Nomad Life & Expenses September 2022

We spent almost the entire month of September just to get here. Yes, I know it doesn’t really look very inviting. But this is the portal to Cabbagetown. On the other side of this tunnel is one of the best neighborhoods in the world.

On September 1st Greg and I woke up at the Arctic Circle. It would be our last full day in Alaska. We drove into Fairbanks, shared a $4.75 hot shower, and drove out of town to find a good spot to pull off the road and spend the night. Our Alaska adventure had come to an end. It was way too short but we had friends back in the southeast that we didn’t want to let down. They were going on a three-week trip to Italy and needed someone to stay with their beautiful doberman, Jasmine.

I know it is a long way to go for a house sit. But our reasons for going were multifold. Greg wanted to go visit his parents in North Carolina, we have a wedding to attend in New Orleans right after the sit ends, we adore Jasmine, her people have always been way too good to us, and three weeks would give us enough time to do some projects and reconnect with our friends in Cabbagetown.

Although we traveled every day our trip started out pretty leisurely through Canada. We retraced in reverse the path we had taken along the Alaska Highway from Watson Lake to Tok back in July. Once we hit Watson Lake we continued on the part of the Alaska Highway we had missed on our journey north. Most of our sightseeing was through the van windows but we were awed by the terrain and the abundant wildlife.

We got in contact with friends in Montana and found out that they were planning on leaving the day we planned on arriving so we sped things up so we could connect with them.

When we parted ways with our friends we realized that we had enough time to make a few stops. We headed to the Devil’s Tower in Wyoming and Badlands National Park in South Dakota. They were both stunning.

But being back in the US we had let our guard down. Grocery stores were full of maskless people and I went maskless a few times too. Honestly, we could have caught it just hiking with all the people on the trail at Devil’s Tower but however we got it, Covid hit Greg hard. We were in the Badlands and had a good place to camp so we just stayed put an extra day. As quickly as Greg got sick he started feeling much better. Of course, I was sick by then but not as sick as he had been. We decided we needed to put the sightseeing on hold to make tracks to the Southeast.

We passed by St. Louis where we had planned to stop and visit some friends and found an Army Corp of Engineers Campground in Kentucky where we could lay low for a few days before moving to another ACE campground closer to Atlanta. These campsites cost a little money but they came with showers and our alternative was to find free sites in the National Forest. And we weren’t feeling up to hunting for places to stay down bumpy dirt roads.

A pic through the van window of my hometown, St. Louis, as we zoomed by.

The morning of our house sit we went and got some more Covid tests. I was negative and although Greg felt fine he was still positive. We let Jasmine’s people know all this and then drove into Atlanta where I had a socially distant orientation with them while Greg waited in the van.

We are all better now, although we still feel sluggish at times. But we have our sweet Jasmine to keep us on our toes. She makes sure we are up every morning and that we get plenty of exercise. In the evening we get to snuggle with her on the couch.


The Expenses

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 $110 plus tax for two people which gives us unlimited calling and text (in the US, Canada, & Mexico) and up to 50 gigs of high-speed internet per person. Our data plan works internationally at 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 tablet 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 posted online where we have the option for 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 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.

And our total expenses for September were…


Here is the breakdown of categories…

Expenses September 2022
Gas $1,301.33
Insurance/Registration $81.80
Maintenance $69.96
Repairs $0.00
Van Total $1,453.09
Life in the Van
Upgrade/Repairs to Upfit $0.00
Utilities $6.49
Camping $71.00
Household $0.00
Laundry $0.00
Showers $6.48
Tolls/Parking $0.00
Van Life Total $88.72
Phone $124.14
Mail Service $0.00
Communication Total $124.14
Food $395.94
Booze $73.77
Cleaning/Paper Products $9.81
Medicine Cabinet $22.31
Consumables Total $501.83
Drinks/Eating Out $32.34
Museums/Attractions/Music $0.00
Entertainment Total $32.34
Eyes/Feet/Doctor $0.00
Dentist $0.00
Health Total $0.00
Clothes $0.00
Gifts/Charity $73.73
Gear $106.46
Personal Total $180.19
*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 and interesting, and 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.

We drove a long way this month and I was sure our gas expense would be $2000 or more so I’m pretty pleased with $1300ish. Although gas was still pretty expensive in Alaska and Canada we made a point to find the cheapest gas stations and fill up even if we were only half empty. Once we got to the “lower 48” the prices started really dropping.

I really pleased to see our grocery bill come down from the previous month in Alaska. And we’ve managed to keep that booze expense a little lower too.

We have a few odd expenses in the Gear column. Besides our regular subscription services for books and visual entertainment, Greg bought some yarn for a new project. I also sent my camera to Sony with the hope that they could fix it. It was worth a try but in the end a waste of money. The camera can’t be fixed. There will be a hefty entry in the Gear column for October when I replace it.

To see all of our expense reports, click here.

If you are interested in reading other expense reports from nomads who really know how to live cheaply while still having a good time, check out the blog from our friends Mark, Liesbet, and Maya at Roaming About.

The Camping Report

Here are our camping/sleeping stats (all camping is free unless otherwise indicated):

3 – nights at random/odd places off the road
1 – night at a Real Candian Superstore
1 – night at a rest stop
4 – nights at Walmart
1 – night Canadian Recreation Site
1 – night dispersed camping in a National Forest
2 – nights at a friend’s house
1 – night at a Cabella’s
1 – night at a National Park Campground ($10)
1 – night at a National Forest Campground ($4)
4 – nights boondocking in a National Grassland
1 – night at a Missouri Conservation Department Campground
5 – nights at Army Corps of Engineers Campgrounds ($57)
4 – nights house sitting in Cabbagetown

Map and Miles

Number of miles driven: 5072 (this makes our September gas cost about 26¢ per mile)

Right Now

We are still at our house-sit with Jasmine. Greg has spent some time with his family – parents, kids and spouses, and grandkid. We are working on van improvement projects (always), catching up on blogs, spending some time with our friends, and plotting new travels.

We will leave Atlanta on the 19th, head to New Orleans, and then hopefully catch up with some friends in Texas before the end of the month. We hope to find a house sit in Texas to chill out for a while we get ready for a winter adventure south of the border!

End of the month Celebration with our friends Debbie and Ann in Cabbagetown.
End of the month Celebration with our friends Debbie and Ann in Cabbagetown.

(All pics are click to enlarge. Once you have them enlarged you can view them in a slide show. Also, you can hover over the pics to see captions.)

4 thoughts on “Nomad Life & Expenses September 2022

  1. What a bummer about the camera! Sigh. I’m so sorry Sony couldn’t fix it.

    None of the categories for September are particularly high, except for gas, but that was to be expected. And, if we should have driven from Alaska to the Southeast, it would have cost closer to $3,000, I think, which is thoroughly insane. We are trying to stay put now in an uncomfortable area weather wise, so we can keep gasoline costs down as we are facing some major expenses soon. (But not soon enough).

    I’m envious of all those wildlife sightings. That is such a highlight of our travels for me. Enjoy the last week of your house sit and see you soon!

    1. Yes, the camera is a bummer but not too unexpected.

      We were so happy to see gas prices below $4. And I think one time – in Tennessee, maybe – we paid less than $3. I know gasprices are really hitting you hard.

      The wildlife sightings were amazing and quite unexpected. I’m glad we came back through Canada the way we did. We didn’t see nearly as much wildlife on the way to Alaska.

      Looking forward to seeing you in a couple of weeks.

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