How to budget to Caravan around Australia full time
Updated: Aug 24, 2019
I'll start by saying there are plenty of caravaners and campers who share costs and tips for travelling on a budget. I don't feel we do anything extra special in that regard or have much to contribute to assist with living within a budget, however we've been asked how we set our budget and what it's costing us to travel around Australia for 12 months; so thought we would share how we set our budget and how it's going so far.
We've always had a budget, it's not strict or limiting, but we like to know how much it costs to live and where our money is going.
When we first toyed around with the idea of living and travelling in a caravan, we got out the Mac opened the budget, replaced house costs with van costs, added in fuel and touring costs and drafted up a fluid budget appropriate to our cost of living.
We have investment property, so had to factor these costs into our budget. We feel good knowing we are securing our future in this regard.
Our rule is to never skimp on food but we do try limit dining out as this can blow the budget!
Here's what we include in our budget:
- Financial commitments: unique to your situation for us there's: rates / land-lord insurances / mortgage repayments/ property management fees / other costs with running property, furniture storage, caravan loan.
- Utilities: Mobile phones, Wi-Fi, Gas (we've only used 1 bottle in 10 weeks).
- Medical: private health insurance, vet bills, optical, annual dentist costs, medical contingency.
- Memberships: Spotify monthly fee, Netflix (we cancelled this as we were not using it).
- Caravan Park Fees: we estimated $400 a week, we are coming in at an average of $330 a week currently.
- Fuel: we grossly underestimated how much fuel we would use, my husband always had a work fuel card and I lived close to work / kids school. For this trip we budgeted $100 a week but have doubled that, coming in just over $200 a week (have travelled 7200kms so far, fuel burn has averaged at 17.5L per 100km).
- Food: groceries (not much different to at home we spend around $300 a week, however we know this cost will increase when we are remote), we also budget a weekly takeaway / eating out spend.
- Alcohol: well...we do like a nice red I'm not going to lie and that's all I'm going to say on the subject.
- Car and Van: Insurance, registration, maintenance contingency, road-side assistance
(go for top cover, if your car or van breaks down you will need to ensure you can have both towed at the same time)
- Touring: You can't travel Australia without factoring in some touring / excursion costs!
- Other: hair/beauty, clothing, Gifts (birthdays / Christmas).
- Start laser hair removal a year before you leave so you don't have to worry about finding a waxer in a remote town!
- Track your weekly expenses, it requires a bit of effort to keep on top of it, we use a free app called Spender Tracker its very basic, but does the job.
- Set contingencies to be ready for the unexpected.
- Be realistic, don't cut yourself short.
So I guess you're wondering what the magic figure is....well, sorry to disappoint but it's such an individual thing with many variables dependent on your family makeup, ongoing financial commitments, cost and style of living, that it would create more questions than answers if I disclosed ours.
When setting your budget be honest with yourself and don't skimp, you still have to live and plan for any unforeseen happenings, for example last week we have to get some repairs to our van after visiting the Tip (don't ask! haha) and we had to book a cabin which was triple the amount we pay for our caravan site. Things happen, be prepared!
Our blog isn't about living on a strict budget, of course you can save dollars if you do lots of free camping and never eat out or drink and there are stacks of pages who cover exactly this. It's also not about living frivolously; rather I hope to have conveyed an honest overview of how one family of 5 + dog budgeted for a comfortable one year caravanning adventure!