Cost of my 101 days Bicycle Tour across Europe

While I was cycling around Europe, a number of people asked me how much I have been spending, what is the budget, how much does it cost etc. Well here it is. The exact total cost of my 101 days bicycle tour from London (26th Aug) to Athens (4th Dec) is £1976.88. This includes everything. By everything I mean everything from food, accommodation, transport, bicycle maintenance, repairs, replacement parts, visa fee, entrance to tourist attractions, cigarettes, drinks, some new equipment etc. Luckily I used a single Credit Card throughout the tour so it was pretty easy for me to figure out the total cost.

Obviously the costs vary from country to country. I cycled through 19 countries from very expensive ones in Western Europe like Switzerland, Germany, France to very cheap ones in Eastern Europe in the Balkans like Albania, Serbia and Romania.

Exact Cost

  • Total Cost: £1976.88
  • Total No of Days: 101
  • Cost Per Day (1976.88/101): £19.57
  • Paid Accommodation (hostels, hotels and campsites) : 6 Nights

Approximate Costs

Following are some approximate costs throughout the tour that are part of the exact total cost but I could never keep track of them accurately on the road:

  • Accommodation (only 6 nights in hostels, hotels and campsites): £60
  • Transport (like Ferries, buses and subway while in the cities): £48
  • Equipment (that I bought on the Road like Saddle, Water Filter, kick stand etc):  £375
  • Bike Service & Maintenance (like replacing brake pads, chain etc): £186
  • Visa Fee: 0
  • Sightseeing: £10
  • Travel Insurance: 0
  • Food: A lot, basically everything Minus all of above (£1977 – £679) = £1298


I camped almost 80% of the trip. I camped along the rivers, coasts, lakes, roadside, on the cliffs, hills, in forests, farms, peoples gardens, vineyards, churches, mosques, even inside a castle 🙂 Basically anywhere where I felt it was safe and away from the crowd. When I was not camping, I was staying at local people’s houses either through the fantastic Warmshowers platform or just knocking on doors randomly. I used Warmshowers extensively. It’s very similar to CouchSurfing but exclusive for cyclists. It’s an incredible way to meet locals and learn more about their culture, food, history and above all making amazing friends in the process. Warmshowers and Couchsurfing platforms are both free to use.  Throughout the whole trip I only paid 6 nights out of 101 mostly when I stayed in cities or couldn’t find appropriate place to camp or if it was too cold. It was about more or less £60.


Even though I was on a bicycle, there were times when I had to pay for transport, mainly ferries for crossing rivers or using public transport like buses and subways while staying in big cities. I spent more or less £48 in total.

Equipment on the Road

I started my tour with basic necessary gear and picked up some extra and replaced existing gear as I felt necessary. Some of this stuff was pretty expensive like a Brooks Saddle (€115), Water Filter (€50), Head Torch (€50) along with other not so expensive stuff like frame bags to organise my stuff a bit, a wind-breaker top, carabiners etc. I also had to replace some stuff because of wear and tear, broken, lost or simply because I didn’t like them :). These were things like shoes, Air Mattress, kick stand, camping light, glasses etc.

Bike Service & Maintenance

When you are on the road for that long, you quickly build a lot of mileage. A bike is a machine after all and like any other machine some parts will wear out eventually and needs replacing like brake-pads, tyres, chain, cassettes, sprockets etc.

Visa Fee

The best thing about cycling through europe on a british passport is that there is no visa fee at all.

Sightseeing & Tourist Attractions

The only time I had to pay, as far as i remember, for a tourist attraction was a photography exhibition in Thessaloniki. Apart from that I didn’t feel the urge to visit any attractions where I had to pay, mainly because I was already seeing so much while cycling between the towns and cities. When I was in the cities, usually I was taking tip based free walking tours which are available in every big city.

Travel Insurance

I didn’t have any travel insurance except the European Health Insurance Card. However, I wouldn’t recommend anyone to travel without an appropriate travel insurance.


