How much does a year in a motorhome cost?

free nights on the road
Gibraltar New Year Fireworks
Waving goodbye to 2016 overlooking Gibraltar

As we said goodbye to 2016 (which was quite a year), overlooking the fireworks in Gibraltar, we also said farewell to our first full calendar year of our new financially free lives. Which begs the question, how much does a year in a motorhome cost?

It’s now habit to record what we spend every day as I’ve been doing it for about a decade. So, it just takes a bit of excel magic to see how we fared against the budget we set ourselves:

£15,000 a year for travel

Before we dive into the numbers, there are a few things I need to make clear.

1. Our spend is split into two categories. The first category is fixed costs. This covers the day to day costs we incur back home in order to get income from our investments. These costs are mainly for the properties that we rent out – insurance, repairs, letting agent fees. They also include fees for our bank to hold our shares and a regular donation to charity. Our second category is for travel spend, which we’ve allocated a £15k a year budget to.

2. While we have set a budget, we don’t let it rule our lives, if we want to go out for a meal and eat our own body weight in raclette cheese, stop on a campsite or take a cable car up a cloud-covered mountain – we do. We don’t let the budget stop us. We’ve met people who travel on a third the money we spend each year, but we don’t need to live on such a restrictive budget so we don’t.

3. I track what we spend every day in my diary and pop it into a spreadsheet (after several requests I’ve added a link to a blank version at the bottom of this article). The spreadsheet rounds it up for me to a weekly view against budget and a monthly view of total spend (fixed costs and travel costs) against our income. The information is all there, but we don’t spend hours studying it. We’ll have a quick monthly check to see that we aren’t massively overspending. We don’t spread/weight the big annual costs, such as MOT and service of the van across the year, so we know some months we’ll be up, others we’ll be down.

So did we manage a year on £15k?

In a nutshell, no. During 2016 we spent a total of £17,215.76 on our travels.

Why did we overspend? Looking at the figures and comparing them to previous trips, the first thing that stood out was the costs for MOT and Service of Zagan (our van). We are currently in Morocco and it should be MOT time, but as we knew this unfortunate timing would happen we had it done early.

Two MOTs and full services in one year meant an extra £700 that should have been spent in 2017. Charlie the pooch also had two MOTs last year, and now has a supply of arthritis meds to take him to September this year, so his annual costs should have been about half the £500 we spent.

2016 motorhome tour map
Our 2016 route

The second thing that stood out was ferry costs at almost £900. This is because the trip we took in 2016 called for around 17 ferries. That coupled with over two and a half months in one of the World’s most expensive countries – Norway. I think we did well to end up spending what we did. To give you an idea of what we got up to on our travels in 2016, visiting 20 countries, then check out our round up. It’s very nice to know that we could easily trim these costs by doing different trips to cheaper countries and keep ourselves well below our budget.

 

The nitty gritty numbers

We weren’t on the road for the whole of 2016, we were at home in the UK for about six weeks. The below breakdown shows where we sent our nights:

2016 where we spend our nights pie chart
free nights on the roadThe number of campsite nights is quite high for us as we spent time in Croatia, where free camping is not allowed. We also took time out on our trip and treated ourselves to the odd week in campsites as a little holiday – it can’t all be work, work, work!

Still we managed to get quite a few places for free nights, either aires or free parking, which always helps to keep our costs down.

 

Year in a motohome cost break down

Average cost of overnight stopsEVERYONE IS DIFFERENT.

These are our numbers, yours will not be the same. My best piece of advice if you are thinking of doing something similar and want to know how much you will need is to start tracking your own spending. That way you will know where your money is going and what things you like to spend on.

Caveat aside, when planning our trip I was always interested on what others spent, and so here are our figures:

year in a motorhome cost breakdown

I’ve listed the actual cost and a percentage of the total cost, as you may find you spend more or less than we do. We also have a lovely category that is a catch all for stuff that we can’t squeeze into anywhere else – Supplies/Misc. To give you some idea of what things we totally forgot about when setting up our spend categories things included in there are:

Maps and travel books, ACSI card, haircuts, batteries, shoelaces, bike accessories, hobbies (fish lures and suduko books), outdoor gas cooker and gas for it, toiletries, USB sticks, phone mount for dashboard, tea towels, TV for Zagan, Go Pro, paint brushes, wheel trims, lighter fluid and much, much more.

average spend 2016

So that’s pretty much it. I know when we’ve published our costs in the past folks have got in touch saying ‘oh I’ve done it on way less than that’. That’s fine, all power to you guys! As we’ve noted above, the amount of money we spend is linked to our own sense of personal satisfaction with life, and that’s going to vary between individuals. We travel our way, doing what we want, when we want. So it may cost a bit more, but we’re still spending less than we are earning from our investments, so our lifestyle remains financially sustainable.

