Monthly Summary – January 2012
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.
wow that is pretty decent. did you guys sell your house or rent it out? I would think it would be expensive to pay for both
Comment by jamison on February 5, 2012 at 12:05 am
Jamison, we didn’t own a house. At about the time we were at the house buying stage, we could see the impending collapse in the housing market (thanks dad, for pointing it out). Two years later, it crashed. Even if not for the housing crash, I don’t know if I’m totally sold on the idea of home ownership at all. It’s a pretty heavy anchor in an ever-changing world.
Comment by Brad on February 5, 2012 at 12:43 am
on the cheap! i need to learn from yalls style, we spent about $600 more for our first month in Mexico
Comment by James on February 5, 2012 at 12:58 am
hey guys, just wanted to let you know that we’re keepin’ up with your adventures and enjoying the blog. great meeting you in mexico, don’t forget to come home through oregon in a few years and park nacho here for a few nights.
josh, tiffany, and stella
Comment by josh short on February 5, 2012 at 1:16 am
Great info. Just as a comparison that you might find interesting. By having your own transportation and housing (thanks to Senor Nacho), you are saving a mint… as you obviously knew already. We averaged about $4,500 a month in third world countries. Just housing was over $1000 a month. When I do my second trip… I’m following your example. Much smarter on the pocketbook.
I also can see that you are really having fun, and that always adds a bit. With as much traveling that you are doing, you guys will last a while. I’ll have to buy some merchandise to help keep you both out there. That way I can get my weekly entertainment.
Thanks for the update… you guys are my current heroes. Viva La Nacho!
Comment by Richard J on February 5, 2012 at 1:52 am
Richard, I can see how it would add up if you were flying, renting cars, etc. I read a book called 360 Degrees of Longitude, in which a family of 4 traveled around the world for one year, and managed to spend $130k. At this rate we could travel for 6 years on that!
Josh, glad you’re following. I trust you read the episode that talked about you. Hope that hasn’t caused any grief for you ;)
James, we haven’t spent any money renting Roller Bladez. That’s our secret.
Comment by Brad on February 5, 2012 at 3:23 am
Brad, how much did you spend making sure Nacho was ready for the venture of a lifetime?
Comment by Tony Stahl on February 5, 2012 at 6:01 pm
This monthly finance recap is great. Spending less while traveling than at home seems counter-intuitive. It is a good idea to show others that it is indeed possible.
We wholeheartedly agree about the smaller carbon footprint and especially about the fact that home-ownership limits flexibility in a time when flexibility is key.
We really enjoy seeing your posts in our inbox.
Comment by Rich on February 5, 2012 at 6:12 pm
I imagine the list for “what went wrong” is longer than the “. . . right” list because you are simply working out the bugs in this first portion of your 3-year adventure. I have no doubt that the “want went right” list will surpass its counterpart in no time at all! I am always pleased to hear about how you are living in purposeful harmony with the environment. Carry on!
Comment by Mom on February 6, 2012 at 4:23 pm
Enjoying your posts as well has the cost info. May I strongly suggest that you keep a more vigorous eye on the engine compartment. The kind of driving you’re doing is on roads that do more jostling than the typical driving that is done in the U.S. You need to factor that into your travels. I would weekly look at the engine compartment as well as the entire undercarriage during your driving stages and very little when staying put for a while. It can be very easy for a hose wire wires to break lose and especially keep an eye on belts, fuel hoses and the alternator bracket. Preventive maintenance is the best policy. Otherwise, I hope you have a wonderful time!
Comment by Steven on February 6, 2012 at 11:41 pm
This is so much fun. Thank you for sharing so much. Pat says hello and congrats!
Comment by Cathy on February 7, 2012 at 1:38 am
If you want a solid voltage sensitive relay for your aux battery, get the Blue Sea 7610. Simple construction, built tough for boats, and recommended. About $70 online.
I am really enjoying your posts, keep living our collective dream!
Comment by johngo on February 7, 2012 at 2:41 am
Love love love the charts and visual aides! I think it’s great that you guys are disclosing the financial cost of your trip. It lets other people realize that they too can get out there and travel the world, their country, or even their home state. Keep on keepin’ on!
Comment by Todd on February 7, 2012 at 3:08 am
Tony, the following article talks a little bit about what we paid for Nacho: http://www.flaglive.com/flagstafflive_story.cfm?storyID=228327
Comment by Brad on February 7, 2012 at 3:10 am
Congrats on smooth sailing one month in. Back at the compound the chickens laid thirteen (13!) eggs yesterday. Miss you guys!
Comment by wes on February 7, 2012 at 4:29 pm
Maybe it was in the interest of not making a laundry list, or I suppose it was only Nacho related, but reading your blog over the last month would indicate to me, as would lists titled “what went wrong/well” the overall failure/success of the trip this far, which even considering the problems, seems/indeed IS the fulfillment of a beautiful vision and envy of anyone who knows what’s good for them. I hope to see a longer list of “what went right” next month!
Comment by Will LaFleur on February 8, 2012 at 12:33 am
Awwwww… I’ve been waiting for a picture like the one in the article link. You guys are so cute! HS sweethearts! This is an awesome story. Keep taking great pictures, and start making longer stories about the places and people you visit that you don’t publish on the blog. Then we you return, you can publish the book! I’ll buy it!!!
Comment by Todd on February 8, 2012 at 5:27 pm
Great post. Thank you for the recap. Super helpful for those planning a similar trip. I keep telling people that it’s cheaper to travel. Thanks for the data to back me up. My wife and I love your new interior. Have fun in your travels.
’90 16″ Syncro Hightop Westy
Comment by Chris on March 8, 2012 at 4:12 am