Van Life: How Much Does It Cost?!

Van Life

First and foremost, do not be fooled… Van Life isn’t cheap. BUT it is the best thing you’ll ever do. There is something so empowering about converting a van yourself and using this vessel you’ve created, to get you around an entire country and live life so freely and simply. But the question on everyones lips is: How Much Does Van Life Cost?

Well today I thought I’d break it down for you. I’ll be talking you through each and every aspect of Van Life and putting a price tag on each point. A few things to bare in mind beforehand: I’m not including the cost of the van as that’s a huge variant, depending on traveller. Also, please consider everyone does it differently. Some people like a little luxury and some people don’t, how you do Van Life is completely up to you. This is just a guide and this is how I did it. So sit back as I panic about just how much I’ve spent on Van Life so far.

Note: I would just like to point out, I converted a Honda Odyssey people carrier. My conversion literally cost me $100 AUD to take out the seats and buy the board to make a bed frame. I appreciate my conversion is rare and others will cost a lot more. 

// Van Life – Fuel \\

The great thing about Van Life is you really don’t have that many expenses, that’s the point of it, right? But without a doubt, your biggest expensive is going to be fuel. After all, it’s the thing that get’s your home from point A to point B. Again, this is a huge variant on how far you’re travelling and what van you have.

Take my trip for example, we drove from Adelaide in South Australia, all the way up the East Coast, along the Great Ocean Road to Melbourne. Then onto Sydney before heading to Brisbane and the surrounding area, with the highest point being Noosa Heads. We then flew to Cairns before coming back and making the return journey all the to Adelaide.

In total our trip was 7000Kms and we were on the road for 28 days.

Total fuel price: $1014* AUD.

// Van Life – Food \\

This is an area we definitely could’ve saved more money and dependant on the van and the conversion you do, depends on how easy this is. For us, we couldn’t cook inside the van due to space, so we had to rely on the weather being decent to be able to cook outside. This sometimes meant we would have to buy convenient food (more expensive) or eat out (again, more expensive).

But if your van is big enough to have a small kitchenette area, make the most of it. Do a weekly food shop and buy smart. Make sure the things you’re buying are going to see you through several meals, rather than just one. Reduce the amount of times you eat out and use all the food you have. Don’t waste anything.

In total, between eating out and buying food for the van we spent: $500-600 AUD

// Van Life – Accommodation \\

Again, this is an area we could’ve saved heaps of money. Looking back on it, we should’ve spent more nights in the van and less in Airbnb’s but hey, it was our first time on the road and we had no idea what we were doing. I would like to point out, this point does include our accomodation in Cairns when we didn’t have the van and had no choice but to stay in Airbnb’s.

A way to reduce the amount you spend on accomodation is to A) just sleep in your van, after all that’s what you have it for. And  B) Use freedom camping sites and download THL app to help you.

Our total accommodation bill, between campsites and Airbnb’s came to around $1700 AUD.

// Van Life – Activities \\

You’re on a trip of a lifetime, a trip you may only get to do once, so don’t waste the time stressing over money and not doing things for the sake of your bank account. This is the area I would always say, go large. If you want to climb Sydney Harbour Bridge, climb it. If you want to do a bungee jump, do one. Do everything and experience everything.

We were lucky, a lot of the things we wanted to do were reasonably cheap… apart from diving the Great Barrier Reef. So in total, our bill for activities is pretty low, considering we were on the road for a month.

Total activities bill: $300-400 AUD


Really, they’re the main points and the biggest bills you’re going to have. Obviously you might have other expenses like we did, for example public transport costs. We took internal flights as well as using taxis etc. But Fuel, Food, Activities and Accomodation are the 4 expenses on everyone’s Van Life trip.

In total our Van Life trip came to: $3514- 3714. Give or take a couple of extras.

Like I said, there are probably much cheaper ways to do it, much more cost efficient ways to travel and baring in mind, this is split between two people. But I hope it helps and I hope it’s given you a price range to head for whilst saving up for your trip of lifetime.

| By Harrison |


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