We’re off! After months of planning and organising, a number of weeks in the UK getting accessories bought and fitted, and getting the van stocked, at last, we’re on the road. What an expensive few months it has been!
We thought it would be interesting to others thinking of setting off on a long road trip to learn about how much you might need to set aside to kit up and get started. Of course, everyone has different needs and a different budget. Others may not want to buy a new van as we did, will perhaps choose bicycles instead of a scooter, and most likely won’t have a cat to travel with.
You may, however, find some of this information useful, because costs tend to creep up on you. A little here, a little extra there, an extra upgrade you hadn’t thought about. It can make you go considerably cover an intended budget.
The van itself
We have a new Burstner Harmony 744 motorhome. I bought it at the NEC camping and caravan show last October. I admit we went over budget. I went to the show with a shortlist of 5 or 6 vans, but on actually seeing them in person they were all just a little too small. The thought of living in those vans full time, carrying everything with us, working, living, travelling and sightseeing – well, they just felt too cramped.
So the shortlist and the budget went out the window, I re-evaluated and bought a bigger van. This one is 7.49 metres long and I like to say it has:
- two bedrooms
- a dining room
- a kitchen
- a bathroom
- a sitting room
- an office
- and a sunroom
That’s a lot to fit in a small space but the van feels like it has a lot of space during the day because both beds lift up and hide in the ceiling so you can’t see they are there. We have an eating and working office area at the front and then a large relaxing area at the rear where we go for the evenings and to watch TV or read a book.
Let’s look at how much it cost for the van. The purchase price for the van and extra accessories:
- Air conditioning unit (hot and cold air)
- TV with two brackets (front and rear sitting areas)
- Second electric drop down double bed
- Automatic gearbox and 150bhp engine upgrade
- Large awning, solar panel (included as standard)
- Second leisure battery fitted
- Additional sockets, 12v, and 220v in diving area, kitchen and lounge
- Payload upgrade to 3,850 kg
- Road tax and other on the road expenses
Total cost £67,250
Security locks, alarms and tracker
Your van is no good if it gets stolen and someone else gets to enjoy it. So high on our list of must-have accessories was additional security. We will write more articles about motorhome security and all the options and extras we had fitted in more detail later, but for now, here are the basic additions:
Additional locks on the cab doors, the habitation door and the two rear garage doors, plus fitting at North Road Caravans in Yate, Bristol. £667 (Also included in this price was a Battery Master system to monitor leisure and starter battery and direct solar panel charging to the lower of the batteries.)
Window locks on all of the plastic windows from Lock ‘Em Out. This prevents the
Outsmart the Thief Lockdown system of alarm, tracker and remote shutdown.
Additional Thatcham Category 1 alarm. Our insurance company insisted on a particular type and rating of alarm system for the van so we reluctantly had to have this fitted in addition to the security system we already had. We went with the Gemini Cat 1 alarm from Outsmart the Thief, fitted in conjunction with their Lockdown system. Total alarm and lockdown = £1,146
Total security = £1,900
We plan to travel around on a scooter when our van is parked up. You might choose electric or regular bikes instead in which case your expenses will be much lower than ours. I admit to being too old and creaky and out of shape for a bicycle!
We had a scooter rack fitted by LNB Towbars in Bristol. To add the extra weight on the back of the motorhome, we had to have heavy duty chassis extensions fitted which added to the cost. Total price including wiring for the lighting, extra number plate, chassis extensions and the scooter rack = £1,668
Refillable gas system
Having traveled in Europe before and found it difficult to always find gas cylinders that would fit, and sometimes running out of gas at unexpected times, this time we decided on a fitted refillable gas system. You can have tanks permanently fitted to the van with an external filling point, so you can refill at a regular petrol filling station.
We will write more about the system in a future article but for now, just a quick summary that we had two 11kg gas cylinders fitted plus an auto-changeover and an external filling point. This was carried out at Gas It in Bristol for a total cost of £498.
Additional fixtures and fittings
In this section, I have included extras that we bought or had fitted to the van. These would stay with the van if it was sold.
4G mobile wifi system from Motorhome Wifi. This was fitted by our dealer prior to collection of the van. Although the company says it should easily be fitted in under 2 hours, our dealer charged us 4 hours of labor for fitting this which we thought was over the top. You should be able to get this done cheaper. We suggest checking out Rhino Installs who supply and fit for £375. We paid £485 for our supply and fit at the dealer.
