Northern California

It was April 26, 2011 when we left Homer, Alaska to begin our Epic Expedition - a road trip from Alaska to Argentina.

It's been just about one month on the road. So what's our analysis so far? How are we surviving?

How much has it cost us and how far have we driven?

Here's the breakdown:

Total Miles Driven:

  • Mileage 4/26/11 - 98,475
  • Mileage 5/27/11 - 104,345
  • Total Miles Driven - 5,870

Locations Visited:


  • Groceries $1064.45 (We might have spent a little much in this area, but there is seven of us. We did a lot of convenience foods from the deli, etc. which I don't like because it comes in lots of packaging that I've been unable to recycle - haven't figured out recycling on the road yet. We also buy LOTS of snacks - splurged on Clif Bars and stuff like that. Our family eats A LOT!)
  • Business Equipment $370.67 This is an expense that we won't usually have. It included the purchase of our new GoPro HERO Camera for making videos and an SD Memory Card.
  • Veggie/Truck Parts & Service $600.88 This includes a visit to the mechanic, veggie pump parts and filters, a new tire (our right front tire wore bald), a flat tire repair, A/C parts, as well as a roof rack and other misc. expenses.
  • Diapers/Wipes $52.32 We have one in diapers, and two that still use them at night. We use wipes for everything - washing faces, hands, dishes, etc.
  • Personal Products, Misc. $65.76 This includes toilet paper, flip flops, hair supplies, hand sanitizer, bug repellent, and a Luggable Loo.
  • Diesel Fuel $30
  • Parking/Ferries/Campgrounds $28.40
  • Laundry/Showers $24.45 We used laundromats and community centers, and also relied on nice people who let us stay with them (Thanks again!)
  • Souvenirs $22.03 - Postcards and car decals for our truck
  • Dining Out $17.69 - We did eat at Subway and Taco Time once each.

Total Monthly Expenses - $2,276.65

(Did you look at this list before and the expenses were less? That's because I found a slip of paper with some additional expenses I forgot to add. This list now includes those.)

Not bad for a family of seven. We'll be able to cut that back though (note purchase of GoPro HERO Camera, roof rack, A/C parts, etc.- $620.67 of our expenses).

Wait a minute, where's your fuel expense?

Maybe you noticed? Before leaving on our trip we filled up our tank 3/4 of the way with diesel - a cost of about $75. Then we added another $30 in fuel later.

But we don't use diesel when we drive. Our vehicle runs on waste vegetable oil (veggie) thanks to Golden Fuel Systems.

This month we've used about 1/2 of our tank of diesel (in most part due to the fact that we forgot to switch to veggie while we drove around lost in Portland).

The remaining miles of our trip has been done on FREE waste veggie that we collect from restaurants along our way.


So what do we think so far? How are we managing life on the road?

Overall- We're totally stoked!

Watching our children run along the beach chasing waves, or climbing and exploring the Redwoods, an immense feeling of gratitude overflows us at the opportunity we have to live this life.

It's so awesome to have the freedom to do what we love to do.

There was occasionally other feelings that overwhelmed us (well alright, just me) from time to time as well - a feeling that's a cross between insanity and extreme madness.

Adjusting to meal times, bedtimes, and all other times in our Ford F250 has required adaptation.

But it passed, with a lot of help from my awesome husband who doesn't seem to be fazed by anything.

Picking up our Roof Top Tent in Bend, OR was a huge relief - it gave us that extra space we needed to feel a little more comfortable. Thanks again CVT!

There are some things that we need to fix, improve or remedy.

  1. Our organizational system did not work. For one thing, we had too much stuff (in part because we're 'moving' some things here to storage in Utah), so I will be simplifying again! I'm also working out a system to keep things ultra-orderly. It's an absolute necessity if we don't want utter chaos.
  2. Internet- we must find a way to have internet on the road if I plan to work on this trip. The hunt-and-peck method did not work.
  3. Truck repairs/outfitting - there's a few things we need to get done to the truck. Alignment? fixed, shell sealed (it leaks), roof rack adjustments, window removed so it's open between cab and truck bed, etc.

It is possible to live the life you dream of living! What is yours?




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23 Responses

  1. Justin

    Wow! This really helps us plan for our adventures down the road. That’s a ridiculously cheap cost of living if you consider 7 people and all the places you have visited. I can’t believe it can be done so cheap. Many people spend that in a week.

    Kudos to you guys!

    This is really fantastic info.


    • Rachel

      Yep, most people don’t realize how inexpensive travel can be. Granted we might take it to an extreme some people might not be willing to do, but there’s still inexpensive options.

