At the border, entering the "country" of Transnistria. Photo taken December 8, 2016.
Where are Kevin and Ruth right now? Tiraspol, Transnistria...the country that doesn't exist.

Where are they going next? Northern Moldova. Arrive December 11th.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

How much do we spend on a winter away?

This post was going to be our April expense report. But I figured it would be much more useful to detail how much we spent, and on what...during our entire 7 months away. (I'll do a separate post about April later today.)

Our regular readers know what we did all winter, but for the benefit of anybody new here, let me refresh your memories with the highlights...

  • Flight from Regina to Ottawa and return.
  • Drive the motorhome from Regina to Mexico.
  • Flight from Mexico City to Colombia and return.
  • Six weeks exploring Colombia.
  • Three months exploring Mexico.
  • Drive from Mexico to Los Angeles.
  • Two weeks exploring Southern California.
  • Drive from Los Angeles to Saskatchewan.
This was our most expensive winter yet, coming in at $14,500 CAD ($11,000 USD).

Averaged out over the 7 months, that's $2,071 CAD ($1,571 USD) per month.

Sherman, boondocking near Lewellen, Nebraska last October.

(Just to make things look less cluttered, the following figures are in Canadian dollars. For approximate U.S. dollar equivalent, you can subtract about 25%)

We spent $2,700 on gasoline. Yikes...and that was with the cheaper gas prices in the states. It cost $900 to drive down to Mexico, and then about $1,400 for the longer drive back through western Mexico and into southern California. We could have flown for a lot less money. But then that would have opened the door to a myriad of other expenses because we wouldn't have had the motorhome with us. And ultimately, we like RV travel!

Ruth, and "the most beautiful view in the world", near Guatapé, Colombia.

Toll roads are expensive in Mexico, and we spent $221 on total toll roads and bridge and tunnel fees over the winter. Most of that was on the drive from Mazatlan north to the border, which we will likely never do again.

Propane for the motorhome was $220. That may sound expensive to some of you, but we're hardly ever plugged in to electricity so Sherman's fridge and heating system run entirely on propane for the majority of the winter.

The tallest palm trees in the world at the beautiful Cocora Valley in Colombia.

We did good with groceries! Of course, it came with the added expense of eating out too many times, as detailed below. We spent a total of $2,100 on groceries...or an average of $300 a month. Not bad!

We spent $1,275 on booze, and at $182 per month that's definitely higher than normal. But a lot of the increase can be attributed to the terrible exchange rate with the U.S. dollar compared to the past.

Sherman, boondocking near Villa Victoria, Mexico.

The "miscellaneous" category is always a wildcard. The lowest month this winter was $81, and the highest was $860! We spent $2,400 in total, so the average over 7 months was $343 per month. That one expensive month was last October when it included our Mexico motorhome insurance for the winter as well as Colombian tourist visa fees for Canadians. We also spent a lot of money on accessing the internet over the winter... $550 in total, or $78.50 per month.

The "entertainment" category was also higher than normal. This is also where we expense any meals out, and we ate out more this winter than any other! Of course it also includes tourist attractions and any activities we do. But this year, it's mostly meals out, although we did a few special things in Colombia while we were there. We spent $1,720...an average of $245 per month.

In San Diego, California.

We did pretty well on our overnight expenses. This category includes any RV park fees, as well as hostels or hotels when we're traveling. We try to take advantage of any couchsurfing opportunities when we fly to other countries, and free camping and boondocking whenever possible when we're in the motorhome. We spent a total of $1,935 in total...or $276 per month.

We spent very little money on the motorhome over the winter. Considering we drove 8,000 miles with a 20 year old motorhome! We spent a total of $245 on minor repair and maintenence. Sherman is a good boy!

And the last category is travel. This is where we include any flights, trains, or destination buses. We spent a total of $1,544 for the two of us. This included six flights for the two of us, as well as all of our overland bus transportation while in Colombia.

So...a total of $2,071 CAD ($1,571 USD) per month. I'd say we saw an awfully lot of neat stuff for the same price that most people spend staying at home!

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A great one day deal on a heavy duty Singer sewing machine. Considering it's normally only $166 to begin with, the sale price is pretty cheap!


And in Canada, at Amazon.ca it's often tough to come across a decent deal. But today, there are two deals I want to highlight. First, if you've been looking for a good camera, this Nikon DSLR is a great deal...


And remember "The Bionic Woman"? You can buy the entire series on DVD for only $25...


20 comments:

  1. Hey thank you for sharing this. You guys do a great job of sharing this information. What an amazing travel year you experienced! kudos.

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    1. Thank you Dianne! We like to share our expenses because we feel that it will help others already traveling and wanting to see how to save a bit more money and with those that are in the planning stages. Traveling can be fun and inexpensive if you are willing to "rough" it a little. Already starting to plan for next winters travels. :-)

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  2. Two grand per month for your lifestyle is a bargain! Thanks for the detailed report.

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    1. Thanks Peter, $2,000 isn't too shabby but we would still like to see it a bit lower than that. :-)

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  3. Not too bad at all. You did a good job,

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    1. Thanks George, we will keep working at perfecting it. ;-)

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  4. Yes, you guys continue to do amazing things on a small budget. Plus you got to travel to a bunch of amazing places and did a bunch of new things!

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    1. Thanks Cheapchick! It takes a bit of work and planning to try and keep it low but we have fun doing it and Kevin loves to find the bargains.

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  5. I'm always amazed at your costs! We can't even stay home for that little, lol!

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    1. Thank you Esther! One of the reasons we sold our house is that it cost too much to keep it running and we spent more of our time working for it and not enjoying life as much as we wanted to be :-)

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  6. Very good. But what I´m finding is that beer is expensive just about anywhere you go. A liter of Oso Negro vodka costs 68 pesos. OTOH, it might just kill me :) Three liters a month plus a bottle of wine a week runs us $32 a month. Good Mexican wine from La Cetto.

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    1. Beer isn't expensive in the Czech Republic! Actually in Mexico it is cheaper than in the States an MUCH cheaper than in Canada. It all works out in the end because there won't be any booze expenses for then next 5 months anyway. Sounds like you have yours worked out nicely. :-)

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  7. love the journey, thanks for sharing your budget

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    1. Thank you Barry, we hope that it will help someone down the road or be an inspiration to someone else. :-)

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  8. Very interesting read! Thanks for sharing! You guys rock!

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  9. Thanks for sharing your numbers! My husband and I just moved into our Airstream but are stationary for the rest of the year. We start full time travel next year. Being able to see what other people spend is incredibly important to us so we can plan for our adventures! Thanks again!

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    1. You are welcome, we are always happy to share our expenses, good or bad. We do have to say that you need to be careful with certain expenses because they can get out of hand quickly especially when you are on the road traveling. Our number one suggestion would be to get set up with solar so that you can boondock an be self-sufficent.

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  10. Thank you for this great information. We are in the Toronto area and are planning an RV excursion to the Mazatlan area in MX. This helps in understanding the costs involved.

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    1. Hope it helps you. Just keep in mind that things will be slightly more in Mazatlan because it is a tourist kind of town. The RV Parks will be more expensive than what our overnight expenses are because we dry camp a lot so if we stay at an RV park we will normally get a slight discount because we don't hook up to electricity. If you have any questions don't hesitate to ask and we will try to answer them for you.

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