On The Road, Planning

Day 81 – Mueang Loei towards Mueang Chaiyaphum

Today is Day 81. Somewhere in there we lost a day and found it again when I was going through our notebook of expenses. Anyway, I put everything into an Excel spreadsheet for the first 80 days of our trip and this is what it comes to:

Room 475 Baht per day
Food 750 Baht per day
Bicycle 50 Baht per day
Comms 50 Baht per day
Laundry 25 Baht per day
Other 150 Baht per day
TOTAL 1,500 per day

One thing about touring is that everyone can do it their own way. Some people we have met, Thais that is, do it on 10,000 Baht per month. We, on the other hand, are spending 22,500 Baht per month each.

Room fees, on average, are 475 Baht. If I was a westerner new to Thailand I would tell you to double this budget if you truly wanted to be comfortable on your trip. A room is the same price for 1 or 2 people, but if you’re not sharing a room I think 950B would give you a very nice level of luxury during your ride. Having it under 500 Baht means during half the trip the rooms are shit. We are saving money by staying in rooms that someone who may not be used to some Thailand style accommodations might find unacceptable.

Our food bill is high. We spend 750 Baht per day for two people. It is true, you can get 35B meals here, and we do eat our fair share, never skimping on meals. I’d say that we normally have 2-3 meals per day each, so that’s about 210B from the 750. We also enjoy coffee each day, which costs around 120 Baht. My beer consumption, on average, costs about 60 Baht per day.

Now we’re down to 360 Baht of the 750 left. This amount will include all of our drinks during the day; the bottles of water, the soda (I drink diet Coke, it is my addiction), the juices that Natt enjoys, I would say those would all add up to about 100B per day. That leaves us 260 Baht of our daily food budget.

I would say that the remaining 260 Baht goes towards the one big meal that we have per day, usually that is our dinner meal. Sometimes this meal is only 100 Baht, but other times it can be up to 600 Baht when we eat at chain restaurants like Fuji Japanese or Pizza Company. This amount can be higher if we decide to have a bottle of wine or some cheese and crackers. Suffice to say that we both enjoy food, and I don’t think people should skimp on this part of their budget, we certainly haven’t.

On our bicycle, we are carrying spare tires and tubes, a bottle of chain lube, and a few other small items that keep us rolling. Some might think it’s a bit too much, but we’ve purchased 3 tires (2 cheap and 1 expensive) as a result of the flat that we experienced on the front wheel which destroyed the sidewall of the 20″ Schwalbe Marathon. We have also purchased a high quality 26″ fold-able rear tire. We figured carrying all of these spares was a prudent decision considering all of the time and effort that we spent sourcing a new front tire after the cheap one blew out.

Comms budget is for the use of our cellular telephones and the internet. We both have internet-enabled cellular phones, which can also be used at WiFi hotspots for our computers. If the hotel we are staying at does not have WiFi, we have found this feature on our phones invaluable, not only for updating the website, but also for using Google maps when we are inside a town or trying to find shortcuts or low traffic roads. One internet-enabled cellular phone would be enough, but we both like to research and play on our phones so each of us having our own keeps us both happy.

To keep our laundry budget low we try to find a place outside our hotel that will wash everything. It’s just so much cheaper. We’ve gone from 40B for 4 days worth of clothes to 250B for the same amount depending on the laundry shop. Most hotels would like to charge us 500-1,000 Baht for washing at their rates, and I would say that if you’re a farang traveling by yourself you will NOT get any discount from the hotel. Natt has been able to get 200-250B loads done at hotels for a bit cheaper when she pushed them for a deal, something a non-Thai speaker would not be able to negotiate.

The other  category of our budget pretty much covers everything else we encounter on our trip. It includes a wad of clothes we’ve purchased, 3 pairs of new shorts for me (I binned some old ones that were dead), 3 sports bras for Natt, something she’s very used to now and will most likely never take off, and also some lycra cycling shorts for Natt. Natt likes the lycra shorts, but when we started our trip she was wearing nothing but long pants to keep the sun from tanning her legs. Now, she’s a bit happier wearing shorts that keep her cooler and are easier to wash, even if her legs have gotten super-brown.

We also have purchased some new water bottles from POLAR. They are large, 700ml, and they keep the contents nice and cool, not as good as a camel back but still pretty good. I’ve also purchased some cycling shoe cleats as well as some other cycling-related odds and end. Along our route, Natt buys creams and moisturizers plus other girly things from shops.

We could save money, but our trip would be less fun and less comfortable without the things we’ve purchased along the ride. So, we’re happy. Originally, I was hoping to spend 1,000 Baht per day, so my planning was a bit low. I think some of it is because hotels are more expensive than they were 5 years ago, and also my need for white man food after a week of eating nothing but yellow man food admittedly increases the food budget. Don’t get me wrong, I love Thai food, but pizza, pasta, and cheese are things that I want to be able to enjoy on this trip.

Finally, I think I would like to add that this cycling trip is only marginally more expensive than what it was costing us to live in Hua Hin every month. So, day-for-day we’re not spending very much more to be traveling. The down side is that we’re not making as much money as we were when we were in Hua Hin. Using our experience you should be able to plan a similar budget for your very own cycling trip in Thailand.

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