The first month of our journey is behind us. In the interest of spilling the behind the scenes details of a trip like this, I thought we’d run a monthly summary. We’ve been getting a lot of questions like “how much does your trip cost?” and “what happened to your GPS map?”. Read on and you’ll find out…
Countries driven: USA, Mexico
Miles driven: 2,963 (odometer reads 279,463)
Total bribes paid: 0
Total Spent: $1,762 ($56.84/day)
What went wrong:
- Fried two Samlex 600W True Sine Wave inverters. These supplied 110V electricity to Nacho for plugging in household appliances. Samlex decided to stop honoring their 2-year warranty after our 2nd one of the trip (3rd since we bought it) died, so we replaced it with a 750W Duralast modified sine wave inverter from AutoZone in Puerto Vallarta.
- Our SPOT GPS Messenger died in Mazatlan. It still turns on, but will not communicate updates. We contacted their warranty department, but after a couple of weeks they still haven’t taken any action. This has made our live map useless.
- Two of our Shurflo check valves split open in Baja. These are used to keep our onboard hot and cold water tanks from mixing. We took the valves out, covered them in Gorilla Glue, covered them in duct tape, and reinstalled them. One of them still works, while the other seems not to work so well. We bought some brass check valves in Mazatlan, but haven’t installed them yet. The water system works fine, and was only down for one evening.
- Our Sure Power battery separator doesn’t seem to be working out for us. Its job is to connect the starting and auxiliary batteries when the car is running so that our “house battery” can charge up from the alternator. This works, but due to complexities too in depth to discuss here, our house battery would never reach a full charge, even once it switched to solar power charging. This caused us to have to ration electricity, which we didn’t like. We disconnected the battery separator and have been great ever since.
What went right:
- Our on-demand hot water system has far exceeded our expectations. I designed the water system such that we could heat up the hot water tank while we drive, and use the hot water for showers later, or we could idle the van while we shower and generate on-demand continuous hot water. The latter has been our preference due to the ease, no need for advanced planning, and extremely hot water. When the water comes out of the shower, it’s so hot that it’s hard to stand under it. It can be mixed with cold water, but usually we enjoy the skin-melting hot water by itself.
- Nacho’s engine. We didn’t have to crack open then engine compartment all month. This must be some kind of record. Nacho just kept chugging away without any complaint.
Things to ponder:
We spent quite a bit less money this month than we did in a typical month at home. We find it strange that it’s cheaper to travel the world than it is to stay home.
We drove an average of about 95 miles per day in January. While this is much more than we drove back home (and a little more than double what the average American drives per day), our overall carbon footprint is lower. We generate all of our electricity with solar, have only used about 1 gallon of propane all month, and use magnitudes less water than the average person. One day I’ll actually do the math, but I’d imagine our carbon footprint is 50% less than the average American (I know that’s debatable, so let’s wait until I do the calculations before tempers fly). This just helps us sleep a little better at night.