Extended Climbing Road-Trip Budgets: Is this reasonable?


Original Post
Peter Botsford · Aug 22, 2016 · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2016 · Points: 0
Me and my girlfriend both work seasonal jobs and have for a while now been planning to take off this Fall, Winter and hopefully the beginning of the Spring in order to live in our van and climb around the country.

As the summer has passed, some unexpected events took a toll on both of our savings accounts and I am trying to do the work now to see if the trip we've been dreaming is still financially feasible.

In order to leave the amount of savings untouched that we would need to pay bills as well as save for emergencies (medical or vehicular) and in order to continue the dream as long as we've been hoping to, our budget would need to be limited to about $810 a month for the both of us.

This $810 a month would need to cover: Gas, Food/Groceries, Camp fees where necessary, and any other expenses that could arise. The $810 would not be needed to cover any bills or costs outside of sustaining and supporting ourselves for the duration of the trip.

I understand this is indeed a small budget and may be very hard to keep to. For reference, we are planning to:

-buy food in bulk as much as possible and cook our own meals (we are both adept at this)
-camp for free as much as possible (this should be achievable for most all destinations although I can imagine we would want to pay for camping at a few destinations I.E Red Rocks, Smith Rock, J Tree)
-resist the temptation to splurge on things like eating out, unnecessary gear, or other expenses in order to keep the thang alive
-be willing to stay in one location longer in order to save money on gas

The advice that I am looking for is:
A) is this budget reasonable/doable? I've seen folks talking budgets for Full Time climbing and mentioning struggling trying to keep to a $1000 monthly budget
B) Any tips/advice/ideas on how to successful keep to this budget?

For further reference, our tentative itinerary is to climb in Black Hills, WY, City of Rocks, and Smith from mid-Sept to end of Oct. Then the Valley, Bishop, Moab, Red Rock/J Tree for November through end of December. From there, undecided. Possibly AZ, NM, or UT.

Thanks for reading

Em Cos · Aug 22, 2016 · Boulder, CO · Joined Apr 2010 · Points: 0
People have done more with less.

Terry Price · Aug 22, 2016 · Mancos CO · Joined Nov 2007 · Points: 0
Some people could not do your trip on $8,000 per month; some could do it on $500/month.

"Needs expand to consume available means."

That's in "quotes" - but I just made it up.

In 1976, I did a similar trip on $150/month when gas cost $0.58/gal. You can do the math.

Jake Dickerson · Aug 22, 2016 · Boulder, CO · Joined Feb 2014 · Points: 1,386
Totally doable. Gas and food will be your biggest expense. The easiest way to reduce costs are to not eat/drink out, find free camping, and to do all your groceries at once to use less gas.

Kevin DB · Aug 22, 2016 · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2012 · Points: 200
The thing with being on the road is that it always ends up being cheaper then you think. Being on the road is actually cheaper then living in a city and having a regular life. Dirtbags make it work on budgets that you probably wouldn't believe. I think I lived at some point on less then 300$ a month (that was without a car) and now a days probably still well under 1000 dollars a month living in an RV.

sonvclimbing · Aug 22, 2016 · bolder city · Joined Dec 2008 · Points: 0
Start by figuring your petrol cost = how far you plan to travel / by what kind of vehicle you drive. Take your fishing poles and slingshot with you. Stop at every convenience store along the route to fill up with toilet paper, water, relish, mayonnaise and any other kind of packets they "give" away, be sure to buy your self a airhead to appease the clerk. Be stealthy. Camp for free. Roll into the parks with your golden eagle pass or just tell them you took a wrong turn and that you will turn around but, just keep going. Hope you don't break down. Spend the rest on soulvineers. Just doit your not gunnadie.

20 kN · Aug 22, 2016 · Hawaii · Joined Feb 2009 · Points: 1,123
Since you're living in your van, you dont need to pay for camping--ever. There really is no need to. I see people paying $15 a night to camp in their van at Red Rocks, when they could drive a few miles to the Red Rock, park in a large open lot and do the same thing for free. If you do the same (which you should), your largest expense will probably be fuel. In that case, your budget is more than enough. I typically spend less than $800 a month when I am on a climbing trip (including cell phone, full coverage car insurance, renters insurance ect.), and I dont have any specific budget. I just try to save money by not spending it on stuff I dont need (like camping).

Nick Goldsmith · Aug 22, 2016 · Pomfret VT · Joined Aug 2009 · Points: 15
If you do not do your dream trip now, when will it ever happen? that's what I told myself last winter . Isa and i did 7 weeks on the road this summer and it was amazeing. gas will likly never be much cheaper than it is right now. I just got a bunch of Annie noodles at price chopper for $1.00 per box. we paied more than that on the road. 7 weeks we paied for 3 camp sites. Cody the best spot to camp is wall mart. tetons it's shadow mountain or gro vants, Custer state park is tricky but doable. proverty gulch, etc. Just do it!

