned out to be one of the highlights of our trip. We found some strange, interesting and often breathtaking places to pitch the tent. We camped next to lakes and rivers, at the side of the highway, in public parks, in parking lots.
After several days without a shower, and when we needed some time to rest and recover, Paula and I contacted couch-surfers. Couchsurfing.org is a social network for travellers and like-minded people who are willing to open up their homes for people who are on the road. A host offers a spare bed, a couch or even a floor to sleep on. The website and hosting is completely free of any charge and is based on reciprocity, and the goal of making travel more easy, affordable, and accessible, while encouraging lasting personal connections with people from all walks of life all over the world. Though the benefit of free accommodation is appealing, neither Paula nor I could imagine the trip without the couch-surfing experience that resulted in the life-long friends that we made through it.
When we weren't couch-surfing or camping, there were a few times that Paula and I were taken in by complete strangers. Stranded by the rain in Durango, Colorado all day, we were offered a place to stay by the manager of a Subway sandwich shop. While in Page, Arizona, a stranger at a McDonald's, who was waiting for his girlfriend to get off work, offered us a place to set up our tent where they were staying.
We kept food costs low by often (too often, according to Paula) eating at Subway sandwich shops. We usually opted for a $5 foot-long, which we both split, and glasses of water. At two dollars and fifty cents per person, it was an extremely inexpensive and relatively healthful meal. We often frequented Subway for their $3 breakfasts as well. As much as we ate at Subway, Paula can no longer stomach even the smell of passing by a store.
Groceries stores were a good option as well. Limited in space and not having any sort of cooler, we weren't able to carry a lot of food. We did often stock up on nuts, dried fruit, trail mixes and beef jerky. Apples and bananas were also an inexpensive and nutritious snack. We also carried an MSR stove and camp fuel with us, but only used it once to heat up some pork and beans and a can of Spaghetti-Os.
When staying with family, friends and couch-surfing hosts, meals were usually provided. If we stayed more than a few days with anyone, Paula and I would like to buy a load of groceries and cook for everyone.
Fuel Prices & Efficiency
When it came to fuel prices, for the most part, we were pretty much at the mercy of the greedy and corrupt oil companies. There is the idea that the earth's natural resources should benefit all people, instead of mainly benefiting a relatively small number of large, multi-national corporations who, in the quest to maximize profits, destroy the environment, engage in price-fixing, lobby against renewable sources of energy, and influence governments who create wars, under the veil of spreading freedom and democracy, in order to secure access to oil resources.
Despite being relatively oil-rich, we, in Canada, pay much higher fuel prices than in The United States. Canadians always find it funny when we hear Americans complaining about the price of gas. I'm sure Europeans feel the same way about all North Americans.
During the entire trip, we filled the motorcycle with a minimum of 91 octane. The highest price for fuel was CA$1.77 per liter (US$6.82 per gallon) between Banff and Jasper, Alberta, Canada. I expected higher than average fuel prices in this area due to its relatively remote location. At CA$0.78 per liter (US$2.82 per gallon), the cheapest fuel prices were in Chiapas, Mexico. Over the course of the entire trip through Canada, The United States, Mexico, Belize, Guatemala and El Salvador, the average price of fuel was CA$1.10 per liter (US$4.14 per gallon).
Fuel efficiency was monitored by noting the distance travelled between fill-ups, when the fuel light came on, and how much fuel was added since the last fill-up. This would result in a number for fuel efficiency that could be extrapolated using the tank capacity in order to determine the tank range. These numbers varied significantly depending on what type of riding was being done (highway, city, off-road, etc.).
An excerpt from the spreadsheet created to record, calculate and monitor fuel efficiency and costs: