Baja RV trip budget – Mexico road trip cost

Baja RV trip budget –
Mexico road trip cost


Whiling away winter weeks on a sunny beach in Mexico’s Baja Peninsula seems like a dream, and it’s one that can come true! It’s possible to travel quite economically in Mexico, especially when you have your own home on wheels. Here’s my Baja RV trip budget and summary of travel costs from a big trip in 2019. I bet it’s cheaper than you think!

Of course, there are many different ways to do a trip like this, and many different budgets! You could fly to Cabo San Lucas and stay in a 5-star resort the whole time, spending your days and your money sportfishing and getting spa treatments. OR You can do it the overlanding way, like me and Zennie! Get your motorhome, camper or van, hit the road, and head south. 🚐😎

That’s exactly what I did in 2019, spending January to May traveling around Baja California in my Toyota camper Zennie – exploring the deserts, seeing the sights, and camping on many beautiful beaches!

So how much does a winter in Baja cost? Here’s how the Baja RV travel cost worked out for my “Baja Bound” 2019 Mexico road trip.

Camping doesn't have to be a big part of your Baja RV travel cost
Zennie and friend camped on a Baja beach in Mexico

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Baja Bound – Trip summary

Days

  • Dates = Jan 13 to May 7, 2019
  • Number of days = 115 days (114 nights)

Nights

  • Campground nights = 61
  • Boondocking nights = 53

Miles

  • Number of miles = 3,676 miles (5,916 km)
  • Miles per day = 32 miles
  • Driving days= 49 days
  • Stay days = 66 days
  • Miles per driving day = 75 miles
Free beach camping is easy on the Baja RV trip budget!
Zennie boondocking at another gorgeous Baja beach

Baja RV travel cost breakout

CategorySpent% Total
Gas96334%
Groceries54419%
Camping51718%
Activities45616%
Vehicle1214%
Shopping733%
Other1706%
Total cost$2,844100%
Avg $/day$25
  • All expenses shown in US dollars
  • Peso exchange rate about 18.8 pesos/USD

Baja RV trip budget analysis

Gas

This was my #1 expense category, accounting for a third of my overall Baja travel cost.

Gas is more expensive in Mexico than in much of the United States. When you’re traveling in a motorhome or camper, this will be a significant part of your Baja RV trip budget.

  • My cheapest gas in Mexico = Golfo de Santa Clara, near start of trip = 18.45 pesos/liter = $3.71/gallon
  • Most expensive = Bahia de Los Angeles = 21.36 pesos/liter = $4.30/gallon
  • For comparison, gas in Tucson Arizona before crossing the border was $2.36/gallon.
Gas is the biggest Baja RV travel cost
The crack of dawn at a Pemex gas station

Obviously the total cost for this depends on what kind of gas mileage your vehicle gets.

It also depends on your pace of travel. I spent a lot of “stay days”, where my camper doesn’t move. I don’t like driving every day, and I also don’t like long driving days, so my overall pace of travel is pretty slow.

  • Number of miles = 3,676 miles (5,916 km)
  • Miles per day = 32 miles
  • Driving days= 49 days
  • Stay days = 66 days
  • Miles per driving day = 75 miles

To me, the stay days are wonderful, because that’s when I really have time to enjoy the place where I am, without using up a good chunk of the day packing up camp, driving, and setting up camp somewhere else.

Some people don’t have time for such a leisurely trip, or just prefer to cover the ground a lot faster than I do. If that’s you, then your fuel costs per day will go up accordingly.

Stay days can lower your daily Baja RV travel cost
A perfect oasis spot for a lazy stay day

Groceries

Groceries accounted for the next biggest chunk of my Baja RV trip budget, nosing out camping costs for that dubious honor.

For me, food costs are on the low side. I cook for myself in Zennie most of the time, eating a Flexitarian diet. Yes, now I have a trendy diet term, too!

All Flexitarian means is that I eat vegetarian most of the time, but do have meat or fish occasionally. I find when I travel that it’s just easier this way. You can find fresh veggies in almost any tiny store – not the selection you’re used to, but there will be something.

I’m more cautious about buying meat or fish (unless it’s fresh fish sold on a beach where I’m camping!) And I don’t have to worry about the onions or avocados going bad, not like I would if I had chicken sitting in the fridge.

So a mostly vegetarian diet is just easier while traveling, it’s supposed to be good for me, and it turns out to be inexpensive, too!


Camping

  • Total nights = 114
  • Total camping cost = $517
  • Avg per night = $4.50
  • Campground nights = 61 (54%)
  • Boondocking nights = 53 (46%)
  • Avg per campground night = $8.50

The camping cost is much lower than it could have been because I spent many nights free camping (boondocking) on beaches around Baja. There are lots of opportunities for this, in locations that are simply stunning.

Some people head for their favorite beach and set up camp for the whole winter. You’ll see some people who’ve got their outdoor areas all fixed up and decorated – part of their winter home sweet home. I moved around to a number of different beaches, staying a few days here and there. It added up to a lot of nights with free camping!

