How much does it cost?

Submitted: Sunday, Feb 14, 2010 at 16:08
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I would be most interested to know from people that are travelling full time in their vans as to the cost of doing it. I understand that this would or could vary largely depending on your habits and budget. The reason for my interest is we have been thinking about just travelling full time for a couple of years and would value any feedback. We are not intending to free camp all the time or just stay in parks, but would expect to be about 70% free camping.
I would expect there are quite a few out there that would be interested in experienced peoples opinions. Please account for everything ie food, fuel, running costs and rego etc. Also for the exercise work on a per annum basis.
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Reply By: Wherrol - Sunday, Feb 14, 2010 at 18:40

Sunday, Feb 14, 2010 at 18:40
Hello John,

As you alluded to different folks have different habits.

After about 12 months on the road we decided to try and work out how much it would cost for us to live in a home and how much it would cost, extra to live on the road.

We reckoned around $150 per week would be the extra we would spend on the road.

In this exercise please understand that our Landcruiser uses around 20 ltrs (on average) per 100 km towing. Vegetable prices fluctuates in prices depending if you are out in the bush. Our caravan park stays are usually over summer last year we spent 87% of our time in camps outside of caravan parks. We don't eat out very often at all.

After two years on the road we were hankering for a base so just bought a house on the Sunshine Coast so there goes the budget! But we will be on the road now for about 6 months of the year.

Hope this helps a tad.


Allan and Sharon
AnswerID: 579848

Follow Up By: JohnS - Sunday, Feb 14, 2010 at 19:37

Sunday, Feb 14, 2010 at 19:37
Thanks for that so about $7500-00 extra a year. sounds good.
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Reply By: Grumblebum & Dragon - Monday, Feb 15, 2010 at 01:38

Monday, Feb 15, 2010 at 01:38
You can get a reasonable idea from a simple budget as follows.

Allow say an average of $30 per night in parks (I mean average parks not east coast 'resorts')

National parks and coastal reserves ssay average about $10 per night

True bush camps = free

calculate your usual food, booze budget etc

Entertainment and side trips - ? different for everyone - we also do not eat out a lot.

Gas - avaerage say $15 per month

Maintenance - allow about $500 every 10,000k for the van - wheel bear re grease etc. I do all the routine servicing and oil replacements etc on the vehicle and vehicle costs are about the same when as at home. Don't forget to make an allowance for the extra set of tyres and occassional major service on the van.

Fuel: average about 4.8 - 5.0 kpl towing with a landcruiser. Prices increase markedly when up north and away from the big centres. eg diesel in Perth at the moment is about $1.24/L in Kununurra it is about $1.70/L+

Clothes etc - about the same as at home. Formal for us is a clean pair of jeans and a clean shirt. We follow the the sun so have a good collection of shorts.

Have a stab at it and then monitor and adjust as you go. Personally we don't bother - too busy having a good time.

John and Jean

AnswerID: 579849

Follow Up By: JohnS - Monday, Feb 15, 2010 at 15:50

Monday, Feb 15, 2010 at 15:50
Thanks. This is exactly what I was interested in as it is a real account of full time travelling. My experience is that you can run budgets etc but if you haven't done it they can be incorrect. I ran some estimates from your figures and add some as a buffer, allowed for 20000km PA @ $1-50 a litre average. Came up with about 35000pa which sounds very reasonable.
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Reply By: Mobi Condo - Monday, Feb 15, 2010 at 03:29

Monday, Feb 15, 2010 at 03:29
This is for just 12 weeks of LSL touring in which we travelled 12000k, Adelaide via out back NSW, QLD then to the tip of Cape york, back to Cairns, across to Chillagoe, Undara, Cobbold Gorge, Normanton, Karumba, Burketown, Lawn Hill Gorge, Mt Isa, Boulia, Diamantina NP, Bedourie, Birdsville & south to home in Adelaide. We were out for 83 days (82 nights) all up = 83 x 60 x 2 = $9960 all up for a fantastic holiday, we only held back on one trip ($250 ea for 20 mins in a helicopter ride from Siesia to Cape York tip)
Averaged just under $60 ea per day included ALL fuel, ALL camp grounds, parks etc, ALL tours & trips (Lava Tubes, Thursday & Horn Island, Outer Reef trip for a day from Cairns, several river cruises, Hall of Fame, QANTAS museum full tours, Lark Quarry, and other tours in towns & some dining out in a few places etc). Roughly worked out to 1/3 fuel, 1/3 parks fees & 1/3 tour fees over all. We did not include food as we would eat at home any way!
Hope this assists in any way.
AnswerID: 579850

Reply By: Boystoy - Monday, Feb 15, 2010 at 03:53

Monday, Feb 15, 2010 at 03:53
Hi John,

Were not full time on the road, but I keep a record of all costs while travelling.
These costs include All: food, fuel, accommodation, non essential purchases, tours, plane rides,van and truck maintenance and purchases.
These are total costs from each of our major trips in the past 5 years. I didn't record costs for the many minor trips in this period. We eat out occasionally, & stay at caravan parks when in civilisation. We do try to support local communities where possible for fuel, food, & purchases, rather than always buying in major towns.

