Ok, so, confession time: I have no idea how much this trip is going to cost.
Of course I don’t, I’ve never done such a thing before. I can guesstimate how many miles it may be & how much fuel I may need. I can guesstimate how much food I may eat, what the campsite costs might be, how much outlay I’ll need for sunscreen & bear spray.
But, at the end of the day:
There’s too many variables right now to get an idea. My *goal* is to buy most of my food from the grocery store, cook most of my meals, etc. I plan to camp, drive to the camps & then as little as possible in the camps, etc.
But there’s too many what ifs: what if I want to follow the signs for The World’s Biggest Tacky Road Side Attraction Yet! ? What if I want to eat out because I’m too tired, or even – GASP – stay in a motel because I didn’t realize it was monsoon season in Mitilitiarkana? What if I get addicted to $5/day campfire wood? Y’know, the practical things.
Heck, I don’t even know how long this trip will take. [Nope, still no end date ;)]
There is, however, one thing I *can* rely on: there is no way this trip is going to be more than my current monthly expenses in D.C.
The average rent in Washington, D.C. is $2,080/month for a 1-bedroom. (I definitely pay less than that! Wow, average? Does that include utilities or something? Shudder.)
Then you look at the BLS national Cost of Living statistics:
- $20,194 per person per year according to Bureau of Labor Statistics (value given divided by 2.5 average household size (‘consumer unit’) – 
- Of this, food ($2577), housing ($6844), cars ($3442) totals $12,863 per person
Before I get all judgy on DC rent, BLS sez:
- $1500 of this is mortgage payments, or about 1/4 of all housing costs
::record scratches:: Wai, wha? For the whole year?!?!! That can not be right. … Unless I’ve been living in the DC bubble for too long? Gulp. ::does the sign of the cross::
(here’s the most recent BLS data, for my nerds.)
Anyway, let’s move on to: Fun! This cost of living calculator says that Yellowstone is 28% cheaper than D.C. Phew! (Actually, I was hoping for even lower, somehow. But if I’m halving my rent … Maybe the difference is made up in bear spray expenditures?)
And, from Nomadic Matt – a great resource for all things budget travel:
His 116 day US Road Trip = $6,262.67 total / $53.98 per day.
Miscellaneous (movies, toothpaste, shampoo, conferences, etc.): $170.00
Seems fairly spot on. I may be slightly higher on accommodations, and hopefully slightly lower on food, parking & attractions as well as misc. transpo. If I make those sort of adjustments, then yeah. (He also doesn’t include phone, insurance, car repairs, oil changes, etc. I also already have most of my supplies, minus food, but those should be factored into the long-term planning.)
With his calculations, $10,000 = ~ 28 weeks, or 7 months.
$5,000 = ~ 14 weeks, or 3.3 months
Hm, maybe those BLS statistics are looking more realistic?
I’ll keep you posted as the trip progresses, of course. Honestly, at this point, it’s looking like my escape is going to cost more (rent termination, shipping or storage, Comcast termination, other fees/expenses?) We’ll see!
His article, and some additional resources below:
How to Travel Across the United States on $50 a Day
USA Road Trip Budget Tips 2017
Budget: how much does a 1-month USA road trip cost?