April 2019 Budget

It’s budget time again!

I’ve quite looked forward to our monthly accounting and to see how we are doing against budget. This month has been mostly in Greece, hailed as one of the cheaper European options. We arrived in Greece on 9th April, with the previous 9 days spent in Italy, another perceived cheaper option.

So, how did we do?


Pretty well, actually. Our big blowout was for the ferry from Bari to Patras at €485, although this is a return ticket. Eating and drinking out was over budget, but this is easily explained by the number of pictures taken this past month of Niki sitting at various restaurants. This has been more than balanced by our reduction in purchasing supermarket food.


Given that we are having a beer and appetizer on a daily basis, and add the frequent dinners, I’m amazed we have anything in our budget at all. A 500ml beer today, at a restaurant and seated right at the water’s edge, cost €3. A half litre of wine has generally cost €3, and its drinkable (although, to be fair, I’m pretty indiscriminate!). A full meal is in the €8 range, appetizers are €3-€5, and we are now in the habit of each having one of those rather than a meal – just can’t eat all that food.

So we are €463 under budget, but living very well. We have spent far more time in campsites than ever before, but then only used one tank of diesel.

A couple of potential problems coming up though. In order to get our work visas for our next job we need to send our passports off to Singapore. Not quite sure how to do this and travel. We are also going to be facing a potential problem in selling our van at the end of this trip – If anyone knows of someone looking for an outstanding Bürstner campervan, with 22000km on the clock and still under warranty, let me know!

IMG_6475.JPGIn the meantime, sun is out, just been for a swim, and tomorrow will be heading off to an island noted (again) as the most beautiful in the Aegean. Can’t all be worries, can it?

March 2019 Budget

Before getting to the March budget …

We are parked 5 meters from a sandy beach in the not-yet-open town of Silvi, heading southwards towards the ferry terminal at Bari. Another town waiting for an episode of ‘The Walking Dead, the town seems incredibly empty. A beachfront lined with (closed) apartments and hotels face an attempt at a beachfront arcade (falling down or going up, difficult to tell). We had a free spot marked on our app, Park4Night (brilliant app, thank you!) which turned out to be slap bang between two verrrry busy roads, on a hillside. With the prospect of strained Fiat engines screaming through the night we decided to look for alternatives along the beachside. Parked in a free (really – free parking in Europe?) parking area next to the railway line, which would have worked – but we took a walk towards the beachfront, find an amazing, open, free site 100 meters from the beach. Into the van, off we drive, turn right to the beach … and just as an opening in the central road island opened up I saw a bridge sign indicating 2.6 meters of clearance.  Hmmm, we are 2.8m high! Came to a halt, went through the island, took the next road … and 2.2m clearance. Eventually found a bridge with 2.9m clearance and, gingerly, crept through. As there was a pedestrian walkway through the tunnel I stopped midway (holding up traffic in both directions) and waved at a pedestrian, indicating ‘How much clearance do we have?’ Not sure why I did this as I’m awful at charades – true to form our Italian pedestrian waved back and kept walking … All’s well now, though, with the beach a step away, the calm blue Adriatic going all pastel in the setting sun. Now if only there’s not another 9:00pm knock on the door by the police …

March budget: We’ve done pretty well seeing as we had to fill up with diesel on arrival back in Europe, together with replenishing a very empty pantry. We’ve been helped by cheap food and diesel in Germany and loads of free camping. Italy will be interesting, with food remaining cheap but diesel Much more expensive (€1.50 in Italy, €1.18 in Germany) as well as campsites being more expensive – and more needed. Overall we are €400 to the good this month which is great news and I’m hopeful the trend continues through Greece & Sardinia. I can see our Eating Out budget continuing to climb … Nothing like cheaper food to entice you to eat out more often 🙂

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October 2018 Budget

No big ‘Woohee’ this month as we overspent our budget in a number of critical areas, sometimes with good reason. We continue to overspend on our diesel budget. In part this is due to long distances covered as we head south. Another reason is that diesel costs continue to rise, and France seems to come in at around €1.50 per litre. This month we also filled up on the 3rd and on the 30th, so timing wasn’t great. At over €120 a tank you can see the impact this has. November is not going to be any better as we rack up close to 2000km.

