Since starting this blog we’ve had quite a few questions from folks interested in the whole budget/expenses side of things and we certainly understand the need to ‘cut your cloth according to your measure’, as they say in Ireland (ie. be aware of your own financial limitations).
If you have been following this blog, you’ll know we spent 12 months on the road fulltime, not working/not earning and the only way to do that, the reality (that no one wants to hear), is to have the necessary monies saved up beforehand.
A lot of travelers will tell you that an average budget of USD $3,000/month is a good place to start when working out finances for a trip (for a couple, traveling in North America) but, we’ve found that this can vary wildly and it depends on a lot of factors.
The Big 3
These are the 3 main expenses of being on the road (camping, fuel, food) so, if you can control those costs, you can somewhat control your destiny when it comes to how long you might be able to sustain your adventure and stretch your hard-earned & saved dollars.
- If you pay to camp overnight or if you choose to boondock can make a substantial difference in your monthly expenses (camping)
- If you decide to travel much and cover big distances – having covered over 26,000 miles on our year-long road trip, certainly added up to some serious diesel dollars (fuel)
- If you choose to cook for yourself when traveling or decide to eat out more often – most people are going to have a mix of both (food)
And don’t forget, other expenses – from your regular home life – are going to continue, such as paying for a cell phone, perhaps paying for medical insurance, continuing with online subscriptions such as Spotify, Amazon (Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial) or Netflix and of course, your vehicle (if using a car/truck/RV/boat etc.) will need to be registered & insured for any adventure. Speaking of expenses like cell phone, check out Project Fi for great coverage anywhere & everywhere (use the referral code below & we both save some $):
Finally, the miscellaneous costs can’t be forgotten. Things like laundry costs when you are on the road, vehicle repairs (rule of thumb here is 10% of the purchase price annually for maintenance), haircuts, tolls, park entries, activities (seeing a movie or renting a kayak) and any clothing or footwear that might need to be replaced if you are going to be on the road for an extended period of time.
The breakdown on costs
What follows are our costs for this first portion of our trip, from leaving home in Florida until we crossed into Canada, covering the period April 21st to July 4th 2017 (75 nights). These are OUR costs, they will not be the same as your costs; everyone’s adventure will be different. These are just meant as a guideline (all numbers are rounded up for ease of reading).
- Camping $2,144 ($29/day average)
- Groceries $1,658 ($22/day average)
- Eating out $506 ($7/day average)
- Combined food spend $2,164 ($29/day average)
- Diesel $782 ($10/day average)
- Miscellaneous; will vary hugely between different travelers, different locations and between different periods within one’s own trip $1,816 (includes $40 laundry costs, $89 in propane costs, almost $300 in sailboat costs (new reefing, anchor, spreaders etc. on our Precision 15) and a few larger ticket items such as a new Kindle (Fire HD 8 Tablet with Alexa, 8″ HD Display, 16 GB, Black – with Special Offers), some new clothing and new seat covers for the RV (Aegis Cover 701009TAN Tan Luxury Australian Sheepskin Wrap Seat Cover Airbag Ready, 1 Pack)
Total – All expenses (every single dollar spent) – for our first 75 days on the road, traveling up the East coast of the US, from Florida to the Canadian border: $6,906 ($92/day average).
Total – Big 3 only (camping, food, diesel) – for our first 75 days on the road, traveling up the East coast of the US, from Florida to the Canadian border: $5,090 ($68/day average).
You’ll notice that for all 75 days of this – the first portion of our road trip – we spent the nights in campgrounds. In fact, quite a few of those campgrounds were reserved by us ahead of time, incurring additional fees from sites like Reserve America.
As we progress on this blog – and we hope you’ll follow along with us – we’ll share some valuable information on how to step away from campgrounds and boondock (camping out in the wilds – also know as dispersed camping/dry camping, even camping in a Wal-Mart or casino parking lot overnight).
And we will share more costing information with you (crossing Canada (diesel costs were high), driving into Mexico (don’t forget about permit costs)) and we welcome all comments and questions regarding this topic and any further specifics which might assist you, in planning your next adventure.
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