I spent a lot on food, nearly £13/day. Mainly on Coffees :). I was not carrying any sort of cooking equipment and I never felt the need to buy any on the road either. Maybe because I was just too lazy or couldn’t be bothered. I was mostly eating cold food from supermarkets like Porridge, milk, yogurt, bread, cheese, nutella, peanut butter, other spreads and sauces, tin food (lentils and beans), sandwiches, bakery items. Every now and then I would eat hot food like local street food like kebabs, gyros, souvlaki. I was also getting hot meals when staying at people’s houses through Warmshowers or cooking pasta myself in their kitchens.


Everyone has its own way of living and spending while traveling. The above are just my costs. In London I was paying £600/month rent just for the room. Here, on the tour, I spent more or less the same but for everything. It is just to give you an idea and possibilities of venturing on such a trip. You can spend way less or way more depending on your needs and priorities and can be really flexible with it. For example you can spend less on food by carrying cooking equipment and preparing most of the meals yourself or you can stay in hotels more often if you have a healthy budget.

Apart from the above costs, there are some other costs before you start your bicycle tour. These include things like the cost of your bike and camping gear if you don’t already have one, panniers, plane tickets if you are not starting from home, necessary vaccinations etc. But these vary from person to person and the type of trip.  I will write about my bicycle and equipment in another post. For now if you have any sort of questions feel free to get in touch.

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Quote of the Week

“The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” – Saint Augustine

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Rhinos – The Chubby Unicorns

I never imagined a click of my camera would scare a bunch of Rhinos in the wild like this… what a cute thing they are 🙂

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Quote of the Week

“If you think adventure is dangerous, try routine; it’s lethal.” – Paulo Coelho

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Travelling to Africa, First Time? Time to be a Pincushion!

All the countries I have traveled so far are European. I have also traveled to Dubai and Pakistan and I never had to think about vaccinations. Well for Pakistan may be i should have but hey its my home country, so you know I was chilled. When i was planning my trip to Africa few months back though, I did have some idea in the back of my mind that I need to get vaccinated against some diseases. What i didn’t know at that time that its going to become one of the most important part of planning this trip. I booked an appointment at my GP six weeks before the trip thinking its enough time to get a couple of jabs. I was wrong. That 15 minutes appointment turned into an hour. You must be wondering what the hell!. Well it turns out that I needed vaccine against the following lot

  • Meningitis
  • Typhoid
  • Hep A
  • Hep B
  • Tetanus
  • Polio
  • Diphtheria
  • Cholera
  • Yellow Fever
  • Rabies
  • Measles


You must be wondering why do I need all these? Didn’t i have them when I was young? No i didn’t, well i did, but since I was born in Karachi and I didn’t have any record of my childhood vaccines here in UK , I wanted to get all of them. I did actually got some record from my father about my childhood vaccines. God bless him, you can find records of everything somewhere in a file in his cupboard.


That’s my father and my youngest brother, Crazy haan! 🙂 … selfie-ing while enjoying football worldcup final on tv back home in July, while I was in Croatia with my other half in a hostel for UltraEurope


Anyway back to vaccinations. My father emailed me a scan copy next day, but unfortunately either some of them were expired or needed a booster, and I also thought because they are free why not just get them all :). Me and the nurse spent an hour figuring out the schedule what vaccine to do when, as some of them required more than one jabs, some can’t be taken at the same time and some have to be taken at certain intervals. It was kind of panicking situation, for me atleast. Firstly I was trying to fit in all the vaccines within a period of 6 weeks as I didn’t want to go to Africa missing any of these, especially with the Ebola thing going on recently. Secondly I had the impression that all the vaccinations will be free of charge, covered by NHS.. Right? Well it turns out I was wrong there too. Ok most of them were free but Rabies 3 injections £50 each, there you go £150. Yellow Fever £70, Meningitis £60, my GP even wanted to charge me for Cholera and Hep B, and on top of that Antimalarial…oh my god it was a nightmare, all the budget that I have been planning all these months, just 6 weeks before the trip I could already see dwindling in front of my eyes!…Africa, the land of amazing wild life and contrast, in that time, was the land of diseases for me 🙂 Anyway somehow we manage to schedule and tomorrow will be my last day for a couple of more jabs and then I will be on my way, all super immune like an Africa Tarzan 🙂

The point I am making here is to make travel vaccination an important part of your trip planning. Even if you are going to a place where you think there is no need of vaccine, just make sure you check through an authentic source. It will affect your budget and  will require time and planning.

