We spent much of May in Portugal and we felt it was an odd combination of expensive and cheap. The camping and parking were very cheap or mostly free, while the food in the supermarkets we found to be expensive as soon as we crossed the border from Spain. That caught us by surprise as we’d heard it was cheap in Portugal, but a quick look on the receipts shows a 23% tax on most food items other than fresh produce. Diesel is also more expensive than Spain.

Overall, we spent just a little bit less in May than in the previous two months, most of the savings coming from cheap or free camping. We didn’t skimp on the sightseeing though and our total cost for admissions was more than Feb, Mar and Apr put together! Oh yeah, we splurged a little and treated ourselves to a Spa Day in Seville at Aire. It was magical but totally broke the budget. 🙂

Everyone travels differently, and there is no right or wrong way of course, but we don’t expect to get to these places again so we’re going to make sure we see all the highlights even if that does cost more than we would like to spend. Yes, we are on vacation (albeit a very long one), we visit tourist traps and we behave like tourists, but we also enjoy hanging out wild camping at the beach and doing nothing for days sometimes. Both make us equally happy.

Where did we go in May?

In May we visited:

  • Jerez de la Frontera
  • Seville – expensive!
  • Castro Marim – Knights Templar
  • Praia de Cabeco – beach
  • Moncarapacho – just weird….
  • Quarteira – beach
  • Praia de Arrifes  – beach
  • Alvor – beach
  • Lagos – beach
  • Evora – Roman ruins
  • Merida – more Roman ruins
  • Areia – beach
  • Sintra – hilltop palaces
  • Ericeira – beach
  • Mafra – palace
  • Peniche – beach

Lots of beach time this month. We are much more up to date with our diary writing now, after we got into a slump last month, so we are publishing something new every couple of days at the moment. Soon, many of those places will become hyperlinks you can click on to read our diary entry for those locations. You can also go back to previous months and read our diary and tips for those places too.

You can find our previous stats and expenses here:

Let’s have a look at what we completed for the month of May.

Statistics for May 2019

Miles completed – van and scooter.

MileageVanScooter
February 201993687
March 201952498
April 2019668105
May 201986089

Countries visited – Spain and mostly Portugal

Camping nights – of the 31 nights in May, we spent 11 of them in paid campsite accommodation or paid parking, and 20 of them in free camping or wild camping spots. In Portugal, even the paid camping spots are cheap, and we’ve paid as low as €3 or €5 a night, although the quality isn’t usually very high.

However, as the weather heats up, we will probably switch more to campsites where we can leave the van with the skylights open for the day or leave it attached to EHU and leave the air-conditioning on. Keeping the van closed up in the hot weather would not be nice for Scruffy.

MonthFree nightsPaid nights
February 201966
March 20191219
April 20191713
May 20192011

Travel, sightseeing and living costs for the month

  • Fuel costs:
    • Camper van – €197.62. Diesel is more expensive in Portugal but we had a bit of a bonus when we skipped back into Spain to visit Merida and were able to fill up there at lower prices
    • Moped – €4.00
  • Other motoring and travel costs – €50.86. We took the bus a couple of times, took 4 Uber rides around Sintra because it was cheaper than the bus, and also took some toll roads – mostly by mistake. Then we messed up on one toll road, missed the booth, and had to go back a few days later to pay the missed toll and a fine. Darn. And we had to go on the toll road to get to the place where you have to pay! That worked out to be an expensive mistake. Beware, EasyToll in Portugal is not the same as the ViaVerde lane.
  • Camping costs – €87.35 for 11 paid nights
  • Entertainment and admission – €363.80. Totally broke the budget this month with a trip to the Spa in Seville at €115. But other places were also expensive such as the Sintra palaces, and every place in Seville. Plus the sherry tour in Jerez – totally worth it though. I’ll never forget the smell of the cellars.
  • Eating out – €158.89 this month we ate in a lot
  • Groceries – €308.43. Lower this month because we tried really hard, and because groceries in Portugal are more than we expected so we are eating from our large stash of grub.
  • Clothes – €16.99, new pair of shorts
  • Phone and internet – £20.50 for our UK mobile phone and £26.13 for the monthly mifi charges (50GB per month).
  • Medical – £185.00 per month for our private medical insurance policy.
  • Laundry – €16.50
  • LPG gas & water – €6.87 on gas and €6 for water. With more wild camping, comes more trips to paid water filling points.
  • Cat expenses – €8.14. Food and litter.
  • Van accessories – nothing this month
  • Misc – €2.95 on a book
ExpensesMay
2019
Apr 
2019
Total to 
date
Average
Fuel – van€197.62€162.11€647.97€161.99
Fuel – scooter€4.00€9.84€25.16€6.29
Tolls, tunnel, taxi, parking€50.86€19.25€322.50€80.63
Campsite fees€87.35€218.25€723.10€180.78
Entertainment & admission€363.80€198.88€712.58
€178.15
Eating out€158.89€129.24€577.68€144.42
Groceries€308.43€408.07€1,238.75€309.69
Phone and internet ££46.63£46.63£363.26
£90.82
Medical insur. & expense ££185.00
£185.00£740 +
€115.00
£185 + 
€28.75
Laundry€16.50€23.50€57.50€14.38
Clothing€16.99€54.39€458.89€114.72
LPG Gas & water€12.87€19.79€58.40€14.60
Cat expenses€8.14€9.24€39.15€9.79
Van accessories€0.00€19.20€144.20€36.05
Misc€2.95€1.40€15.45€3.86
Monthly total€1,486€1,539€6,405€1,601

Total spent in May = €1,486 (or about an average of €47.94 a day)
Average spend per day since trip began = €57.70

Highlights of the month

Seville was mind blowing for sure, although expensive. We hated the place where we parked but loved the city. One of our trip highlights so far was the time at the Aire spa – we’ll be writing about it soon. And Christopher Columbus tomb – what a stunner. Perhaps the biggest we’ve ever seen.

The Algarve exceeded our expectations. Miles and miles and miles of the most beautiful beaches, coves, cliffs and walks. And so much free camping available right there on the beaches. We just beach hopped from one to the next along the coast.

Evora and Merida were fantastic. We both are fascinated by Roman ruins so we got our fill in these two fantastic cities.

And lastly Sintra – literally so beautiful it made Deby cry. She’s looking to buy a ticket to some kind of Euro Billions lottery so she can afford to buy her own palace in the hills. This one is for sale if you want it – still needs some work!

Plans for the coming month

We’ll still be in Portugal with lots more to see yet. On our map for this month are Alcobaca monastery, Nazare surf resort, Batalha monastery, Roman ruins at Conímbriga, medieval town of Coimbra, maybe some hot springs somewhere along the way, Aveiro (like the Portuguse Venice), Porto, Guimarães Castle, Bom Jesus funicular, Peneda-Gerês National Park and then back out into Spain.

Looking forward to each and every one 🙂

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