If you have been reading my blog since June, you must be familiar with my « On The Road » posts by now. I’m trying to consistently report on my journey across North and Central America. Many readers have inquired about a budget review of my trip. We took 2 years to prepare for this trip and the budget aspect was quite a challenge. I notice that most people are fascinated by how expensive such a year could be in one’s life. As I’m fairly transparent with my investments, I agreed to be as transparent with my travel budget.
I first discussed how I will finance my trip here. In this article, I expected to spend $3,050 per month. I realized this was a little bit optimistic and then revised my budget upwards to $3,500 per month. I have now reached a third of my trip and it’s time to review some of the spending!
First, the Numbers
- Total of months on the road: 4
- Total spent: $20,829
- Average spending per month: $5,207
- Average overspent money: $1,707
Well… I can’t tell you that I’m proud of exploding out of my budget like this after just 4 months! On average, I’m spending 48.77% more than expect each month. If I keep going like this, I will spend $62,500 plus another $8,500 to rent a house in Costa Rica for a total of $71,000. The initial budget was $50,500.
Then, the Explanations
Throwing out numbers like this doesn’t explain much why it went “North”. Did I continue my excessive spending habits or am I a very bad budget planner? Funny enough, the answer will be found by looking where the money went.
All tickets for activities and my 3 days in a hotel in Cabo San Lucas
When it was necessary in Canada and U.S. and pretty much everyday since we are in Mexico.
Car maintenance: $949
Oil change, a few spare parts and brake repairs
We were due to buy clothes before we left (remember, I have 3 kids), we bought most of our stuff in outlet stores in the States in order to get the maximum for our money.
This includes our grocery bills, wine and restaurants
Can’t do much about it!
The cost of a 1 year car insurance for Mexico
This includes products for the “home”, laundry, cell phone package in Mexico
This includes tolls (they are legend in Mexico!), ferries (Vancouver Island and La Paz-Mazatlan), police bribes tickets in Mexico
In the light of this chart, I have 41% of my budget where I have absolutely no control (gasoline, insurance, transportation, campgrounds and car maintenance). I’ve included campground in this section as we didn’t use many while we were in Canada and the U.S. We did our share of Wal-Marts, used boondockers welcome, harvests hosts and a few boondocking locations as well. In fact, we spent $1,025 in our 3 first months of traveling on campgrounds. Right now, we are almost solely in campgrounds in order to insure our security and because there aren’t many options once you get to the mainland.
Our food budget has averaged roughly $2,000/month, which is almost 40% of our total budget. This is mainly because we are 5 and our 2 oldest kids eat like adults. The fact we did several hikes and other outdoor sports made us all very hungry at night. In addition to that, we also explored several cities with our stomachs as we are foodies and truly enjoy tasting different specialities. Our multiple visits of the Pike market in Seattle, our day on Granville Island in Vancouver or our 2 restaurants in San Francisco were more seen as activities for me than simply going to the restaurant. Still, $2,000 per month is a lot of money!
Going Forward – What Will Happen with Our Budget?
I think there isn’t much we can do about the past. However, I’m confident that our monthly budget will go back down to $3,500 per month for the upcoming 2 months at least. Mexico isn’t that expensive. If I exclude the ferry and the 3 days in a hotel, I average $112/day for a monthly average of $3,400. Our next 2 months will definitely look like this as we travel across Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua.
While Costa Rica is more expensive, the fact we will live in a house will help us out making a better budget for food and will eliminate our campground fees along with significantly reducing our gasoline budget.
Worst comes to worst, I now know that my trip won’t cost more than $71,000. It is virtually impossible to spend $5,000 per month during the upcoming 5 months of our trip. I can now assume this expense to live the trip of my life. After all, it’s like I’m spending my next 26 years of vacation right now, and I will still have the possibility to go on vacation each year when I come back! Isn’t that great?
I’m also very happy to have worked incredibly hard on my websites. While my budget is blowing up, so is my online income! After 4 months, I was able to use solely my online money to sponsor my trip and it seems that it will continue this way! If you ever want to know how I financed my dream, take a look at Dividend Stocks Rock