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John and Mandi

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


Before we set off on our journey we were planning for some time, even though we didn't know we'd be driving the Pan-American highway.  We scrimped, saved, worked two jobs and just hunkered down the good old fashioned American way the 7 years prior to starting our trip. It's difficult to adjust to the bank account going in the opposite direction after working so hard to build it up. Knowing this is a once in a lifetime opportunity is where we take solace.

The cost for a trip such as this varies as widely as the vehicles used. We asked many current and previous overlanders what we should realistically plan and the majority of the responses came in at $60-$80 per day. No matter how we slice it, we'll be broke when we're done. There are places that seem to cost considerably less so extending our stays in those countries could help a little but overall it probably won't change the average very much. We may be able to travel for a little bit longer by slowing down and spreading the fuel costs out but in reality, one major event could be sending us home.

We're OK with that.

We are very fortunate to be able to take a trip such as this. Throwing our chips in the wind is just that. We really don't know how far and how long our journey will be. We only know how much we have and when it'll be just enough to get home, hopefully before we have to beg for some help. Many overlanders we followed provided budget recaps on their websites for each country so we're doing the same. A pay it forward of sorts.

The Figures

We track every penny we spend and report almost every single one of them. We do not include a few expenditures that are specific to keeping professional licenses or are not related to travel. They don't amount to much but aren't useful to disclose either. Things like the $15 annual cost for our domain name, we don't include it since we'd be using it anyway and not everyone keeps a blog. It's a hard line to draw, we feel we're doing a pretty good job of it. We also convert all monies to US dollars. It's a pain in the ass when dealing with cash withdrawals at different rates, a must do to know exactly what is being spent.

It was also decided to break up costs over the places we are. For example, our vehicle insurance payments are assigned to the location we are in when they are paid. Our US policy covered Canada but it wouldn't be accurate to charge all of it to the US. For prepayments, we divide them by the number of months to distribute them properly. This isn't exact science, it does seem to work out in the end though.

The following is a summary listing of our expenses by location. The expanded breakouts are in our blog and accessible from the location links below. If you are in the planning stages, our Pan-Am Planning - Budgeting post might be helpful.

Country Total # days per day
Canada $3,421.89 27 $126.74
Alaska $6,073.80 45 $134.97
Lower 48 $18,664.99 138 $135.25
Baja Mexico $2,501.10 59 $42.39
Mainland Mexico $9,692.29 119 $81.45
Belize May/June $2,708.81 27 $100.33
Belize September $2,777.65 27 $102.88
Guatemala $10,995.29 163 $67.46
El Salvador $1,591.35 32 $49.73
Honduras $3,144.13 30 $104.80
Nicaragua $2,179.36 26 $83.82
Florida Visit $4,464.46 48 $93.01
Costa Rica $6,538.56 80 $81.73
Panama $3,134.60 37 $84.72
Mexico & Central America $45,263.14 600 $75.44
Colombia $10,278.83 163 $63.06
Ecuador $4,275.03 66 $64.77
Galapagos $12,239.75 14 $874.27
Peru $8,071.14 127 $63.55
Bolivia $2,162.96 31 $69.77
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