Sixth caravan trip & unprecedented challenge. Funds before setting off on this trip was not in our favour. So we set a logical goal → we will measure how much our caravan life costs and we will try to sleep outside campsites and do boondocking (sleeping anywhere) as much as possible.
We set out in the beginning of April, right after I paid juicy taxes for the previous year. On top of it, my friend ran into some golden investment opportunity in the field of real estates (reconstruction). And the beginning of the year we spent at Canary Islands, we were on a slightly tight budget. We got away with that using our financial reserve, some more sold stocks and higher working tempo.
We fought bravely and in 80 days we collected 198 receipts and noted 33 purchases without a receipt. We slept 29 nights outside campsites, freely, with no charges. We made 10.500 km with average consumption of 10.6 litres per 100 km — heavier caravan made for 1.1 litre higher consumption. Average petrol price €1.07 per litre. In 2013 the cost was higher at €1.6.
Spring was unusually rainy. In Portugal, there was rain about 10 days out of 12 and the rest of Europe was not as warm as usual. Despite that, we managed to survive with two 10 kg cans of gas, to supply big appliances and used solar panel for computers, tablets and mobiles.
Boondocking — sleeping outside camps
Last year we have tried sleeping outside camps. This time it was third of the nights overall. Sleeping this way has several advantages. We don’t care when we arrive and when we leave, so there is no stress about coming in time to the campsite.
Arrival and departure is easier — no need to register, check-out, disconnect or park accurately to a designated place. It does not cost a penny. Disadvantages are crucial – we have to have enough water, that increases consumption of fuel, as well as any other weight. Solar panel and inverter are handy (computer work) and enough of gas (refrigerator, cooking, heating hot water). I assume costs €3 per night if I account for everything (gas, higher fuel consumption, chemical cleaning for a toilet, solar depreciation). I am describing this in more detail in wild camping.
Living in a caravan. To a penny.
If you travel the same way as us, you can get on with 60 EUR per day. You can save something if you don’t go far and you will travel less. You can save also on campsites, that you exchange for boondocking and you can save on restaurants. We always took restaurants when we were tired, when it was not easy to cook our own meal. For all the coffees, ice-creams, lunches and dinners we collected about 80 receipts.
- We were traveling for 80 days
- We made 231 payments (198 with receipt, 33 without)
- We needed around €300 in cash (vast majority of payments were made by card)
Breakdown to separate items
- Gas 1,287 EUR (1.2 EUR per litre)
- Campsites 825 EUR (15 EUR per night)
- Restaurants 1,590 EUR (regular meal 30-60 EUR)
- Food supplies 1,328 EUR
- Highways and bridges 52 EUR
- Washing our clothes 26 EUR
- Internet 41 EUR
- Parking, Taxis 69 EUR
- Grand total 5,184 EUR
We also paid some 1,200 EUR for non-essentials. Visiting sightseeings, trips with cable-car, souvenirs for family and friends, small repairs on a caravan, new coffee machine etc. This item was not essential and so is not included in the costs.
If I compare the expenses to Sicily 2013, we are in much better situation. Without the food it is at 2,260 EUR (28 EUR per day) for 80 days of travel. In 2013 we were traveling for 28 days and have spent 1,658 EUR (almost 60 EUR per day) The fact is that we spend much more for food than at home, but it is much more fun and joy.
To Lisbon, Porto & Back via Madrid
But back to our trip. First idea was to go to Greece, but spring safety situation got us back to the west. The idea was to go slowly, with no sightseeings, only to enjoy the ride, and maybe even take less pictures. Simply enjoying each moment and the trip itself. We made almost no planning and the freedom is skyrocketed to the upper limit.
Tips From the Trip
- We started to like Spain a lot. Spaniards are really open and there is so many places to see. They have Paella, Tapas and Tinto de Verano! And the prices are comparable with Czech prices.
- According to Spaniards – Sangría is only for tourists and if you drink it, you are done! We were done about four times.
- Tour in family chocolate factory Valor with sleeping on a nearby parking lot was a total luxury. The same as Churros, which we tasted in Madrid.
- For the second time we were in the best camp we know: Les Marsouins.
- The best beach experience we had not far from in Alicante and near Vigo.
- We took our first hitchhiker. Girl from Bavaria rode with us from France, over Italy into Switzerland.
- Refugees: We met one family from Syria, living in France on a roundabout.
- Internet is getting better each year so I needed Orange Mundo SIM only few times. Spending €20-30 for the whole stay. Speed was good. App WiFi Map Pro and Fon sports helped a lot
- 67 pieces of sushi in Spanish Carrefour for a dinner is too much even for four-person family 🙂
Portugal Feels Different
- Portuguese are less smiling and less open than Spaniards. And they like to listen to melancholic music. So if all that is covered by rain on top of it, you can imagine what kind of experience we got.
- We bought tiles, which are sold outside touristy shops for really low prices.
- Lisbon and Porto are full of Fon spots, so it was no problem with WiFi.
- Portuguese SIM has 10 times cheaper data (in PT) then Spanish Mundo (within EU).
- Porto seemed to be not maintained – sightseeing protection and other regulation seem to have detrimental effect on the city.
- The oldest Port wine is made by Kopke, we bough couple of bottles.
- Starter is not for free as in Spain, if you taste, you pay.
- Portuguese do great grilled chicken, you can it for 5 EUR on fairs. We call it flat chicken.
The most easy-going moments, which I can recall, were mostly in places, where we had no limits and had no defined time, when we have to be somewhere else. It was not a luxury of a private yacht or seats in first class, but it was the feeling that I can call freedom.
Every year I realize how few things you need in order to be satisfied. I would even say that satisfaction is inversely proportional to the complexity of life. And we are trying to change it one piece after another. We are trying to reach minimalism, we are searching for healthy food and we are getting rid of things we don’t need, or they include lifetime worries.
And what is more! At the seaside, in the mountains or at a parking lot you can work very well. Computer is powered by Sun, fun is powered by sea and beaches. So everything works. It does not work instantly and it is not easy. We managed to get back with better financial and emotional balance than we had before leaving. I wish you the ability in your life and work determination to stop that burden, stop and think, where you are heading to.
Do not forget, that life is not endless and every day has its own spirit. Death come without warning, even though it is a part of a life cycle. Recently there was a bit more of it around us: Campsite visitor in France, neighbour from our village, one friend and Bud Spencer.
See complete gallery from the trip so you can feel the atmosphere. And if you want to try caravaning, there is no better place than Pávov campsite, which is under reconstruction by Martin & Zdena, my friends, right in the middle of Czechia & actually whole Europe.