Monday, 27 February 2017

Working out holiday costs

One thing about my caravan holidays is that you can estimate the cost of them quite accurately. The day to day cost of groceries needed, lunches, admissions, and so forth will be just the same as back home - so I don't have to make any allowance for those things. Club site fees are extra of course, but I know how many nights I'm going to stay at each site, and exactly what those nightly fees will be.

Car fuel for towing the caravan from place to place, and driving around unhitched, is also extra. It's the biggest unknown. How do I work it out?

Well, I keep a record of mileages covered, and the average fuel consumption according to Fiona's calculations. On a spreadsheet, naturally! Here's the part that recorded my 2016 caravan trips (click on it to enlarge):

That record updates the picture revealed in previous years. And I can base my initial 2017 cost calculations on it. It tells me that in 2016,

# On average, I towed the caravan 139 miles between one place and the next. The least distance was 57 miles. The most, a rather tiring 232 miles. 139 miles would in fact be the sort of distance I'm most happy with.

# On average, I drove 46 miles for every night I was staying at a caravan site. This is exploring the local area, with the caravan left behind at the site, as my base. If the weather is OK, I don't linger at the caravan. I want to get out and around.

# On average, Fiona achieved 23.7 mpg when towing, and 32.5 mpg unhitched and on her own.

I can use this data to estimate what an entire holiday is likely to cost. I need to know just one more thing: the distances between home and the sites I want to visit. For that I use a diagram I've built up from my mileage records. Here's a close-up of the bottom half:

As you can see, estimated distances are written in using pencil, then over-written in black ink once I've actually made the journey. It's easy to work out from the diagram what my towing mileage will be. The next outing, for instance:

Home to Lyme Regis in Dorset: 161 miles, as previously recorded after making the journey. 
Lyme Regis to Carnon Downs in Cornwall: estimated (from a road atlas) at 120 miles. 
Carnon Downs to Great Torrington in North Devon: estimated at 90 miles.
Great Torrington to Cheddar in Somerset: estimated at 100 miles.
Cheddar to Home: 152 miles.
TOTAL TOWING MILEAGE for the holiday - the initial estimate, anyway: 623 miles.

That towing mileage figure of 623 miles is what I want. I then insert that and other figures into another spreadsheet, which number-crunches everything and gives me an estimate of the overall fuel and site cost of my holiday:

I'm away 22 nights at a booked total site cost of £363.50

The towing mileage will be the 623 found from the diagram. And while on site, I expect to cover 990 miles (that's 22 nights x 45 miles per night). 

The diesel fuel cost while towing should be £152 (that's £5.60 per gallon x (623 miles/23 mpg). 

The diesel fuel cost while on site should be £173 (that's £5.60 per gallon x (990 miles/32 mpg). 

The spreadsheet works it all out, and tells me that overall I should expect to pay £688 for fuel and site fees. Which I round up to £700.

There is a hidden bonus for me. £700 may sound a lot, but it includes all fuel. And yet if I were still at home, I would have used up at least £3 per day by way of fuel. So that £3 a day becomes available instead for additional (and possibly frivolous) personal holiday spending. Let's say 22 x £3 = £66 to blow on something while I'm away, and still break even. I'll look forward to doing it. And it won't be £66 worth of ice cream!

The diagram covers quite a large part of the UK, right up to the extremities of Wales and the far north of Scotland:

It includes a few journeys that I haven't yet actually made. I would in each case have almost committed myself, but then found myself thwarted by illness or a lack of funds. However, it's merely a pleasure postponed. 

You can see how certain sites have become 'jumping-off points' for going off in various directions, such as the ones at Cirencester and Stamford. 

You can also see that Kent and most of East Anglia are not currently being visited. Kent is too close (and familiar) for a holiday. And the Essex and Suffolk coasts are hard to get to, partly because London is in the way, and partly because there is never a good time to use the Dartford Crossing. In any case, the more scenic west and north call to me far more strongly. 

(You know, that's a hand-drawn map. And it's getting scruffy. I really need to construct a digital version, showing sites and mileages just the same, which I can update easily and neatly. I must work on this) 

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