It’s been 3 months today since we left Vancouver Island for the adventure of a lifetime – and we’re still heading east! Looking back, we have absolutely no regrets and are even more convinced that our decision was right for us. In fact, we’re now trying to figure out ways of making money on the road so we can officially become snowbirds after this year. We want to spent our summers on Vancouver Island and our winters travelling.
Here is a photo (taken by Ray) of our campsite in Newfoundland where I sit as I write this. The table where my computer sits is next that big picture window:
Today I want to answer the question all of you are dying to ask, but only my close friends and relatives think it’s polite to ask. How much is this grand scheme of yours going to cost you anyway?
Figuring out all the costs involved for a one-year trip around North America is not easy and I’ve spent hours working on the budget and tracking our expenses. You might know from previous posts that I am a little OCD on the planning and organizing spectrum. I hope this information might be helpful to anyone who is planning a similar trip.
First, I have to say that a trip like this can be done on any budget. I say this because I know people who manage to travel with no money at all and work along the way. I have also met some people who seem to have an endless amount of money. This is only to demonstrate what we are doing in the style we are doing it. We are not working during this first year. We have a 28 foot 5th wheel and a truck and we are staying primarily in campsites and RV parks.
Our budget for the entire year is $51,000. Here’s how is breaks down. This chart shows our planned budget, the quarterly budget (planned/4) and the actual results. Now that we are 1/4 of the way through our trip, I have a better idea of how we are doing compared to our initial budget. In short, we have completed 25% of the trip and spent 28.5% of our budget.
So far, we have gone over our budget on fuel and camping. This is not a surprise at all since we were pushing to drive across the continent fairly quickly to spend the summer in the maritimes. Also, we are paying summer rates for camping. Later in the year we plan on staying in Florida for a month and we’ll get a monthly rate there and we will probably go to Quartzsite in Arizona where you can camp virtually for free for as long as you want.
We are looking forward to getting back into the states where the fuel is 2/3 the price and the food is 1/2 the price.
We found some new dog food that the beagles are not allergic to (they are allergic to chicken, which is in everything). This food is salmon which they LOVE (a little too much since they started to fight over it) and it is way cheaper, so we’re doing good there.
The internet & cell category is over budget because we bought a virgin mifi for better internet access, Ray lost his cell phone and had to replace it, and I also replaced my aging cell phone that burned my face when I used it.
That brings us to the line item where where we blew our whole budget: Truck and RV maintenance. We’ve already spent almost our entire budget and that is because our “Big Baby Blue” blew its transmission and it cost $3,000 to rebuild it. We probably should have budgeted more since it is an older truck and we got a real hot deal on it. So I’m not too upset about it.
Remember, this is the budget for our ongoing monthly expenses, it is does not include any of the pre-trip expenses, things like: buying one year’s worth of all medication, travel medical insurance, regular medical premiums, storage lockers, RV insurance, and buying things for the RV like a ramp for the dog, batteries, inverter, generators, brake controller, storage boxes etc. Nor does it include the cost of buying the truck and the RV.
All in all we’re doing pretty good and we’re almost ready to change direction. By that I mean literally changing direction from east to south, following the changing colours of fall!
Here are some statistics from the last 3 months:
Number of places we stayed: 29
Number of nights of boondocking: 7 (3 walmarts, 3 truck stops and 1 visitor centre)
Number of animals killed: 1 chipmunk
Number of truck repairs: 4
Average cost per day: $158
Average cost per day (if you don’t include the transmission): $125
Average campsite fee: $33.65
Stuff we’ve received from strangers:
- 2 jars of jam,
- 2 hand-knit wash clothes,
- 1 garlic sausage and chocolate eclair dinner,
- 1 bag of carrots fresh from the garden,
- 1 night of free camping in exchange for fixing a router.
Consider this: $14,500 for 2 people and 2 dogs for 3 months. How much does it cost you to stay home?