Calculating full time travel expenses include many things one would not normally include in a vacation budget.
To control my expenses, I had to fully understand where the money was going. And, to do that, I had to record every penny spent. So, my figures will include everything from lodging, transportation and meals...all the way to dental appointments, new shoes, cleaning supplies, car insurance, storage fees, right down to dropping a euro for pay toilets while walking the streets in Paris...etc. etc.
Basically, everything that one would spend living at home, eventually has to be spent while traveling full time. Along with additional costs of travelling.
Some explanations on spending calculations;
Food spending is broken down into 3 categories. I try to use supermarkets as much as possible because eating as restaurants 3 meals per day would get really expensive, and ultimately really bad for the waistline!. There is also a category for "snacks". This will include food bought while moving around (i.e. rail stations and airports) but also things picked up while just out and about exploring (i.e. bottle of water, coffee, ice cream treat, etc.) Those little snacks add up faster than you would think! at about 4 dollars per day, it was over $1000 for the year. I would also note that in an effort to keep cutting the spending, my food spending went from 67% in supermarkets in 2022 up to 71% in 2023. Restaurants went from 20% down to 16%.
Items such as lodging, rental cars, medical / dental expenses are put in the budget when they are used, instead of when they are paid for; since lodging and rental cars can be reserved and paid for ahead of time, and medical bills (well, American medical bills anyway) are often paid long after.
Since I am on the road full time, I don't have a primary residence. Therefore all my "stuff" needs to be stored, and my car need to be stored also most of the year.
In 2022, I made an effort to avoid rental cars as much as possible. Mostly, because the cost of them skyrocketed this year. Often, the cost of a car would have exceeded what I was paying for lodging.
I collect rewards in 2 ways. One is on my credit card as cash back, and I have added a line item for that. The other is hotel rewards, which is already included in the price of lodging. My hotel rewards for 2022 totaled $478.47 while credit card rewards totaled $1406.16.
For my phone, I don't use local SIM cards while traveling. Instead, I have a worldwide plan that works in most countries. So far, it has worked everywhere except Kosovo, Laos and Montenegro. In those cases, I rely mostly on WIFI when I can. And, download google maps for the area.
I calculated that in 2022, approximately 40% of my spending was in US dollars. That came from the time I spent in the US, and also the fixed costs in The States (car insurance, cell phone plan, storage, etc). 60% of my spending was outside the US, and the exchange rate this year was a great help in controlling spending and mitigating for inflation. That help with the exchange rate went away in 2023 as the dollar weakened.
I have looked at the numbers and taken a chance, and cancelled health insurance, so all medical and dental is straight out of pocket. This year, at least, it worked out. Instead of spending over $7000 per year for insurance (with a $6000 deductible), I spent $890 to pay for dental directly.
In US Dollars - average spent per month in 2022/2023
2022 1st half 2023
2769.24 2858.10 lodging
746.04 873.39 food (69% grocery stores, 18% restaurants, 13% snacks while traveling)
652.05 402.59 flights
397.74 341.96 storage for belongings and car in Seattle
231.64 133.01 gas/petrol
209.40 38.47 car maintenance and washes and registration renewal
202.9 273.14 train, bus, and ferry tickets - intercity (not including local metro)
197.44 182.70 vices - alcohol, tobacco, lottery and gambling
126.60 196.46 subscriptions (books, movies, Microsoft, music, website, taxes, Amazon Prime)
105.44 106.24 phone
94.54 81.84 museums and churches, temples, zoos/aquariums
84.50 105.24 insurance for car
74.19 18.13 medical and dental appointments
67.63 99.21 metro tickets - public transportation
76.31 30.34 taxi and Grab/Uber and hotel shuttles
61.96 120.64 rental cars and scooter rentals
55.95 107.54 electronics (laptop, earbuds, new phone)
34.04 0.00 Visa fees and passport renewal
32.22 12.39 clothing and shoes
31.11 0.00 Covid tests and certifications
28.50 19.52 haircuts
27.58 80.99 household goods (i.e. umbrella, gifts, cleaning supplies, glasses repair, batteries, phone charger, gym towels and lock)
22.74 31.71 toiletries and medicines and masks
11.28 6.00 camp sites and national parks
9.35 10.29 atm fees and cash exchange fees
7.17 10.00 road tolls
4.57 3.40 laundromats
4.50 10.84 parking
3.77 6.14 pay toilets
3.30 7.56 luggage storage
0.00 33.38 activities (bike rental, scuba, fjord trip in Bergen)
-117.18 -33.33 cash rewards
6256.33 6168.28 total