Eman · Aug 23, 2016 · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2015 · Points: 0
You´ll find that you spend more money initially, but as your money dandles, you´ll find great ways to save cost. My recommendation, budget 500 a month and stay out longer. I think you could do it on even less, just depends on how long you stay in one area, what you drive and what you eat.

ViperScale · Aug 23, 2016 · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2013 · Points: 165
Ramen noodles and finding empty parking lots to park in and camp will get you a long way.

Russ Keane · Aug 23, 2016 · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2013 · Points: 80
Stay put in one place for a long while... Just climb, eat, and sleep. Use no gas- You would be spending nothing. That $810 is plenty.

Russ Walling · Aug 23, 2016 · www.FishProducts.com · Joined Oct 2004 · Points: 3,075
You can live like Pharaoh on that amount if you don't drive all over the place and sorta stay put.

john strand · Aug 23, 2016 · southern colo · Joined May 2008 · Points: 1,575
Ice for the cooler....get a really good cooler and buy block ice when you can. So much better than cubes.

JCM · Aug 23, 2016 · Seattle, WA · Joined Jun 2008 · Points: 5
$810/month is quite reasonable.

Be warned, though, that road tripping through the winter is difficult. December and January are cold and dark, no matter where in the US you are. Even J-tree and Red Rocks can be kind of grim in the dead of winter. This could drive up costs, as you will want to spend more time indoors. A good option to keep costs low, not freeze, and do some great climbing is to go to Mexico for the winter.

john strand · Aug 23, 2016 · southern colo · Joined May 2008 · Points: 1,575
Peter- where you leaving from ?

Nick Goldsmith · Aug 23, 2016 · Pomfret VT · Joined Aug 2009 · Points: 15
John i know this is sacrilidge for you;) Isa and I did 7 weeks and only bought 1 block of ice. I freeze water bottles at home to use for weekend road trips. we used those the first 3 days and then bought one block of ice. when that melted out in a day or so we decided we really did not need ice. In fact buying ice is simply throwing your money away. We eat veg head on the road. fruits, vegtables, bread, eggs, pasta, cans of beans,burito wraps etc. None of them need ice. the more important thing is to use the window reflector shades and keep the van vented so it does not cook the contents of your house.

Peter Botsford · Aug 24, 2016 · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2016 · Points: 0
Thanks for all the replies. It's a bit unnerving diving in to it all for the first time but you all reaffirmed what I think I already knew and just needed to be reminded of. Just gotta go for it. Very appreciated

Peter Botsford · Aug 24, 2016 · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2016 · Points: 0
john- will be leaving from MASSACHUSETTS in 3 weeks

Ted.kemble · Aug 24, 2016 · tower city · Joined Jul 2015 · Points: 0
if you have a cooler and need stuff cold another option is dry ice most welding gas stores have dry ice {airgas is a supplier} i think the local airgas in harrisburg pa sells it for 2.50lb it lasts a long time and no water mess

if your staying in a van and need or want a real shower but dont want to find a campground find a flying J/loves/pilot truck stop {and others} you can buy a shower for only a few bucks. for some reason alot of people dont consider this as an option but its so nice to have a real shower and not a bird bath.

good luck. the most we have done was 2 week road trips in a conversion van and its alot of fun with no real set schedule.

john strand · Aug 24, 2016 · southern colo · Joined May 2008 · Points: 1,575
Nick Goldsmith wrote:John i know this is sacrilidge for you;) Isa and I did 7 weeks and only bought 1 block of ice. I freeze water bottles at home to use for weekend road trips. we used those the first 3 days and then bought one block of ice. when that melted out in a day or so we decided we really did not need ice. In fact buying ice is simply throwing your money away. We eat veg head on the road. fruits, vegtables, bread, eggs, pasta, cans of beans,burito wraps etc. None of them need ice. the more important thing is to use the window reflector shades and keep the van vented so it does not cook the contents of your house.
Beer or cold drinks ? No Ice means no trip for me.

I have done the canned food & veg thing ,it gets old quick with me.I'll pop the $2 for a block every few days.

Nick Goldsmith · Aug 24, 2016 · Pomfret VT · Joined Aug 2009 · Points: 15
we ate like royalty on that trip. but neither of us drink booze so no need for ice. French toast for breakfast with real maple syrup. burritos and various different pasta dishes with with sauted veggies for dinner.
typical breakfast on the road :)

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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