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The Motorhome… What You Need to Know Before You Go: the eBook

November 10, 2014

Our friends at Motorhome Lifers have created another nifty eBook just for motorhomers, titled ‘The Motorhome..: What You Need to Know, Before You Go’. If you’re ready to take the leap and get out on the road but still have a thing or two to learn about motorhoming, this is the book for you. In this excerpt, we’ll give you a taster of this new eBook which you can get your hands on right here. Or, alternatively, you can check out the full range of books (available through a variety of retailers).

This chapter looks at how to keep your motorhoming costs under control, so you can travel on a budget that suits you.


“The question of how much motorhoming costs and how to budget comes up regularly. It’s difficult to give a specific figure as several factors are involved.

If you would like to try and gauge how much money you need in order to plan for your new lifestyle, it’s a good idea to keep a record of what you spend at home. Remember to write each item down, because it soon adds up.

Travelling in a motorhome becomes affordable if you can reduce your outgoings at home. As I mentioned in the last chapter, some people rent out their house, or sell it in order to release the equity. If you decide to do this don’t forget to set aside some funds to cover storage costs for your belongings.

If you opt to rent out your property don’t forget this is income, and each country has a tax requirement.

How much it costs depends on several factors; the kind of luxury and comfort you like to have; the number of miles you drive; whether you stay on campsites, Aires or free camp; if you cook in or go out for meals. If you have a low budget, travel slowly. Select a short itinerary or small region you’d like to visit rather that driving all over the map, or across a continent. This saves fuel and gives you more time to shop at markets and cook your own meals. You’ll also be able to learn more about the locals this way and enrich the travelling experience.

Mike keeps a ledger and has, at times, been teased about this, because it’s seen to be old-fashioned. He has kept a record of our spending since our first day on the road back in December 2002. He looks at the cost of fuel as well as exchange rates and uses the information for trip planning. He also records our average miles per gallon. When he is trip planning he can decide how much we need to cover our expenses, based on what we have spent in the past.

Mike’s column headings in the ledger are; campsite, fuel, food, sightseeing, entertainment, ferry/flights, tolls/car-park, sundries and LPG.

Many people don’t include ferries in their budget because it’s not a daily spend. However, Mike does, because it helps him plan for the future and make a decision on whether to go somewhere for a short stay or a full season. He also adds up the annual costs of road tax, MOT, habitation check, servicing and insurance, as well as the fuel to drive back to the UK to get these chores done. He divides this by 12 and adds it to the monthly budget.

Our costs when we’re in the UK are much higher than when overseas. This is partly because we catch up with friends and relatives, celebrating with meals and drinks out. It is also a time to make appointments; optician, dentist and prescription fees all add up.

We usually have a splurge with buying extra bits and pieces, either for ourselves or the van. I can’t understand European clothes sizes and wouldn’t want to waste time with shopping while we are away and so when we’re back I take the opportunity to re-evaluate my wardrobe.

We also get online purchasing done, as we can use a UK address for deliveries.

Cost Comparison

As I mentioned in the chapter on full-timing we rented a flat for a short while when I needed a break from the van. This was during the summer of 2014 and gave us an ideal opportunity to compare the cost of living in a flat with a motorhome.

I had only been in the flat for 3 weeks when Mike was forced to curtail his trip to Germany and return to the UK. The driver of the car behind him hadn’t been paying attention to the road ahead and rammed into our van from behind. This meant that Mike spent more than he had planned because there were additional fuel and ferry costs to get back to the UK as well as bed and breakfast accommodation while the van was being repaired.

The bottom line figure, for our comparison, not including ferries, eating out, sightseeing or the annual vehicle costs mentioned above, was £17 per day in the motorhome. This compares to £31 a day in the flat, which included rent, bills, public transport and socialising.

During June I noticed that there had been a spike in the ‘Sundries’ column. I looked back over the month and soon noticed that this had been due to the arrival of the birthday season. I bought presents for my youngest sister and niece. Both my parents had a birthday and I had an expensive haircut because it was my birthday as well. I hadn’t realised I was spending extra at the time, but if your close family won’t appreciate trinkets from a market stall, it’s another factor to consider.

We have met individuals that do all their shopping in the UK for stores and supplies before they leave. They only shop on arrival for fresh food such as milk and vegetables. We enjoy eating out and this makes our spending budget unrealistically high for some.

If this is a way of life for you, remember it’s not a holiday and so you need to be aware of ways to cut the costs of living and travelling overseas. I have found the Martin Lewis website has lots of useful advice on how to save, including which bank cards give better exchange rates.

When it comes to buying a motorhome it would be devastating to buy your heart’s desire only to realise that you weren’t completely satisfied with layout or cupboard space, for example, and this is why it’s important to research thoroughly what your needs are when you make your choice.

Our experience with motorhomes has always been that they provide a home on wheels and Mike has looked at each vehicle as a long term option, similar to buying a house. The initial set up cost is high, but the longer you keep a vehicle the more this dissipates over time. We really noticed this when we decided that because of the repeated breakdowns we had no option other than to sell the coach in America. The long term plan became a short term one and this hit us hard financially.

Motorhomes are expensive, as I’ve said before, and we have lived in a couple of luxury vehicles with high running costs. Mike isn’t a tycoon, he’s worked hard and saved hard for what he has.

We once received a comment that our RV was ostentatious, which I found difficult to cope with at the time. I am aware that British people tend to champion the underdog, and some see an RV as a showy display of wealth. I have noticed that the majority of them are owned by people who have had their own business. Perhaps the personal qualities of an entrepreneur extend to going ahead and getting whatever you want in life. If this is the case, the owner will have worked extremely hard in order to get there, and this deserves celebration rather than denigration.

Success shouldn’t be a breeding ground for resentment. I have sensed an undercurrent of jealousy amongst other Brits, almost as if it is more noble to live and travel on a shoestring.”

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