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  1. Default Year long road trip

    Hi, im going to be going on a year long road trip in around August. Im buying a van for about $5,000 - $10,000. ive never been on a long road trip and was wondering if someone could list the things i would need and the estimate expenses i would be paying for a year long trip.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    The expenses you'll have on the road are going to be basically similar to all the things you have to pay for in your day to day life.

    You'll need to pay for lodging - even in you sleep in your van, you'll still have camping fees and have to pay for showers or other places to clean up.

    You'll have food expenses - which will generally be a bit higher than when you are at home, because it's harder to cook meals, easier to eat out, harder to keep cold foods cold (if you have a cooler, you'll need to plan a couple bucks a day just for ice). Call it food or whatever you'd like, but on a long term trip you've also got all the little expenses for toothpaste, towels, dishes, you know, any of the stuff that you'd normally purchase in a year from a big box store as you go about your daily life.

    Of course, you'll have fuel, which depends upon where you are going. Of course, keep in mind, in addition to the point to point driving of the places you plan to visit, you'll have to factor in driving within towns much like you would in your day to day life. The average American drives more than 10k a year, just going about their day to day lives. Then there are all the other vehicle related expenses - like oil changes, tolls, and since this will be an older van, you should plan on paying for at least one major repair along the way.

    And then you've got entertainment - which could include everything from National and State Park entry fees, to ticket fees to see a movie or a game, to charges for your phone or internet access.

    Really again, you need to think about how much you already spend in your day to day life. You didn't mention what budget you've got in mind for your entire trip, but think of it this way, if you planned to spend $20k a year, you'd be living on a salary similar to that of someone who works in fast food.

    I'm also assuming with all of this that you are already a US resident, as this trip likely wouldn't be possible at all if you are a foreign visitor, due to both visa restrictions and the difficulties of purchasing a vehicle as a non-resident.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Just a few basics to start with.

    Hi, and Welcome to the Great American Roadtrip Forum.

    Of course the top of your list will be maps of all the places you plan to hit. A roadside assistance package such as AAA is also handy, look especially at ones with a generous towing allowance.

    Is the van already set up to 'live' in?

    As one who regularly goes on a six month long trip in a van, my best advice is that you go on a few small (maybe week long) trips before you set out on your year long adventure. Once you have your van, with I guess the basics, i.e. bed, fridge, a 'house' battery and camp stove. Load up all the things you think you need - food crockery and cutlery, clothes, etc. - and keep a note of what you wish you had brought, and what you packed but never used. After two or three of such trips, you will have a very good idea of what you need for your mode of travel and lifestyle.

    My van has a bed with space under, a small fridge, storage containers and drawers as well as a single burner camp stove.My fridge is the size which holds 8 quart bottles of milk and juice. It is run by a 'house' battery which any good auto electrician should be able to install for you. I run my computer off the battery at times as well. When installed with enough copper, i.e. thick enough wire, it should run your fridge for at least 60 hours, even if you don't drive, without flattening the car battery.

    For lighting I use a combination of torch and solar LED lights. The little cells from the solar lights sit on the dash up against the window all day, and light up at night. Not enough to read by, but definitely enough to see where things are. Saves on batteries.

    As for costs, that is extremely difficult for another to tell you, but if you keep good records of what and how much you spend both at home and on a couple of trial runs, you will have some idea. If you camp in commercial campgrounds count on $30 - $50 per night. State Parks and Forests are around $25 per night - give or take a few. Most BLM land is free to camp on. The public campgrounds mostly have just basic primitive toilets, and sometimes running water. (But they are oh! so peaceful, and often in very scenic settings.)

    That's briefly it, though I could write a book. Be careful, as you may prefer the lifestyle and never want to return to a bricks and mortar place again. It gets very tempting. Perhaps my trips in the van might give you some other ideas. 2012 2013 2014.

    Last edited by Lifemagician; 05-09-2016 at 05:43 AM. Reason: multiple typos

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