So you're prepping for your very first cycling tour, eh? Don't know what to bring along with you, eh? Well, don't worry. I've done a ton of research in preparation for my own tour and figured that I'd share the knowledge with all of you fellow cyclists and adventurers out there! **Disclaimer** I'm no cycling expert or anything, but I am pretty good at pinching pennies where I can, so there's that. You're welcome.
Before I get started, though, let me first say that touring equipment is not cheap, but don't let that deter you from wanting to do your own cross country tour. In fact, I encourage it! If you're smart about it, you'll discover ways of cutting costs where you can in order to help you to achieve your goal of crossing the country by bicycle, rather affordably. Borrowing gear, for example, is a great start and is the number one way of cutting thousands of dollars from your overall expenses. So if you have any cyclist friends out there who would be willing to lend you some gear, don't be afraid to give them a call and let them know what you're up to. Use your resources. I'm sure they would be happy to help you out in any way that they can. Just make sure you send them a handmade thank-you card or something in return- they'd really love that. Yes it has to be handmade. Store-bought is way too easy.
Personally, borrowing gear wasn't on my radar at all. As an avid cyclist, I was interested in making the investment into touring for the long haul, but was also very interested in not breaking the bank. I wanted something of my own that I would be able to take on several tours to come, so I spent a lot of time preparing and working to save for that investment. But enough chat, let's get started! Below I've listed some of the most helpful guides that I followed to help me save money on purchasing gear. I know that a lot of the information might seem like common sense, but useful none-the-less.
TIP NUMBER ONE
- Don't buy all your gear in one place. Shop around. In my next post, I'll lay out the full list of websites that I purchased all of my gear from and even give you a rundown of where each item came from. As easy as it is to do a one stop shop and get everything you need in one place, it isn't going to work wonders for your wallet -trust me. For example, when I was looking into purchasing an Ortlieb handlebar bag, it seemed that the price range (depending on the site) varied anywhere between $100-$130. I knew I could find a better deal and with a bit more research, I did. I came across a German-based sporting website that was selling Ortlieb handlebar bags for $72.14. The website was also offering a promotion at the time of purchase and I was able to save an additional $7.21. Although shipping overseas did shoot the overall cost up by $20.31, bringing the grand total up to $85.24, I was still paying far less than I would have had I gone through any other sporting goods website (about $30 saved!). If you're curious, Exxpozed.com is the site where I found this deal, but just as a heads up.... I did check to see if they still had the same Ortlieb bags for sale and unfortunately they don't, but it's still a great resource to use anyway! Maybe you'll be able to snag a great deal on another product! Give it a shot.
TIP NUMBER TWO
- Patience is a virtue & plan ahead. As cliché as that may sound, it's a phrase that keeps getting beaten to bones because it's the truth! The further in advance that you plan your tour the more time you will have to think about when to buy and where to buy from which will open up a plethora of opportunities to catch a great deal. Here's a scenario for you: It's the month of October. You have no gear, but you're financially ready to make the investment. Although your tour isn't until February, you're starting to feel antsy because it's only a few months away. So, you go to your computer. Load your cart with all the gear and make the purchase feeling very confident about doing so. Now back reality. What wasn't thought of in this case? The holidays are coming up and pretty soon retail and online stores will begin clearing out products to make room for the new ones in the next coming season and the new year. Black Friday, Cyber Monday, White sales all happening from November-January. So if you're able to wait that extra month...do it.
TIP NUMBER THREE
- Define your wants and needs. This is something that's been drilled into my head ever since I was a kid and a life lesson that I truly am grateful for- thanks dad. The gist of this tip is this: What comforts are you willing to sacrifice in order to leave more resources (resources being, money) available for the absolutely necessary components of life and vice versa? To give you an example of this, I bought a new pair of shoes to cycle in. They weren't the fancy clip kind that some hard-core cyclist swear by and will tell you that you need, because believe it or not, you actually don't. I bought a pair of shoes that could withstand rain and would dry quickly simply because I loathe soggy socks and wet feet and thought that it would be the absolute worst thing in the world to cycle for hours on end in wet shoes. No, sir. I am not about that life. Now here's the thing, did I really need to buy new shoes? Were these shoes going to provide me with food, water, and shelter? The honest answer is no. I could have definitely chosen to cycle in a pair of sneakers that I already had, but if you've ever walked in the rain in wet canvas sneakers you understand where I'm coming from. So, in this case you see, comfort was my priority.
TIP NUMBER FOUR
- Become an REI member. I can't even begin to tell you what a godsend becoming a member has been and spending the $20 bucks to become one has already paid for itself in savings. So, if you're like me and are starting with absolutely no gear for tour, you might want to consider becoming a member. Every so often, REI will offer its members special discount coupons off of their retail and REI outlet items. On top of all that, some products are part of the membership dividend which means that you get money back when you purchase the item! How wild is that, right?! One of the last things that I had to buy for tour were front and rear derailleurs to finish building my touring bike. Sure, I could have purchased the derailleurs all in the same place, but refer back to tip number one. You can always find something at a better price. REI had the derailleurs that I was looking for (on sale) and at the time was offering its members a special discount coupon, plus I had 20 something dollars from my dividend to put towards the derailleurs, so I ended up only paying a third of what it would have normally cost me.