Real Cost



How Do I Calculate The Tour Cost
Cost Items Missing From Most Other Tour Company Prices
How To Compare Prices


Everyone says that the cheapest way to tour the Alps is to do everything yourself. That means that you do all the research on your own. You find and rent the motorcycle, you identify, book, locate and pay for the hotels, you pay for your own food and gas and then the raison d’être, you find your own way through the Alps.

I did that for 15 years – 2 times a year before I started Alps Tours. Lots of riders do it, but it can be a lot of work. Even now I spend 3 – 4 hours just researching a single new hotel in a great location at a realistic distance along the route.

I can tell you with absolute certainty that the way I route my tours now, where we stay, the places we visit and the logistics of how it all come together are way better today after doing it dozens and dozens of times, than it was way back when I did it for the first time – experience counts.

When you do it all on your own you pay the real cost without any profit or mark-up included for a tour operator.

You do the exact same thing on a Moto-Charlie tour, meaning that you pay for everything yourself – no hidden costs. I use my experience to do all the hard work for you.

The only extra cost on my tour is a separate, clearly identified fee for my services. That fee pays for Moto-Charlie to make all the motorcycle reservations, hotel reservations and guide every tour. The amount of this fee is significantly less than the profit and mark-ups built into other tour operator prices.


To keep things simple I calculate the cost per person, both for a single rider or a passenger using:

  • the MOST EXPENSIVE OPTION – A single person in a single room
  • the average total cost per day
  • then I multiply the total cost per day times the number of tour days

The estimate below assumes a rented motorcycle similar to a BMW F750GS or F900XR, both great alpine bikes and both available with hard luggage.


+ Motorcycle – $140/day
+ Hotels (Includes Dinner and Breakfast) – $135/day
+ Incidentals (Lunch and Gas per day) – $65/day
+ Moto-Charlie Fee – $165/day


+ Motorcycle – $0
+ Hotels (Includes Dinner and Breakfast) – $135/day
+ Incidentals (Lunch and Gas per day) – $30/day
+ Moto-Charlie Fee – $140/day

COUPLES SHARING A ROOM (or 2 riders for that matter) – As noted above my costs assume a SINGLE person in a SINGLE room – the most expensive booking. The fact is that  sharing a room can save $200 to $300 per person on average. For a couple riding 2-up that $400 to $600 savings is enough money to upgrade to a R1200RT or K1600GT and still stay within my cost budget.


On my tours there is no markup. With the other tour companies, you’re given an all-inclusive price that (1) is missing certain cost items so it really isn’t all-inclusive, and (2) gives you no way to tell how much their fee really is because their costs are bundled together.

  • RIDING DAYS – Be sure to pinpoint how many riding days there are. Some major tours advertise 12 or 14 day vacations but the days at each end really include air travel time and the first day is an arrival/orientation day. So your “14-day” motorcycle tour ends up being only 11 days of riding. Many 8-day tours end up being 5 days of riding, etc. My tours assume that every day is a riding day with the cost of the motorcycle rental built in.
  • SINGLE ROOM SUPPLEMENTS – My cost comparison above assumes a single traveler. Most tour groups charge a single room add-on of $300 – $750 over the cost of sharing a room with another tour participant.
  • EXTRA DINNERS – Most tours have free days where you are in the same town for more than one night. Frequently dinner is not included in the tour price for those nights in case you want to eat somewhere different than the prior night. I include an average of $40 per dinner for free days (it costs a little more in Switzerland and a bit less in Austria, France and Italy).
  • GAS, LUNCH AND INCIDENTALS – Remember to add $60 – $70 per day to the tour price from other tour companies for incidental expenses to cover lunch, gas, etc. (the $65/day is included in my cost numbers above).
  • MOTORCYCLE UP-CHARGE – Some tours provide a 650cc or similar displacement motorcycle as standard and they charge extra for larger displacement bikes.
  • MY TOUR COSTS INCLUDE ALL OF THE ABOVE – With other tour providers you can expect to spend another $600 to $2,600 or more than the published prices, depending on the length of tour.


It can be difficult to compare tour costs from company to company. The number of days is usually different, the motorcycles can be different, there are single room supplements, low season pricing, etc.

One way to help you understand the cost difference is to figure the cost per day.

Take my 14-day TOP 10+ tour for example. The $7,070 covers all expenses for the motorcycle, hotels, meals, gas and my fee. We ride all 14 days. The all-in Moto-Charlie cost to tour per day is $505.

There are several big tour companies (“BTC”) that offer the F850GS for a 15-day tour (days 1 and 15 at each end are for air travel) and 13 days of riding. The average “posted” price for these tours is approx. $7,400 (some companies charge more, some less) for a single rider in a single room.

Single Rider

Riding days: MC = 14/BTC = 13

850 cc Bike


650 cc Bike

Big Tour Comp

Posted Tour Cost
Surcharge for Upgrade to F850GS
Surcharge for Single Room
Extra for Layover Meals on Free Days
Incidentals for Gas and Lunch @ $65/day
Extra Cost Going With A Big Tour Company
>>> >>>
Cost Per Day

Now you have some basis for comparison. The difference in cost per day is $210 or 41% more with a BTC and that is with one day less of riding. That means that on a 14-day tour like mine it would cost more than $2,600 more to go with a big tour company. The total cost can be up to $4,600 more expensive when you travel as a couple.

 If you think that your trip will be longer, or shorter, than my tour schedule or if you have some significant cost issue that is not part of the regular tour activity and you would like some assistance in calculating your cost, please let me know.

Obviously you should not pick a tour company based on price alone. On a Moto-Charlie tour you get more than 35 years of personalized Alpine experience, a unique riding mix of classic Alpine passes and local hidden gems, clean, friendly Alpine style hotels in great locations, and a wide choice of brand new reliable motorcycles all intended to give you the most bang for your dollar, or Euro, or Swiss Franc.