Ultimate Climbing Road Trip Budget
All in all we spent 5 months on the road from March through August 2011. In that time we covered 36 states in addition to a short stop in DC and a few days in Vancouver. Our total distance clocked in at about 18,000 miles and we visited a total of seventeen rock climbing areas.
You can see the breakdown of our budget below. We spent a little more than half of our money on food (including restaurants, groceries and beer) and about a third of our money on gas. The chart shows costs PER PERSON with two of us traveling in the truck. If you take a trip by yourself gas would be twice as expensive.
For 5 months driving around the U.S. we spent $9,700 which comes out to $4,850 per person, and $30.70 per person per day. That is slightly less than the $33/day we spent during our year abroad. I think it’s pretty interesting to see how these costs compare.
How We Did It
There are a few things we did that made this more affordable than it could have been. Having converted our truck to a camping vehicle we spent significantly less on accommodation than one might expect for a road trip of this duration. In fact we averaged only 37 cents a day! We couchsurfed and stayed with friends when in cities and rarely paid for camping, preferring free campgrounds when available. We only got one hotel room during the entire five months. For some tips on how to eliminate accommodation costs see our Hobobo Guide to Camping.
Our only monthly cost was the cell phone which we shared. We opted for a basic $30 monthly pre-pay plan, avoiding the commitment of a contract and having only minimal data access for emergencies. It is very easy to find free wifi. If you’re interested we have some tips here.
Cooking most of our own meals enabled us to keep food costs low. It helps to be familiar with American grocery stores and products to know what is inexpensive. We avoided restaurants and kept grocery costs low. We did buy quite a bit of beer, but buying the cheapest beer can be less than 50 cents a can.
Gas was another big expenditure. Our truck gets 24 miles per gallon, which is pretty good relative to other camping vehicles. One of our biggest motivators for buying a Toyota Tacoma with a shell was that it gets great gas mileage for a cragging vehicle. (Note that ours is a 4-cylinder 2wd, more on setup is here).
Your average van gets between 12-18 mpg, so your costs will go up pretty significantly if you are moving around a lot. In fact, a 12 mpg van would have DOUBLED our gas costs and increased our entire budget by 30%.
The “other” category includes just about anything that is not food, gas and lodging. This includes entertainment, climbing guidebooks, pharmacy items (shampoo, toothpaste, etc.), entry fees and gear we bought on the way.
Cheap is In, People
A trip like this can also be done for even less if you change your priorities. We cooked a lot but we ate well. Driving less, low cost food and no beer will probably reduce your costs by at least $5/day.
So there you have it, aspiring dirtbags! For less than you might pay in rent and utilities you can become a hobobo like us!