Welcome to Thoughts from the Road. Here’s how Janell and Stu Clarke financed a nine year round the world motorcycle adventure – with three dogs…
Janell and husband Stu are two full-time adventure riders from Australia. The pair have been riding around the world since 2014 with their three rescue dogs covering over 200,000kms.
Follow their incredible adventures here:
Pillion Pooch Motorcycle Dog Carrier: pillionpooch.com
How We Financed a 9 Year Adventure
Hello! My name is Janell, and I am a full-time adventure rider on a 2006 F650GS along with my husband, Stu, on a 2012 G650GS. We’ve been riding around the world for the past 9 years with our rescue dogs, visiting 108 countries in the process.
Our journey began in Australia, and since then, we have covered more than 200,000 kilometres on two wheels. I was 28 years old when we started, and Stu was 33.
Before embarking on our epic adventure, we had great jobs in Sydney and saved around £107,000 (USD132K / AUD200K) for our trip. We selected an arbitrary budget of £53 (USD66 / AUD100) /day for a 2-year trip (excluding shipping costs and vet fees) but realised very quickly on the road that we could travel on a much lower budget and consequently travel for longer.
We started in North America and then moved to South America and we could live comfortably on £26 (USD33 / AUD50) per day, which meant we were able to stretch our budget much further than originally planned.
Increasing the time for a journey because you can stretch your budget further is fantastic news, ultimately it would be great if we could travel forever. But, long term travelling does take its toll especially when you are trying to do it as cheap as possible and you start collecting rescue dogs.
Work as you go
Over the 9 years I have been burnt out three times; after the Americas, after Africa and after Mongolia. I have needed a break from packing and unpacking, the uncertainty and the borders. I didn’t want to go home to Australia for many reasons, including the cost of flights and the process of getting our dogs in, so we were able to take a break from the road, get work in the UK to earn some extra cash and have mini adventures on our days off.
We did this for 6 months in 2016, 18 months in 2018/19, and then during Covid in 2021. These jobs mainly covered our cost of living in the UK, and a small amount of money went to savings/travelling. But I was able to get the rest I needed without eating into our travel money and still be in a foreign country exploring.
Set up a business
To supplement our travel budget, we started a small business called Pillion Pooch Ltd in 2018, manufacturing our very own motorcycle dog carrier. This product not only helped us take our dogs safely and comfortably around the world but also generated additional income to extend our travels and take a few extra detours along the way.
Setting up a business in a foreign country and then running that business while travelling was no easy feat, but it is rewarding, meaningful and something we are passionate about.
Once you get out of your comfort zone you realise just how many problems in the world still don’t have solutions. Maybe your adventure results in a cool device, app or product that is born out of your necessity and can help supplement your travel plans as well. Food for thought.
Amongst all these endeavours life has thrown us a few curveballs, and recently, we faced an unexpected and costly challenge while travelling in Southeast Asia. Australia changed its pet import policy in March, which meant that instead of heading home as planned in June, we will have to start the 6–7-month process for importing dogs into Australia from somewhere else. We have picked the US to make sure any policy changes won’t delay us again.
This period was not something we had budgeted for. To help with our unexpected expenses, we decided to launch a Kickstarter campaign for two travel books, something we had discussed writing in the future but could be a great project for us while we wait out the 6-7 months in the US getting our dogs ready to import into Australia. (If you’re interested in supporting our project and pre-ordering our books, check out our Kickstarter page)
We plan to write a short blog about our Kickstarter experience once it’s over, successful or not, to help other travellers who may be considering this route. In addition to the Kickstarter campaign, we are also setting up an online store with ‘print on demand’ merchandise featuring cool slogans, quotes, and images from our travels. Although the market for travel merchandise is quite saturated, we like the idea of ‘print on demand’ because it minimises waste by not creating excess stock that may not sell.
We have a unique angle with dogs and motorcycles and hope that this venture will provide some additional source of income to support our daily costs. We probably should have thought about this years ago but it’s never too late to have a go at something new.
My final thought is giving presentations. We are putting together a tour for when we reach the US in a couple of months. We’ve spoken to some well-known riders who have successfully pulled this off and the reality is that it’s not easy. It’s like getting sponsorship, there are so many riders out there doing the same thing that you have to somehow convince people you have something different, unique, to offer and really sell yourself.
You have a mixed bag of financial avenues we have utilised and a few we are currently trying. From my experience setting yourself up financially before you start travelling is the easiest way forward and keeping your costs down while you are travelling. There are many avenues we haven’t attempted that work successfully for friends of ours like sponsorship, paid content, YouTube videos, writing articles and taking photos. We never set out to do anything like that but it seems like a great way to supplement travel because you are capturing what you love doing.
After 9 years of travelling, we feel fortunate to have been able to explore the world on our own terms, but we know that there is an end in sight for a number of reasons. The top two reasons are that we are not in a financial position to continue travelling for more years and we have two older dogs that deserve a comfy retirement after all the miles they have covered.
It’s important to enjoy the journey but it’s also important for us to plan for the future and take care of our pack. If you’re dreaming of embarking on your own adventure, my advice would be not to get too caught up on the budget. There are plenty of ways to make it work and with a bit of creativity and determination, you can find success and forge unforgettable memories. I’ve never met a person who has regretted travelling. I have met many people who have regretted not travelling.
What do you think? Could you use one of these methods above to finance a round the world trip? How do you budget for your travels? Let us know in the comments below.
Thanks for checking out this Thoughts from the Road column. We hope you enjoyed it! Here’s a few more articles on round the world travel that we recommend you read next.