Thousands of monarch butterflies at 10,700 feet in the mountains of Michoacan, Mexico. Photo taken yesterday!
Where are Kevin and Ruth right now? San Juan del Lago RV Park near Cuitzeo, Michoacan, Mexico.

Where are they going next? The outskirts of Mexico City, Mexico on the 17th.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Our frugal travel 2017 year in review... and expenses

Looking back at 2017, we had a fantastic year!

On this day a year ago, we were flying to Spain to tour Spain and Portugal for two months in a little motorhome. Then we flew to Italy where we rented a car and explored for three weeks. Then the tiny countries of San Marino and Monaco, and a couple of days in Nice, France. And on to interesting Morocco for two weeks before heading back to Barcelona for our return to Canada in April.

Then we had a great summer at Cabri Regional Park. It was a decent year for the park and we had great weather as well. Nice to leave our employ there on a high note, and we look forward to going back for a couple of weeks at the beginning of May to train the new managers.

Then three weeks in beautiful (but expensive!) Barbados.

Ruth enjoying a beautiful day in Barbados.

And then we were really happy to get back into the RV lifestyle here exploring North America. We're on a planned two year trip living and traveling full time in our motorhome Sherman!

On the financial side of things, we spent a total of $22,163 CAD ($17,700 USD) to live and travel for the year. 

That's $1,847 CAD ($1,475 USD) per month. Not bad, considering we visited six new countries!

Comparing that to the other ten years that we have been living an "abnormal" lifestyle, 2017 was the second most expensive of the last ten years. We noticed that groceries have gone up quite a lot. The first couple of years we could average $380 to $420 CAD per month, but 2017 came in at $492 per month. Part of that is because we didn't spend any of 2017 in Mexico, where we know that groceries are much cheaper.

Happy to be back in Sherman, our motorhome!

Lets take a look at our December 2017 expenses. We spent a total of $2,300 CAD, ($1,725 USD).

We've really noticed that the Unites States is not the bargain it used to be. Especially with a 30% exchange rate difference to the Canadian dollar. The only thing cheaper here now is gasoline, boxed wine, and cheap brands of hard liquor. Beer is slightly cheaper, but if you want to buy good beer (sorry, but Bud Light is not beer) it's getting close to Canadian prices now.

The following figures are all Canadian dollars. Subtract 25% for approximate USD prices.

Gasoline: We spent $500 on gasoline for Sherman. Not bad, considering we started the month in Lexington, Kentucky. And the tank is still 3/4 full.

Propane: We spent $63 on propane, and that included buying three of those little 1 lb canisters. Yes, they are expensive, but they are more convenient at times, like when I want to put the grill on a table further away from the motorhome. They're available in Mexico, but they are VERY expensive there, so we bring a few with us. Our propane costs were high, because it's been colder than we expected!

Groceries: $564.65. Higher than normal, due to stocking up on some gluten free items for when we're in Mexico.

Alcohol: Also higher than normal, at $293. I checked back in the archives, and that's the fourth highest month ever. We don't think we are drinking any more than normal, and Ruth is probably drinking less than normal. Prices have gone up, plus the bad exchange rate.

Miscellaneous: I think "high" in this category has become normal. We spent $570, however some of that was for things we may not have bought if my mother hadn't given us some Christmas money to spend. So we include it here because we really did spend it, although we may not have if it wasn't for the gift money. We bought a silk duvet for the bed at $201, and another recharge of our Verizon internet was expensive at $142. That's ridiculous and we will find a cheaper way for internet when we return to the U.S. in April.

Entertainment: Not bad, at $151. That includes our Texas State Parks Pass at $92 CAD, the National Corvette Museum at $26, and one meal out for $33. We did LOTS of hiking for entertainment and that's free.

Overnight: We spent $105 in camping fees staying a total of six nights. $17.50 per night average. The rest of the nights we parked for free. 

Motorhome: I spent $33 on Sherman's oil and filter but I haven't changed it yet.

So, once again higher than what we had budgeted, but not by much when you take out the gift items we bought for ourselves.

The next three months we are in Mexico. Barring any surprises, they should average out to be MUCH cheaper!

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Great price drop on a new 20 ft sewer hose!


And in Canada...





19 comments:

  1. You did have a great year, and I, for one, enjoyed all of your stories. Thanks for sharing. May 2018 be another awesome year for you both.

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    1. We did have a great travel year! Thank you so much for following along with us. Can't wait to write about all the amazing adventures that we will have this year. It's gonna be another fantastic year of trave1.

      Wishing both you and Shelagh a wonderful 2018!

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  2. I've enjoyed your adventures as well and congrats on the budget. Interesting to know how our prices compare. Best wishes as you continue your travels!