FitForTravel is the site where you can find details of what vaccines are required for what destination. The recommended vaccines here are obviously the ones given in UK as it’s a UK-based website. If you are UK-based, always check on NHS website what vaccines are free. My GP was charging for Cholera and Hep B, but after showing her the website and some debate, she got convinced and I got them for free. She was looking to charge me £80 for Cholera and £105 for Hep B (3x jabs). I mentioned about giving time and planning because there are vaccines like Yellow Fever that has to be taken at least 10 days before entering some countries e.g. Kenya. For vaccines that are not free at NHS, shop around, don’t just believe that your GP is the cheapest option e.g. look for the prices at SuperDrugs, Boots etc. NomadTravel has good prices.

Obviously you can travel without getting vaccinated, and you might think you can get vaccines once you are there but remember it’s for your own safety, why take a risk and there are some countries where you can’t even enter without certain vaccines e.g. Kenya, where they require proof of yellow fever vaccine at the immigration.

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Quote of the Week

“Not all those who wander are lost.” – J.R.R. Tolkien

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TMB Day 3 – Les Contamines to Les Chapieux

The breakfast was a bit funny at Chalet-Mant-Borant. I don’t think it was enough, for some reason you only get one slice of orange…strange 🙂

The morning started out gently from Les Contamines towards Col De Bonhomme


As we were walking I came across a Swiss flag on this hut


For a moment I got confused whether I was in France or Switzerland.


Soon we reached another hut and had a water stop. The sun starts shinning, it started getting hot and  while Clare stripped off into her shorts, everybody looked at her interestingly wishing they had a convertible trouser 🙂


meanwhile Christine was testing her shooting skills on myself once again 🙂 with a view looking down the valley back towards Les Contamines. This specific place was some kind of nature reserve. I think the whole trail is a nature reserve 🙂



Even though autumn was nearly there, as we gradually ascend, wild flowers started showing up making the walk even more beautiful. It is then I discovered the micro mode in my camera. After that it was …well I turned into a flower photographer 🙂





Another Selfie, as pretty as flowers 🙂





Hiking past cow pastures


with the tinkle of cowbells as an accompaniment


Spotted Sundog too 🙂


Check out the contrails in the sky. There were hundreds of them


As we took another water break, Flo posed on a pile of rocks, Plan des Dames 2043m

One last ascent to Col Du Bonhomme


looking back while ascending. When you hiking steep and you look back to catch your breath and presented with a wonderful view, Its such amazing feeling:)


View from Col du Bonhomme (2329m)


And looking back all the way to Les Contamines. This green tshirt i bought the day before at Les Contamines. Looking good aye 🙂


Chilling on Col du Bonhomme


From Col Du Bonhomme we made the traverse to the Croix du Bonhomme


Alex and Wasim



Approaching Refuge de la Criox


At Refuge de la Criox (2483m,) we were rewarded with awesome views down into the Vallee des Chapieux.


As we queue up for ordering our lunch, the waiter was trying to explain us the french menu in English


this was my dessert, Walnut Tart and I and had Quiche for the lunch 🙂


Another group enjoying the view


while a shepherd and his two clever dogs were herding sheep


and the ibex were grazing


I tried to be innovative. My Meindl Toronto GTX boots serving perfectly for the last two years now


We then descend to Les Chapieux,
Just before reaching out Refuge De la Nova we came across a water stream and everybody decided to get a natural foot spa. It was a wonderful idea and I loved it. The water was a bit cold but it felt great submerging feet against the rapid flow of cold water in the sun. It took away all the pain and tiredness from the feet.

