Van Life Australia Monthly Budget Report – August 2020

Welcome to another Van Life Australia Budget post, where we open up completely about our expenses while travelling and living in our campervan full-time.

Keeping track of our costs while exploring Australia in the van has been a fantastic way to make sure we don’t blow out our budget.

This is the third edition in our Van Life Australia budget guide, and not only has it helped us not blow out the budget, it’s helped other people know what to expect to spend when hitting the road.

You can read our last monthly budget posts here:

Want to know what we spent in August of 2020? Read on…

Don’t forget to follow us on social media, where we share the real story of what it’s like travelling and living in a van full-time!

Marlee Millaa Millaa
Marlee and us parked up at Millaa Milla Falls in the Atherton Tablelands.

Van Life Australia Budget – August 2020

What you’ll find below is just how much we spent living in a van full-time for the entire month of August. Marlee is our permanent home, so costs cover transport and accommodation.

We don’t have a mortgage, rent or anything else like that, so the numbers below are what it costs us to live and travel.

First up, a few notes:

  • This budget does not include any of our business expenses or income.
  • Some things in here are not necessarily van life-related, but we decided to include everything anyway in the interest of being transparent.
  • We don’t splurge out, but we definitely don’t try to live as cheaply as possible.
  • We are vegetarians, so we save money on meat, but we also eat healthily, so our food costs are higher than some people might spend living on the road.
  • This is the cost for two people.
  • The budget doesn’t include things like car registration and insurance, which we pre-pay yearly.
  • Through our jobs we do occasionally have all of our expenses covered by clients. We’ll be upfront about this in our budgets.

READ MORE: Don’t miss out on our brand new guide to living in a van! Click here for the blog post.

WHAT WE GOT UP TO THIS MONTH

At the beginning of August we kicked off the month by spending a few days in Ipswich, Queensland on a famil trip with the Australian Society of Travel Writers, and as part of that all of our expenses were covered.

When we left Ipswich we started our drive north, spending a few days in Noosa on the Sunshine Coast (parked up at the local Scout’s Club), then kept making our way up to Hervey Bay and stayed at the YHA campground.

The plan in Hervey Bay was to do some whale watching, but the weather was horrible so we unfortunately missed out on this cool experience.

After a few days there we drove up to Agnes Water, which quickly became one of our favourite places in all of Queensland. We spent a week here exploring Agnes Water and the town of 1770, wandering around the Paperbark Forest, chilling at the beaches and just overall loving the vibe.

Agnes Water Sunrise
Sunrise at Workman’s Beach in Agnes Water. We absolutely loved this town.

We stayed at a place called The Summit 1770, a few kilometres out of town. It’s a private property and the owner charges $10 per person per night to park there. Being brand new there was a lack of facilities to the price was pretty high considering what you get, but still a lot cheaper than staying at a caravan park in town. But it’s a beautiful spot and we liked it.

Later on we found a few spots where you could get away with stealth camping, but we had already pre-paid our parking fees. Next time we’d go stealth.

When we left Agnes Water we drove straight to Rockhampton to kick off a job with Rockhampton Regional Council. We spent 5 days in the ‘Beef Capital of Queensland’, checking out all the incredible things to do and helping to promote tourism here.

Once we finished there we drove to Cape Hillsborough for a night to photograph the kangaroos at sunrise in the national park, then headed straight to Cairns.

Cape Hillsborough Kangaroo Sunrise
Seeing the kangaroos at Cape Hillsborough was a must-do on our Queensland bucket list.

Up in Cairns we picked up the newly-announced Sony A7Siii camera to conduct a review for Sony and Ted’s Cameras, so spent a few days driving around the beautiful Atherton Tablelands taking photos of waterfalls and making a video.

From there we drove to Mossman to check out the beautiful Mossman Gorge, then did a crocodile tour on the Daintree River.

We ended the month by parking up just north of Port Douglas at a stealth camp on the beach.

It was a bit of a weird month with lots of kilometres driven and missing out on a lot of spots in between, but we had to rush for the jobs in Rockhampton and Cairns.

Total Kilometres Driven: 3097km

Mossman Gorge River
A river flowing through Mossman Gorge.