Long term camping can be easy on the Baja RV trip budget
Make yourself at home and stay for the season!

This free beach camping is seductive! You’ve got the sand, the sea, the sound of the waves lulling you to sleep at night, and it’s all free! Just pull up your camper, pick a good spot, and set up camp. What’s not to like?

There are beaches where you’ll feel quite alone, able to walk the beach forever without anybody else around. There are other beaches where you’ll find quite a crowd of campers, including some long-term visitors. It’s really up to you what style of camping you prefer.

Not every beach has free camping, but there are plenty that do. Some places (like around Bahia Concepcion), the beaches all have campgrounds where you need to pay a camping fee in exchange for using their facilities (sometimes just a toilet and a palapa).

The camping cost here could easily be doubled if I stayed in campgrounds consistently OR if I stayed in more campgrounds that have full hookups. Even when I do stay in campgrounds, they tend to be the simpler kind without much in the way of facilities.


Activities

The most expensive activity I did was the whale watching, and if you’re here during their season, this is a must do – one of those unimaginably cool events! I’ve done whale watching lots of times before, but the whales at Ojo de Liebre were on a different level altogether. Leaning over and petting a baby whale… Well, I digress! Back to the Baja RV travel costs.

Most of my other activities were inexpensive, because when possible I prefer to do things on my own, rather than signing up for an escorted tour. I prefer the independence and control of my own schedule, and it also happens to be a lot cheaper!

Auto repairs are inexpensive in Mexico
Fortunately, it wasn’t hard to get that awful noise fixed

Vehicle

The only significant vehicle problem I had on the trip was a hellacious rattling noise coming from underneath the vehicle, which started after driving on a particularly bad washboard road. I took it to a muffler place, and they were able to weld it for me and fix the problem for about $55.

The rest of this category is just minor expenses.


Shopping

I’ve gotten really good at not buying a lot of stuff, because I don’t have any room to put it! When I moved into Zennie I had to seriously downsize, getting rid of a huge chunk of my belongings. I am very cognizant of the fact that I don’t have space for buying knickknacks.

So I go pretty light on the shopping side of things. A woven top from a beach vendor, a t-shirt from the whale watching, and a few small things like that were all I bought.

Shopping isn't a big part of my Baja RV trip budget
For those who want to shop, there are lots of opportunities!

Other

The biggest “Other” item is my Telcel phone charges, which covers all of my internet access. Telcel has a bit of a complicated system, but once you figure it out, it’s very flexible, convenient, and inexpensive compared to what I used to pay in the US.

“Other” also covers laundry and anything else I couldn’t figure out where to put.


Baja RV trip budget – What’s not included

  • Non-travel expenses. For instance, I have recurring costs associated with running the Uphill Zen website. Those happen whether I’m traveling or not. You’ll have your own set of normal recurring expenses, so to get your total monthly expenditures, just add your trip costs + all your normal non-trip expenses.
  • Things paid before or after the trip. For instance, my solar panels failed during the trip, but I didn’t replace them until later. There’s an argument to make that this is a trip cost because that’s when they failed, but since they weren’t paid during this time frame, it’s not included here.
  • Insurance. I buy my Mexican vehicle insurance a year at a time, so didn’t pay separately for this trip. (If you’re wondering, I use Lewis & Lewis for my insurance.)

Baja RV travel cost – Final recap

  • Cheaper for couples. I did this trip solo in my Toyota motorhome, Zennie. If you’ve got two or more people, your per-person cost will be less than mine, since the expenses for gas and camping are the same no matter how many people are in the vehicle. (There are some campgrounds that charge per person, but it’s unusual.)
  • Starting point. My numbers may or may not be very close to what a trip around Baja will cost you, but at least this should give you some ideas. You can use this as a starting point, and adjust for your situation and travel style to come up with your own Baja RV trip budget.
  • The main point is that it’s possible to do this in a very affordable way!

Baja is gorgeous, with fascinating deserts, dramatic mountains, and beaches to die for. Baja makes a warm escape from a cold northern winter. And your Baja RV travel budget doesn’t have to break the bank.

So what are you waiting for?

Figure your Baja RV trip budget, and hit the road!
The end of another wonderful day in Baja Mexico

Questions? Comments?

Are you thinking of doing a trip to Baja California? If you’ve got any questions about my results or estimating your own Baja RV travel cost, please let me know and I’ll answer as best I can.

Have you traveled to Baja yourself with a motorhome, van or camper? How did your expenses turn out relative to mine? Please share your questions and comments in the Reply section below. Thanks!

PHOTO CREDITS: Zennie and George – Mike McGreevy, Others – Deanna Keahey


Deanna sunset


Hi! I’m Deanna, creator of Uphill Zen. I’m currently yondering around North America with my 1986 Toyota motorhome, Zennie. What makes my heart sing is travel, adventure, and the awe-inspiring wonders of nature. Finding ways to share that joyous spirit is what this is all about.

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