• Sunday , 21 January 2018
Expense Report Year 2: 6 September 2015 – 5 September 2016

Expense Report Year 2: 6 September 2015 – 5 September 2016

The RTW trip we are doing can be done for less money (or more) but we are choosing to take the middle road. We offer these expense reports as a baseline for others to plan with, not to critique how we choose to spend our money.

We spent a total of $19,638.00 on living expenses and $20,324.85 on one-time expenses for a total of $39,962.85 for two people for one year. We drove 19,617 miles per motorcycle. We camped 46% (170-nights), stayed in a hotel 30% (108-nights), and stayed with friends 24% (88-nights) of the time. Note there are 366 nights listed because February had 29 days (leap year) in 2016 and we are doing our “year” by the dates of our actual trip, not calendar. We drove through 20 countries.

Total – US$ Daily Average* Percent of total
Living Expenses
Fuel 4,121.20 11.26 20.99
Grocery/sundries 4,298.20 11.74 21.89
Prepared Food 2,970.94 8.12 15.13
Camping 2,115.23 12.44 10.77
Hotel 1,929.07 17.86 9.82
Communications 541.76 1.48 2.76
Incidentals 3,661.61 10.00 18.65
Living subtotal $19,638.00 $53.66
One-time expenses
Border 2,520.31
Repairs/maintenance/parts 2,934.31
Shipping 6,788.85
Other 8,080.96
One-time subtotal $20,324.85
*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 except expenses related to our house in Seattle. We did not sell our house but rented it out and the rental income covers the costs of only the mortgage, insurance, taxes, and a house manager; the rental income does not provide any money for our trip. 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 expenses such as appliances, roof, etc. We have also not included Shannon’s student loan payments.

The budget goal for day-to-day expenses was $55 (originally we had our goal budget at $65 but we lowered it for year two) and over the course of the second year we came in under budget at just under $54. Remember this is for two people so if divided by two that is roughly $27 per person/per day. An item that skews this result is our time on the Grimaldi ocean freighter (see article) that we took across the Atlantic Ocean; that cost is counted as “shipping” but in reality we had food and accommodation for 36-nights on the ship. So, if you adjust for that adding back into day-to-day expenses $1,400 for food/accommodation then the daily average is $57.48. I got the $1,400 by using our average daily for food/accommodation by 36-nights. Doing this changes means that we were over our goal budget.

What does this look like in pictures?


Of day-to-day expenses, food is our highest expenditure (37 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 19.86/day for two people; down from 26.16/day in year one. I would say there is a lot of variable in this category for people. In the Americas and Morocco we generally ate whatever we felt like from cheap street food to fancier restaurants whereas in Europe we focused on cooking for ourselves. Tied for second-place on percentage of spending (21 percent) is fuel and accommodation. Accommodation is an area that encompasses 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 second year. Fuel is a set cost and is solely dependent on how many miles you drive. The average cost of fuel during the second year was $4.48/gallon ($1.18/liter). And, we drove combined about 40,000 miles. Our bikes are a bit piggy with fuel consumption. A bike with better fuel economy, or only traveling on one bike, would lower this expense.

On our day-to-day we spent just under $20k. What really added up for us this year was the one-time expenses. In fact, at just over $20k that is the same as our day-to-day.


Our one-time expenses
Border (($2,520.72): Visa fees and required insurance for the motorcycles was quite costly. We purchased visas for Bolivia ($160 each) and Argentina ($160 each). The majority of this expense is insurance. If insurance is required then we do purchase it; Europe set us back $1,210.46 and Morocco was $403.69. We also had insurance while in South America. Other costs included a bribe to The Gambia port officials ($163) and other incidental costs (photocopy, cab ride to immigration office).

Repairs/maintenance/parts ($2,934.31): This includes all general maintenance items such as replacement parts, tires, motor oil, sprockets, chains, brake pads, and others bike bits. Maintaining two motorcycles on the road is more expensive than we anticipated, mostly due to the cost of tires.

Shipping ($6,788.85): This is big-ticket shipping for ourselves and the motorcycles.
o Uruguay to Belgium via Grimaldi cargo freighter: $5,227.55
o Madrid-Seattle-Madrid plane tickets (visit home April 2016) that were originally purchased in year 1 ($375 under year one expenses; they were cheap because we mostly used airline miles)– we had to make numerous changes to these flights due to family circumstances: $1,327.62
o Spain-Morocco and return ferry tickets via Algeciras-TangierMed for two motorcycles and two people: $233.68

Other ($8,080.96): This is a large category and there are some big-ticket items included such as medical insurance for two people ($2,258), medical for contact lenses and doctor visits ($624.69), postage for parcels ($491.88), memberships for Horizons Unlimited and SPOT (430.69), bike storage ($269.24), motorcycle licensing at home ($435.25), fees and miscellaneous ($390), website support and stickers ($606), and shopping ($2,575.21) that includes clothes, electronics, camping gear, etc.

