How to budget for a big bike adventure and nail the paperwork

How to budget for a big bike adventure and nail the paperwork


Paperwork and budgeting are the boring and stressful parts of planning a motorcycle trip, but they’re also two of the most important.

If you hit visa trouble or run out of money then your trip will come to an abrupt and premature end.

Here’s our guide to mastering the art of getting your papers and funds in perfect trim for a big trip…


What paperwork you need depends on the country you’re travelling through. Here’s what you need to consider:

1. Do I need a Carnet de Passage to enter the country or will I be allowed in with a Temporary Import document?
2. Do I need a visa to enter, how long does it last and where can I get the visa from?
3. Does this country require a Letter of Invitation (LOI)?
4. Do I need to pay for a compulsory guide for this country, such as is the case in China and Myanmar?
5. Will this country be upset if I’ve visited another country that they’re not friends with? Do I need an interview first and, if so, where?

What you might need:

1. You may need a Green card for some countries, like Turkey.
2. If you’re travelling as a couple you may need a marriage certificate for some countries.
3. Do I need to prove I’ve had particular vaccinations?

You will definitely need:

1. Passport with plenty of blank pages.
2. Driver’s licence.
3. International Driver’s Permit (IDP) (you don’t need this for every country, but some countries will not let you operate a vehicle without one, such as Japan).
4. Vehicle registration documents
5. Travel insurance. You don’t need to show that you have travel insurance to enter a country, but it’s so important that we stuck it here anyway. Don’t leave home on a motorcycle trip without it.

Top paperwork tips:

1. Make sure all your addresses and details match up on your documents. If they don’t it can cause trouble with the more pedantic border guards.
2. Make multiple back-ups of your paperwork. It’s worth having the originals securely squirreled away on your person. Make colour copies and have them easily accessible on the bike. Buy a cheap USB memory stick and also put your documents on there and keep that secure elsewhere. And finally, give copies to a trusted friend back home, or email them to yourself just in case. Sounds like overkill, but you’ll be happy you did it if you ever need it!
3. Make a laminate copy of your driver’s licence and passport. If you’re stopped by unscrupulous cops who demand a bribe in return for your passport, you’ll feel a lot happier saying no thanks and riding off if you gave them your laminate copy.


Travelling on the cheap doesn’t mean you need to live under a bridge and eat roadkill while you’re away. You can still have the time of your life while staying sensible with money and splashing out only when necessary. Follow these simple tips to travel cheap and you’ll save a mini-fortune.


Hotels, hostels and BnBs put the biggest dent in any budget. Even if you find a cheap place for £10 a night, you’re still looking at £280 a month.

Wild camping is the best remedy. Forget overcrowded campsites and build your own. It’s incredibly easy to wild camp once outside of Europe, just look for a river or lake on your map and set up camp close by. If it’s fresh water you can use that to cook and wash, which will reduce the amount of water you need to carry. Be sure to head far enough off the beaten track as you don’t want to attract curious locals. Wild camping is travelling in its purest, most visceral sense and you’ll have a blast doing it. Plus, it’s free.

Food and water

This is the next big expense and can put a dent in your budget. Try not to continuously splash out on restaurants by being prepared with your own food. Buy dry ingredients and have your meals on the road.

Try and go without sugary drinks and stick to water. Always carry a bottle and fill it up at safe water dispensers or fresh water fountains.

Water bills add up quite a lot on extended journeys so consider a purification device, boil it or top up your bottle at safe water sites.

Unfortunately, alcohol is one of the best ways to drain your wallet, try and limit the amount you consume if you want to stretch the pennies.

Keep track of spending

Budgeting sounds boring – and it is. But you’ll be surprised at how much you can save. Record your expenditure every day and study it at the end of the week, you’ll quickly see how many unnecessary purchases you make and what you’re spending habits are like.

Make a plan with how much you’re going to allow yourself for accommodation, food, water and miscellaneous and stick to it.

Your bank quietly drains money from your account too. Most high street banks have high charges for withdrawals and exchanges abroad, charging you foreign exchange and transaction fees every time you make a purchase.

Instead, opt for either the excellent Monzo or Revolut app-based bank cards. Top up your card and use it anywhere in the world. You can withdraw up to £200 for free from your account per month too. Withdraw over that and there’s a 2-3% charge, which is still considerably cheaper than high street banks and it resets at the end of the month anyway. All transactions are free with no exchange or transaction fees and you will save money using them. We have been for the last three years.

Andy Davidson and partner Alissa Potter are in the middle of a round-the-world odyssey on their Yamaha XT660. Andy is a former MCN journalist and travel writer and the pair run the blog site You can also follow their progress on social media as Mad or Nomad.