Expense Report Year 1: 6 September 2014 – 5 September 2015
The RTW trip we are doing can be done for less money but we are choosing to take the middle road. We offer these expense reports as a baseline for others to plan with.
We spent a total of $23,361.32 on living expenses and $15,664.72 on one-time expenses for a total of $39,026.04 for two people for one year. We drove 18,566 miles. We camped 39% (143-nights), stayed in a hotel 50% (181-nights), and stayed with friends 11% (41-nights) of the time. We drove through 13 countries.
|Total – US$||Daily Average*||Percent of total|
|*Camping and hotel average is per night based on number of nights camping or hotel|
Foreign currencies have all been converted to US dollars based on our average exchange rates per country. We use ATMs to retrieve our funds and we do not have ATM fees as they are reimbursed to us (Charles Schwab checking account).
We have tracked everything and included all except expenses related to our house in Seattle. We did not sell our house but rented it out and it essentially pays for itself through rental income (mortgage, insurance, taxes, and a house manager). We have been blessed with great tenants and we did a lot of work on the house before this trip so we would be unlikely to have expense such as appliances, roof, etc. We have also not included payments that we continue to make on Shannon’s student loans.
The budget goal for day-to-day expenses was $65 and over the course of the first year we came in under budget at $64. Remember this is for two people so if divided by two that is about $32/day/person. Our most expensive country was the United States at a daily average of $98.57. The two least expensive were Bolivia ($29.23) and Ecuador ($46.74) but there is a caveat for that because this was just 3-days into Bolivia and no fuel had been purchased and Ecuador we spent time on an Amazon tour that included food. So a fair comparator for least expensive would be Colombia at $56.59/day. Not too bad. What does this look like in pictures?
Food is our highest expenditure (41 percent) but that category includes food plus all items purchased at grocery stores such as batteries, toiletries, tampons, sunscreen, mosquito repellent, etc. Some of those are high-ticket items. We spent an average of 26.16/day for two people. I would say there is a lot of variable in this category for people. We generally eat whatever we feel like so this ranges from really cheap street food to fancier restaurants and anything in-between. Next up on the spending is accommodation. Definitely a place that sees a lot of variance and, depending on comfort levels, you could spend a lot less. We wild-camped maybe on a dozen occasions during the first year.
On our day-to-day we spent just over $23k and now onto those one-time expense that really added up over the course of the year. In fact, at over $15k that is more than fifty percent of our day-to-day.
Our one-time expenses:
Border ($1,910.23): visa fees and required insurance for the motorcycles really added up. South America is expensive for US-citizens because of reciprocity fees so this amount includes per person Brazil ($160), Bolivia ($160), and Argentina ($160). We were required to have Brazil visas for our time on the cargo freighter to Europe since we will travel through Brazilian waters.
Repairs/maintenance/parts ($1,718.33): This includes all general maintenance items such as tires, oil, replacement parts, repair parts, and all other bits and bobs for the bikes.
Shipping ($3,791.14): This is big-ticket shipping for ourselves and the motorcycles. Some of this is for shipping that will occur during out second year of the trip.
*Panama to Colombia via the Stahlratte: $2,056.50
*Uruguay to Belgium via Grimaldi cargo freighter (deposit): $1,359.64
*Madrid-Seattle-Madrid plane tickets (visit home April 2016): $375.00 plus airline miles
Other (8,245.02): This is a large category and there are some big-ticket items included such as medical insurance for two people ($2,103), Spanish language school ($900), excursions for Amazon trip, Machu Picchu ($877), website support, shopping (replacement gear, new gear, and fun stuff), postage for shipping items to Guatemala from the US.
Could we have spent less? Was it all necessary?
The answers are yes and no. On day-to-day items it would be easy to spend less money especially on food and accommodation. For places to camp you could wild camp more and you could also do things like couch surfing or trade labor for a free place to stay. On food you could purchase more items in the markets rather than larger grocery stores and could cook a higher percentage of the time. We cook about 40 percent of the time (this might mean tuna sandwiches). Purchasing SIM cards and data plans is clearly not mandatory but it sure is nice.
On one time expenses could we spend less? – it gets fuzzier here. On borders the answer is no unless we chose to take a chance on not carrying insurance where required or making counterfeit policies with Photoshop. We didn’t want to take that risk. Some people forgo medical insurance and that is not something that we are willing to do. We are covered for accidents, medical evacuation, repatriation, diseases, etc. We do think of this as catastrophic coverage so we have a high deductible ($10k) because we know if we need this coverage the shit has really hit the fan either with a bad accident or disease. Spending less on repairs/maintenance is not really an option over the long haul. Shipping between locations needs to be done and many of those costs are fairly rigid. You can do a trip between Panama and Colombia cheaper but we loved our time on the Stahlratte (5-days in the San Blas islands) and it was a relief having a shipping agent arrange all the paperwork. Lastly on “other” of course this category could be much less. This spending is all very subjective.
What would we do different? Or planning on for next year?
We are satisfied with our day-to-day expenses but we are reducing our goal budget for our second year to $55/day. This will help ensure we have enough funds to support us through the duration of our trip. Border expenses will continue but I think for the second year they might be a bit lower with the caveat that EU green card insurance for the motorcycles is not cheap. We will have two large shipping expenses next year including the remaining funds due for our Grimaldi freighter and then to airfreight our bikes and fly ourselves from Turkey to Nepal. Our one-time category should take a steep nosedive. We don’t anticipate any expensive excursions, no language schools, and fingers crossed we don’t have to replace any kit. Or maybe by then someone will want to sponsor us with some new stuff?
Overall, I don’t think we would do much differently with the exception of shipping packages from home. We learned an expensive lesson in Guatemala.
Miles driven: this is based on Zippy’s odometer and not the total miles of both bikes. Occasionally we ride two-up or Mike may take Donkey to do some errands and these additional miles are not accounted for. When providing miles per gallon averages this is an important caveat as we are not tracking both motorcycles odometers.
Fuel: petrol for two motorcycles and minor use of gas for our MSR camp stove
Grocery: food and incidentals purchased at grocery stores/markets/butcher that may include batteries, toiletries, etc. as well as food.
Prepared Food: anything that we haven’t made ourselves such as meals purchased at restaurants, food stalls, or prepared food from local stores.
Camp: camp ground fees
Hotel: hotel fee
Communications: local SIM cards, Skype credit, USB modems, recharging for minutes and data, internet cafes, etc.
Incidental: anything that doesn’t fit into other categories with notes made as to the actual expenses but anticipated as park fees, other fees, postcards, shopping, etc.
Border: border fees for people, motorcycles, and pet as well as insurance required, and any other border expenses.
Parts/maintenance: anything purchased for the maintenance or repair of the motorcycles.
Shipping: expenses for moving ourselves and motorcycles between continents
Other: gear replacement, excursions, and other one-time expenses.