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John and Mandi

us --> van --> overland
7 yrs and 6 days - end of the road

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Expenses: USA Lower 48

Dec 8, 2015
by John

Adding up our expenditures for the lower 48 has us a bit freaked out. We ended our time in the States mooching off of our sister outside San Diego while the van was having a major repair. In total we spent $18,664.99, $135.25 per day, over the 138 days traveling the contiguous United States. Removing the $6,087.39 in repairs lands us at a much more palatable $91.14 per day.


Our entertainment expenses were a paltry $337.81 which would have been lower if it wasn't for the Caribbean cruise we took at the start of our trip. We had a ton of credit card reward points we cashed in for a free 7 night cruise, including $800 in onboard credit to cover excursions, tips, and such. Of course it's hard to sail and leave without paying a dime, the $106.17 we out-of-pocketed ($15.17 per night) was totally acceptable. Hot spring fees and a National Parks pass were the bulk of our entrance expenditures.

Food appears to be one of our indulgences, spending $5,084.83 ($36.85 per day) over this reporting period. Like living in a sticks-n-bricks, dining out adds up quickly so we're ready for the cheap street vendor prices to come. We will also be switching to regular grocery stores instead of the fancy health food stores we were seeking out in the States.

Our overall living expenses were just under $10 per day, we free camped a lot so our camping fees were mainly for national parks. We prepaid for our trip back to Florida for my dad's 70th birthday party well before we left so it is not reflected in these amounts. We did cover half of the celebration dinner so our food expenses are a little inflated as a result. We see this as a discretionary expense, not one incurred by all travelers, so we decided to not include those prepayments. Future trips home will be accounted in our expenses as they are not planned and will be considered as part of traveling.

The $1,541.52 we spent for gear was a bit over what we had projected. We knew there were a few things we wanted to pick up during the beginning of our travels but we only budgeted about $1,000 for them. What is not obviously reflected is that the sale of our GoPro Hero IV Silver offsets this amount somewhat. Our Hero never worked so we called GoPro and they sent us a new one. Deciding we had plenty of cameras, recording our Dempster highway drive would have been nice, we used Craigslist to unload it just before leaving the U.S.

The bulk of our gear purchases were for shoes, a better day pack, snorkeling equipment, a cordless immersion blender, and a couple UPF long sleeved shirts. The odds and ends such as clothes pins, second bucket, fruit bin, stuff sacks, etc., round out the rest. We don't have a running budget for gear but do expect to pick up an occasional item as needed.

Transportation remains one of the largest expenses of our trip. Over the 138 days we drove 9,956 miles, consumed 675.35 gallons of diesel, and averaged 14.8 mpg. The $9,581.35 we spent under this category breaks out to be $69.43 per day, more than 1/2 of all our expenses, yikes! Removing the $6,087.39 for the van repairs equates to $3,493.96 or $25.32 per day. Our big expense was for a newly reconditioned high end transmission, our tranny that was rebuilt before the start of our trip was failing big time. Expect a blog post covering the details soon. We can't imagine how much more horrible our expenses could have been if we had needed to rent a place for the three weeks the van was in the shop, thanks again little sister.


The pie chart and expenses table are programmatically added to this page. Meaning, if we update our expense information then those will automatically reflect the change possibly creating a disparity between the textual breakout and the actual expenditures. This information has been provided to assist others in planning a long-term trip so use accordingly, by all means contact us to ask any questions or to point out any errors so we can remediate them.

Say what? (2)
Dec 8, 2015 at 02:37 PM
I feel your pain. Just had to pull the engine out of my van to have it completely re-sealed after I lost oil pressure... nearly $6k later and my engine is back in and running like a charm... but, oh the pain in my wallet.
Dec 8, 2015 at 03:54 PM
Hey Ryan. Never a fun day when we have to dole out so much to get back on the road. Glad to hear you're running good.
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