After the spa we head to De la Nova, our home for the evening.




De la Nova was surrounded by lovely mountain views. Owned by a French couple, it was an accurate version of the local “Auberge”. For dinner we had Lasagna and potatoes. It was also Jacky’s Birthday and there was a great atmosphere at the dinner table. There were quite a few other groups and it was very lively. That night, before going to bed, we had the opportunity to see an amazing display of lightning and thunder. I guess it rained all night too.

Categories: Europe, France | Tags: , | 2 Comments

Quote of the Week

“Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.”

Ibn Battuta

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TMB Day 2 – Les Houches to Les Contamines

We set off early morning after a healthy breakfast at our hotel La Chamonix for our first day’s hiking. We took the local bus to the village of Les Houches, a famous ski resort, which is about 6km from Chamonix.


Group waiting at the bus stop in Chamonix for Les Houches


View from Les Houches

We didn’t spend too much time exploring Les Houches as it was supposed to be a long day. From Les Houches we took a cable car up to Bellevue (1800m). Once on the top we were admiring a 360° panorama over the Mont Blanc massif, Chamonix, its needles and the chain of Fiz and Aravis.


View of the needles from the Bellevue station


View of the Chamonix from Bellevue


Selfie with needles in the background



Our first group photo of the hike. Courtesy of Clare, our group leader

From here we started hiking towards valley of Les Contamines-Montjoie passing by Bioniassay glacier and the Col du Tricot.


I spotted the TMB circuit map and decided to take the picture of it. You could see the red spot showing where we were on the map. We were doing the circuit anticlockwise.


As expected, I acknowledged the fact that the trail was very well-marked.


Here we also come across the Tramway du Mont-Blanc that goes up to the Nid d’Aigle (“Eagle’s Nest”), the starting point of the ascent of Mont Blanc by the famous “Normal Route”.



Alex, from Canada, was very excited as it was his first ever hiking trip. It reminded me of my first hiking day trip from Amberley to Arundel. I could still clearly remember walking through lush green fields with views of hills everywhere. And i know that day changed my life …well i become an avid hiker 🙂




Leaving behind Bioniassay glacier view and walking towards Col de Tricot.

After walking for an hour through a forest like patch, we encounter first suspension bridge :)… there is something about these mountain bridges that excites me 🙂


Clare taking her time no the bridge

After crossing the bridge, the views opened up once again and as we walked towards Col de Tricot we had amazing views of glacier Bionassay once again ..or may be it was Plan Glacier I don’t know…it was all beautiful 🙂



After about an hour, we reached Col de Tricot (2120m) where we had a short rest


a couple enjoying the view while having snacks


Wasim came up with the idea of taking one-legged picture 🙂


Sheep wandering 🙂


another selfie


As we descent into the valley





Some pretty hut in the valley


Lunching time at some hut


I spotted this ancient pair of skis in the hut on the wall


While we were lunching, horses were grazing under the glacier too


Leaving behind the valley and hiking up towards Le Truc






Views from Auberge Le Truc


We then hike down into the lovely Les Contamines












We found donkeys and Alein couldn’t resist to give her regards 🙂


From Les Contamines we climbed up along an old never ending Roman road, some thousands years old, past an original Roman bridge to the hut which was our stop for the night, in the valley leading to the Col du Bonhomme.



We finally reached our hut Chalet-Mant-Borant. Everybody was so tired at this point and glad that it was finished. The Gite or accommodation where we were staying was an authentic mountain refuge. The idea behind the establishment of these “gites” or refuges is that local shepherds would provide food and shelter to anyone in need in the mountains. In use for three generations, this cosy place had accommodation in large unisex rooms equipped with long multi-share bunk beds, inside an authentic renovated “bergerie” (barn)


In front of the hut there was a lovely place to sit around and chill with a view



View from the hut


While I was chilling with an occasional fag with coke, Christine impressed me with her shooting skills 🙂


Happy hikers at the dinner table. The family who run the gite cooked a basic but delicious local dinner for us.

