Van Life Australia Monthly Budget Report – December 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. This is our monthly breakdown for December, 2020.

It’s the end of the year and our seventh month (!) travelling and living in Marlee! That means it’s time to dive into our van life Australia costs for December.

It’s our mission to share everything about this lifestyle, the good, the bad, the ugly and the expensive, and that’s what led us to creating our monthly budget series.

These posts break down every single dollar we spend on the road, living in a van full-time and exploring this beautiful country.

Our hope is that these blogs help you understand just how much money you need to do something similar.

You can read our last monthly budget posts here:

Want to know what we spent in December 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!

Van Life Australia Budget – December 2020

What you’ll find below is just how much we spent living in a van full-time for the entire month of December.

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, 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, unless it falls into the current month we’re documenting.

WHAT WE GOT UP TO THIS MONTH

After the very expensive and not-so-fun month that November was, I flew back to the Gold Coast, reunited with my one true love Marlee (oh, and Jarryd- I guess I like him too, haha), and started making our way south towards Sydney.

Because we have been overseas for most of the last 12 years, we almost never are home for Christmas. This year we wanted to change that though, and were excited to hang out with family again.

We took a few days to head down, stopping by Dorrigo National Park and seeing some friends nearby before eventually getting to Newcastle to see Jarryd’s dad’s side of the family + brother, who had come up for a birthday.

After seeing everyone we continued to Sydney to see Jarryd’s mum. It was so nice to great to see everyone, and then we took Marlee out to her place to hang out in the lead-up to Christmas.

And then the big C reared its ugly head.

Yep, there was an outbreak on Sydney’s Northern Beaches and everyone who had visited there would have to go into lockdown. Because we used to live in the Northern Beaches we had actually stopped by there to pick up a few things and hang out for a bit.

We didn’t actually go anywhere or see anyone, literally just drove straight to the house and never left for two days, then we drove out to Jarryd’s mum’s place.

After we left, the Beaches went into lockdown. We were already out of the area once it was declared a red zone, so technically we could keep travelling within NSW. But then state borders closed to anyone who had been there in the previous two weeks, so we had to make a decision on what to do.

We had a ferry to Tasmania booked for just after new years, which was just over 14 days away.

After double-checking what we could and couldn’t do, and being 100% confident that we hadn’t come into contact with any person or any place in the red zone, we decided to cancel our Christmas plans and drive south to find somewhere to self-isolate.

Campsite Lake Blowering
Our awesome camp at Lake Blowering

Much to my mother-in-law’s dismay (sorry Janine!), we packed and left in a hurry, making a beeline for the Snowy Mountains.

We found a free camp on WikiCamps called Humes Crossing at Lake Blowering and headed there to wait out the 2-week period. Little did we know that it would actually be one of the best free camps we had ever stayed at!

Right on the lake surrounded by tall trees, beautiful birds and lots of kangaroos, we spent our days chilling out and working in the van and going on short walks. It was bliss and the perfect place to self-isolate.

Rainbow Lake Blowering
We enjoyed all the wildlife and the beautiful nature

After a week we had to move on though, as all the free camps in the Snowy Mountains were booked out due to Christmas and New Years. We found one campsite on the coast and headed there for four nights.

We met a lovely van life couple who were in the exact same situation as us (had visited a friend in the Northern Beaches right before hitting the road to go on a holiday to Victoria before restrictions were introduced, and now were stuck in limbo), and we enjoyed an orphans Christmas together.

By now our two weeks was almost up, and because Congo was booked out we drove inland to the gorgeous country town of Bega and stayed at the showgrounds in the lead up to New Years.

We met a lovely family who were from my very small country town in WA, drank way too much booze and had a great time.

Was that the end of our dramas? Not at all! 6 hours before NYE the Victorian government completely closed the border to all of our New South Wales.

Does that mean we’ll end up missing our ferry to Tasmania now? You’ll have to come back for the next blog post to find out…

Total Kilometres Driven: 2522 km

What We Spent – December 2020

Ok that’s enough drama for one blog post! Let’s dive into how much we spent this month.

Our costs were up again, but that was mainly due to buying our ferry to Tasmania, and purchasing our tickets for the Three Capes Track (but we’ve left that out of the total budget for this month as it’s not related to van life).

Let’s dive into the breakdown of everything.

Note – All prices are in AUD.

ITEMS$$$
Fuel / Transport$1171
Food (Groceries)$430
Food (Dining Out)$182
Accommodation (Campgrounds)$63
Coffee (Take-Away and Aeropress)$42
Alcohol$184
Phone Bills$109
Laundry$12
Health/Medical$135
Van Maintenance/Items$49
Entertainment (Spotify, Netflix, etc)$108
Attractions / Activities (Three Capes Track)$990
Misc.$43
Total Cost$3518
December 2020 Van Life Australia Monthly Budget Pie Chart

So there you have it! For the month of December 2020, we spent $3,518 on van life in Australia.

