I’m Matt and my partner is Elaine. We finally left! Until May 1st 2014, we owned and ran a Taco Del Mar restaurant in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. After a long time coming, on June 26th, we hit the road with our camper van.
We like the outdoors and the concept of living a simple life. I have owned a camper van for many years but I have never really gone on a longer trip than a few days with it. We’ve always been looking for an opportunity to do a real road trip with that van and now this is happening.
We are now free of any serious liabilities, whether financial or contractual. We are free to go anywhere we want, whenever we want, for as long as there is money left in the jar.
Having lived the last few years under the influence of living a simple life, we are now trying to push this a little further by living in our van and by keeping our habits of being somewhat frugal. We have worked hard to save up for this trip. We value money and have a hard time wasting it on gambling, eating out or even buying coffee, especially when we can quickly do it by ourselves. Our main priorities when it comes to spending money are fairly simple: Food, Fuel and Fun. Fun relates a lot with spending time in the nature while rock climbing or hiking. We also appreciate beer & wine and the fun that comes from hanging out with people while enjoying a cold one.
THEREFORE, we have come up with some guidelines for our trip. Without those, it would be easy enough to fall in love with traveling and eventually ending up maxing out our credit cards to pursue the adventure.
OBJECTIVE: Being away from home for 1 year, living a simple life, trying to stretch the value of our money. We fancy rock climbing and I expect this hobby to have a major impact on our whereabouts. The biggest cost saver will be to live in the van while avoiding paying for campgrounds.
TOTAL BUDGET: $15 000 (so it’s $7500 per person). The cost of the van and getting it ready for the trip is not part of that budget. Once we moved into the van and out of our apartment on June 26, roadtrip started and we began counting our dollars.
BUDGET BREAKDOWN: We need to budget around those 3 things: Fuel, Food, and Fun (alcohol!). Fuel is not something we can avoid and at this time it is being over budgeted, at least until we reach Mexico. Based on 25 000km at $1.3 CAD at 15L/100km we need to set aside about $5000. We are now left with $10000 or $192 / week to entertain and feed ourselves.
ITINERARY: Although the trip has some kind of itinerary for the first 6-8 months, it is very loose and things could change from one day to the next. Our first stop is Quebec for the summer to visit family and friends and do rock climbing. We will then head back west in the fall before making our way south towards Potrero Chico climbing area, Mexico. We are open to suggestions so if anyone has recommendations, please let us know!
THE VAN: It’s a 1978 Dodge raised roof campervan. It has an 8 cylinder(V8) 360 engine. We are also hauling a Kymco Bet & Win 150cc with a motorcycle rack behind the van. In the front of the van we carry our bicycles. The fuel consumption is around 15L/100km for the van and 5L/100km for the scooter. The upgrades to the van include installing 2 x 40 watts solar panels, replacing the dead 12v deep cycle battery with two reconditioned 6v deep cycle golf cart batteries, replacing all the light bulbs within the van with LED lights bought on Ebay to reduce power consumption, replacing the rusted up water pump and redoing the water lines to be able to feed the water from 3 x 23L rectangular water tanks. The van has a built-in propane tank to power the fridge, the stovetop and the furnace if needed. Things that do not work well with the van are: the Cruise Control which if you set it to 100km/h, it will not try to reach or keep that speed until the driving speed slows down to around 80km/h, then the transmission will kick down one gear and rev up like mad to get back to the set. All the rust spots were also spray painted over and from a distance the van looks a lot younger than it actually is. The odometer has only five digits so it’s impossible to know if the van has 15 000km on it or 515 000km. The previous owner told me he never went around the odometer but he could have just told me whatever I wanted to hear. In any case, the van runs really good and we feel confident it will last for a long time.
SMALL PRINTS: It is possible to add money to the trip budget. If we pick up a job along the way, we may choose to use that money and add it on to the budget. Money from personal investments is NOT eligible for top ups. Realistically, this trip might go on for a long time if this lifestyle suits us.