Our Daily Van Life Budget For A Family Of Four

Back in September we realised it was probably about time that we looked at our finances. Also known as – we spent HOW much?? Charlie wrote about budgeting and van life and what we’d learnt, and since then both of us have done much slightly better with our spending. For a start, we actually have a budget to aim for, and have tried to stick to it. It’s been really helpful having a daily budget in mind to guide us and help us not spend so much.

We’ve now spent 4 months on the road, travelling through France, Italy, Slovenia, back into Italy, and now back into France. We will be sharing as honestly as we can what we have spent (and continue to spend) along the journey, which we’ll do with a blog post for each month of travel.

When we set off on this adventure we had the intention that we would try and live within our current income, but as you will see in the following posts about each months spending, it doesn’t always work out like that. It is probably worth noting that we are living within our means as we have savings we are dipping into.

Working out our daily budget for van life

To work out a daily budget for our family to work to, we started by looking at the following two areas:

  • Income (and savings) – we averaged this out monthly.
  • UK costs – monthly costs that we still have in the UK.

We also have a few outgoing costs that we have excluded for the time being. These are annual costs such as insurance, servicing/MOT and tax. Why have we excluded these things? Because they were part of our start up costs back in the spring, and we’ll probably include these next year when they come up again.

In discussing what our monthly van life budget might be, we also asked around to find out what daily/monthly budgets other travelling families were working to. Whilst we weren’t looking to set our budget based on other families, it was a helpful gauge.

For anyone interested, we did find a number of families are aiming for a daily budget of around €30-35 or €1,000 a month. We used this to help as a starting point.

Income (and savings)

Charlie runs an online business that doesn’t have a fixed monthly income, as such, it’s hard for us to work out an exact budget based on this. Ideally we’d like to live within our current earnings, but when you’re self-employed and income fluctuates month to month, it’s tricky.

We are privileged to have savings that we can and do dip into to allow us to continue our travels. Having an income on the road makes us wish we didn’t have to use savings, but our reality at present is that we do.

Aiming for a budget of around €1,000 a month fits with our current income.

We wrote about working on the road here.

UK costs

These are fixed costs for us, which consist of storage, life insurance and sim cards for our MIFI (internet). We’ve included sim cards here as they were purchased in the UK ahead of our travels to last us the duration of our journey.

This works out to be about £180 a month. Whilst I’ve called this fixed costs it may fluctuate depending upon how much internet we use.

We’ve converted this cost into Euros, which works out at around €5 a day. Working off a daily budget of €30-35 we took off the €5 to leave us with a daily budget of €30.

Our daily budget for van life

So, we are aiming for a daily budget of €30 for our family of four. We are two adults, and two children aged 5 and 1 years old at the time of writing.

This daily budget of €30 is to cover everything else we might need to spend money on. For us, this includes:

  • Aires and campsites
  • Food and “household” shopping
  • Fuel
  • Laundry
  • Tolls
  • Van maintenance (we have a 20 year old Fiat Ducato motorhome)
  • Eating out
  • Clothing
  • Van improvements (e.g. nice things)
  • And more (which for us has included everything from souvenirs to activities, and car hire to hotels)

As we’ve said, actually sticking to this has not been easy for us, and honestly we haven’t yet stayed within this €1,000 a month budget. Shortly we’ll be sharing our actual spending from the first 4 months of our travel in Europe.

How does this compare to your budget? If you’d be happy to share your daily/monthly budget for travel such as ours, please leave details in the comments, it may prove helpful to others.