WHAT WE SPENT

It was an expensive month for us in August, partly because we had to drive so much, therefore driving our fuel costs up, and also because we ended up buying a few items for the van.

Our accommodation costs were also pretty high due to us choosing to stay at some caravan parks rather than free camp. This is the last month that we spent up big on caravan parks though, and after seeing our total costs we committed to seeking out free camps wherever possible.

Let’s dive into the breakdown of everything.

Note – All prices are in AUD.

ITEMS$$$
Fuel$614
Food (Groceries)$709
Food (Dining Out)$408
Accommodation (Campgrounds)$485
Coffee (Take-Away and Coffee Beans)$216
Alcohol$100
Phone Bills$82
Laundry$16
Health/Medical$266
Van Maintenance/Items$347
Entertainment (Spotify, Netflix, Bike Grease)$40
Attractions$177

Total Cost$3,460

August 2020 Monthly Campervan Budget Pie Chart

So there you have it! For the month of August 2020, we spent $3,460 on van life in Australia.

This month was way over budget for us, but there were a few van items we needed to buy and our fuel/accom costs were higher than usual.

Now let’s break down each part for you guys.

FUEL – $614

Queensland is a huge state, and because we drove from south to north our fuel costs were extremely high.

It was mostly highway driving so we got decent fuel economy, but normally we wouldn’t try to drive so much which would keep our costs down in the future.

FOOD (GROCERIES) – $709

As we mentioned earlier, we don’t really go cheap on the food we eat, and we love fresh produce. Especially local produce from farmers markets.

We found a lot of them this month and the vegetables and fruit we bought were so fresh and yummy. Of course with farmers markets these can either be really cheap, or really expensive. In this case it was more expensive, but totally worth it.

Some toiletry items also creep into our food bill if we buy them at supermarkets, which would account for why our grocery budget was so high this month.

FOOD (DINING OUT) – $408

This month we caught up with more friends and went out for breakfasts, lunches and dinners again.

We also ate at restaurants and cafes in Rockhampton under the instruction of our client, which we were later reimbursed for. But in the interest of transparency, we always include every dollar in these budgets for you guys.

This is definitely an expense we’d like to cut down on but we enjoy it so much.

Mount Etna Sunrise
Alesha enjoying the sunrise views at Mount Etna in Rockhampton.

ACCOMMODATION (CAMPGROUNDS) – $485

This month was another expensive one for campgrounds, but a lot of it came down to a few things. Choosing to be right in the centre of the action for exploring and photography convenience, and not wanting to stealth camp in places we had heard are notorious for getting a knock on the door by the ranger.

In Noosa we stayed at the Scout Campground, which was the cheapest central spot to stay. In Hervey Bay we stayed at the YHA as we were doing a review video for Sony and needed to be able to park up somewhere for a few days without moving to crank that out.

At Agnes Water we spent a week at The Summit, but in hindsight we could have stealth camped pretty easily.

In Cape Hillsborough the campground on the beach there is very expensive at $37 for an unpowered site, but it meant we could walk to the beach in the morning to photograph the kangaroos.

We free camped around Cairns, but then paid for a campground in Millaa Millaa to use as a base for photography, and stayed at an expensive campground in Mossman so we could explore the nearby gorge.

Checking how much we spend on campgrounds, it’s obvious we need to get better at free camping. From September onwards this became a priority for us.

  • Paid Camps – 25
  • Free Camps – 6

COFFEE – $216

We spent up big this month on coffee. WOW! If you follow us on Instagram you would know that we are addicted to coffee, but this was an abnormal month for sure.

We travel with an Aeropress (one of our favourite campervan essentials), meaning we can buy ground coffee or coffee beans from roasters as we travel around.

This is what we did this month. We found a roaster in Ipswich and Rockhampton and had to buy some beans and try there. The average price for a 1kg of coffee is about $40.

This works out to be cheaper than going to cafes, but we do still go out for coffee quite a lot.

Zillie Falls
A shot of Zillie Falls in the Atherton Tablelands, taken on the new Sony A7Siii as part of a job we did with Sony and Ted’s Cameras.

