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Have you wondered how much overlanding costs? Maybe you think it costs a small fortune and way out of your budget.
We’ve heard people say they can’t afford an overland lifestyle like ours with no real understanding of how much they’d need.
People have asked outright how much an overland trip costs. So if you’re dreaming of an overlanding trip and think you can’t afford it, or just curious, read on. This may surprise you.
With many variables at play, the cost of every trip will differ. How much fuel does your overland vehicle guzzle? How many miles will you drive over what duration? Which continent(s) and countries will you visit?
Then take into account unexpected spend on vehicle repairs, emergency trips home and other unforeseen costs. These factors all play a part in the total cost of an overland trip.
While we can’t tell you what every trip will cost, we can help you put into perspective the kind of budget you need.
Based on our experience over the past 13 months of full-time overlanding, this post will help you assess the affordability of your own trip.
How we measure and budget our overlanding costs
We use a spreadsheet to capture every penny we spend. On a daily basis, we scribble down our spend on a notepad on our phones. When we boot up the laptop, we transfer the numbers to the spreadsheet.
On the whole, we apportion our costs to the country we spend the money. This allows us to assess the overall spend per country – useful for future blog posts we’ll write.
Some of the costs of overlanding trips are one offs. For our current trip in South America, we shipped our vehicle from Europe to South America.
This was a big expense upfront so we apportion the cost of it across the expected duration of the trip, rather than a specific country.
We also have an annual payment for our travel insurance and a bi-annual one for Baloo’s insurance. We apportion these costs across the duration of the trip too.
We’ve spent money on vehicle repairs. To avoid misrepresenting the cost of travelling in each country with a big mechanic’s bill, we also apportion this across the whole journey.
For budgeting purposes, we assume our South American overland trip will last 3 years. On this basis, so far the costs apportioned across the entire trip average £12.35 per day.
Assuming we have no more surprises, if the trip lasts longer, this daily average will fall. If it’s shorter, it’ll go up.
We aim to spend no more than £50 per day on average, so this leaves us with a daily budget of £37.65 for EVERYTHING else.
How much has the last 13 months cost us?
Of course, we budgeted for these in our personal finances. However, these relative luxuries skew the numbers of a “normal” overland trip. If we included them here, it’d detract from the point of the article.
An explanation of our spending
During our overland trips we focus on our budget to keep our average daily spend down. We’re not millionaires (sadly) so need to budget.
The longer we can make our money last, the longer we can travel. Take a look here for some insight into how we travel overland on a budget.
The breakdown of our overlanding costs
Here’s a chart showing you exactly how we spent that £45.17.
Below is a little more context on each of the categories.
We shipped our campervan, Baloo, from Europe to South America. One day, we may need to ship her back to Europe too but we’ll only count that at the end.
Not every overland trip involves shipping so if you use this to help plan your trip finances, take this is into consideration.
This is a hefty annual cost for us – a little less than £800 per year. However, we wouldn’t even consider travelling without a good policy in place. If you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel.
A couple of insurance companies provide great policies for long term travellers, perfect for an overland trip. Take a look at this article on choosing travel insurance and things to avoid.
Of course, the cost of travel insurance varies from person to person.
Vehicle insurance costs also vary depending on continent, country and vehicle. If you’re using this to help plan your budget, do a little research based on your trip and vehicle first.
A little overkill, but we keep a separate line item for communications. We buy local sim cards to get data so we can keep in touch with friends and family. From time to time, we splash out on a coffee so we can use the cafés fantastic wifi.
So next time you see a couple sipping their lattes, ignoring each other in favour of their mobile devices, ask them if they’re overlanders before judging them too harshly.
We hate this line item on our spreadsheet. When things go wrong on the vehicle, as they inevitably do from time to time, it’s not quite the same as a car breakdown at home.
Our vehicle is our home, so a broken vehicle isn’t our idea of fun. Add to this, vehicle repairs often don’t come cheap.
In fairness, we include vehicle maintenance in this cost too. In the last 13 months, we’ve had to replace the alternator and an oil seal and fix a broken leaf spring. Without these problems, it would only take up 3% of the overall trip costs.
Accommodation & Camping
We dislike this number too. The whole point of having our camper van is to minimise, even eliminate, accommodation costs.
Aside from the Antarctica, Easter Island and our 30 day passage across the Atlantic from Europe , we’ve spent every night in Baloo so far. Although we’re about to do a house sit for a month in Uruguay.
Often we aim to camp for free and had much success in South America so far. Take a look at how self sufficient our camper van is with a tour of Baloo here.
We keep a close eye on our fuel consumption and spending. We keep track of how many litres we buy, how much we spend and our total mileage too. Slow travel allows us to keep the daily average to a minimum.
Well we have to eat of course but we include drinks, toiletries and clothing in this category too.
We use this category for luxuries. The rare meal in a restaurant, the even more rare night out all get logged under entertainment. Fortunately, wine purchases get logged under groceries!
To our surprise, our sightseeing budget isn’t huge. We seek out free things to do where possible and avoid paid tours almost always. While we don’t want to miss major attractions, we don’t want to pay through the nose for them either.
Contrary to popular belief, overlanders don’t hunch down at the river’s edge scrubbing their undies on a rock. We keep costs down with a little hand washing, but drop off the bulk at local laundries for a full service wash. Sometimes, we even get all our socks back.
This category captures any costs we incur on toll roads, ferry crossings and the occasional taxi or bus journey.
An average daily spend of £45 for 2 of us on a 13 month overland trip in South America doesn’t sound so bad. Per person it’s costing us £22.50 each day.
For solo travellers, expect a higher daily average as the big ticket costs aren’t shared across 2 people.
For people overlanding with kids or in groups of more than 2, the per person cost will fall.
So how does our spend compare with what you thought it costs to go overlanding? Is it more, less or about what your expected? Does it make your dream anymore achievable?
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