January 2020 Cost of Being a Nomad

Camping at San Pedro Campground at Amistad National Recreation Area. There are 5 campsites at Amistad. We checked out three of them and stayed at two. This was our favorite. Only $6 a night.

We are running a little late on our expense report for January because I decided to make it more useful. I have changed some of the categories and am adding a few stock explanations that explain more about some of our expenses and how we live. I am presenting these with a big box around them so after you read them once you can easily skip over them the next time.

Notes about us, some of our expenses, and our rig:

  • All expenses are in US dollars.
  • We drive a 2015 Ford Transit Cargo Van that we upfitted ourselves to live in. Currently, the van gets about 17 miles to the gallon.
  • Our van is registered in Florida as a standard cargo van. Our van insurance is through USAA.
  • We are vegetarians and we cook – eating little packed or prepared food.
  • We get our health insurance through the ACA exchange in Florida. Our insurance is very basic and is mostly good only in Florida where we are residents, but hardly ever visit. Our costs for health insurance are one of the few things we don’t include in this report.
  • Our phone plan is with Google Fi. We pay a monthly fee of $70 plus tax which gives us unlimited calling and text and up to 22 gigs of highspeed internet, after which it slows down. Our data plan works internationally with no extra cost. With Google Fi we can make phone calls over wifi from our phone, tablet, or computer. The plan provides an extra sim card for our table at no extra cost. At any time we can switch to a metered plan which costs $20 a month for phone and text and $10 for each gig of data we use.
  • We receive our mail through St. Brendan’s Isle in Green Cove Springs, Florida. We pay $11.99 per month for the basic service plus an extra $7.99 to have the envelopes scanned and small additional fees to have the envelopes opened and the contents scanned. There are additional charges if we want anything sent to us on the road. We keep $100 in an account with the service. When this runs low they charge us for another $100.
  • Our dentist is in Los Algodones, Mexico. If you would like to read more about our experience with our Mexican dentist, click here.

Now that all that is out of the way, on to the report!

And our total expenses for January were…


And here is the break down of categories…

Expenses January 2020
Gas $338.84
Insurance/Registration $101.08
Maintenance $0.00
Repairs $0.00
Van Total $439.92
Life in the Van
Upgrade/Repairs to Upfit $0.00
Utilities $11.12
Camping $60.00
Household $0.00
Laundry $8.25
Showers $4.00
Tolls/Parking $0.00
Van Life Total $83.37
Phone $77.38
Mail $109.00
Communication Total $186.38
Food $208.39
Booze $292.12
Cleaning/Paper Products $2.55
Medicine Cabinet $6.88
Consumables Total $509.94
Drinks/Eating Out $0.00
Museums/Attractions/Music $83.00
Entertainment Total $83.00
Eyes/Feet/Doctor $0.00
Dentist $0.00
Health Total $0.00
Clothes $5.73
Gifts/Charity $0.00
Gear $23.01
Personal Total $28.74
*Utilities include our water, propane for the stove and heater, and items that are required to run our composting toilet.
*Gear is anything we think we need but probably don’t. These are the things that make our life more fun, interesting, keep us entertained and informed. Our NY Times subscription goes here. As well as expenses for hobbies, computer devices, books, kayaks, bikes, etc. These are the things that make us not quite minimalist.
Parked on the levee in Beaumont, TX.
Camped in Big Bend National Park.

All of but one day of January was spent in Texas and most of that time was spent beach camping down the Gulf Coast. Towards the end of the month, we headed inland and met a friend at Big Bend National Park. She had already booked and paid for the campsites so we just buddied up and chipped in by making dinner every night, buying her lunch one day, doing most of the driving in the park, and hopefully being good company.

Besides camping we spent our time kayaking, hiking, taking National Park tours, and visiting museums.

You may have noticed the huge amount spent on booze in January. Honest, we weren’t boozing it up and passing out on the beach. This was due to poor planning and not being able to find a place that sold our favorite cheap drinks.

A few stats you might be interested in

Camping totals (all camping is free unless otherwise indicated):

13 – nights camping on the beach
4 – Boondockers Welcome (for more about Boondockers Welcome click here.)
2 – nights paid permit camping on the beach
– nights paid National Seashore Campground
– nights in a Walmart parking lot
– nights paid National Recreation Area Campground
4 – nights National Park Campground exchange with a friend

Number of gallons of water used: 29

Number of miles driven: 2149 (this makes our January cost per mile 16¢)

Number of museums visited: 11

Number of times we kayaked: (This make a total of 16 times we have used the kayak bringing our kayak cost down to $31.50 a trip)

Curious chicken at one of our Boondockers Welcome stays.
I had to shoo all the chickens out of the way so we could leave that morning.

To see all of our expense reports, click here.

If you are interested in reading other expense reports from people living on the road, check out these links:

Far Out Ride
Roaming About
Just Call Us Nomads

And there were goats too!

*All pics are click to enlarge.

So what do you think? Do you track your expenses? How does this compare to your sticks and bricks expenses or your traveling expenses? Are our expenses less or more than you would have expected? Do you like our new format?

4 thoughts on “January 2020 Cost of Being a Nomad

  1. I like the new format – very easy to read and digest! Did you really only go through 29 gallons of water in a month? Was that for drinking & cooking water / washing up water / both? We probably go through at least 2 x that much for drinking alone a month.

    1. Thanks. Yes, we only went through 29 gallons of water and that is for everything. Greg is super amazing at doing dishes with very little water. We wash up using a body brush and wet washcloths. So most of what we use if for cooking and drinking. We used way more water when we lived on our boat. It seemed like we used way more propane too – we have a 14 lb can and buy propane every three or three and a half months.

  2. Well done on the January budget, despite the booze. 🙂 Yes, I love your new format! Very straightforward and organized. Putting the $0 categories in it is nice as well. Maybe we should do that on our reports as well… Nothing for eating or drinking out in January!? Or for gifts (I blew that one this month, because it was Mark’s birthday). That’s impressive. No beach shacks or beach bars in Texas, I assume. 🙂

    1. No, there weren’t any beach bars in Texas. Most of the beaches were bordered by residential or nothing at all. And if there were beach bars you’d have to leave the beach to find them – which, of course, loses its charm when you are actually camping on the beach.

      Yes, I like the zeros too. It always seems like there is so many things we spend money on but there are also so many things we don’t.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.