December was my first full month doing van life. It was quite an adjustment and a bit of a different situation than I’ll normally be in, so my expenses were significantly higher than I normally would expect them to be. I moved a lot this month and was still getting everything set up, which contributed to the increased costs. I also ate out a lot because I didn’t have a camp stove for half the month. I expect that going forward my expenses will be lower.

Despite the flood of outgoing money, I really enjoyed my first month in the van. I spent a good chunk of it in Italy, and that was a learning experience. Mostly what I learned was that being in Italy in winter sucks. It was cold and wet most days so once I found out I wasn’t going to be house sitting in Switzerland for Christmas and New Year, I made a break for Spain to get to the warm and sun as soon as I could.

I stayed in a lot of different kinds of park-ups. I found quite a few on Park4Night, but some I found on my own. I expect I’ll get better at that as I get more used to things. I stayed mostly in places on the coast, but I did spend some time inland in the mountains, which was nice. Being able to go completely off grid on weekends was great. It’ll be amazing once Starlink goes mobile. Then I can really get away!

By the end of December I got pretty far south on the coast of Spain and the number of camper vans was just overwhelming. Row after row, generally in places they’re not supposed to be, doing things they’re not supposed to be doing, and leaving behind a mess. It was a bit depressing, to be honest. That’s not the kind of van life I want to live. So, I turned to the mountains around Granada and finished out the year there. I’m hoping that after the holidays the coasts will clear up a bit. If not, I may head back up the coast a bit to where it’s a bit cooler, but a lot quieter. I miss being the only person on the beach.

Countries Visited This Month

  • Italy
  • France
  • Spain

Spending Breakdown

Charity $210.16

I want to start giving more to charity. Some friends founded a dog rescue in Bansko called Bansko Street Dogs and they’re doing great work with very few resources. They will be the focus of my donations for a while. This amount included a donation made in my mom’s name for her Christmas present and some money given to give survival packs to homeless people.

Cooking Gas $63.89

This is abnormally high. I had to play some trial and error and I bought multiple cans. I expect this will last me most of January as well.

Gas & Fuel $396.95

As an American who hasn’t really filled up a gas tank in 20+ years, I find gas prices in Europe to be appalling. Italy seems to be especially expensive, though I know there are more expensive countries out there and they’ll make me cringe when I get to them. This is much higher than I hope it normally is. A combination of moving a lot, moving quickly, and being in Italy inflated the spend. It’ll be interesting to see what the average monthly spend ends up being.

Groceries $363.11

This also seems high to me, especially given how much I ate out this month. But, I don’t really shop sales and some of this included staples that I needed to get things set up in the van and stuff like laundry detergent, etc.

Hotel $69.16

I had one driving day that was just shit. It was a series of unfortunate events that turned a 4 hour driving day into an almost 8 hour one and included a detour through a snow storm. When I got to where I’d planned to spend the night, it was bucketing rain. I just couldn’t handle it so I decided to splash out on a night in a hotel. Ironically, I slept so much better in my van! But, it was nice to take an unlimited water hot shower and everyone needs an occasional splurge!

Laundry 21.57

Pretty self-explanatory. I found a great laundry place in France and spent the afternoon getting everything all fresh and clean.

Misc Expenses 350.98

The biggest part of this was spent on buying a two burner camp stove and a table so cooking outside was easier. This also includes my netflix bill and 1 month of Orange mobile and the rest was spent just on random stuff that I needed to use cash for.

Mobile Phone $51.08

Again, self-explanatory but I had to get 2 plans as, for whatever reason, my Italian plan randomly stopped working earlier than it should have.

Restaurants $215.12

Another expense that was higher than I anticipate it will normally be. I didn’t have a way to cook for half the month, so all of my meals were eaten out. Then, when I arrived in Spain, I had to treat myself to some tapas and wine. 🙂 This should go down in future months.

Tolls 112.84

Once it was established that I could leave Italy, I wanted to move as quickly as I could to get to the warm weather. This meant a lot of toll roads. This should be pretty much non-existent going forward unless I have to do another big relocation.

All-in-all, it’s a lot higher than I would like or plan for, but I think it’s an anomaly and costs will drop pretty drastically in coming months. After a couple months I’ll start to post averages.