“How much does it cost to travel full-time?”

This is a question we get asked a lot and have decided to start sharing the details of our monthly expenses. We’ve always had a loose idea on how much money we spend but have never kept detailed logs of our spending. In this monthly series, we will break down our expenses into these four main categories: food, transportation, shopping, camping. It will not take in account our monthly recurring costs (like car insurance, health insurance, mini storage, mortgages, Netflix, etc.) since this is so different for everyone.

Monthly Numbers for January 2020

This month’s numbers are going to be slightly skewed since we did not travel during the first week of the month but I think it will still give you a good idea on expenses while camping in Europe.

Total Expenses: $2153.54
Countries visited: 6 (Croatia, Slovenia, Italy, France, Monaco, Spain)
Total nights: 23 nights
Paid Camping: 10 paid nights
Miles driven: 1659 miles
Border Checks: 1 border check

*Anomalies: This month is a little shorter than usual and included 2 big city visits, 1 birthday and 1 huge storm.


This is our biggest cost by far since there are 5 of us and includes all groceries, restaurants, snacks and drinks. Since we covered a lot of miles from Croatia to Spain this month in order to get out of the cold, we found ourselves eating out more because of it. And the month also included visiting two large cities (Venice and Barcelona) so that added to our eating out expenses as well.

Groceries: $577.57
Restaurants: $537.56


Transportion is our second highest expense and includes fuel. tolls, public transportation and parking. This is going to higher than if you are traveling in the US since fuel and tolls are higher here. In Europe, we estimate that fuel is 30-50% higher than in our home state of California. It also really depends on your vehicle and distance covered, of course. Our 2017 Sprinter 4×4 170 gets about 17-18mpg in ideal conditions but 15-16mpg on average. And as above, we drove more than normal (and thus opted for faster toll roads) because we were trying to get out of the cold and to Spain as fast as possible.

Diesel: $507.33
Tolls: $139.92
Public Transportation: $33.36
Parking: $2.66


Shopping was our third highest expense this month and includes everything from gifts, clothes, items for the van, toiletries, etc. We had an unique month which included our oldest kid’s 13th birthday and clothes shopping in Barcelona as well. I foresee this category being much lower next month.

Shopping: $192.40


Camping was our lowest expense this month and includes camping fees and coin-op showers. We prefer to camp for free while traveling but that is not always possible. Our van is self-built to stay off grid but occasionally we need to pay for a spot. This month we paid for a total of 10 nights of camping. Two of those paid nights were for visiting Venice and the other eight were because of the large storm named Gloria that wrecked havoc in Spain and for visiting Barcelona as well.

Paid Camping Fees: $162.54

Per Day Costs

For the month of January 2020, we found ourselves spending $93.62 a day as a family of 5 living in a camper in Europe.

Total cost per day: $93.62
Food cost per day: $48.48 (52%)
Transportation cost per day: $29.70 (32%)
Shopping cost per day: $8.36 (8.5%)
Camping cost per day: $7.07 (7.5%)


This process has really helps us think about our spending even more than we already do. I feel like this was a more expensive month than usual but it will interesting to see where our numbers fall next month. Hope this helps some of you in regards to how much it costs for a family of five to travel in Europe.

1 Comment

greg · February 12, 2020 at 3:22 pm

Given your experience on the road from the Americas to Europe, have you formed any opinion on what credit card is best for your situation on average or in any country area?

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