VAN LIFE AUSTRALIA Monthly Budget Report – July 2020

Welcome to our blog series where we are going to open up completely and dive into our monthly van life costs and budget here in Australia!

We recently brought our blog post on just how much we spend doing van life in Australia (you can read our June 2020 budget report here), and as promised, here’s the next one in our series!

One of our goals with this new website of ours is to make it the ultimate resource for people wanting to get into van life, and as part of that we want to share everything there is to know about this lifestyle.

What it costs is just one aspect of it, so we’re pleased to share with you exactly how much we have spent for the month of July, 2020.

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!

Because of our businesses, we are really strict on all of our incomings and outgoings, and we’ve decided to apply that discipline to our personal expenses as well.

We hope you find it interesting and helpful, and if you do, please leave a comment below and share it with your friends.

Marlee Parked Next to Fire July 2020 Van Life Budget
Camping under the stars in Dunbogan.

Van Life Australia Budget – July 2020

What you’ll find below is a detailed list of every dollar we spent in July for travelling around Australia in our campervan, Marlee.

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.


We started the month by finishing up our campaign in Port Stephens with Destination New South Wales.

After any kind of big tourism job, we like to have some down time to go through our content and start working on the deliverables. So rather than hit the road running, we drove north along the coast and stayed at a little caravan park in Dunbogan for 10 nights.

It was absolutely perfect for us, being nice and quiet right by a river. We could chill out and work during the day, have campfires at night, and even met some really cool travellers to share some beers with.

Once we had got on top of our workload we headed north to South West Rocks, with a quick stopover in Crescent Head to have a break and coffee (definitely recommend Blackfish Coffee here).

It was school holidays so the beach was absolutely packed, but it’s definitely somewhere we’d love to return to for a few days one day.

Next we stopped into South West Rocks and stayed at the Trial Bay Gaol Campground. It is within the National Park so you need a day pass on top of the fee for the night, which in our opinion is pretty damn ridiculous for the NSW government to charge so much money for campgrounds inside national parks, but what are you going to do?

The campground was beautiful with lots Kangaroos jumping around and hanging out by the van.

We then headed up to visit our friends in the Nambucca Valley. We stayed with them for a few nights and explored Dorrigo National Park, which we’ve been before but absolutely love.

During that time we were keeping an eye on the current border lockdowns, and we started to get the feeling that Queensland may end up closing their borders again. Not wanting to take any risks as we had some jobs in Queensland, we decided to bomb it from the Nambucca Valley straight into the Gold Coast.

Turns out it was the right decision, as shortly after we entered the state, they did end up closing the border.

While we were on the Gold Coast we stayed with family and caught up with a bunch of friends. We headed up to Springbrook National Park for a few days of hiking and photography, and even fit in an astrophotography session down the coast.

We found a great deal online for the Tangalooma Resort on Moreton Island, where you could get a couple of nights accommodation and the ferry over for pretty cheap. Because we really wanted to drone the famous Tangalooma Wrecks, we jumped on the deal and decided to have a romantic getaway and leave Marlee on the mainland.

Moreton Island was great, then we finished the month with a work trip in Ipswich, tasting local produce and learning more about the attractions and activities around the area.

Overall it was a pretty chill month of van life.

Total Kilometres Driven: 1,966km

Tangalooma Wrecks Drone Photo
Heading over to Moreton Island to see the Tangalooma Wrecks definitely pushed our budget out a bit. But was well worth it.


The van life part of our budget was a bit more than we spent last month, but our total expenses were way higher because we did the trip to Moreton Island, bought some new clothes and shoes, and bought a new bike (the clothes and bike totalled $1200).

The bike we considered to be essential, because Jarryd had one but I didn’t. Having bikes mean we can get to our campsite and set up, then take our bikes downtown if we need to do any shopping or want to visit some different places.

Without the bikes, we’d have to pack everything up and leave, which could take 30 minutes or so depending on how much we’d spread out. A pain for sure, but now not an issue.

The other reason for the bikes is because we both love mountain biking, and as we’re discovering, Australia has some fantastic mountain bike trails around the place!

All of these things aren’t directly related to van life of course, but as always to be completely transparent with you guys on how much we spend.

Now let’s get into the nitty gritty.

Note – All prices are in AUD.

Food (Groceries)$404
Food (Dining Out)$351
Accommodation (Campgrounds and Tangalooma Resort)$635
Coffee (Take-away and coffee beans)$115
Phone Bills$82
Van Maintenance/Items$104
Entertainment (Spotify, Netflix, etc)$223
Total Cost$2675
July 2020 Can Life Budget Pie Chart

So there you have it! For the month of July 2020, we spent $2675 on van life in Australia.

