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  1. #1

    Default Budget Shakedown

    Hello,

    I am currently planning my thru hike of the AT. A big part of the planning is around the budget. I have never completed a thru hike, so I would appreciate feedback on my budget outline.

    A few things to consider:
    This is just an estimation to get an idea.
    I am not in a hurry to finish, nor am I on a tight budget.
    I am estimating this on the idea of taking about 170 days to complete. This includes 20-25 zero/nero's.
    I am not a big drinker, but I will have a drink here and there.

    With that, I am budgeting about $12,000. Here is the breakdown:
    $3,375 - FOOD ($15 per day on Trail + $45 per day in town)
    $2,400 - LODGING (~$85 per night - I plan on staying mostly in hotels - I also hope to use some hotel reward points for some free nights)
    $1,500 - EMERGENCY FUND (Injuries, extra zero days because of injury or weather, etc.)
    $900 - HEALTH INSURANCE (~$150/month)
    $750 - GEAR (I have a decent gear set up, but I am sure I will end up changing/replacing something AND this includes 4 pairs of shoes)
    $690 - AT HOME COSTS (Cell phone, Spotify, etc. (~$115/month))
    $690 - MEDICINE (I have a couple Prescriptions and take a couple Vitamins (~$115/month))
    $500 - TRAVEL TO/FROM AT (I may end up driving, so this may go down, but it includes things like: Airplane, Ubers, shuttles, etc.)
    $500 - MISC. CASH (Cash for random things (donations for angels, permits, etc.))
    $480 - STORAGE UNIT (I will not have a home while hiking. All of my belongings will be kept in a storage unit at about $80 per month)
    $175 - FUEL ($7 per canister)
    $125 - LAUNDRY ($5 per load)


    SO....what do you think?
    Too much?
    Did I forget something?
    Am I way off in one category or another?

    Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you.

  2. #2

    Default

    Doesnt seem like an unrealistic number overall but I think a few are....
    Travel & Misc Cash low
    Laundry...meh you will probably get this free at most stays. I think i have paied for laundry 2-3 times on whole trail
    anyway to save that $480 by stowing your stuff with a friend or family?
    Lodging: I love a good hotel stay but I think you will find it much easier to pick hostels by the trail. Alot have private rooms...
    Trail Miles: 4,077.4 - AT Trips: 70
    AT Map 1: 2004.8
    AT Map 2: 265.0
    Sheltowee Trace Map: 116.0
    BMT Map: 57.7
    Pinhoti Trail Map: 31.5

  3. #3

    Default

    Your budget for travel could get eaten up pretty quick. Both Springer and BSP are far away from airports and require shuttles. There are deals but if you need to go off schedule its buck a mile for shuttles. If there are family considerations, plan on at least one emergency trip on and off trail and hope you dont need it.

    Boy you get heck of deal in health insurance. My High Deductable Health care plan is close to $700 a month (age 61) and a big up front out of pocket. Of course I still work part time for living so I dont qualify for any subsidies.

    Postage?. If you have anyone supporting you they will most likely be sending a few packages.

    Glasses? If you need glasses to function make sure you have a spare or two that can be overnighted.

  4. #4

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Gambit McCrae View Post
    Doesnt seem like an unrealistic number overall but I think a few are....
    Travel & Misc Cash low
    Laundry...meh you will probably get this free at most stays. I think i have paied for laundry 2-3 times on whole trail
    anyway to save that $480 by stowing your stuff with a friend or family?
    Lodging: I love a good hotel stay but I think you will find it much easier to pick hostels by the trail. Alot have private rooms...
    Good point about laundry. I am sure I will stay in some hostels. I just used the hotels for budgeting because it is what I prefer (things could change once on trail) and it is usually the more expensive of the two.

    Thanks for the input.

  5. #5

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by peakbagger View Post
    Your budget for travel could get eaten up pretty quick. Both Springer and BSP are far away from airports and require shuttles. There are deals but if you need to go off schedule its buck a mile for shuttles. If there are family considerations, plan on at least one emergency trip on and off trail and hope you dont need it.

