Whew, what a relief. I just crunched our trip expenses from June to December, and found that we actually came in under budget by almost $12,000! How did we do it? By over budgeting, being ultra careful about things we chose to see and do, and Workamping. Now, this nice little savings is going to allow us to continue our journey even longer than we originally planned, by at least 6 months or so.
Now, let’s talk money. Pay attention; here are some important lessons we learned:
- Set up a household budget and start tracking your living expenses to the penny, long before you hit the road. Track everything so when you are living the road trip lifestyle, you won’t be in for any surprises like I was. For example, I always thought I was meticulous about expense tracking, but one big thing I realized after we hit the road was that I never knew what we really spent on booze. See, I always lumped it in with our food bill (beer is one of the four food groups, isn’t it?). As you can see on our worksheet, we were in for a big surprise when we discovered what we really spend on it each month (and we even imbibe far less than we did at home, when we had a full bar set up with all of the cordials, mixers, etc.). Scary, but at least we have some damn good cocktails around here!
- Be sure to aim high and allow lots of wiggle room for expenses while on the road. Just like when you figure out a home renovation budget, pick a cost, and add fifty percent to it to get a more realistic number.
- Picture a worst case scenario for fuel, because it’s not going to get any cheaper. Fuel will be your biggest expense, even higher than lodging. Here is how we budgeted ours: With our Dodge diesel, we figured an average of 13 mpg, paying $3.75 a gallon, and driving 20k miles for 7 months. Well, the good news is our truck gets just over 15mpg on a good day, even while towing. The bad news is that we have paid as much as $3.74 a gallon for B99 biodiesel, and we have put way more than 20k miles on the truck since hitting the road. Ouch!
- Finally, consider Workamping as an option if you want to stay on the road longer. We have saved a ton of money in lodging and fuel costs since we started Workamping in November. And since we’ve been at the farm, we’ve saved on food costs too. But before you sign up for Workamping, give yourself enough time to enjoy life on the road. I’m so glad we didn’t take on any assignments earlier than November, because committing to an assignment and staying put for a while was a daunting experience for two RV road trip newbies like us.But now after seeing how much we’ve saved, we are motivated to do more of it. I’ve run some numbers to see what Workamping will save us over the long haul, and what I’ve found is that for ever four months of Workamping, we can add almost six more months of road tripping to our original plan. We plan to keep doing this for a while, until we get close to reaching the tipping point of having to dip into our savings outside of what we’ve put aside for this trip.
To get a better idea of what we budgeted for over the long haul, here is a PDF worksheet of our May through June numbers. And, below that is a PDF worksheet of December’s expenses too.