Ju x

PS – after several requests for a blank copy of the spreadsheet we use, I’ve taken out all of our monetary data and added it below. Taking out the data may have broken some links, so I’m not sure if the weekly and monthly round up sheets will still work, or the drop down menus.

Click on the link at the bottom and you can download it to your PC. Hopefully this will give you the basic idea of what we track, but as everyone is different I’d strongly recommend building your own.

Download (XLSX, 186KB)

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17 Comments

  1. Very interesting information. Good to see someone using Excel. It is possible to live in a motorhome traveling the world on a reasonable budget. Well done.

  2. WOW, great interesting information, I really must take note and budget more when away and not get home and wait for the Saga card statement to drop through the door, mind you we only manage about 30 days away at a time.

    Glad to see you are enjoying life and not letting money rule everything, did notice on another blog of someone who praised himself saving £5 buy changing ferries.

    Keep up the good blogs, so nice to read them on a wet January day back home.

    • Hi Jamie. To delay the ‘can you confirm you’ve lived in the UK for the past 6 months?’ question when buying travel insurance, we bought a two year policy in 2015. We aren’t using prepayments or accruals, so that cost didn’t end up in the 2016 budget. Cheers from a cold, clear Azrou, Jay

  3. Helen and myself are in our mid 70s and we also have travelled a great deal. I have the utmost admiration for the two of you and have no doubt that you are doing the right thing. Keep it up and just as important keep the blog going!!!!
    Could I be cheeky and ask you to email me a blank copy of your Excel spreadsheet ? it really is very good.
    All the very best to you both
    Regards
    Richard & Helen Weston

    • Hi Richard
      I’ve created a blank copy by taking out our data. Not sure if all the links will work now, but I’ve added it to the bottom of the post so you can download it.
      Cheers
      Julie

  4. Great blog! Thanks for sharing.
    We sold up in 2012 and bought two rental properties to fund our adventures. We’ve lived off grid ever since!
    We’ve taught English in China, backpacked around Asia and we travelled in our moho for 10 months in 2015. Our budget is similar to yours. At first, we scrimped and scraped, but then, like you, we realised we didn’t need to. So we relaxed, and enjoyed meals out etc.
    We’re currently house/ dog sitting in New Zealand but will be back in May in the UK to pick up our Moho and continue our travels in Europe. Just goes to show there are many different and cheap ways to travel!
    Keep up the good work and happy travels !
    Best Wishes
    Sue & Steve Billingham

  5. Well done you two. Not a lot of people do as you have done and detail your Costs and expenditures. We took the same approach as you, we had a pre-planned budget but it wasn’t hard and fast, the whole idea is to enjoy the adventures. Keep enjoying your’s 👍

  6. I’ve been following your great blog for a long time and really enjoy it. We got away for 3 months last year and easily kept to a budget. Like Richard I would find a blank copy of your spread sheet very handy for our future travels. Loving your current Moroccan adventures.

    • Hi Claire
      I’ve created a blank copy by taking out our data. Not sure if all the links will work now, but I’ve added it to the bottom of the post so you can download it.
      Cheers
      Julie

  7. Thank you for posting the budget. We’re going to Europe and Morocco at the end of the year with £20,000. We are hopeful that this would be enough for a year and I thought we might have to scrimp a bit, but your spread sheet and information, and your blogs have put my mind at rest that we can go and enjoy ourselves without too much to worry about. kind regards Shirena

  8. Great post. I also keep track of all my costs and usually manage to travel for 5 months each winter on an average of €5000. Biggest costs are due & food and I mostly freecamp which helps.
    Hope u r enjoying Morocco. I spent 6 months there in 2004 but not in a motorhome. Love the place and the people. If u get to Erfoud u must check out the marble factory.

  9. I love this blog. It will come in very handy when we eventually get to do exactly what you’re doing. It’s so helpful reading about your experiences. I’m hooked! I’m now about to go through your blogs to try to find one about Norway as that is somewhere that’s definitely on our list of places to go!

  10. Hi, great info.thankyou, we are planning on our own adventure in the next couple of years and are currently working on our own property portfolio to fund our travels. I note from your spreadsheet that your motorhome insurance was fre. Could you expand on how you managed this please or have I misunderstood this aspect?
    thanks

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