The Budget

Giving it my all at work...

Giving it my all at work…


In May 2011 we bought a Ford F-150 truck, retired and hit the road via RT66 and have been traveling ever since.  Working up to our goal of traveling around the world, we spent a month in China, two months in Mexico and six months in Europe.  On this page I’ll do my best to update what this type of home free lifestyle costs.  Many travel WEB Sites leave out the financial side of world travels.  Because of my finance background, it seems to me to be a VERY important part of such travels.  I will refine this page as I learn of specific costs.  Don’t forget about the fixed costs you will incur even when not at home.


2014: First Trip to Europe

($8,250 per month for two)

Everybody traveling will go to different cities have different lodging requirements and dining habits will vary greatly.  After completing our first six month trip in Europe, cruising both ways, we spent about $275 per day.  That is for two adults, not per person.

  • 15 night cruise from Ft. Lauderdale to Rome: $3,200, upgraded to a balcony.  Add $1,000 for required tips, $6 charged per person per day, plus a few shore excursions.  This $1,000 includes the few times we had drinks on the ship.  Without any expensive alcohol package the ship offers, figure $22 every time a couple has a drink each.
  • 14 night cruise from London to Ft. Lauderdale: $3,200, upgraded to a balcony.  Add $1,000 for required tips etc. as described above.
  • Car rental for approximately 104 days in Great Britain: $3,830.  I have been told it is cheaper to lease than rent when the rental period exceed 28 days.  However, the leased vehicle was to have a USA styled driver configuration.  I was told this is difficult when driving in England, so we found a car rental place to rent for extended periods of time.
  • Car rental for a week in Italy when visiting Tuscany.  Figure about $100 per day.  This included the car rental company’s insurance plus a full tank of gas at the end of the week which was about $100.
  • Lodging through VRBO (Vacation Rental by Owner) in mainland Europe and the United Kingdom average: $ 150 per night
  • Food Costs, $90 per day  (I estimate we are spending $40 a day on average traveling in the USA)  We buy groceries each Monday when we move and have cereal, coffee, yogurt, crackers, cheese and fruit at the condo.  We generally have one meal out as a late lunch and have these snacks on the balcony in the evening.  The $90 a day includes all food and grocery costs, including our liquor bill.  These food costs are not incremental costs as this cost is partially offset by what you spend at home on food when not traveling.
  • Train Fares in mainland Europe:  $1,000  Not just a wild estimate.  We have looked at the specific trains and added a couple of side trips.  We did not purchase any Euro-Rail pass and are glad.  The train fares seem quite reasonable and we only have one a week or so.
  • Two Ferry Crossings costs approximately $600 since we are taking a vehicle across twice.


Fixed Costs will continue monthly:

In addition, determining a total budget requires you to know what your fixed costs are, those costs that keep running day after day, if you do nothing, go nowhere and eat nothing….  for us those costs include Verizon, $202 per month; three storage lockers, $400 per month and our BB&T employer health insurance plan at $650 per month.  One of the three storage lockers contains our Ford F-150 in Fort Lauderdale.  We also have a whole-life insurance policy which was likely not the correct type of policy to buy.  Financial guru Suze Orman would be very disappointed and would scold us severely if given the chance.  It runs $140 per month.  Then there is the Uncle Sam bill for federal taxes, state taxes, automobile insurance, as well as the maximum contribution allowed to fund our Health Savings Account for a high deductible insurance plan which is around $7,500 per year. We terminated the Sirus Radio plan on the truck as it will not be used for a year at least.

These are your fixed costs.  They will continue to add up monthly as you travel and need to be included in the budget.

2014:  3 Months in Mexico;

3 Months in the States

($3,675 per month)

We have been traveling around for a bit more than six full months now, so I have six months of credit card statement data.  We are typically staying at Best Western Motels and eating out only once a day.  Our breakfast is included so we eat at the motel.  We have learned this is one reason for the old retired people eating early….. we are hungry at 4:30, especially if we have exercised that day.  We have traveled from one end of the US to the other.  From Albuquerque throughout Colorado to San Francisco then five hours south of the border into Mexico and now into Florida.  Four months were in VRBO rentals (Vacation Rental by Owner), eight nights were free thanks to relatives in New Mexico with the rest of the lodging in motels. 

Don’t forget your fixed costs, but here are some of the average, monthly additional travel costs we have incurred on average.  Also note there are no clothing costs below.  We went a bit overboard and after reading white tennis shoes are a no-no for tourists in Europe, we bought numerous pairs of high quality Mephisto walking shoes.  Also, since Levis are bulky and dry slowly, we went to an REI and other hiking stores to buy non-cotton pants and shirts that dry quickly and pack more compactly.