Estimated Hiking Time: 6hrs 30mins
Approximate Distance Hiked: 20 kms
Elevation: Start 1801m; Highest 2500m; Finish 1450m

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Tour du Mont Blanc – Day 1

Before I go on writing about my amazing Tour du Mont Blanc trip, let me tell you a bit about it.

Tour du Mont Blanc aka TMB, is over 100 miles hiking trail in the alps circling Mont Blanc massif. According to National Geographic it is one of the dream trails. And no wonder it is. I did it and I can endorse it. It’s a heavenly experience. You hike through three different countries (France, Italy, Switzerland) and over several mountain passes with some of Europe’s most dramatic glaciers and scenery on display. The majesty of Mont Blanc with the summer flora of wildflowers and alpine meadows has inspired generations of alpine visitors, attracting mountaineers and hikers from around the world for over two hundred years. To me it was not just the scenery but the civilization and food in between that makes it super awesome. Along the way you will go through villages and huts where your cravings will be fulfilled from locally made wines to Swiss fondue, from cheese and French bread to Italian hot chocolates, you can even pick berries on the way and you will always be a happy hiker at the dinner table :). You can soak it in over seven to ten days or go ultra and run it in 3 days, that’s insane though. No matter how you choose to do it, it is an extraordinary adventure and a treat for a novice as well as an experienced hiker.

I flew to Geneva from Gatwick arrived there in the evening. It was an hour drive from Geneva in Switzerland to Chamonix in France. Here I would like to mention that if you are planning to go to France from Geneva, don’t expect Euros from ATMs at the airport. The ATMs only dispense Swiss Franc, don’t know why, but that’s the way it is. Anyway something to remember. Chamonix is where the trail was supposed to start and end. It’s an authentic French mountain town, located at the foot of Mont Blanc. Its was very lively, almost like the Ibiza of outdoors, full of outdoor activity shops and rentals from cheap to expensive brands, with restaurants and bars everywhere. It lies in one of the most picturesque valleys of the French Alps, with innumerable alpine peaks towering around you, pine forests, alpine valleys to explore, and beautiful glaciers spilling from the high massif. The town is home to 10,000 inhabitants, swelling to 100,000 during peak season. You can see the towering peaks of Aiguilles Rouges and Aiguille du Midi. On a clear day you can even see the north side of the summit Mont Blanc itself.

I managed to arrive at the Chamonix Hotel just in time for the important welcome meeting at 6pm. The interior of the hotel was all in wood, giving it a very typical Alpine atmosphere. I met Clare, our tour lead. She gave us a brief overview of what to expect and I soon figure out that our lead was going to be awesome throughout the trip, which was very important for me because a bad leader can ruin your trip. During the briefing I also found out that we were lucky that the weather forecast for the next few days was going to be fantastic as oppose to how dreadful it had been for the last few weeks.

After the briefing and settling in the hotel, we hit the town, picked up some missing bits from a recommended outdoor shop (can’t remember its name) ,walked through the streets and ended up in a lovely french restaurant for dinner. During this time I met all the people in the group and I was pretty happy to find out that everyone was reasonable :)…well you know what i mean 🙂 There were 12 of us. It was a really good mix of different ages ranging from 21-70 from US, Canada, Wales and Japan. Obviously me from Pakistan. Surprisingly I also found out that one of the guys in the group, Wasim from California, his origin was from Pakistan too. I felt excited as it was great to know that there was someone to have banter in my own language (Urdu) during the next 10 days :)..although at this point I wasn’t sure of his personality completely, he turned out to be one of the best fellow hiker you could ever imagine…more on him later 🙂

Arriving at Geneva airport

Our hotel in Chamonix “Hotel Le Chamonix”

Busy evening in Chamonix

Lucky to have a clear view of Mont Blanc summit from Chamonix. We also manage to see Aiguille du Midi.

La Moraine, French restaurant where we had the dinner

My dessert, wasn’t very excited 😦

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