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Money, Money, Money!

I am a huge fan of talking about money, or at least talking about it in a way that opens up discourse and de-tabbooifies1 it. Now that we are transitioning from making money and saving it to living off of what we've saved, I want to share our monthly travel budget with you (developed in Mvelopes).

Here is our working budget for the US portion of our trip.

Some details:

1. The State Farm category covers auto insurance for the van (~$70) and life insurance (~$40).

2. As you can see, the Lodging category is not very high. We are planning on staying with friends and family, sleeping in the van (in KOA's, state parks and Wal-mart parking lots) and couchsurfing2.

3. The Auto category covers gas and any needed repairs (knock on wood). We will be driving approximately 10,000 miles in the next three to four months and expect to get around 15 miles per gallon. Sorry about the car emissions, planet Earth. We promise to balance it out by not driving a car for the following three to four months.

4. The Other category is the catch-all for everything else like supplies, entertainment, etc.

5. Jon and I both have allowances or, more accurately, discretionary money. This is vital for the sanity of our marriage. iTouch apps, anyone?

I plan to revisit the budget at the end of the month and see where it needs to be adjusted. Anyone want to predict what might end up costing us more or less than we are planning?

1That's a word, right??
2Don't worry, Mom, couchsurfing is safe. We hosted some people in Phoenix and they were lovely.

Photo courtesy of Jeff Keen


  1. Looks great! I think when I took my month-long road trip, I spent about $3500 (gas was almost 5 bucks a gallon that summer). And since you're asking for predictions, the only thing I'd double, maybe triple, is the food category. 20 bucks a day for 2 people might be stretching it... dem restaurants are expensive!


  2. Just a quick followup, if you're curious. I found my spreadsheet from my exact expenses for my month-long roadtrip in July, 2008. $1472 for gas, $1091 for lodging, $737 for food, and $377 for incidentals. Total was $3678. Again, gas was crazy expensive that summer. As for lodging, I spent the majority of my time at state parks and with friends / family. However, I did overindulge with about 6 nights of hotels...


  3. Thanks for looking that up, Dave!! I hope we are a little luckier with gas prices but who knows what they will do. For lodging, did you find that the state park camping prices were higher than expected? Just doing the math and at (an assumed) $100 a pop for the 6 hotel nights, that would leave about $21/night for the other 24 days. Is that about what they cost? For food, we are hoping to get groceries and cook most of the time which should help but we know that restaurants will be a temptation...

  4. I want to say the state parks were cheaper... more like 14 to 15 bucks a night, and a couple of those hotel nights were actually more expensive than 100. But I did stay with people a lot... 3 nights at friends' in Conifer, CO... 4 nights at family near Glacier, MT... and about 7 nights with friends / family along the West Coast (Oregon, Cali).

  5. Another question, hopefully not too long did you go between showers? Jon and I are planning for every three days but that feels like it might be too long. Did the campgrounds you stayed at have showers?

  6. And to clarify, we are planning spit baths for the days we aren't showering. Just no hair washing or full body washing on those off days.

  7. I just remembered... it was the ENTRANCE fee to the state parks that cost more than I had anticipated. It was 20 to 30 bucks in most cases... and then another 10-14 to camp.

  8. All the state park campgrounds had full facilities... very decent showers... (I think some were coin-operated). I remember making it to Breckenridge after about 3 days without showering and felt pretty gamey...

  9. Cool - we have a Parks pass for this year so we'll fortunately skip those fees. And VERY good to know about the showers at the campgrounds!!

  10. Oops, just realized that you were talking about state parks that had high entrance fees. Bummer. :(


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