Since embarking on our van life adventure we have had to look at money a bit differently, and we mean that in a good way. With no rent to pay, no water, electricity or cable bills, let alone a television, life is pretty simple. The largest chunk of our budget goes towards gas and groceries and the rest we are left to play with, responsibly of course 😉
We’ve hesitated writing a post on this for a while now mostly because, as bloggers, it’s hard to know exactly how much to share, but after countless questions from friends, family members and those looking to embark on a similar journey, we have finally decided that it’s time to enlighten the baffled masses. So, what is our budget anyway?!
Plain and simple, $33 per day or $1,000 per month (per person) is what we figured we could do, and while a week in New York City looks different than a week in the middle of Maine, in the end it all seems to balance itself out, and here’s how:
1. We cook a large majority of our meals:
From locally caught salmon, quinoa and a fresh-cut salad cooked next to the Saint Lawrence River in Canada:
To grilling up the perfect feast on top of a mountain along the Blue Ridge Parkway:There are so many ways one can be culinarily savvy while on the road. With places like Kowalski’s, Meijers, EB, Costco, Krogers, Publix, Maxi, Trader Joe’s (love) and Piggly Wiggly, we have been in more grocery stores than we ever even knew existed! Luckily our camper van comes fully-equipt with a mini fridge, freezer, dual stovetop and a microwave (which we really only use to nook potatoes and pop popcorn), allowing us the freedom to make a whole slew of delicious meals no matter where we might find ourselves! We also have a portable grill and camping stove for when it’s just too beautiful to be cooking inside:
We do make room in our budget for a meal out with friends or a romantic dinner for two in each destination though, because what’s travel without a night out on the town, enjoying the locals and a taste of their unique cuisine right?!
2. We celebrate happy hour in the great outdoors:
Some Charles Shaw on the side of a cliff/ along the river/ at the beach/ on top of a mountain at sunset for 2? YES PLEASE. Bonus: No tip required here.
We have heard time and time again from fellow travel bloggers how drinking can be/is the greatest part of their budget, but given the fact that we would rather use our funds elsewhere and that our values tend to guide our actions in a different direction, we have discovered that it’s easy to celebrate happy hour every now and again without breaking the bank!
3. How do we make money?
While Drew may not be a location independent web coder and I may not be a web designing digital nomad, we all have to start somewhere right? For now we are professional bloggers who have the privilege of working with many companies who are happy to comp our activities and meals in exchange for our five-star services. While we certainly don’t do this all the time, it does allow us to share epic, must-do, one-of-a-kind experiences and meals without having to drain an entire month’s budget in one day. The life of a travel blogger does require some work you know, and it’s not always a walk in the park…
But what about an actual income? Being that we are in the early stages of our blogging careers and we are constantly moving around, adventuring, catching up on writing and such, this means that we haven’t yet had the space or time to develop something that will allow us to “rake it in,” or so to speak. For now we experiment, day dream and make connections that, when the time is right, will develop into something BIG. Oh! Speaking of something big, be on the look out for our upcoming budget-travel series on Invibed.com!
Bonus Tip: Get a Charles Schwab checking account, they reimburse all ATM fees, worldwide, and there’s 0 monthly fees!
4. We bike, run, kiteboard, rock climb, hike and search for adventures near and far that don’t cost a thing (at least once you have the gear):
There’s something special about wiggling your toes in the sand or enjoying that remarkable view off of a new cliff for the first time in a place you’ve never been. Over time, we’ve come to realize that these are our favorite things to do, and while they may not be easy on our tired muscles, luckily they don’t tend to be too taxing on the wallet. We highly recommend getting the America the Beautiful Annual Park Pass if you plan on traveling as we do, it pays for itself in just a handful of visits.5. Our souvenirs consist of well-used maps, sweet stickers, vintage post cards, smashed pennies, the occasional patch and of course, memories. Not only do these fit into our budget quite well, but they also fit into our van 🙂
At first we had a hard time not buying unique little bits and bobs for our one-day bookcase, but soon enough we no longer had to remind each other of the fact that life isn’t about stuff, in fact, life is better without it! Besides, we’ll have about a million photos to choose from for our mantle one day.
More than anything the reason we are able to do what we do is because we are willing to sacrifice, for each other and for our lifestyle. Having a mini-fridge means we don’t have room for the usual, luxurious variety of salad dressings, let alone ketchup. We also have to be ok with the fact that sometimes we are going to want different things, but because we only have so much space and we have no choice but to go in the same direction, we have to find a way to compromise and both be happy about it at the end of the day.
These little tips, along with a healthy dose of determination, self-control and CRAZY, are what help give us the freedom to “live the dream,” and while it may not always be easy, and likely seems nuts to most, we’ll say it again and again…