600 days on the road – how on Earth did we afford that?

Today is our 600th day on the road, or is it our 600th night on the road? Not entirely sure, but either way we only set out with enough money to travel for a year – so how have we done it?

Many moons ago we went on a two week holiday in our old motorhome (Harvey the RV) and kept a track of everything we spent. When we got home we used those numbers to roughly work out how much a year on the road would cost, so we knew how much we would need to save. Only we didn’t take into account that during those two weeks we stayed on campsites nearly every night (we stopped at a couple of France Passion places too the see what they were like). We also drove a lot of miles in those two weeks, making it down to the Black Forest in Germany before coming back, and Harvey was a petrol beastie, so our fuel costs were much higher.

Planning our tour we set ourselves a budget of £50 (€58.50) a day, plus £2,000(€2,340) for fuel a total of £20,250 (€23,700). We also budgeted £15,000 (€17,500) to buy a motorhome. Dave cost us £10,500 so we put the rest into the pot for our travels figuring we might need it for repairs to him as he was a tad older than we planned to buy. When we left the UK we had just over €30,000 in our travel pot.

I guess it’s mis-calculating the campsite and fuel costs which have helped us stay on the road so long. If we stopped at a campsite every night, and we assume a campsite costs on average €18 a night, we should have spent €10,800. In reality we’ve only stopped on them when we have to; either due to the location (capital cities etc) or the need for laundry. So, we’ve only stayed on campsites for 155 nights, which has cost €2,325.43.

A further 101 nights have been spent in official aires/sostas/stellplatz which you have to pay for, costing €849.86. We’ve also had three nights in a hotel while Dave was having some repair work done in Narbonne, and have spent 25 nights in other places such as friends’ driveways. The bit that saves us the most money is the 114 nights we’ve spent in free aires/sostas/stellplatz and the 202 nights we’ve wild/free camped.

In total over the last 600 days, we’ve spent €27,899.12. The pie chart below shows you what it’s gone on (all costs are in Euros and where a country doesn’t use Euros we’ve used a relevant exchange rate).

600costsAs you can see, food is our most expensive item, especially if you add our supermarket shopping with eating out – no wonder our waistlines have expanded over the last 600 days!

In addition to these costs, we had the costs we incur each year we travel, servicing, insurance etc. These aren’t included in the above and are listed below in pounds, not euros!

Full service and MOT at local garage £530
Dave tax £220
Dave insurance (full time policy for 12 months) £598
Travel insurance for us £221

Along the way we have made a little money from our blog (find out more), and sales of our books earn us on average around £2 per book. So we won’t be able to fund another year based on that! However, we have been renting out our home in the UK and with the money from that – which we haven’t touched – we could just about squeeze another year on the road. It’s a nice thought, but I think we’re both about ready to go home and earn a real wage to fund another, longer adventure some point soon!

Ju x

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12 Comments

  1. Noooooooooooooooooo
    Don’t give up life on the road – we’re desperately trying to get away, but domestic issues keep getting in the way.
    Great article on costs.
    If you sold your house, how long could you survive on the road. Mine will be ready for sale next month !!
    love to Dave
    Phil x

    • Sorry Phil – all good things have to come to an end.

      Believe me, we have thought about selling the house and carrying on! Jay’s worked out that if we sold the house and didn’t earn any other type of income (or interest on the cash) we could go for another ten and a half years!! Fifty-somethings with nothing to their name but a thirty year old motorhome, we might have to drive Dave off a cliff, Thelma and Louise style!

      Ju x

  2. Hello,
    We are leaving for a similar tour in a few months time so I have been reading the blog with interest. On the costs side is it safe to assume that costs like vehicle service and tyres are in the repairs item?

    I see no mention of the various insurance costs are these also within one of the listed categories. Thanks
    John

    • Hi John

      Great news that you’re off on your own adventure. Bet you can’t wait!

      Well spotted! Annual servicing and insurance aren’t covered in the costs – I’ll add a note at the bottom with the details. Anything we’ve bought on the road is, such as new tyres (we’ve now had four!), batteries, clutch replacement, tyre blow out repair etc).

      I’ve been meaning to do a ‘turnaround costs’ post giving details of what it cost us to go home and back out again, but haven’t got around to it. The costs are as follows (note they are in pounds not Euros!):

      Full service and MOT at local garage £530
      Dave tax £220
      Dave insurance (full time policy for 12 months) £598
      Travel insurance for us £221

      Hope that helps a bit.

      Julie

  3. ‘WOW’ such a compilation of precise information & down to the last cent! Did you say you worked in accounts Ju? Amaxing.
    We’re back in the cold UK now, must knuckle down & rake in some shekels.
    Our diesel & gas bill came in at €1800 (aprox) for 4 months on the road covering 6850 miles & €1500(aprox)for everything else. No campsites were required.
    Keep on rollin’

    A,J&O

    • Blimey, you make us look like amateurs! I have to admit to liking a nice campsite from time to time, I can’t be doing with washing my smalls in the sink.

      Hope the UK warms up a bit for you, we’re scheduled to get there just in time for winter – not good planning!

      Ju x

  4. Hi Guys,

    Great information and thanks for sharing! I’m curious though about how much longer you think you can stretch your travels on existing savings and any income you’re bringing in? If you care to share, that is.

    Also, let us know if/when you are passing through Belgium on the way home. Would be great to meet you :)

    Cheers,
    Andrew C

    • Hi Andrew

      On existing savings and what we’re bringing in from the blog and books we could probably just about afford to go back home get insurance for another year, service and MOT Dave and head back out for a couple of months.

      If we include the income we’ve had from renting our house (which is now a little over €9,000, but some of which belongs to the tax man), we could probably stretch out another year travelling like we do now. If we were to change how we travel – stay in places for longer, only go to the cheaper countries etc then we could probably manage two years as we would also be getting more money from the house rental as we travelled.

      But we figure that we’ll need the house rental money to help us get back into the rat race and earn some money for our next trip – we’ll probably need to buy a car and put Dave into storage, we’ll both need lots of new clothes (most stuff has holes in it now or is badly sewn up) and we’ll either need to move back into our house and start paying bills, or look for somewhere else smaller to live – depending on where we end up getting work!

      We’re looking at this with a long term view, hopefully by going back now we’ll be able to slot back into some kind of work that pays well and gives us the opportunity to save for whatever we chose to do in the future – more tours, buy a home abroad, retire early – who knows, but they are nice thoughts to have.

      I’ll be sure to get in touch if we come back through Belgium, looks like it might be France though this time to meet up with some folks, but as our plans often change you never know!!

      Drop us an email and let me know how your travel plans are coming along – it was a while since we last spoke to Alison.

      Julie :)

  5. any chance of your next big trip being a year in the US? we can get dave his own trip on a 747 over here! x

  6. Julie, thanks for such a thorough answer! It’s truly great that you’re sharing this sort of information as it helps show people that it can be done without having to be rich.

    I appreciate your honesty as well that this is something you’ve enjoyed but it is time to get back and do something different. Six hundred days together, 24/7 in a 25-m^2 motorhome is quite an achievement! :) Maybe time for a post entitled, “How we haven’t killed each other in the last 2 years!”

    We’ll keep an eye on your plans and see if we can find a way to meet up.

    Thanks again!

    Cheers,
    Andrew C

  7. Fabulous read! We were going out today, to shop for new clothes for work. Now decided to save our pounds and aim for a midlife career break as retirement an increasingly unlikely event – and Summer in England a non starter!
    Looking forward to reading your upcoming posts and will be spending time reading older blogs.
    Take care.

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