We are now one year into our motorhome life. On the 8th of May 2017 we moved out of our house in Exmouth, our tenants moved in and we started to travel in Bertie. Actually we remained static for a while as we sorted out a number of bits and bobs, but we had taken the plunge. Since then we have spent the majority of our time in Bertie, just a few nights in our new official home and a few nights in apartments when friends/family have visited. We have travelled in the UK (England, Wales and Scotland) France, Spain, Italy and Portugal.
Lots of people ask how much it costs to travel in a motorhome, the answer – of course – is that everyone is different, has different priorities and objectives for their travelling and so everyone’s costs will be different. But that’s not going to stop me from sharing our costs; when we were planning our adventure I looked at as many blogs as I could and used their costs to help me make my budget, based on best fit with our expected style of travelling and our route. Because I found it useful I am sharing our costs, maybe someone else will benefit.
We wanted to be in control of our spending, but we didn’t want to let it govern us. We aren’t intending to live full time in our motorhome, for us this is a finite adventure of a couple of years (who knows, things might change) so we want to be able to visit the places, experience the adventures and take the opportunities that travelling around Europe offered. Having said that, a lot of our enjoyment comes from things that are low cost; cycling, walking, kayaking don’t cost much once you have the kit. Skiing, on the other hand, is a very costly activity; one week of skiing had not been factored into our original budget and it showed. Next year we want to do five or six weeks so our budget will have to be revised accordingly.
To maintain an understanding of our costs (which is not quite the same thing as controlling our spending) I continue to do what I did when we were living a ‘normal’ life. I maintain a spreadsheet of all income and outgoings. We mostly try to spend on our Nationwide credit card as it doesn’t charge a fee for use abroad and uses the market exchange rate. For cash we use the Caxton FX pre-loaded currency card. This allows us to load up with currency and withdraw it without any restrictions; although the exchange rate is usually a couple of cents below the market rate it is better than most other options for unrestricted cash withdrawal.
All our budgeting and costs are recorded in GBP, our Nationwide statements always convert to GBP and for our cash spending I use the exchange rate I’ve most recently had from Caxton FX, it’s not precise but it’ll do.
So…onto the numbers.
Our total budget and actual spend is below, of course each of these categories hides a multitude of sins, but it’s clear to see that we have spent more on our Motorhome than expected….and this is mostly buying bits and bobs. It’s amazing how quickly it mounts up, a new mattress, mattress topper, additional locks for the doors etc. We’re pretty pleased with our totals to be honest, given that we haven’t tried too hard to pinch pennies. But if we wanted to cut costs there are plenty of places we could target!
This doesn’t include our income (or costs) from renting our house out, selling our car and the money we got back from various insurances and utilities. If you take our income into account we have only spent £10435.08. We wont have quite as much income next year though.
This is obviously where most of our money goes. On the day-to-day cost of living; groceries, sites, gas and other essential costs that we would incur whether we were static or mobile. We overspent on our groceries A LOT. We have found it very difficult to change our middle class habits when it comes to food and drink. We enjoy buying regional specialities from shops that are probably more geared to tourists and Paul in particular likes a taste of home so will spend over the odds on British produce (mint sauce, Weetabix, golden syrup etc).
On the plus side we have spent a lot less on campsite costs than we expected and, the very best thing, Paul has given up smoking, he has now been nicotine free for six months and that has hopefully saved us more than just money.
How did we save money on our overnight costs? Well we didn’t really have a good feel for how often we would spend in campsites vs aires/sostas. We hadn’t enough experience to know what our preferences would be. In the UK we needed to visit campsites for any form of motorhome services (some campsites will allow you to use their services for a small fee), and that’s where we have spent the most money. All of the other countries we have visited have much wider networks of free or low cost motorhome facilities.
When it comes to choosing where to park we have tried not to be driven by cost, it’s all about Location, Location, Location. We want to be parked near the places we want to visit and the activities we want to enjoy. We have also decided we like a campsite when the weather turns warm so that we can spend more time sitting out doors in the evenings. In case you wondered, we haven’t counted the cost of renting apartments etc, where we haven’t spent the night in Bertie we have recorded the cost of parking – our ‘holidays’ are in our Leisure costs.
Our Bertie has covered 12427.8 miles since we started counting in August, it’s a good thing that our fuel economy has been improving as we work Bertie’s engine, but we still only get an average of 24 MPG.
Other travel costs include tolls – we have spent more than expected in Italy due to the poor road quality, sometimes you just need to get away from the potholes! – ferries, public transport and day time parking.
Our Leisure costs cover all our expenditure that is not day to day living, the things we do to pass the time and enjoy ourselves. We have underspent a little here, mostly because we haven’t eaten out as much as expected. That just about made up for the costs of skiing.
I hope that you’ve enjoyed a brief glimpse at our costs. Maybe it will help you with your budgeting, or maybe you’ll think that we’re spendthrifts who should keep a tighter control on our purse strings. We’re now looking at our budget for next year which will include several weeks skiing and a trip to Scandinavia – it could be a year of big spending!