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

FUEL – $299

Because we had a few big driving days and took scenic roads rather than highways everywhere, our fuel bill was up a bit.

In between the big driving days though we stayed put at campgrounds, so overall we’re pretty happy with this spend.


The food bill for this month for both groceries and eating out was slightly less than last month, mainly because we had some meals covered by clients and some friends and family kindly cooked meals for us.

Being vegetarian means we save on meat, but we don’t exactly eat cheap, so our grocery bill of about $100 a week is pretty standard for us.

We try to cook most of our meals in the van, which definitely helps the budget.

There’s probably also a few non-food items that crept into this total, such as toiletries that we bought from supermarkets and we just never kept the amounts separate.


Our dining out budget was higher than we’d like due to going out for some meals with friends, and staying at Tangalooma Resort.

There was only one restaurant open on Moreton Island, and we were complete rookies and totally forgot to pack food with us when we jumped on the ferry over, meaning we had to buy all our meals there.

ACCOMMODATION (CAMPGROUNDS and Tangalooma Resort) – $635

Free camping on the east coast of Australia, and in particular New South Wales, can be quite difficult if you want to be anywhere near the beach or tourist attractions.

At this stage of our van life journey we still didn’t feel comfortable stealth camping (well, Jarryd is all for it, but I am not yet), so we booked into caravan parks and national parks. We only stay in unpowered to keep our costs down, and Marlee is fully off-grid with her battery and solar setup.

This month we saw a special on the internet to go over to Moreton Island. We have always wanted to snorkel and drone the Tangalooma Shipwrecks, so we did it. The total cost for two nights there was $300, including the ferry.

Some nights we were working with clients so our campgrounds or hotels were covered by them, and some other nights we stayed with friends or family for free.

  • Paid Nights – 15
  • Free Nights – 16
Currumbin Beach Gold Coast Sunset
A lovely sunset at Currumbin Beach on the Gold Coast.

COFFEE – $115

As you have probably seen if you follow us on social media, we love coffee.

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 month we managed to cut back on getting so many take-away coffees which was good.

ALCOHOL – $329

Every month we say we’re going to cut back on our alcohol budget. And every month we fail at it!

We spent $329 on beer and wine, either buying from liquor stores or going out for drinks with mates.


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.


After more than a decade of hand-washing our clothes, this is an expense we’re only too happy to spend. $8 on laundry was for two loads done at some caravan parks. The rest of the time we washed our clothes at friends or family.

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


We topped up on all our monthly vitamins and protein powder. These vitamins last us a few months so this expense is not monthly. We are vegetarians and use natural protein powder to give ourselves a boost.


Our van maintenance amount was pretty good for this month. We bought a few items from Kmart and Bunnings for the van, but nothing too crazy.

Luckily we didn’t have any breakdowns or services due.


Our entertainment budget covers monthly subscriptions for things like Netflix and Spotify, which we use regularly, as well as a few other things.

Jarryd had to get a new chain and drivetrain for his mountain bike, so he had this done in Port Macquarie. We count this as entertainment, because it’s something we do for fun.

We also spent $30 on firewood for our campsite in Dunbogan. It was $15 for a big bag of wood, which we got 2 over the ten days we were staying there. It was $20 to hire the fire pit. It was worth it as we had some chilly nights.

Total Van Life Cost for July – $2,675

Miscellaneous – $1200

This month we went a little crazy on some new clothes and shoes. We don’t normally buy many clothes, but we ended up spending $471 as there were some good sales on the Gold Coast.

We also spent $729 on my new bicycle and helmet. After months of looking, we finally found a hardtail mountain bike that was available to buy in Forster.

Total Cost (including miscellaneous items) – $3,875

Crescent Head Drone Shot
Crescent Head from the air. A great place that we’d love to come back and stay at (when it’s not school holidays).


So our second month of van life in Australia cost us a total of $2675, plus an additional $1200 for miscellaneous items that most van lifers might not spend money on, like a new bike and clothes.

I am going off of our initial amount, which works out to be $1337.50 per person.

That includes absolutely everything – food, accommodation, fuel, maintenance and some general entertainment costs.

There you go everyone – our second monthly van life budget.

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

  • 1st month on the road = $2369 (June)
  • 2nd month on the road = $2675 (July)


You can read all of our monthly budget posts here:

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!

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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