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We also had some incidental costs with the van. We had our annual water tight testing done, compulsory under the warranty, which cost €150, but also included the addition of a taped ‘lip’ over the awning attachment on the side of the van. This area has a build-up of unsightly grime & moss, a consequence of water collection there. With some luck this will also reduce unsightly streaking down that side of the van. We also bought a more efficient 12V inverter. This is used to charge our computers and other chargeable items, rather than only charging in the cab through the cigarette lighter socket while driving. Other ongoing expenses include the annual water purification addition (€67), toilet cleaner and a new rubbish bin.

Eating out was well over budget, but we took the opportunity to eat out with friends, enjoy the coffee culture and indulge in a few beers. It can’t only be about the budget! Our joint  supermarket / eating out budget has proven pretty accurate for Europe, and I’d hope to see savings when we get to Spain. Laundry has been a bit of a killer. We do try to reuse clothes, particularly trousers and warmer tops, but with the cooler weather and rain we have used laundromats more than usual. I think this area will be constantly over budget – and I’d rather be clean!

On the upside, we’ve had a great month avoiding campsites. Three nights in campsites is way better than expected, and I’d hope this can continue in the future. We have not felt insecure in any of the informal overnight stops, although I do always feel better when there are other campers close by.

So that’s the budget: Over the 4 months we are about €1000 in the black, even after very long distances and some of Europe’s most expensive countries. This might bode well for the future.

September 2018 Budget

Firstly, the good news!

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On our (generous) monthly budget we are in the black by €755. This is really good as we leave Norway and some of the world’s most expensive groceries behind. Diesel, which varied in price up to NOK16.14 per litre (or €1.70, NZ$3.00, ZAR28.76) is also a thing of the past. We are still awaiting a massive toll fee, as we signed on to an automatic toll fee charge, and we have not yet received a bill. Expect this to be an extra €200 per month in Norway.

Camping fees remained very low at €96, and I’m surprised at how readily available sites were in September – made easier by the fact that most other campers have done a run down south – check our next blog for why!

Our public transport costs for the month were blown out the water by a trip to England – me for some accreditation work, while Niki visited in Windsor with her sister, Chris, and John. The flights from Oslo to Stansted were around the same price as a burger, fries and a beer in Norway, but British Rail remains exorbitantly expensive, with Stansted-Windsor return for a single person at £70. Ouch. It was lovely seeing family again, and a big thanks to Chris & John for putting up with us.

Fuel costs reflect much shorter distances, often only 60km per day. In Norway that simply moves you from one indescribably beautiful spot to the next indescribably beautiful spot – same same but different.

And that’s it for Norway budgets. We are now at the northern tip of Denmark with weather definitely closing in, and a decision to start moving southwards. First night, off the ferry, staying at a gas station (100 DNK), and tonight, free camped next to the Shifting Sandunes at Råbjerg Mile – hopefully we can continue to avoid the more formal campsites as we move towards Portugal.

Oh, and to put this in perspective: What a fantastic holiday (or more extensively, Way of Life) at €1200 per month!

August 2018 Budgets

After blowing our budget in July by shopping in preparation for Norway, covering huge distances and French & Norwegian toll roads, we were hoping that a more conservative travel programme would leave us better off in August – I’m very happy to say that has been the case.

The big save has been on groceries. We spent heavily in Germany getting every nook & cranny in the van filled with food and wine. This proved its worth. A 3 litre cask of wine (and very nice too) cost €9 in Germany. The cheapest cask in Norway was around €45. On the downside … only 3 litres left in our stash for September. Apart from ongoing foodstuffs such as bread, biscuits and fruit we’ve spent little on food this month – we still have some frozen food in the deepfreeze, but this will all soon run out. I did make Tom Yum soup last night with fresh prawns …

Diesel has been another area where it’s difficult to squeeze the budget. The typical price is NOK15.50 a litre, or €1.69 or NZD2.78 or £1.45. That’s not cheap. I rather suspect that this is an area that will see continual overruns. It’s funny to say that eating out has been cheap – the prices are so horrific that I simply can’t spend the necessary in order to sit down and have a tiny portion of fish & chips at €18, in a cardboard tray.

Ferries we’ve blown the budget, as expected. The tolls are a problem for the future as we’ve signed up with a toll company and will be billed sometime in the future. We’ll add that in at that point – I think it will be a big number. Laundry is another cost, albeit small, but it’s better than having wet washing draped around the van – and a happy Niki is certainly worth at least double these costs.

All in all … €742 under budget for the month … YYeehaaah!

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