    Boy you get heck of deal in health insurance. My High Deductable Health care plan is close to $700 a month (age 61) and a big up front out of pocket. Of course I still work part time for living so I dont qualify for any subsidies.

    Postage?. If you have anyone supporting you they will most likely be sending a few packages.

    Glasses? If you need glasses to function make sure you have a spare or two that can be overnighted.
    I will probably end up driving to Amicalola. Not sure how I will get back from Maine yet. I saw that flights from Maine are not too much, but they could change.
    I agree about the health care. I called UHC and got a quote for a relatively good plan for 6 months. You also get a good discount if you pay upfront. I think it is 20% off, so that helped as well.
    I must have missed postage. I have it in my budget. I am budgeting about $75 for that.
    I also have glasses (and a back-up pair that can be sent to me if needed).

    Thanks for the input!

  6. #6

    Default

    Even after subtracting the fixed off trail expenses, 12K should be enough for a reasonably comfortable thru hike. The cost breakdown is suspect, but at this point it's just moving numbers around. Of course, the more money you have available, the less stress there will be towards the end.
    Follow slogoen on Instagram.

  7. #7

    Default

    Drive to Amicalola? And then what? Abandon your car there? Yes, you can park there for months but what kind of condition do you think it will be in after that time? You'd also have to find a way to get to it. And if it is parked close by, the temptation to use it to go back home if things don't start out real well is strong.

    Best to engage the help of a friend or family member to drive you up there. It's a long haul from Miami, so you'll have to pay for a hotel room somewhere along the way. And gas, and meals for both the way up and the way back for your driver. Or just fly, Amtrak or bus to Atlanta and shuttle from there.

    There are several options for getting back from Maine, but first you have to get there and since so many don't, you don't need to worry about this now.
    Follow slogoen on Instagram.

  8. #8
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    Default

    Travel costs are probably on the low side, but I have to say that $12K total should leave a lot of room for error. I have not yet hiked a long trail in a continuous trip but on hikes that have ranged from 3-6 weeks, I have not spent much more than $200-300 per week. For example, I spent less than $1,000 on a four week hike of the Colorado Trail in 2014. And I don't think I spent even that much on a six week section of the PCT in 2015. However, I tend to avoid hotels/motels and try to take nero days rather than full zeros and minimize town time to the extent possible while on hikes. All the money is spent in civilization and nothing while hiking and camping on the trail. With a $12K budget, you could always adjust if burning through too much at the beginning by staying on the trail more than in town in the later part of the hike. $12K leave a lot of room for error IMO.

  9. #9
    Registered User lonehiker's Avatar
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    Default

    12k is more than enough.
    Lonehiker

  10. #10

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Slo-go'en View Post
    Drive to Amicalola? And then what? Abandon your car there? Yes, you can park there for months but what kind of condition do you think it will be in after that time? You'd also have to find a way to get to it. And if it is parked close by, the temptation to use it to go back home if things don't start out real well is strong.

    Best to engage the help of a friend or family member to drive you up there. It's a long haul from Miami, so you'll have to pay for a hotel room somewhere along the way. And gas, and meals for both the way up and the way back for your driver. Or just fly, Amtrak or bus to Atlanta and shuttle from there.

    There are several options for getting back from Maine, but first you have to get there and since so many don't, you don't need to worry about this now.
    I would get driven to Amicalola by friends. I agree regarding Maine. I will deal with that later.

