A road trip can be expensive, particularly if you’re planning on going for six months. Although touring in your VW van is cheaper than hopping from hotel to hotel, the costs still add up quickly when you factor in camping fees, food, and petrol. Not to mention the lack of income for the time you are taking off work (if you are). That’s why it’s so important to plan ahead.
First of all, sit down and determine how much you have to spend. A smart next step would be to find an app that will allow you to easily track your expenses as you travel. You can account for outgoings as well as income. It will also allow you to review your expenditure ahead of any other VW bus tours you plan to take in the future! A realistic budget to set yourself for your traveling is 20 euros per person. This is how you can do it!
Camping Wild – as you travel throughout Europe in VW comfort, you will find that there are plenty of free parking areas. One of the best ways to save money is to park up in one of these areas and camp wild. You won’t have power or a hot shower, but you will save plenty of money. You can plan your wild camps ahead of time and do so strategically so you don’t go too long without a good wash.
Avoid Toll Roads – for this, you will need to plan your route and rely on your GPS. You can go into the settings and select no tolls. This will help you avoid toll roads, hopefully entirely, but areas such as France are known to have many toll roads. The downside, of course, is that you will take longer to travel and you may have to drive some poor roads. However, you will save money and enjoy beautiful surroundings.
Home-cooking – you should aim to eat in the van as much as possible. When you do eat out it should be when it’s just as cheap as preparing something for yourself. Your stops at eateries or for coffee should always be two-fold – there should be free WiFi. That way when you spend, you get the maximum benefit from it. It’s also a good idea to do a bit of advance research into where you would absolutely like to eat while you travel and to plan that in ahead of time, as well as your budget to do so. That way you can enjoy a bit of local food, but remain on budget.
Local Markets – keep your eyes peeled for local markets. This is the perfect spot to buy fresh produce. When you have to rely on a supermarket, look for the cheaper options like LIDL and ALDI.
Free Water – do your utmost to avoid paying for water. You will use a lot of it, but you will also need to hydrate especially if you’re traveling during the summer months. Look out for taps at petrol stations, motorway stops, parks, and laundromats. If all else fails, ask a local! You’ll definitely want to ask the locals if they drink the tap water or would recommend drinking it. If the answer is no, you’ll want to boil all water before you drink it. However, it will be fine for your shower tank.
Alcohol – this is a big one because as delicious as a cocktail is, it’s the quickest way to make a serious dent in your budget. In many European countries, it’s cheaper to buy a beer or wine out than a soft drink. It’s even cheaper to buy your booze from a supermarket. In countries like Spain and Greece, you can grab a pint of beer for around 2 euros, but a can from the supermarket for much cheaper. Ukraine brags the cheapest pint for under 60 cents. Just remember, drinking and driving in your VW is never a good idea.
Cheap Stops – plot your VW route through more affordable countries. The Balkans brag seriously low living costs, so it will be much easier to extend your trip compared to trying to travel through Scandinavia.
Avoid Tourist Traps – this goes for restaurants, clothes, and souvenirs. Don’t buy things you don’t need or visit areas that are going to inflate their prices due to tourist activity.
Spending Money – you want to make your budget stretch as far as possible, so when it comes to spending money it should be reserved for unique experiences you want to enjoy. There are plenty of hikes that will take you through incredible scenes and are totally free. Take advantage of free options as much as possible and reserve spending for memorable experiences you can’t miss.
The majority of your costs will be on operating the VW van, with food and activities coming in a close second and third. Ultimately, it can be as cheap as you want it to be as there are plenty of opportunities to cut costs and operate on a shoestring. The key is tracking your expenditure. Regardless of the cost, the experience is priceless.