Average Monthly Costs Incurred for Six Months, for two people:

  • Lodging:            $2,000
  • Groceries:         $   350
  • Dining Out:       $   825
  • Gas, Vehicles:  $   500
  • Tours:                 $        0
  • Airfare:              $        0

We will be storing our Ford F-150 truck in an enclosed locker in Fort Lauderdale for about $150 a month for the six months we will be in Europe.  We are now the proud owners of three storage lockers…


2015: Domestic Traveling Costs

($5,625 per month)

Average Monthly Costs Incurred, Four Months of Travel, for two people:

30 days in Moab, Utah

30 Days in Colorado

60 Days on three different Hawaiian Islands all ending May 30, 2015

  • Lodging:            $2,900
  • Groceries:         $   500   (Includes booze, and groceries are more expensive in Hawaii)
  • Dining Out:       $   750
  • Gas, Vehicles:  $   750   (Includes car rentals in Hawaii and storage of truck in Las Vegas)
  • Tours:                 $   225  (Represents $1,000 spent on tours in Hawaii)
  • Airfare:              $   500  (Represents $2,000 Airfare to and from Hawaii plus inter Island Flights and Baggage fees)

Remember your fixed costs will continue to accumulate as well.  For us that includes $1,079 per month for Obama Care style health insurance, Life Insurance, two storage lockers for $220 a month, contributions to a Health Savings Account (HSA) and a Verizon phone plan for $220 a month.






4 thoughts on “The Budget

  1. Great breakdown. We live in a condo just west of Port Everglades in Davie free and clear. Only have HOA and electric so not selling it like you and Lynn. Not sure why your Verizon cost is so high? Everybody back home has Internet but my 90 year old dad and call him using Skype tokens. When we were recently in Portugal, Paris, and London it was $.03 a minute! Use Viber to call everybody els. We just were on a repositioning cruise for 21 days from Houston to Southampton on Princess and called when we got free wifi. Gotta love McDonalds even free wifi in Europe and London. We prefer inside cabins and our total was $3400 with tips included.

    We also found that the longer you stay the less it is. In many places if you are there at least 30 days, no taxes!!! Just booked 30 days in Steamboat Springs, CO for $1400! Flying from Ft. Lauderdale and renting a car which turned out to be is less then driving.

    We both will be 65 in a few months so we will have more cash flow and mucho cheaper insurance. So do you have none? Also, Lynn explained how to get a waiver to stay in Europe longer then 60 days.

    On a cross country trip now

    Enjoy your posts and just wanted to share what we have done

    PS. I am the retired teacher who recently posted on your Facebook.

    • Thank you very much for posting. I learn a LOT from fellow travelers like yourselves. Regarding the phones, we have since switched to T-Mobile which provides very good European coverage. Our bill with T-Mobile is about $180 a month for two iPhones and an iPad with ten gigabytes of coverage which is too much. We likely had too many gigabytes of data with Verizon as well.
      Surprisingly, we’re also looking forward to turning 65 in several years to get Medicare coverage. The $18,000 a year for the “Affordable Care Act” coverage with a $12,000 deductible policy was just too crazy so are not participating. So we now have accident coverage with World Nomads, up to $100,000 each. We got physicals before we left and it seems our greatest risk would be from an accident.
      Our repositioning cruise to Barcelona also left from Houston. As we understand it, we were on the very last ship to leave Houston, no more cruise ships utilize that port, their contract expired without renewal.
      I MUST learn what Lynne Martin has discovered which may allow us to extend our stay in Europe beyond the normal Schengen rules. Thank you for the info!

  2. Please post what you find out regarding the 90 day out of 180 day restriction outlined by the Schengen rules. I tried to find a way to extend our stay by getting a long term, year long visa for Spain. We did not leave enough time to get it executed so we left for the UK in December (not a participant in Schengen agreement). Now for a couple of desert rats we were COLD! Fortunately, I had set up house/pet sitting assignments so we have the pleasure of staying in cozy British homes during the cold snaps…..this would include the “beast from the east”.

    Thank you for your heartfelt, honest blog. It’s good to know that our travel financial are in line. BTW we are retired and on medicare…’s like getting a raise!

    • I’m sorry to say I have no easy solution to the 90 day Schengen limitation. We have used the UK as our 90 day exit just as you have. The following trip we used all the countries which end in ‘a’ as our exit from Schengen. These include Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania, Bosnia, Albania and Montenegro. If you have relatives I know people who have stayed a year within Schengen but that did not apply to us so I did not dwell on the details. Good luck to you. I’m currently in Bangkok.

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