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 lowered both our food and accommodation costs in year two by camping a higher percentage of the time, we were hosted a lot in Europe, and we did a higher percentage of grocery shopping in markets and cooking for ourselves. We cook generally about 60 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. The other category (besides medical insurance in our opinion) is almost all discretionary spending and another person may not have any of these expenses or spend less. This spending is all very subjective.

Years 1 and 2 Compared and Combined
We spent a total of $42,999.31 on living expenses and $34,629.93 on one-time expenses for a total of $77,629.24 for two people for two years. We drove 38,183 miles per motorcycle. We camped 43% (313-nights), stayed in a hotel 40% (289-nights), and stayed with friends 18% (129-nights) of the time.

Total – US$ Daily Average* Percent of total
Living Expenses
Fuel 7,022.66 9.61 16.00
Grocery/sundries 9,396.31 12.85 22.00
Prepared Food 7,420.92 10.15 17.00
Camping 3,761.94 12.02 9.00
Hotel 7.031.89 24.33 16.00
Communications 1,259.90 1.72 3.00
Incidentals 6,896.35 9.72 16.00
Living subtotal $42,999.31 $58.82
One-time expenses
Border 4,430.96
Repairs/maintenance/parts 4,652.64
Shipping 9,220.35
Other 16,325.98
One-time subtotal $34,629.93
*Camping and hotel average is per night based on number of nights camping or hotel.

It adds up when you put it all together. We spent an average of $58.82 per day ($29.41 per person) on day-to-day expenses. Our one-time expenses are not that different than our day-to-day and as explained above the majority of “other” is very discretionary (besides medical insurance) and so you could definitely spend less and there are many people who do.


It is interesting to see how the “amount spent” changed between years one and two. We made an effort to reduce day-to-day spending in year two and we did by $3,723.32 though not all categories saw a decrease. We actually spent three percent more on fuel because we drove more miles and the average price of fuel increased. We had decreases in food/sundries (down by seven percent), accommodation (down by eight percent), and communication (down by one percent). Incidental spending was nearly unchanged at nine percent for both years.

One-time expenditures increased by a considerable amount ($6,019.77). The primary culprit was shipping that increased by eleven percent. In year one shipping was $2,431.50; the majority of this was sailing between Panama and Colombia on the Stahlratte and $375 for air flights (Madrid-Seattle-Madrid; paid for mostly with airline miles). In year two, total spending was $6,788.85. The bulk of this was ($5,200) for two people and two motorcycles on a cargo freighter across the Atlantic Ocean. Border expenses increased by one percent and parts/maintenance by three percent whereas other expenses decreased by two percent.

What would we do different? Or planning on for next year?
Our final year of the trip the bank account is definitely hitting red-line so what will we do differently? Not too much actually.

We will maintain our day-to-day spending goal of US$55 and try to be under when possible. Our final year we will travel in Turkey, Nepal, India, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Indonesia. Camping will very likely decrease because accommodation is generally inexpensive (Turkey is the exception to this) and other expenses in SE Asia will be generally lower than Europe or the Americas. We think spending will be more on par with Bolivia and Morocco.

But, our one-time expenses will be higher in this last year. Border costs overall are increasing due to the carnet expense (the fee was $1,807.50) as well as visas for each country, Thailand permit costs (we will each need permits two times so about $800, which also covers the mandatory insurance, and an additional $200 for required notarized documents from the US embassy), and other insurance or fees per country.

Shipping will be the highest yet as the estimated cost to ship from Turkey to Nepal is $5,000 and shipping from Indonesia home will likely be between $3-5,000. Plus we have our own flights from Turkey to Nepal (two tickets will be about $800) and flights from Indonesia back to the west coast of Canada or the US (estimated at $2,000). We will also have a boat between Malaysia and Indonesia and our Myanmar guided trip currently estimated at $2,760 (two week trip for two people covering permits, guides, accommodation, some entry fees, and breakfast).

Parts/maintenance expenses will likely decrease barring any major breakdowns (fingers crossed). We aren’t sure of our exact mileage estimates for year three but likely lower than years one and two, which means fewer tires and our current chains/sprockets should make the rest of the trip. Other costs should definitely be lower this year because our clothing and gear should hold up until the end of the trip. We will still have medical insurance to purchase towards the very end of year three.

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.

Living expenses
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.

One-time expenses
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.

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