The End: Trip Statistics

We though it might be of interest to some readers to see some of the statistics for our trip. This would be very useful info to plan their own adventure. Besides, we're engineers... cannot resist crunching a few numbers!

Some of the questions you might wonder about may be:

If this is of any interest to you, read on, and check the charts at left.

To properly answer the money question, we need to tell you something about our spending habits (not interested: skip forward to the stats). We made a very conscious effort during this trip to reduce our expenses to a minimum. This required a substantial change from our earlier lifestyle of careless spending for weekend adventures: over 40K miles of driving a year, eating out all the time, and spending the night in hotels during the winter season. But hey, we were busy professionals, with more money than free time, always on the run between work and play, and without kids... and what's the point of saving too much for the future anyway? There may not be one... we could be dead tomorrow! Carpe diem...

Once on the trip, reducing our expenses sort of came naturally: we had all the time in the world and were carrying our own home. Cooking meals was no longer a problem, but in fact a pleasure. We've always been in love with food (blame our European upbringing), and really enjoyed having the time to prepare it ourselves. The point here is that, even though we cut expenses down in all categories, we probably tend to spend more than most on food. We always have at least one eye scanning for good bread, imported cheese, natural and organic food stores, and the like. Keep that in mind when you look at the numbers.

One other category where we don't compromise much is climbing gear. It's simply too important and too big a part in our passion to buy cheap junk. We never really look at cost when buying gear; just function and quality. Of course we had all the gear needed before the start of the trip, right? Well yeah, but that stuff wears out! Particularly when you use it that intensively. Ropes, harnesses, webbing, climbing shoes, boots, ice screws, and the like were all replaced in various quantities during the trip. This is where our sponsors' help was really welcome.

On the other hand, we've been very careful about not spending unnecessary money on camping or other accomodations. One of the greatest things about this country, particularly the West, is the abundance of public lands. Although the so-called "fee-demo program" has eroded this significantly, it is still possible, in most places, to find free camping on National Forest, BLM, and other public land. I just don't stomach very well spending $30 to $50 for a night of camping in a private campground. So much so that we only used private facilities for 2 days on the entire trip. We made a long-term exception to this rule when in the Canadian Rockies for ice climbing during 4 months of the 2003-2004 winter. Temperatures were simply too cold to endure that long a time in the bus (it dropped to -40C at times). Instead, we winterized the bus and put it in storage, while we rented a room with roomates in a cute little house in Canmore. This actually was one of the best sections of the trip.

A word too about communications and entertainment. Two words actually: public libraries. That's another great thing about the US: the extremely widespread availability of well equiped public libraries, offering anything from books (of course), to internet access, to CDs and DVDs... all for free! Of course it is usually impossible for non-locals to check-out any material but that is not always the case: a notable exception is the Las Vegas county library system (think Red Rocks). Other resources to keep in mind (we used them extensively) are colleges and universities, particularly community colleges which tend to have top-notch facilities and little access control (think free showers and internet access).

And finally on the subject of internet access: superfast WiFi networks with internet access are proliferating absolutely everywhere, even the tiniest little towns in the middle of nowhere (think Sunsites, on the eastern side of the Cochise Stronghold in southern Arizon, for example). Many of those networks are locked to outsiders through password protection, but a fair number are not, both intentionally and probably more often by negligence. These open networks are a tremendous opportunity for the traveling bum. Just turn on your laptop, try the networks you detect and if you're lucky... We found from experience that good places to look are around Real Estate offices... trust me, it works! Also keep in mind the commercial WiFi networks such as those available in large bookstores, coffee shops, etc. They often have free trial offers, or will let you use their network for free if you buy anything. Need an alternative to epxensive long distance and international phone calls? If you do not know about them yet, check out www.skype.com; they provide free computer-to-computer telephony software that works remarkably well, as well as extremely cheap computer-to-phone calls (think $.02/minute to the US or Europe for example). Hard to beat.

Last words about insurance: we carried health insurance for the entire duration of the trip, which I would strongly suggest... all this climbing can get you hurt. We were really lucky (knock on wood) not to require any medical assistance during the entire trip, but that was just that: luck. We opted for minimalist, short-term, catastrophic-only coverage, which can be had for almost reasonable prices (~ $150/month for two). Our bus, the jeep, and a 1961 VW bug we left with a friend in Los Alamos, were all covered at legal-minimum liability levels. All these costs are included in the number below.

And on to the numbers:

Category Sample Items
$ per year
Groceries Food & drink plus miscellaneous grocery items such as toiletry items, etc, i.e. anything one would normally purchase in large supermarkets.
8,513
Climbing gear We all need our toys...
5,709
Fuel Gas for the Jeep, propane, diesel for the bus.
3,648
Maintenance Mechanical repairs to Jeep and bus, replacement and repairs of house systems (fridge, heater, etc.), and the like.
2,889
Health Catastrophic coverage insurance (for large expenses only), and nothing else (lucky us).
2,018
Eating out Sometimes you just break the rules...
1,328
Camping and access Camping fees, trail fees, wilderness permits, etc.
1,095
Communications Phone, occasional paid internet access, etc.
308
Other Untracked cash expenses, furniture storage, vehicle insurance and registration, yoga classes, movies, etc.
7,506
TOTAL Counting every single penny that left our bank accounts from day 1.
33,014
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Back in Los Alamos: the bus, parked in front of our rental home.
 
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So, what did you do with your time? Click here to find out...
 
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Daily occupation pie chart.
 
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Overnight accomodation pie chart.
 
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And last but not least: spending profile (all inclusive; notice the sharp jump in the beginning... clutch replacement on the bus!)
(high res. images are about 300KB)