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Route maps & spreadsheets: road trip Spring 2024

Bev loves to crunch numbers and play with maps. The chilly weather since returning to the UK keeps us indoors in the warm so here’s some stats. and maps. There’s a summary of our spending in various categories, miles travelled and a couple of annotated Google maps to show where we drove the (nearly) 5,000 miles in 66 days travelling through France, Spain & Portugal this Spring.

Diesel and distances
Total distance travelled was 4,486 miles, a bit less than last year but the whole trip was quite different, staying in one place for more than a month. For our 66 days in Schengen fuel consumption is quite a bit less, at 29 mpg rather than 39 mpg we got in the Fiat last year. Maybe it’s because the new van’s an automatic or Bev’s made some errors in calculation! Anyway, diesel prices in Spain, France and Portugal were less than the UK which left us pleasantly surprised by the total diesel costs of £986 (16% of the total). That’s quite a bit lless than last year for a similar distance travelled and possibly less good fuel consumption. We avoided motorway tolls (mostly) this year and only spent £132 rather than £280. Going a bit later and driving straight down to the south, it wasn’t so cold, so the LPG went further without having to heat the van quite so often.

Overnight parking/campsite fees & ferries
On average over the whole trip, we spent £14 per night, £5 more than last year. We knew that spending five weeks at la Herradura meant parking costs would be higher than last year, although we had a long stay discount there. Deciding on secure parking in Barcelona, Cordoba and Porto also kept the average nightly price a bit higher. We spent £840 on camping overnight and daytime parking (15% of the total costs) which still represents very good value. The most expensive overnight was €22 in Porto and, as last year, many places we stayed were significantly less or free of charge. 

The DFDS Newhaven-Dieppe ferry is excellent value, especially early in the season, with our crossing only costing £67. Returning on the Bilbao-Portsmouth ferry might look expensive at £486, but about breaks even with a cross-Channel ferry in April and diesel costs for driving 1,000 miles back through France with associated costs for food and/or overnight parking.  ‘Travel’ includes ferry tickets (including cabins on both crossings), insurance, medical expenses, windscreen replacement excess and subscriptions to camper/navigation apps. At £1004, 17% of the total, it’s not directly comparable with last year which, of course, included ski-ing and associated costs as a category! Roaming charges aren’t included as we’ve got a much better phone deal which includes it in our annual ‘package’.

Food, drink and eating out
These costs may look high, representing 18% of the total but have to be balanced against not spending at home. The £1079 on food and drink is probably a bit less less than we would have spent at home in nearly three months. When shopping we found pretty much everything was cheaper than in the UK. We spent more in restaurants and cafes than we would at home, but that’s part of being on holiday and eating out is definitely cheaper and often better value for money than the UK! We’ve also checked the gas/electricity bills since going away and probably saved about £500 on energy not used.