2005 12,675km 81 days $124/day
2006 25,054km 192 days $216/day
2007 5,946km 47 days $215/day
2008 11,197km 87 days $139/day
2009 17,804km 116 days $178/day

Hope this provides you with a guide.

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Reply By: Itldoo - Monday, Feb 15, 2010 at 19:57

Monday, Feb 15, 2010 at 19:57
Hi John,
We have been travelling full time for three years and in simple terms cost us an averadge of $750 a week over that time 50% parks.
Phil and Helen
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Reply By: Motherhen & Rooster - Tuesday, Feb 16, 2010 at 11:28

Tuesday, Feb 16, 2010 at 11:28
Hi John

No set figures because everyone is different.

For you vehicle costs, work out what you expect to use, and allow for the dearer fuel prices in rural and outback areas. Add the same for vehicle maintenance. It might not cost you that every year, but add a few bigger maintenance issues, and it will average out to much the same.

Allow for your grocery budget to be a bit higher than at home. Again costs in rural and outback places will be higher, and you won't be able to buy in bulk and fill a pantry and freezer like at home. You also won't want to spend as much time cooking so may go may not prepare as much, eg jams, pickles, biscuits as you can do at home.

Dining out and drinks can add a lot to a budget. Even buying instead of making lunches makes a difference.

Entrance fees and cruises/flights can add up, and again you will choose the ones you want. It is a pity to spend so much to get somewhere and not spend a bit extra on the activities there. National Park passes in states where they apply are not a big cost if you buy season on annual passes.

Phone calls can be costly if using a mobile and have to phone home often.

Will you be buying souvenirs for family, friends and yourselves?

We are not on the road full time, but find travel in Australia is costly.

MM me if you want any actual costs in any of these areas.



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Reply By: JohnS - Tuesday, Feb 16, 2010 at 15:43

Tuesday, Feb 16, 2010 at 15:43
Thanks everyone for your assistance. It seems as I thought that around 30 to 40 thousand P/A depending on your lifestyle ie drinks etc would cover travelling. I worked on an doing about 20-25 thousand kilometers P/A @ an average cost of
$1-50 per litre. We are going to do a short trip of 3 months starting late June to see if we like it and will I expect start travelling long term early next year. We will head back over to the west where we spent a long time working in the Pilbara. Thanks again for all your help.
AnswerID: 579854

Reply By: Deleted User - Tuesday, Feb 16, 2010 at 20:15

Tuesday, Feb 16, 2010 at 20:15
Hi everyone,

Very interesting post - thanks John! I showed it to the bride and she immediately jumped to the conclusion that full time BT travel would be more expensive than staying home - based on the responses. I had to pint out to her that the sums did not include the opportunity cost of staying at home. I think that if you stayed home (ie not travelled) there would be an additional cost to do that as well. I think if you were not working then there would be a desire to do something and that cost something. I'm guessing a more correct calculation should also ask the question "what would you do if you were not vanning?" I suspect the answer would likely end up with an activity that could cost more!

I have not touched on the subject of selling the house etc as this is not intended for us but that changes the equation a lot as well. Anyway, I felt a need to post this as I did not want her or others jumping to the conclusion that staying home was a cheaper option.

Not long to go for me and I don't want her to develop cold feet. We have our BT, tug and a plan and next year is looking good.

Kind regards

AnswerID: 579855

Follow Up By: Motherhen & Rooster - Wednesday, Feb 17, 2010 at 11:05

Wednesday, Feb 17, 2010 at 11:05
Hi Theo and spot on with your comment;

"what would you do if you were not vanning?" I suspect the answer would likely end up with an activity that could cost more!

How much you spend is very much in your hands when travelling. No land rates and taxes, no electricity bills (but batteries not cheap when you have to replace them), food marginally more than at home but clothing cheaper as holiday clothes when travelling don't need to be as expensive as what you need to wear to work.

You have to pay standing costs on your rig when at home, so are only adding fuel and maintenance (50/50 as above). This will depend on how far you travel in a day. Not being full time on the road we move fairly quickly and don't often stay more that one night in one place, whereas some nomads here will sit at a Lake or Beach for a couple of weeks or so at a time. However on most days that we were travelling we went only between 100 and 300 kms and sometimes only 20 kms before stopping somewhere nice. We travelled over 15,000 kms in four months in 2008 and last year almost 22,000 kms in five months. Both trips probably had about three weeks 'down time' ie on maintenance and/or waiting for parts. Fuel and maintenance costs of course are dependent on how much time you are are actually travelling. Entrance fees and cruises/flights are again optional.

It's a great life - I wish i was 'out there' right now.



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