  2. Colin Burns

    I love it!!! Thanks so much for sharing the expenses and being so transparent about it. Got to finish a job for a client, but will be back to read more about the adventure… I love it!

  3. Zero Passive Income

    Wow! This is really amazing that you can do this. Where does your income come from? It may be super cheap to do what you are doing but you still need a stream of income.

    • Rachel

      Currently we use of strategy of work & save and then adventure. A very miniscule amount comes from our business, and our focus right now is on growing that so we can be completely location independent.

  4. Rita

    hi, your site and family are so amazing! We have always loved to travel. but like most people we have a family (6kids) and a lot of stuff. I can’t help wonder what you do with all the seeming important stuff, like photo albums or even heirlooms? and do you have any everyday dishes and kitchenwares? if so what is most needed, and where do you store them. and how about clothes and shoes. how do you determine how many (much) is needed for a trip for everyone. I know even at home it’s hard to balance enough and too much with several kids, so not as to work your self to death. sorry if this is too many questions. Happy travels to you all!

    • Rachel

      Hi Rita!

      We do have a small storage shed at a friends house where we keep photo albums, family history, a few living essentials such as pots/pans/dishes/toaster (and our hundreds of books- an addiction I think).

      For everything else, we simplify, simplify, simplify. It really is so much easier (even when living in a house) to reduce the number of clothes, toys, shoes and ‘stuff’ so there is less to care for, and more time for living.

  5. Lorraine

    I’m finding this fascinating and exciting. I, too, have lived a very nomadic lifestyle for a great part of my life. For some of us, I think it’s just part of our soul’s desire! I was wondering whether you’re going to be able to find veggie oil when you get south of the border, and all of the way down. Have you looked into that? Another question: About how many miles can you go on 30 gallons of the veggie oil? Keep on having an amazing trip, I look forward to following it!

    • Rachel

      Hi Lorraine,

      Thanks for your comment. I think wandering is a part of some people’s souls 🙂 It will be an experiment to see if we can find veggie south of the border. We know of one or two other people who have done it, so we’ll see.

      We get the same mileage on veggie that we do on diesel – about 12 miles to the gallon. 30 gallons gives us about 360 miles.

  6. Cortney

    Hello! I found your blog via man vs. debt.

    One thing I noticed that was missing in your calculations- the cost of health insurance. For a family of 7, going through (I assume) individual plans instead of through an employer, that has to be a large expense.

    I’m curious to know how you cover that. Thank you!

  7. Sariah

    My husband and I live in Holladay, Utah with our two kids, ages 8 and 6. We are seriously considering doing something like this with our lives. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading through the posts on your site; and we’d love to meet your family and speak with you about the possibilities, potential problems, and how to’s regarding this type of living. If you are in Utah and have some time, call us and we can get together. 801-592-5408.

  8. Sariah

    I forgot to mention, my husband is from Argentina…he moved to the USA about 11 years ago and his entire family is still there now. If you need any help or advise, he’d love to speak with you about that as well!

  9. Suzanne

    Sounds like us with the books. We sold 99% of everything we owned before we moved to Costa Rica. Pretty much just kept kitchen things, clothing, computers, photos, and um.. books. We moved down 8 boxes of books.. and since we only moved a total of about 25 large boxes.. that’s pretty pathetic. LOL

  10. Steven

    Of course, your kids are having a blast. Mom and dad? Not so sure. I met you in Santa Cruz and frankly your wife did not seem terribly “stoked”. She had the look and the sound of a woman wanting to go back home. Sorry if this appears to be a downer. I love travel but I happen to know it’s intensified living. With the intensified joy comes a whole lot of intensified stress. I always cringe when I hear someone say they’re “stoked”(well, I’m bothered by cliches in general). Much like “bliss” I don’t really think there’s any such thing. Not in any lasting, meaningful way. Of course in life you gotta do SOMETHING. I’m just not sure if what your accomplishing couldn’t be done in your own backyard. That is to say, in the end…after all those miles, it wasn’t any more noble or important than the guy who took his kids to the beach. I’m reminded of the criticism Kerouac got for “On The Road”. Largely: “somebody’s got to stay at home and do the hard work”!

    • Rachel

      Man! That’s too bad, considering that the ‘wife’ is me 😛 You’re totally right about the ‘intensified’ living – travel does do that. I do have ‘those’ days – strangely, I don’t remember Santa Cruz as being one of them.

      As far as being ‘noble’ or ‘important’, I don’t know if it’s that either – but it is fun, and it is what we want to do. And in the end, ‘following your heart’ is what really matters.

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