Tyre Pal tyre pressure monitor, bought from Amazon here. We were persuaded to get this system to monitor by some friends with an RV in the US who told us of a sad tale concerning friends who had an accident in their motorhome when a tyre blew out. This system monitors the current temperature and pressure in your motorhome tyres and relays it to a display in the cab so you can keep an eye on what’s happening as you drive. Again, we’ll write more about his in future. Cost = £99
- wifi system – £485
- tyre pal pressure monitor – £99
All the little bits and pieces and accessories
So now the van is pretty much fitted out, but still there are other bits and pieces you will need to travel in it. Such as:
- cleaning supplies (dustpan and brush and a rechargeable electric mini handheld vacuum with pet hair attachment).
- electrical cable and adapters for hooking up
- tension rods. These are used inside the lockers and cupboards to prevent
thingsfalling out when you open the doors after a bumpy journey.
- screens for the outside windows to keep the van warm or cool
- storage boxes and packing crates
- camping kettle and special lightweight pots and pans and kitchen equipment, plastic wine glasses and mugs – or real china if you prefer 🙂
- fresh water hose and adapters, bucket, funnel
- EU motoring kit with yellow jackets, spare bulbs, GB sticker etc
- a wifi booster to pick up distant camp wifi signals
- safety equipment like a fire blanket, extinguisher, smoke and CO alarm, warning triangles etc
- spare bits and pieces, tool kit, zip ties, toilet chemicals
- and lots of other stuff you can’t live without!
Total spent on all the accessories – about £980
Scooter purchase and expenses
We bought a Piaggio Liberty 50 cc scooter for the trip. We wanted to keep the weight on the back of the motorhome as light as possible, and this was one of the lighter models of scooter available, with a dry weight of 106kg.
We added a large top box to the back (with a nice comfy backrest) to store both of our helmets so we don’t have to carry them around when we are sightseeing. Total cost for the bike and the box was £2,592
Then of course you need accessories. These can really add up because things like helmets, gloves and locks aren’t cheap. We bought a helmet each and a good pair of gloves, a full waterproof suit for Deby, a bright yellow safety jacket, a waterproof cover and two good locks. These all came in at £766.
As it has been a while since Deby rode a scooter (about 13 years now) she did a CBT (certificate of basic training course) just to refresh her skills. This cost an additional £125 including scooter hire.
Total cost for the scooter and accessories = £3,483
Scruffy our (less than) adventurous cat is traveling with us so he needs his own area in the van and his own supplies and accessories. He had special supplies bought for him as follows:
- Mynwood cat jacket and lead – £29
- Travel litter tray – £15
- Travel carrier – £31
- Covered litter tray – £29
- Mat for outside the litter tray to stop tracking of litter – £19
- Fun cat feeder – £13
- Feliway spray (calming) – £16
play pen– £16 Scratch padand toys – £12
- Pet passport – £81
Total cat supplies – £261
We bought insurance for the van from Comfort including ‘full-timing’ and 365 days of cover in Europe. We also took the EU breakdown cover from Comfort too, making a total premium for the year of £1,045
Our scooter insurance only covers us for 60 days in Europe so after that we are only covered Third Party only. This cost us £202 for the year.
We also have a private medical insurance policy which covers us all of the EU, but this is something we have anyway each year and is not something we specifically bought for traveling. We’re not including this in our figures for that reason, but if you need travel insurance, that can be quite expensive for long trips so remember to include a figure for that in your budget.
Total insurances – £1,247
What I’ve not included in the figures
I’ve not included personal or consumable items such as clothes, coats, towels, shoes, food and groceries, cleaning and laundry supplies, bedding, cat food and litter – and the like. These are the usual costs of daily living and would be bought no matter where or how you live, so I don’t include these as on the road expenses for the van. You probably already have a lot of this at home which you would just move into the van without having to buy anything new.
The grand total to get going on our travels
So let’s take a look and see how it all adds up. I’ll be honest, until writing this I’ve not added up all the figures to see how much it came to. I know we had an initial budget in mind so I’ll be able to see now if we came close or not.
- Van and fitted accessories – £67,250
- Locks and security – £1,900
- Scooter rack – £1,668
- Refillable gas system – £498
- Fixtures and fittings – £584
- Scooter and accessories – £3,483
- Cat supplies – £261
- Insurances – £1,247
Total cost of getting on the road for our trip = £75,644
We don’t have any outside chairs yet and know we’ll be wanting to get a couple of comfy ones to laze about and read a book or drink wine by the van. And a piece of rope for a washing line. And maybe a second bucket. But living in a small space and carrying everything with you, you certainly appreciate just what you can do without.