Before we left Richmond, we created a budget based on a 5,000-mile, 30-day trip. Throughout our trip, I kept a detailed account of what, when, and how much we spent, including gas prices and mileage. We ended up with 6,576 miles and 45 days, but our budget still wasn't far off. So here's our trip by the numbers, both predicted and actual.
budget $450 $5/meal x 30 days = $450
budget $240 $40/meal x 6 times = $240
budget $100 $10/night x 10 nights = $100
budget $100 including museums, music shows, and nights on the town
budget $1400 $4.50/gal x 5,000 miles at 16 miles/gal = $1400
budget $300 including NPP*, meals/gifts for friends, special occasions, oil changes
*National Park Pass, which allows us entry into any national park for the next year. Cost: $80 and it has already paid for itself. National parks are expensive without it!
The first thing we noticed when we set out our budget was that the price of gas made up well over half of the total budget. At that time, gas was steadily rising with no prospect of anything different. Luck may have it, though, that the week we left the price of gas started to fall. So instead of averaging $4.50 as we were expecting, we averaged $3.86 (highest: $4.34 in Ut, lowest: $3.59 in Mo/Ka). We also guessed that with a full truck pulling a full trailer, we would get no more than 17 MPG, not counting the many mountain passes. It turns out that as long as you don't stop much, a trailer actually helps gas mileage. We averaged 19.10 MPG. That's how we managed to stay under the gas budget, even though we drove an extra 1,500 miles.
And now that we look at our actual expenditure, the first thing we notice is that we did great, except for the amount we ate out. I don't have much of an excuse for that; we simply thought of it wrong before we left. We thought we'd just go out for a few big nights. Instead, we went out for many small meals. Sometimes because we just couldn't face another ham and cheese sandwich on the road, sometimes because we were in town on bikes and hungry, sometimes because we just couldn't stand the thought of cooking on a camp stove again. It's also harder to eat in every meal when you are staying with friends. Eating out is the culturally acceptable thing to do when you visit someone, so we ate out a lot. But we also knew that we could and still stay within our budget, because of our grace with gas prices and mileage.
In order to make sure we got to do everything we wanted to do and be able to splurge every once in a while, we made sure to cut expenses where we could. The easiest place to do that was sleeping. The $123 covers 9 nights of camping at a paid camp site. The other 36 nights we either stayed with friends, slept in the truck, or camped for free in the middle of nowhere.
So now we live in Seattle. We've been here 5 days now, just long enough to unpack half the trailer, take down the boat, bikes and skis, make a mess at Amy and Tom's house, visit 3 potential apartments, and each go to a job interview.
As we get to know our new city and start to settle down, we will let you all know of the progress on the blog. But it may not be often (progress takes time, as we all know). Please keep in touch with us in the meantime through email and phone- we do miss the east coast and would really love to hear from you!