Trip Budget

Trip Budget

I don’t have a ton of details about where our money went while we were traveling. We didn’t feel like tracking it and keeping that many notes. We just spent it till it was gone and then came home! But we did track the total trip cost as well as the costs for the build out of the van (more on those below). Factoring in gas/diesel will certainly be a big budgeting/planning piece for those looking to drive the Pan Am. We’ve included a link to a gas calculator on our site that gives current pump prices anywhere in the world. A pretty healthy chunk of your trip fund is going into that tank. Keep in mind the effect a more fuel efficient vehicle will have on your fund. Also, diesel is cheaper than regular gasoline just about everywhere in world besides the US. We didn’t know this when we planned our trip.

The budget is tough to nail down in advance. We largely were just going off a very loose, educated guess. Depending on what you drive, what kind of excursions you do, how much you stealth camp, where you eat, etc, etc, your trip fund could differ tens of thousands of dollars in either direction. We certainly weren’t traveling as cheaply as possible but we definitely were careful about how we spent our hard earned cash.

Van Build

We spent about $12,000 getting the rig ready. That includes everything from the initial purchase to the gutting and outfitting to the numerous mechanical repairs prior to leaving. We tracked the cost of the van build in detail to go along with the blog posts about building it. Click the link here to see line items and price breakdowns for the build.

Budget for the Road

All told our bank roll when we left Denver was about $36,000. Like I mentioned before, we didn’t care to take notes on where the money went. We did budget specifically for shipping our van across the Darien Gap as we knew that would cost quite a bit (over $1,000 not including our own transport to Colombia). A lot went into the tank and towards the end, mechanical repairs, but the vast majority of it was spent on pure fun and adventure!

Returning Home

We sold our van for $6,000 and then spentĀ $2,755 for two one-way tickets home. We also spent about $400 shipping 3 large boxes of our stuff from Ushaia to Denver and another $700 for the two of us to fly from Ushuaia to Buenos Aires after selling the van.


Van build and mechanical work $12,000
Trip fund $32,000
Van sale ($6,000)
Airfare and shipping boxes home $3,855
Total Pan Am Cost $41,855


It seems like a lot of money, and it is. People often like to tell travelers how lucky they are. Well, it’s not really luck. We didn’t win the lottery. It took us a long time to save that money and we made a lot of sacrifices to do it. But at the end of the day, it’s hard to even assign a value to the absolutely massive amount of fun and adventure those dollars bought us. There are many ways to save money and do big trips. Looking back at the memories we created for ourselves, we cannot urge you enough to start your own trip fund ASAP. Dream big and make it happen, you won’t regret it.

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