How to Budget for a Long Road Trip Across Canada

We already talked about how to plan a long road trip, now we are here to tell you how to budget for your trip!

Once you have decided on what kind of road trip you would like to do and for how long then you can start figuring out a budget. You will be able to figure out how much you can expect to pay for your trip and whether or not what you want to do is feasible.

In order to budget for a long road trip across Canada, you need to consider the five budget categories of Transportation, Food, Accommodation, Entertainment, and Emergency.

1. Transportation. For a road trip, you will need to either own a car, borrow a car or rent a car. You might need to purchase something especially for the trip or you might have something already. If you need to rent then you can compare prices of different rental companies. Aside from the major purchase of a vehicle, one of the main things you will be looking at in terms of budgeting for transportation is fuel. You need to figure out how much you will need to pay for gas to get you from A to B and back. Use Google maps and figure out the number of km you will be travelling. If you haven't recorded your vehicles fuel economy, then you can find user submitted fuel economy information on most vehicles. Use the website Fuelly to find the mpg or L/100km and use that number to calculate the cost of fuel by using the average gas prices across the country. This will give you an idea on how much to budget for gas. We figured out that we would need to spend about $2000 CAD to drive from Vancouver to Halifax and back.

2. Food. Eating in restaurants is expensive. It is much cheaper to make your own food. Either way, you need to eat but if you make a rough meal plan then you can prepare a budget that will keep you on track. All you need is food to keep you going and full while you are on the road without breaking the bank. You can keep things simple for breakfast with oatmeal or cereal. Instant Oatmeal packets are a really convenient way to go as all you need is boiling water. For lunch, sandwiches are quick and easy with maybe a piece of fruit. Coffee and Tea are important for a lot of us. For dinner, you can make a one-pot meal like a curry, chilli, stew or even some pasta. If you have an idea of what you will eat each meal you can price out the ingredients you need, how much they cost and how much they will last. Then you get an idea of how much you will spend on say a two-month road trip because you know cost of the food you will need. You can always go more or less complex depending on how much money you have to spend. You can always splurge on restaurants occasionally. See our post 'Being Vegan on the Road' for meals ideas.

3.  Accommodation. If you are going on a two-month camping trip across Canada then look into the price of some of the campsites you might want to stop at across the country. You don't necessarily have to book anything but do some research to get an estimate on the daily cost of a campsite. They can range from $15 to $50 across Canada so depending on where you stay camping for two months can get pretty expensive. You can always find free campsites, park in the Wal-Mart parking lot or stay with friends and family to keep yourself on budget. See our posts on living in your vehicle and sleeping at Walmart for help on affordable accommodation.

4. Entertainment. We all want to have fun on a road trip. That is pretty much the whole point. There will no doubt be some places you want to see along the way. This could cover admission to parks, museums, art galleries, mini golf, paintball, kayak rentals, concerts, shows, movies, nights out, or going to restaurants. It's easy to spend more than you can afford as there are tons of attractions to see when you are on the road. Make a budget to ensure you don't overspend and then not have enough money for the other important things on your road trip like gas and food.

5. Emergency. Hopefully, you don't have to dip into your emergency fund but it is a good idea to have a buffer amount of money available just in case something happens. You can always purchase CAA or AAA or some sort of car breakdown insurance in case your vehicle breaks down and you need a tow truck. Aside from insurance, your vehicle might need some repairs like a new alternator that costs $400 parts and labour or you might need to spend money on a hotel room because you get sick or something. It's hard to say on how much you need to set aside but as much as you can afford to make sure you can get yourself out of a jam if it comes to it.

Here is a break down of our expenses on our road trip across Canada

Petrol: $1777.01 + Car Mainteinence: $829/76 + Ferries,Tolls, Parking: $298.46 + Insurance: $42.86

+ Groceries: $476.37 + Restaurants: $628.77 + Accommodation: $1116.38

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Thanks for reading and happy budgeting. We hope that you can now are filled with ideas on how to make your road trip plans happen. There is nothing like the feeling of hitting the open road and the freedom that you feel when on a long road trip. Just take a minute to work out a rough budget and it will all go as smooth as possible. Cheers.


  1. Thanks for providing such a great post. It is really useful for me as I am a travel lover. You provided great ideas for planning the road trips. Please keep providing such posts.

    1. Great that you liked the post. Hopefully more people out there find this sort of post useful. We do this for fun and to help people out hopefully.


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