  11. #11

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Coffee View Post
    Travel costs are probably on the low side, but I have to say that $12K total should leave a lot of room for error. I have not yet hiked a long trail in a continuous trip but on hikes that have ranged from 3-6 weeks, I have not spent much more than $200-300 per week. For example, I spent less than $1,000 on a four week hike of the Colorado Trail in 2014. And I don't think I spent even that much on a six week section of the PCT in 2015. However, I tend to avoid hotels/motels and try to take nero days rather than full zeros and minimize town time to the extent possible while on hikes. All the money is spent in civilization and nothing while hiking and camping on the trail. With a $12K budget, you could always adjust if burning through too much at the beginning by staying on the trail more than in town in the later part of the hike. $12K leave a lot of room for error IMO.
    Thanks for the input. I hope to adapt to hiking while out there. In the beginning, I will be taking it slow. That may include an extra zero here or there. As I progress, I hope to be doing just as you say and spend more time on the trail. The $12k is looking more like a ceiling. I hope to do the trail for far less.

  12. #12

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Slo-go'en View Post
    at this point it's just moving numbers around. Of course, the more money you have available, the less stress there will be towards the end.
    Well said.

  13. #13

    Default

    You forgot the cost of shuttles to towns and back to trail. Hostels usually provide free shuttle with stay from a specific road crossing but if you stay at a hotel/motel, or if you want to be picked up from a crossing that is not free, than you will have to pay. I do a lot of section hiking, and always, but always, transportation is the biggest expanse.

  14. #14

    Default

    It is very hard to predict the cost of a thru hike. People usually tend to spend MORE rather than less from their budget. There was a thread here not long ago from a gentleman who spent over $8,000.00 on his thru hike. If you do not have budget constraints, probably this is the budget you looking at.

  15. #15

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by stephanD View Post
    You forgot the cost of shuttles to towns and back to trail. Hostels usually provide free shuttle with stay from a specific road crossing but if you stay at a hotel/motel, or if you want to be picked up from a crossing that is not free, than you will have to pay. I do a lot of section hiking, and always, but always, transportation is the biggest expanse.
    Interesting. I assumed they were offered by hotels. I will look into it. Do you know what they normally cost? I would assume you would pay for one into town and then back out...

  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by Koolade View Post
    Interesting. I assumed they were offered by hotels. I will look into it. Do you know what they normally cost? I would assume you would pay for one into town and then back out...
    They charge, I think, one dollar per mile or $1.50. Not sure
    Some hotels/motels popular with hikers do offer a free shuttle, most do not.

  17. #17
    Registered User Prov's Avatar
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    Default

    I know things are weird right now with covid, but hitching really is easy on the trail. The locals are used to seeing hikers and there are sometimes people at trailheads who are really kind. I think the toughest times picking up a ride is on the weekends (I have a lot of theories why the weekend warriors blow by). Keep in mind that arranging a shuttle in may be pretty difficult in some parts of the trail where phone service is spotty to non-existent.

  18. #18

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    Here'a an advice: Go to "Forum" then go to "Thru-Hiker Specific Topics Q/A" and open the thread "2020 Sobo Thruhike Cost". You will find there some good information concerning your post. Good luck with your hike.

  19. #19

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Koolade View Post
    Interesting. I assumed they were offered by hotels. I will look into it. Do you know what they normally cost? I would assume you would pay for one into town and then back out...
    I did a section hike this past fall, and as an example the 10+mile (one-way) shuttle from Dicks Creek Gap into Hiawassee was $25 (one-way). The $1-$1.50/mile rate is about right, but it is generally the DRIVER's round-trip miles you are paying for (so in this case, she was coming from Hiawassee, so she drove 20+ miles). Keep in mind that most shuttle drivers charge per trip, NOT per passenger, so having other hikers to share the ride with can significantly lower your cost.

  20. #20
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    I haven't thru-hiked, but my husband and I have completed the trails in sections over 10 years. Strongly agree that transportation budget is too low. Suggest that you spend a little time on various hostel websites to see what shuttle costs are like. For example, Rattle River (in Gorham, NH) has some shuttles that are free for guests, and others that are listed with their price.

    Another factor that hasn't been brought up - it's not really a budget item - is what happens if you decide after two weeks or two months that you don't want to finish the trail? Think about how that works out. You'll need a place to live.

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