Our Monthly VanLife Spending!

How much does it cost to travel in a van?

This is a question on many peoples minds, is it really feasible to travel in a van on a budget? To travel abroad? Live comfortably? 

The answer is yes, but it really does depend on your budget, or income, or whatever. But here is what we spent on our first month travelling through Spain and Portugal:

1. Food

This is our biggest expenditure, and we’re not surprised! Being in a small vehicle means we cannot stock a lot of food at once, and we generally tend to buy fresh produce every other day or so. During our initial travels we were on a very strict budget, so we very very rarely went to restaurants or had takeaways, which has still stuck with us now. However, we did got out for food at a lovely pizzeria, but it didn’t break the bank and we got to enjoy tasty pizza! 

To keep food costs down we tend to shop in Lidl or Aldi, as their prices are very low and you generally get more for your money! If you can buy fresh produce in markets and from independant shops you will also get a lot more for your money.

Total spending: €299.70

2. Diesel

Travelling in a van, covering thousands of miles is undoubtedly going to cost money. But the amount you will save by travelling and staying in your van is amazing! Over our first month we travelled 1,478 miles, which came to…

Total spending: €207.28

3. Gas

Most van conversions have a cooker, which requires gas to run it with. There are a couple coming out now with diesel heaters that also work on their stoves, but for us we still use gas. Due to the size of our van the company who converted the van chose to leave room for two small CampingGaz bottles. Now, CampingGaz isn’t the cheapest (especially in the UK where it’s £30+ for a refill) but we’ve found it to be considerably cheaper here in Europe. We made the unfortunate mistake of running out of gas on day one as we’d completely and utterly forgotten to refill either of our canisters. Thankfully we have (two) spare camping stoves for hiking so we didn’t have to eat uncooked lentil pasta for dinner. Anyway, whilst we were in Spain we found a ferretería (hardware shop) which swapped us a full one for…

Total spending: €16.70

4. Tolls

We try to avoid tolls as much as we can, but one of the days we just really wanted to get somewhere fast so chose to use a toll for a bit, which was…

Total spending: €9.40

5. Internet

We need the internet to work, as YouTube is our main source of income we need to be able to upload videos, have access to emails, use our many social networks, keep an eye on orders and stock levels in our shop etc…

Times have changed since we first travelled to Europe in our van in 2014, as our network providers no longer completely limit data to zero, instead I am able to use my normal 20gb per month with Virgin and Theo is allowed an allowance of 9gb out of his unlimited data package with 3. 

But we still need a little more data, as we are on the internet a lot. So we hunted down the best deal we could find for the 3 months we’re in Portugal (there’s probably others but this was the best we found for now), which is a €15 sim for 15 days worth of 30gb. This sim goes in our mifi device and voila, we have internet!

Total spending: €30

6. Miscellaneous 

Random items that don’t really fall into any particular category i.e. tarp for our generator and post to the UK.

Total spending: €17.29

7. Laundry 

We don’t carry too many clothes with us, but we still need to do laundry every once in a while. Our load is generally quite small, enough to fit in an 8kg wash. We’ve found a ton of outdoor launderettes in Portugal, mainly by Intermarche supermarkets, and they are super handy. For an 8kg wash it will cost you €4, then 20 minutes in the tumble dryer is €2 for every 20 minutes.

Total spending: €6

8. Water

Water is free and pretty easy to find in Europe. As I mentioned in the video, motorhomes are catered for really well in Europe with dedicate rest spots which often include free water or toilet disposal.

Most villages have a drink water tap in the centre which are great for topping up your on-board water supply.

Total spending: €0

9. Toilet

Toilet disposal is free at the many motorhome service points dotted around. We routinely find them at Intermarche supermarkets and they are vital for us!

Total spending: €0

10. Campsites

We love to wildcamp and have stayed in plenty of truly amazing locations. This is why we tend to avoid campsites, as our spending would sky rocket and we like the freedom of wild camping. 

Total spending: €0

11. Showers   

We’ve been fortunate enough to visit a couple of friends whilst we’ve been travelling and we’ve had showers at their places, but we’ve also showered in thermal pools and rivers along the way. We have a portable shower as well which is truly fabulous – here’s a post all about it!

total spending: €0

So what does it amount to?

Total Spending for the Month: €586.37



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