ALCOHOL – $100

We were so much better this month and cut down on our alcohol. We did well and are proud of ourselves. A lot of friends wanted to go out for coffee instead of a beer which we didn’t mind.

PHONE BILLS – $82

This is actually a work expense as we run our businesses online and need lots of internet data, but we thought we’d include it in this monthly budget because it’s a common van life cost.

We have two plans with Optus, getting us 180gb of data total.

LAUNDRY – $16

After more than a decade hand-washing our clothes in hotels and hostels around the world, we’re absolutely over it. So to us, $16 for laundry is completely worth it.

We washed our clothes at laundries in campgrounds, where the price is usually $4 a load. We don’t pay for dryers, we just hang them out.

We also have a Scrubba travel washing bag, which is fantastic, for when we just need to wash underwear on the go.

HEALTH/MEDICAL – $266

We stocked up on hygiene products and we bought some face cream and serum for Alesha. Heading north we also decided to top up our supplies of sunscreen and bug repellent. A wise choice if you ask us.

Paperbark Forest Agnes Water
Alesha in the Paperbark Forest in Agnes Water.

VAN MAINTENANCE/ITEMS – $347

We bought a new safe from Bunnings to install in the van as the other one was too small for all of our camera gear. It cost $208.

We also swapped out two gas bottles, which was a rookie error. One ran out and we swapped it over at a fuel station. But the gas bottle connection ended up leaking and we didn’t check as we were in a rush to get out of town. A day later we walked past the the side of the van and smelt gas. I quickly checked and discovered that the entire bottle had leaked! This was extremely dangerous and we felt stupid for not noticing this straight away. We went and swapped it for another gas bottle and now check the connection with soapy water every time.

Some other things we spent money on was parking in Airlie Beach, giving Marlee a wash, a few little shelves from Ikea and some small fixings at Bunnings.

ENTERTAINMENT – $40

We have monthly subscriptions for Netflix and Spotify, which we use regularly. Definitely worth it for us and we do not mind paying this. Jarryd also bought some chain grease for our bikes.

Attractions – $177

This month we did a few tours up in Far North Queensland. We went on a crocodile tour on the Daintree River with Solar Whisper Tours, which was absolutely incredible! Their boat runs off solar so there is no noise or disturbance for the animals, meaning we could get really close to them. It was $60 per person.

Our next tour was at the Mossman Gorge. It is the entry fee and for the bus ride to the area to do the hikes. The Mossman Gorge is run by the Aboriginal people of the area and the money stays in the park for research and maintenance. It was $12.30 per person.

The other attraction we went to was the Dreamtime Cultural Centre in Rockhampton. By far the best Aboriginal exhibition we have been to!

Total Van Life Cost for August – $3460

Scarface Crocodile Daintree River
Scarface the saltwater crocodile in the Daintree Rainforest.

THOUGHTS ON OUR MONTHLY BUDGET

So our third month of van life in Australia cost us a total of $3460, which works out to be $1730 per person.

Obviously this was not a cheap month, and we don’t intend to really spend this much again for just general day-to-day living.

That does include our accommodation, transport, activities, travel, food, drinks and everything else you could think of, so considering all the amazing things we did in that time, it’s not so bad, right?

So there you go everyone – our third monthly van life budget.

If you found this helpful at all please leave a comment below, share it with anyone you think will find it useful or might be looking to buy a van and is curious about the costs involved, and make sure you follow our journey on Instagram and YouTube!

This is the tally of our months on the road. All amounts are in Australia Dollars

  • 1st month on the road = $2369
  • 2nd month on the road = $2675
  • 3rd month on the road = $3460

TOTAL VAN LIFE BUDGET FOR THREE MONTHS – $8504

And here’s our September 2020 monthly budget!

Thanks so much for reading, and we hope to see you on the road one day.

Cheers,

Alesha and Jarryd

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Hi! We're Alesha and Jarryd, the founders of Van Life Theory! We're currently travelling around Australia in our 2008 Mercedes Sprinter campervan and sharing our best experiences, stories, reviews and adventures as we go along. Make sure you follow along on our Instagram and YouTube!

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