How much does van life in the Algarve cost?
In March of 2022 we spent a week doing van life in the Algarve region of Portugal. This was actually the first time in our lives that we rented a van and gave this whole van-life-thing a try. In this post we will share a full breakdown of our travel expenses from our one-week long vanlife trip in the Algarve in order to answer the question of ‘How much does van life in the Algarve actually cost’? If you wish to read more about what we did while there, we wrote a sepearate Sightseeing Guide to the Algarve! An itinerary of our one-week Algarve trip can be found here: Our one-week Algarve Van Life Itinerary.
Since Portugal is part of the EU, the currency used is EURO(€). Before continuing with this post we want to emphasize that our expenses are a snapshot of what doing a van life trip in the Algarve cost in March of 2022. Since prices are always prone to changes, the same trip might have a little different prices now. However, this post should give you some kind of idea of what you can expect.
Breakdown of our travel expenses
We will break down the expenses by going through the different categories and explaining where the fees came from. For a better overview we will group everything again at the end in a chart.
Flights are excluded from the expenses since this cost changes heavily depending on where you are from.
So, for our one week van life trip, we naturally had to rent a van. We paid 740€ on rental fees, including full insurance for the whole week. Also included in this price is a 60€ surplus we paid in order to be able to get the van before the usual pick-up time and for dropping it off before the usual drop-off time (since our flights were both early in the morning). It is maybe important to note that the price we paid was an off-season price since we visited in March. Depending on which month you wish to visit, rental fees might increase.
Furthermore we paid in total 87,9€ in fees to spent the night on camping grounds and RV Parks. This includes the additional fees we paid to use some facilities such as showers, electricity etc.
In total this amounts to 118,27€ per night spent on accommodation, which is 59,14€ per person per night.
Driving related expenses
On our first day we used a toll road to get from Faro to Sagres. In total we had to pay 5,75€ in toll fees for this road stretch. We got fuel once during our week in the Algarve and paid 98,17€ for that. Furthermore we paid for parking once, which were an additional 2,20€. In the end we paid a total of 106,12€ for this category.
Since we had the van and therefore a possibility to cook, we tried to do so as much as possible! We only ate in restaurants on a few occasions during our time in the Algarve. In total we spent 255,95€ on food, mostly in form of grocery shopping. This amounts to around 18,28€ per person per day.
Since most of the attractions in the Algarve are nature sights, we ended up paying next to nothing for this category. We only paid an entrance fee once to be able to see the Capela dos Ossos in Faro, which cost us 2€ per person.
Down below you can find a chart of all our expenses from this one-week long van life trip to the Algarve. Between the two of us we paid a total of 1.188€, which are 593,01€ per person. In terms of daily budget, this amounts to 84,72€ per person per day.
All in all Portugal is not that expensive to travel to, when compared to other European countries. Food expenses are definitely okay if you do not eat out for every meal. As new van-lifers we were however a bit surprised by the price tag that came along with van life. Especially since this way of travel is often portrayed as being a less expensive one. I admit that we could have saved some more money on overnight parking as we did stay on camping grounds most nights, which are the most expensive parking option.
However the rental fee for the van alone was not that cheap – for the same price we could have stayed in decent hotel rooms (with our own shower and toilet) as well. On the other hand we didn’t need to rent a car and gained quite some spontaneity by not having to book hotel rooms in advance. I suppose it is a trade-off everyone needs to decide on for themselves. If you are interested, we wrote a separate post, where we delve a little more into our thoughts after our first week of van life!