That includes the $990 for the Three Capes Track, which while technically not part of van life, is an experience that we both desperately wanted to do. When you travel

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

FUEL / TRANSPORT – $1,171

We spent a total of $381 on fuel this month, which is working out to be about average for us.

We also spent $790 for the ferry to Tasmania. We opted for the cheapest tickets available (day crossing, no allocated seats or cabins), and while it sounds expensive, it is 100% worth it to be able to take your campervan to Tassie.

We have been wanting to explore Tasmania for such a long time, and we thought 2021 is the year we are going to do it.

FOOD (GROCERIES) – $430

We caught up with family a lot this month so our grocery bill was a bit lower than other months.

FOOD (DINING OUT) – $182

We really backed it up in this area and tried not to dine out too much, so our costs came down which was nice. We did catch up with friends for coffee and one dinner though.

ACCOMMODATION (CAMPGROUNDS) – $63

We stayed at a lot of free campsites this month while making our way down to Sydney. In Sydney, we stayed with family.

When we had to get out of Sydney fast because of the virus we booked a week at the ‘free’ camp in Lake Blowering (not completely free because NSW National Parks charges a $7 booking fee), a few nights at Congo Campground, then a couple of nights at the Bega Showgrounds/

  • Paid Camps – 4
  • Free Camps – 27
Alesha at Lake Blowering
There were some great camp spots this month.

COFFEE – $42

We bought more coffee beans from a roaster on the Sapphire Coast. We love trying different coffee when we travel around!

ALCOHOL – $184

Being in self-isolation by a gorgeous lake leads to lots of drinking it turns out. Throw in Christmas and New Years, and this month was pricey for us in the alcohol department.

We feel that van life is a very social thing, and having a drink with people we met in the afternoon happens a lot. It’s not a bad thing at all, we really enjoy it. We just need to drink something else and not alcohol all the time.

PHONE BILLS – $109

This month we changed our phone plans, so cost is higher than usual. Jarryd swapped over to Telstra (a 180gb plan came up for sale at a bargain) and I stayed with Optus but upgraded my plan to 500gb a month.

Now we never have to worry about running out of data when we’re working, and with two different providers we are less likely to find ourselves in places with no reception, meaning we can’t do our jobs.

LAUNDRY – $12

We found some cheap washing machines this month at $3 a load. We love when we find these gems.

HEALTH/MEDICAL – $135

I stocked up our prescription tables before heading to Tasmania.

VAN MAINTENANCE/ITEMS – $49

This month was the first month in a while that we didn’t have to spend any money on van maintenance!

It feels good that we got the things done to Marlee before heading to Tasmania, so that for the next few months this cost will be low, as long as nothing goes wrong. Touch wood.

ENTERTAINMENT – $108

This month we cancelled Netflix. We found we were spending too much time on it and watching the same shows (we have a slight addiction to the US version of The Office). In the end we both decided to get rid of it, as it didn’t offer any value to our lives.

We do pay for Spotify Premium every month. We listen to this all day, every day though so it is worth the money.

I also signed up for the fitness app Centr. This is app is great for exercising on the road.

ATTRACTIONS – $990

This month we paid for our spot on the Three Capes Hike. This has been on our hiking bucket list forever. We reserved 2 spots and are doing the hike at the end of March.

Total Cost – $3,518

THOUGHTS ON OUR MONTHLY BUDGET

There you go everyone – our seventh monthly van life Australia budget report.

After having a few high months, it is good to get the budget back down a bit. Even though the ferry ticket and Three Capes Track added to the total, to us it was worth spending the money to go to Tasmania and do one of the country’s best hikes.

This is the tally of our monthly costs so far on the road. All amounts are in Australia Dollars:

  • 1st month on the road = $2369 (June)
  • 2nd month on the road = $2675 (July)
  • 3rd month on the road = $3460 (August)
  • 4th month on the road = $4338 (September)
  • 5th month on the road = $4819 (October)
  • 6th month on the road = $5447 (November)
  • 7th month on the road = $3518 (December)

TOTAL VAN LIFE BUDGET FOR SEVEN MONTHS – $26,626

And here’s our January 2021 monthly budget report!

If you found this helpful at all please leave a comment below, share it with anyone you think will find it useful, and make sure you follow our journey on Instagram and YouTube!

Happy travels.

Alesha and Jarryd

About the Author - Alesha and Jarryd - Van Life Theory

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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