Featured image: Budget Backpacking: 100 Miles on £125. Photo of South Devon coast

Budget Hike: 100 Miles, 8 Days, £125

Planning A Budget Backpacking Hike, Part 3

Here are articles 1 and 2 in the series on planning a budget hike if you prefer to read them in order:

Read on for part 3: the full spending report!

From Plymouth To Dawlish On The South West Coast Path

This is what you need to know:

I walked over 100 miles from Plymouth to Dawlish over 8 days. I hiked solo, wild camped and used public transport to get me to and from the trail. And I like cake. A lot.

 

How Much Was The Backpacking Budget?

£125.00 plus £25.00 contingency. I based these figures on previous experience and took into account how much I wanted to spend and how much I was actually prepared to spend (more details are in the 2 previous articles linked above).

How Much Did The Budget Hike Actually Cost?

Let’s get straight to it:

Travel

  • Return train travel £22.10 (From Truro to Plymouth, then back from Dawlish to Truro)
  • Ferry crossings £4.80 (budgeted £10)

Maps and Guides

  • Map: £8.50
  • Tide table: £2.75
  • Guide book: £2.00

Fuel

  • Meths (stove fuel): £2.75 (plenty left for next time)

Accommodation

  • Campsites £0.00 (budgeted £20.00)

Food

  • Groceries £38.42 (budgeted £25.00)
  • Cafes (coffee, cake, sandwich x 2) £38.65
  • Pubs (chips, cider, can Coke) £16.65
  • Ice lollies £7.00

Miscellaneous

  • Stamps and postcards £2.50

The Final Costs

  • The budget: £125.00
  • Total spend: £143.82
  • Over spend: £ 18.82

(This leaves a grand total of £6.18 left from my contingency budget.)

These figures add up to a 15% overspend on the original budget of £125.00, but are obviously still within the £25.00 contingency. And I'm definitely happy with that!

 

Where I Saved On My Budget Hike

Accommodation and travel were my predicted biggest costs on this hike, but I was totally surprised. The train fare was less than I expected and accommodation costs amounted to zero. Yes zero! I managed to wild camp for 6 nights (despite reading it was difficult on this stretch) and stay with a friend for the 7th, so I didn’t spend anything on campsites.

Tent on the cliff tops in bright sunlight on The South West Coast Path 2019. South Devon UK

Wild camping in 2019 – great for budget hikers and sunset chasers

(Check out my friend and host @ju_in_devon on Instagram.  Ju’s a Mountain Leader and all round gorgeous outdoorsy lady based in sunny Devon – give her a follow!).

I made a saving on ferries too. The first ferry would have cost £4.00, but a very kind stranger paid my fare – just because! (This gave me an excuse to buy cake at my next stop, which was the start of a downward slide into a sugary over-spend.) I also saved a fare on another ferry crossing because I arrived two days before the service started. (Not a happy bunny!) I would far rather have paid the ferry fare than walk the extra 10 miles around the estuary, but I survived.

Where I Overspent On My Budget Hike

I completely forgot how much I eat when I’m backpacking and I was constantly ravenous, so I overspent (or under budgeted) on food. Mostly rubbish food at that.

There’s absolutely no doubt that I like cake and putting it down in black and white shows just how much. This hike was fuelled by sugar and caffeine, mainly in the form of cake, chocolate, sugary drinks and cappuccino. I became a bit of a cafe spendthrift fairly early on (which began here at School House in Mothecombe), dining on a salted caramel brownie and cappuccino 3 days in a row. (To die for by the way!)

Cafe interior showing school-style benches and vintage fittings.

Schoolhouse, Mothecombe – the start of my downfall

When I realised I’d saved my accommodation budget I threw caution to the wind and splashed out on chips and cider too. Oh and ice lollies in the glorious Easter heatwave. I could hardly believe the price of some of these treats: £2.50 for a can of Coke (or similar) at a number of places (compared to 1/2 pint of cider which was only £2.25); chips at £4.00 a portion and ice-lollies at a whopping £2.50 each. That’s right, a small stick of frozen 30% orange juice and water was £2.50. And don’t make the mistake of buying actual water anywhere other than a supermarket: £1.75 for less than half a litre, or a teeny tiny cup of tap water for free! (2L of water cost around 60p at the Co-op).

Here are some more things for you to consider when you’re writing your own backpacking budget.

More Tips For Budget Backpackers

Treats: Be Realistic

The South West Coast Path National Trail (and others) runs through plenty of villages and seaside towns, which means it’s easy to stop at a cafe or a pub for refreshments. Do you have the will power to walk on by every time you see one? Obviously I don’t!

Plan your hiking budget with a few treats along the way (especially if you’re hiking with friends), because it’s all part of the experience. It’s also a significant morale booster in bad weather or when you’re flagging.

Groceries And Water: Shop At Supermarkets

Most corner shops and cafes sell water and snacks, but most of them are expensive compared to larger supermarkets. Budget hikers will find it more cost effective to stock up at supermarkets en route, so do some research before you leave to make sure you know where they are.

How Much Food Do You Need?

Loads! Never underestimate how much you’ll eat. Backpackers carry significantly more weight than usual, which is hard work on an empty stomach. You’ll need a good breakfast and evening meal (carbs are great), a reasonable size lunch and a constant supply of snacks for when your energy levels dip. I love fruit and nuts for this, or yoghurt covered dried fruit. I also enjoy chocolate, a sugary drink… oh you get the picture! But make sure you have plenty of protein for muscle repair too.

Plan A Contingency Fund

This is sensible because unexpected things happen all the time. You might hurt your ankle and need a taxi to the bus station, get hungry or need to replace some clothing; maybe you’ll even decide to celebrate on the last day after all!

I worked out my contingency budget based on the most likely scenarios to go ‘wrong’ (eg needing an extra night at a campsite, or a bus ride somewhere). Think about what could potentially go wrong and how likely it is, then you can set your contingency more realistically. Or, if you’re like me, set it then almost blow the whole lot on chips and cider instead!

Was My Budget Hike A Success Or Failure?

It’s got to be a success, hasn’t it? I’m counting it that way anyway: I showed it was possible to do the hike for £125, even though I chose to dip into the contingency fund in the end. The reason I did that is fairly obvious: I couldn’t control myself in the cake department! Well, what’s life without a salted caramel brownie? Or 3.

Happy hiking!

Stephie x

 

PS I’ll publish a trip report very soon with a fantastic gallery of photos, so pop back, sign up for email reminders or keep an eye out on Instagram – I can’t wait to share it with you!

And don’t forget to share your budget backpacking tips and experiences below – what’s your favourite way to make a good saving?

2 Comments
  • walking_for_jenny
    Posted at 23:10h, 02 July Reply

    Hi Stephie I follow you on Instagram (walking_for_jenny). You blog and pictures are fantastic and very helpfull. What tarp and Bivi do you use.
    Many thanks.

    • Stephie
      Posted at 08:38h, 03 July Reply

      Hi Paul, thanks so much for heading over and your kind comments! I have a Crux B1 Scout bivi bag, but I’m not sure if they make them anymore, but if you can get hold of one I highly recommend it. It wasn’t cheap for a bivi bag (about a £120 at the time) but it’s been brilliant – very lightweight and extremely waterproof. I use a tarp that I got from Backpacking Light called the Duo Tarp, which is also really good and very versatile because of its size. I chose both of these because of their relative lightness to cost value and the fact that they pack down small – I can easily fit them into a 30l rucksack for a few nights wild camping. I also really like the fact that they’re both small British companies! I hope that helps. I hope you’re having a great time on your epic hike and look forward to seeing more of your photos!

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