When we first started discussing the possibility of our year on the road, one of the biggest factors that persuaded us that we should do it was that we would spend less money travelling than we would staying at home.
And we would have a lot more fun.
At the time we were living in two places, because of work, and the cost of a weekend commute from Leeds to Edinburgh (or vice versa), as well as stocking two fridges and paying two sets of household bills, was crippling us.
That and we were missing each other’s company more as each year went by.
Our plan was simple. Nigel would give up his job. Sell our house in Yorkshire. Pay off that mortgage and use the equity to settle our credit card bills and buy a van.
Draw down a bit of Nigel’s pension early. Add it to my (tiny) monthly one, rent out our flat in Musselburgh to cover its mortgage, and lo and behold we would have enough cash to travel round Europe in a campervan for a year without working.
And that is more or less what has happened. Nigel found Stephen, a clever chap at LIFT-Advice who is sorting out his pension pot.
We made enough on our house in Saltaire to buy a van and clear our debts (we always have debts, it is part of our fiscal make-up), and we still have our flat in Scotland to go home to next September.
Now for the hard part. Living on a budget while we are on the road.
Neither of us are renowned for our prudence, but that is what we were going to have to exercise if our plan was to work.
Nigel did lots of research, and like others before us, he found Julie and Jason Buckley’s website Our Tour, mostly, very helpful.
Their advice on passive income may not have been relevant for us. When you have two (grown) children and four grandchildren, there is nothing passive about your income, but their tips on daily expenditure were invaluable.
Their extensive experience suggested that an average of around 50 euros a day would be sufficient to cover all our costs, from campsite fees to fuel, with even the occasional meal out.
Others, in particular Jo and Craig of Our Bumble, spend much less, around 30 euros a day, but they wild camp almost all the time.
Nigel and I don’t mind spending nights in car parks or harbours, but we also like porcelain WCs, washing machines and mains electricity, so we decided to mix and match.
We are now starting our third month on the road, and we have kept to our budget…well, nearly.
We haven’t breached our daily expenditure limit over the course of a month…in fact we had 27 euros left at the end of month two, which we intend to save for a rainy day.
However, there have been one, or two, unexpected items in our bagging area.
An unscheduled ferry from Italy to Greece because we were so keen to savour the last of the Hellenic sunshine.
An unscheduled holiday in Cyprus in early January, with some of our family, which necessitated renting a villa, but it will be worth every cent.
And we are hoping to have another family break in the spring, which will also be worth every penny.
There have been a few, unexpected van repairs, and no doubt there will be several more over the coming months. In fact, there is one pending now.
And our iTunes account seems to have a life of its own, to say nothing of the pound. Brexit has made the cost of our daily 50 euros that much more expensive than when we decided to do this trip.
But for a pair of fiscal irresponsibles, we are not doing too badly.
Not well enough to offer advice to anyone else planning a long term trip, we will leave that to experts like Our Tour and Our Bumble, but we’re happy.
And that, dear reader, is the whole point of this journey.