Travel on a Budget…. Can we do it?

This camper purchase is a pretty big deal. We didn’t just go through our pocket change one day and say, “Hey! We have enough for a camper here! Let’s go buy one!” We took months to research what we wanted, decide how big we wanted to go and figure out what else we would need to go along with this large purchase. And once you’ve made the purchase and have gone shopping for the extras that you actually need, you look at your bank account and say “Hey! We should try camping on a really strict budget! It’ll be a fun experiment!” All the while inside your head you’re slowly starting an ugly cry.

But really, can we do it? It’s probably the smart, good steward, kind of thing to do, but I was looking forward to those outlet malls and seeing what kind of fabric stores are all along our route. Strangely enough, when searching for places of interest around each of our stops no one thought to include a list of fabric stores! Come on, people! I guess if I’m going to do the budget friendly style of trip then it’s best I don’t know what I’m driving right past without knowing.

This here is our camper for the trip! We ended up choosing a 1700BH for our family. After much deliberation, we decided to keep the size small even though we knew our vehicle could handle the larger size Minnies. The girls had only one request (well, only one that made sense….) and that was bunk beds. Everything about the 1700BH fit our needs except the single axle. I’m still not too keen on that feature and will cry if Winnebago decides next month to release a new Micro model with bunk beds on double axles.

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I spent months making fun of (yes, I did that) all the colourful Minnies out there. It was like Paw Patrol campers. And, of course, now we kinda wish we had one. I’ve seen so many pictures on the Winnebago FB group page and they’ve grown on me. Thing is, as you may have already heard from Trish, we “ordered” these from the dealer because we wanted to have something to see before actually buying. Without commitment the dealer wasn’t willing to order a colourful trailer. It had to be something that was an easy sale for them if we chose not to take it. At least I was able to get the interior I wanted!

So, here’s my thoughts on the budget issue. Without giving you too much info about our private financial life we’ve thrown out the number of $250 Cdn as a weekly limit for food and extras. Gas is not something we can decide to stop paying for so it’s not included in that amount! We do want to keep track of it though and I thought maybe we can also keep track of our kms driven each week and really see what we’ve accomplished over the big trek!

The $250 will have to become another number once we cross the border into the states. Taking into consideration the exchange rate we will have, let me see here, $5. Yes, $5 for the week. I MAY be exaggerating, but only a little. That exchange bites!

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I’m quite confident that we can stay within that amount when it comes to food. We spend less than that per week at home for groceries and household items so I’m not concerned about that even though I do know we will have to be extra conscience or is it cautious? I will be both conscience and cautious when we go shopping! The concern is restaurant eating and other purchases that are in no way needs, but simply wants along the way.

So, even though we haven’t actually made the formal decision towards the budget or the number, I’ve started the battle anyway.

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I have gone through my pantry and my recipe books looking for all ways to save money on groceries. My cupboards are looking bare and I’ve prepared all sorts of dry mixes. Biscuits (2 kinds) and pancakes are for sure and I’ve got the supplies along for making tortillas. Black Bean Tortillas, to be exact. They are SO good! The rice cooker is coming along with a bag of rice. Don’t judge me! I haven’t made rice in a pot for years and have no reason to start now!

Do you want to make some Black Bean Tortillas? Here’s a recipe.

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For meats, I have made burgers, steak skewers, chicken skewers and chicken fajita mixes. All are cut up and in freezer bags with a variety of seasonings ready to be thawed and BBQed. That’s 11 meals prepared along with a whole lot of other options in those cans! I don’t know for sure, but I feel like that’s a pretty good start on saving grocery money.

I’ll tell you what, as we go along and I’ve had the chance to actually cook up these recipes, perhaps I’ll remember to come back here and give you the thumbs up or down along with the recipes. For now I want to direct you to a site where I found some great sounding marinades that I tried and are sitting in my freezer as we speak.

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My Family Mealtime

The real big issue with wanting to dive into these financial limitations is the extra activities that we’ll probably want to do. So far we have a few things planned like baseball games and whale watching tours and clam digging that are (almost all of them) paid for already. That sure helps! But what about all the other things that we’ll come across?? What if I want to rent a kayak? We’ve decided not to take ours along for this first trip. We feel more comfortable taking this time to get used to the lifestyle and see what we all have ahead of us and not worry about that one extra item that happens to travel on top of our vehicle. But that means having to rent when the spirit moves. Money spent.

For these activity issues, I have no plan. I can only make the mental effort now already to tell myself I do not need to walk into any stores. I do not need any clothes (and really, I can just make some more when I get home.) I do not need to go on all the tours out there that cost money. Exploring CAN be free! I’m sure of it and I know you probably agree.

Did you notice the “Cheat Buys” section on my budget? I know it’ll happen. Because even if I’ve talked myself out of something it doesn’t mean I’ve also convinced Erick. Or vice versa. This will be filled out once in awhile. Hopefully not every week, but who am I kidding! This whole idea is quite large and feels a bit impossible.

So there it is! An idea. Meant to save us money and encourage us to go again next year knowing we CAN do it (come close to doing it…). Now, I have some granola to make and some salad dressing to prepare. I’ll leave you with a quick shot of the bedding I chopped up for the girls’ bunk beds. This was a double size bed in a bag that I cut into 2 sets. Those of you that sew will wonder about the possibility of making a fitted sheet work for 2. It didn’t. But I made an effort while knowing this was simply camping bedding and I wasn’t going to be judged on the perfection aspect. We’ll see how it actually fits when we get there this weekend! It’s all coming up now!!

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In case you didn’t notice, I like to sew. And you can see my sewing adventures over at I am Mami de Sofiona. These bedding sets were only one tiny piece of all the sewing prep I’ve been doing before this trip! It’s been a BUSY few weeks! In a few days I’ll have a new post over there with all the evidence!

 

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