Kiri and


Counting the cost

January 8th, 2014 (by Steve)

New Year; a time to look back on the past year and forward to the next. In the context of our travels, it’s quite useful to take stock, assess what’s happened so far and use that to plan what might be next. We’ve done a fair bit of assessment so far; especially after our breakdown, 1 week into the trip, but we’ve got some data to play with now to make more informed decisions.


Our mean mileage per day across the whole trip is (up to 6th Jan… so 70 days of life in Bertha) 54 miles per day. That doesn’t seem like a lot, but when you take out the days that we’ve been helping at a project (and therefore not travelling), that increases to 81 miles per day… still not masses.

Possibly the most useful data we’ve got is our cost data; where our money is going. When setting out, our budget was £1000 per month, to cover everything; petrol, food, tolls, entertainment… everything. We used cost data from Adam + Sophie and Jason + Julie to check that this wasn’t wildly optimistic… now’s the time we’re finding out! We’ve only got just over 2 months of data to work with, but our total expenditure in that time has come to about £1150 per month. By digging into the figures, we can see that we had a couple of non-standard costs; a breakdown (which cost £205) and ferry tickets from Greece to Italy (which cost £228). So if we ignore those, we’re well in budget (approx £900 per month).

However, we’ve been helping at projects for some of that time too (24 days), where we’ve (very kindly) not been charged for accommodation or food and we haven’t driven (so no fuel expenses). If we once again take out those days, and average out the costs, we have an average expenditure of approx £1450 per month. Now we’re not going on to any future projects with expectations of getting anything for free… so this could be an issue… but might not be.


So where’s the money going? In short, petrol and other transport costs (tolls, vignettes, ferries, buses, trains, breakdown) make up 65% of our outgoings. If we ignore the breakdown and ferry, it’s still 58% of our outgoings, with petrol alone making up well over a third of our outgoings, as Bertha’s only averaging 19mpg. Some costs are dependent on how far we travel, and some on how many days we’re travelling. It therefore makes sense to separate out the average costs into a cost per mile (for petrol and transport as those are dependent on how far we travel) and a cost per day (for everything that’s dependent on time on the road; overnight stays, food and drink etc). So, this is what we get:

Transport and fuel costs per mile: 34p (ignoring the breakdown + ferry)
Cost of living per day: approx £14
We’ve averaged approx 54 miles per day, so transport and fuel costs per day: approx £19
Total cost per day: approx £33


The one key thing that the data does not show is how much money we have saved by travelling in Bertha. As we are effectively carrying our home on our back, our total cost of overnight stay has been minimal. We can park up anywhere (within reason… and obviously only where legal!), cook ourselves a meal, then settle down for the night without spending a penny. How much are we saving on campsite and hostel fees? A stab in the dark guess would be £30 per night… if we’d had to pay that much per night, we would be well over budget by now. So whilst the other figures might suggest that a motorhome is not economical in terms of mileage, this added bit of information puts it into perspective.

We might be on track and on budget, but a little bit of us is uneasy about burning all of this fuel in such an inefficient manner. 19mpg isn’t much at all. And for our cost per day to stay the same, we can’t afford to break down again… which is almost inevitable in a vehicle as old as Bertha. Certainly food for thought!

To be continued…

6 Responses

19mpg, ouch. Dave did closer to 30, and is diesel. Congratulations on keeping the detailed figures guys, keep on trucking!

Yup, 19mpg is a big ouch… especially with petrol more expensive than diesel. Without giving away the “to be continued ” bit too much, we are considering options…! Kiri can’t stop me from keeping detailed figures; I just love data!

Love the data! Just the sort of thing I’d do myself on such a trip. 🙂 I see some days have been “travelling”, some “sightseeing”, and some “processing”. The last one I read initially with the emphasis on the second syllable … I assume you mean it to be on the first. Or did you actually spend some days walking slowly and reverently in robes? The mind boggles.

I think you may have a wedding on the mind, Tim! We haven’t done any processing of the latter variety… but now you’ve suggested it, we may have to give it a bash!

Greetings hobbits!

I am not sure you aren’t over analysing or putting too much emphasis on petrol vs diesel.

Lets say Bertha was an oil burner. I’d estimate that a 20+ year old diesel Autotrail with overcab is going to give 24-28 mpg.

Taking the better side of that, lets say 27mpg and compare over 2000 miles say at 4.50 a gallon.

In this scenario you would be looking at fuel prices of £333.33 and £473.68 a difference of £140.35. This gives a difference of 7p per mile.

Now, if Bertha had been an oil burner the price would have been (as an estimate) a minimum of £1500 more expensive, perhaps more. At £1500 you’ll would need to do 20K+ miles to recoup that extra investment.

That’s ignoring the fact that generally parts for old diesels are more expensive (typically) than their petrol equivalents (although that needs to be offset by the fact they are generally more reliable).

Looking at we can see that on average the diesel and petrol prices are similar, some countries petrol is cheaper, others diesel – either way it is by pennies per litre.

Might be worth looking at an LPG conversion where the fuel price difference.

These are just some “fag packet” examples, but on principle is my reasoning/logic/maths flawed?

Evening Gandalf! I think that with our original “must-have” list when buying a motorhome, we couldn’t have done any better than Bertha for our budget. I can’t find any flaws in your reasoning or maths (but I haven’t checked very closely!)

Again, without giving too much away about the options we’re considering, we aren’t looking to replace Bertha with another motorhome, but you have named one of the options we’re considering…

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