1 Year RV Travel Costs • Our Full-Time Buslife Expenses
We’ve been traveling full-time for over a year now and wondered . . . how much does it cost to travel full-time on the road in a bus conversion? Well, the amount just might surprise you!
We just had our one-year anniversary of full-time travel and we’re looking back at our expenses to see how much it costs us to travel full-time for the last 365 days. We broke down all the costs and we’re gonna be sharing all our expenses as well as what we’re going to do to change our finances for the year to come
We thought it was important for us to look at our expenses after one year of full-time travel to really understand how we’re spending our money. We decided to go through all of our credit card statements and make a spreadsheet. We know there are a lot of people out there who are thinking about committing to a life of travel so we wondered how much it costs to live in a bus and travel full-time. Would it be more than our old sticks and bricks life? What were our biggest expenses?
Breaking Down the Expenses
We decided to break our expenses down into categories. There are some important ones to take into consideration and we choose to look at our diesel costs, our camping costs, our utilities, and food costs. What we consider our “rent” in this lifestyle is a combination of our camping fees and diesel costs.
In our first year of travel, we spent 12% of our total budget on camping for a total of $4,670 USD. Now that’s a little bit more money than we thought we were going to spend. We had this vision of driving into the woods and just living for free on BLM land but that didn’t happen. Because of our choices of the places we wanted to travel to and the things we wanted to see we spent more than we anticipated. Some months we spent almost nothing on camping and other months we spent a lot!
For example, in December, January, February, and March I think we only spent about $200 in total. In some states that we traveled we had few cheap or free options. We discovered that staying at campgrounds for a short amount of time gets expensive fast.
The other thing that we consider part of our “rent” is Diesel. As may know we have a big bus and we have a lot to spend on diesel. So what did we spend for an entire year: $2888. That’s 7% of our spending for the year. If we break it down into the months it’s $241 dollars a month which isn’t bad.
Once we understood that our diesel costs were going to vary based on how fast and far you travel we realized we had some control over this expense. If you’re not traveling fast obviously you’ll be spending less on diesel each month. What we would like to do idealy is to to stay in a location for a week to two weeks before moving on.
With those costs in mind, we spent a total of $7, 517 for the year in “rent” wehich we are calculating from our camping and diesel fees. Breaking that down to our monthly costs and we are looking at $626.41 a month. That’s crazy considering that 22 years ago Mela rented a studio apartment in Hollywood California for $800 a month.
In our old sticks and bricks life, before we bought the bus, our rent was $3,200 a month in Los Angeles. And that was pretty normal for a 3-bedroom house. So we definitely have brought down our rent cost of living in our new bus life.
Bus Maintenance Expenses
Over the past year, we spent 6% of our budget on bus parts and maintenance for a total of $2,390 for the year. This averages about $200 a month average and includes our first week of travel when we discovered we had a flat tire! This also includes when our temperature sensor gauge on our engine was acting up.
Now this is probably pretty conservative for bus maintenance expenses and I moving forward we have plans to spend about significantly more in the next month or 2 with new tires and upkeep costs.
Registration & Insurance Expenses
Other expenses we take into consideration are our auto registration for both our Bus and our Jeep. We also have insurance for the bus and the Jeep. In total we spent 25% on auto registration for a total of $941 for the year and 5% on insurance for $1,649 for the year.
Speaking of the Jeep we still need to buy gas for the Jeep and this year we spent less than 1% of our entire budget on gasoline! For our Jeep we spent only $490 dollars for the year which averages out to about $41 a month. We used to spend a lot more on gas commuting to work when we lived in a house which means we spend about 78% less on gasoline now then we used too!
The next expense on our list is utilities. Let’s start off with the utility bills we NO LONGER HAVE! We do not have an electric bill! We’re self-sufficient as far as electricity goes as long as we have sunshine thanks to our Battleborn Batteries and Victron Electronics setup and our solar panels. It’s amazing being energy-independent in that way.
We don’t spend any money on water. We’ve never paid for water on the road and we’ve always been able to fill up with water for free everywhere we’ve gone. Plus, we don’t spend any money on our trash. If we’ve been staying at campgrounds we’re able to just throw trash away there. Otherwise you go to a gas station or something.
We did have one big utility bill for the year though. And we were a little shocked by how much of our budget we spent on . . .
Internet & Phone Expenses
We have had to spend more on phones and connectivity on the road than before in our sticks and bricks life. To make sure we can work we started our travels with Starlink, Verizon 4G, T-Mobile 5G and At&t 5G Phone and internet service. Because we had no idea which one was going to work best for us, we thought it best to try them all out. After a few months we dropped our Verizon 4G which cut our bill back $150 dollars a month.
In total, we spent 11% of our yearly budget on internet connectivity at $4,324 a year or averaging $362 a month. Moving forward it is going to be less because we did drop our Verizon service. Our AT&T service is our phones we’re on one of those plans where you’re slowly paying off your phone which was about 9% of our budget at $3,523 or $294 a month.
In the end, these are work expenses that we need to stay connected and work on the road. Because we have these services we have been able to stay connected on the internet to upload videos.
Want to see the grand total? Want to see what our biggest expense was for the year? Watch our video up top as we break down the true cost of our first year of living full-time on the road.
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