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    1. Thank you for following along with us Pam, so glad to hear that you are enjoying our adventures. We should be having another interesting travel year ahead of us. :-)

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  3. You truly live an amazing life on the amount of money you do! Happy New Year and to many more amazing frugal adventures ahead!

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    1. It all has to do with priorities! We try to live a simple life, so we don't need fancy when we travel just as long as we have the basics we can manage just fine and that really helps with the bottom line when it comes to the finances.

      This year should be an interesting year because the whole year will be in the motorhome and we will be spending a fair bit of time in Canada and up north where things will be expensive but then hopefully our time in Mexico will sort of even things out.

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  4. Enjoyed reading of your travels here in Europe, Canada and USA. Looking forward to Mexico. Happy New year and all the best for 2018.

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  5. You both know how to stretch a dollar so good for you even with the exchange rate! Great posts!

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    1. Well, we really try but unfortunately the dollar can only stretch so far. It will be interesting to see how this year will end up money wise.

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  6. What a wonderful year you two had, and here you are heading into another grand RV'ing adventure that we'll all be fortunate to follow along on via your blog. Your low spend is amazing, and we are right there with you that hiking is about the best entertainment there is, and 'free' just makes it all the better.

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    1. Thank you Tamara, we did have a wonderful year. :-)

      As I said in a couple of the above comments, it will be interesting to see how this year will turn out financially. A lot of different factors will be in play. We won't we sitting around for 5 months with very little in the way of expenses and we will be covering a fair bit of ground so that will sure add up in the fuel department, as I say it should be interesting.

      You can always count on there being lots of hiking involved though, that wouldn't stop for a long, long time. :-)

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  7. Very impressive! I love following your adventures! Does this include insurance for your RV? As Canadians, do you have to pay any type of health insurance fees? Thanks!

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    1. Yes, includes insurance for our RV, keeping mind that we only used our RV for 6 weeks of the year. No, as Saskatchewan residents, we do not pay any health insurance fees.

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  8. It is very impressive but the health insurance is only good in Saskatchewan, you must have to pay for health insurance while traveling? Do you not keep insurance on Sherman even if you aren't using him? Or perhaps I've misunderstood your answer to the lady above.

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    1. No, our Saskatchewan health insurance has the most benefits to us while we are in Saskatchewan, however there are benefits if we get sick while traveling. We choose to self insure otherwise. No, we do not keep insurance on Sherman when we aren't using him.

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  9. Thank you for sharing your budget information with all of us. It really helps us plan. On our trip to Mexico the biggest exspenses were tolls and gas. I was so surprised by how high. Good food is cheap as well as alcohol, so I guess we made up for that high exspensive. Except I like good red wine and that was hard to find. We found Costco, bought a case on sale, and hid a bottle in every compartment we could find on our little RV, Perigrina. My food tip to everyone is stay away from tourist restaurants and eat where the locals eat.... cheaper and less apt for a bout of food poisoning. I love a taco truck!!

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    1. Yeah, the tolls are definitely expensive down there, it's one of the many reasons that we typically stick to the free roads the majority of the time. It will be different this winter spending more time on them, however sometimes it just makes sense to use them. And, yes we are also going to notice the difference with the fuel prices. This will be the highest that we will have seen them in Mexico since we started RVing there back in 2008, however they aren't much different than our Canadian prices. It also wouldn't seem so bad if you could take more time traveling rather than having to do this trip all in three months 2 months in your case), which would normally take us 5 to 6 months to do.

      We have found one "cheap" wine that we don't mind down there so once our supply that we are bringing down with us has disappeared we will be buy it. It is a Baja California wine in a 1 litre tetra pack. Good thing we aren't wine connoisseurs!

      Totally agree with you about going to restaurants though. Our favourites are always the little mom and pop places down there and they always have great food. We always use the price of beer as an indicator as to whether or not it is a local restaurant or a tourist one. If the price of beer is too high we will leave. Our indicator price is any beer under 20 pesos, then it is usually a more local restaurant. Not sure that will still stand as it has been a over a year since we were in Mexico last and even local prices have probably gone up a bit. Also stay away from anything priced in US dollars down there, if something is then you are paying tourist prices!!!

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  10. Hi Guy's Haven't read your blog in a couple of years now due to a accident 3 yrs ago but back up and running and in Florida now for the winter(from NE) Looking to hit Mexico next winter was looking thru your blog for expenses on the trip and was hopping that you could point me to it. Be safe and look forward to reading about your travels this coming year....

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    1. Glad to hear that you are back in form and now trying to spend winter in hopefully a warm Florida for the winter. This is one of the many reasons that we love going to Mexico because you are almost always guaranteed good weather, unlike Texas, Florida or Arizona which can sometimes be hit or miss.

      The reason you don't see this trip showing up on our expenses is because it isn't an expense for us. We are leading the caravan and not a paying customer. Hope that explains things better for you.

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