If you’re thinking about hiking the Appalachian Trail you may be dreaming of ultra-scenic vistas, peaceful streamside campsites, and eating all the candy bars your heart desires without gaining any weight….
Long Distance Hiking Made Simple – on the Blog!
You might be thinking that living in the woods for 5 months will be the cheapest 5 months of your life! Well, depending on your rent, it might be! But realistically, living in the woods can be surprisingly expensive once you add up your cost of food, stays in town, and transportation to and from the trail. [Read more…] about How to save money on your thru hike
Are you still stewing about what to get your lady? Or lady friend! If she’s into hiking, then you’re in the right place. The tricky thing about hiking gifts is that you don’t want to give her heavy, bulky gear she’ll never use. Below, I’ve made a list of gifts and gear that I either already own and love, or would love to get as a gift! [Read more…] about Hiking Gifts For Women
Having trouble deciding on the perfect gift for him? I find it really difficult to pick out gifts for other people – will they like it? Will they use it? Will they think I’m weird for gifting this?!
I know, I know, I’m probably way overthinking it. But my hope is, the more gift ideas we all share, the easier it will be to discover and give amazing gifts! [Read more…] about Hiking Gifts For Men
If you’ve decided to hike the Appalachian Trail, I’m sure you have a million and one questions rolling around in your mind. We’re going to tackle a tricky one here today – how much will a thru hike or long ass section hike cost?You don’t have to be ‘rich’ or ‘lucky’ to be able to spend months off hiking in the woods, but you do have put in a lot of hard work and some planning ahead of time to make it work.Click To Tweet
Here’s how I did it –
When I started planning my hike, I was making $31,000/year plus benefits, meals, housing, and all utilities, were covered through my work. Since I was living at work, I rarely had to fill up my gas tank or pay for car maintenance.
You might be thinking it already, she’s lucky she doesn’t have all those living expenses. I’m not lucky, I make the conscious decision to apply to jobs that provide housing because… I think paying rent (or a mortgage) is just silly. That’s really what it boils down to, for me.
My only bills were my cell phone (less than $25/month for a basic plan on a dumb phone), car insurance, car payments, and student loans. I put most of each paycheck towards paying way more than the minimum payments each month.
Once I got more serious about my hike, I slowly started buying gear. I would only make a ‘big’ purchase once a pay period or every other pay period. I also made some sacrifices like sticking with my old, heavy pack instead of dropping a couple hundred dollars for a newer, lighter one.
I paid off my car completely before my hike, and paid my students loans about a year ahead, which eliminated student loan payments during my hike and several months after. While my loans were still there, accruing interest, I decided it was worth it to eat the interest later on for a chance to spend 5-6 months on the Appalachian Trail. (This may not be the smartest decision for everyone! But it worked for me and I don’t regret it.)
Then I started saving aggressively! We’re talking almost my whole paycheck every period was going into my ‘trail fund’ Once I had about $4,000 saved for life on the trail, and $1,000 saved as a post trail cushion, my itchy feet took over, I gave my notice and booked my train ticket to Georgia.
This was the absolute minimum I thought I could get by with, and would definitely recommend starting with more than that if you’re planning a thru hike. Unless you have a job lined up post trail, I would also recommend more of a cushion for after your hike.
I’ll admit that I was lucky to be young enough to be able to hop onto my parent’s health insurance. If that’s not an option for you, then unfortunately health insurance may add a significant expense onto your hike.
I also almost eliminated my car insurance payments. My insurance company had an option to change my policy to only cover a parked car, and it was absurdly cheap, maybe about $10/month. This was perfect while I was on the trail, obviously not driving my car at all.
On my hike, I wasn’t as frugal as I could have been. I did eat out in town most chances I got, and did stay in town about once a week. But I didn’t go crazy either, I stayed at the cheaper (or cheapest) hostels, or always split a room with other hikers, and my trail food was very inexpensive, also not the healthiest, but instead of fancy prepackaged backpacking meals I ate a lot of knorr sides, ramen, mac and cheese, candy, and oatmeal.
Just to recap:
Pay off any and all debt before your hike, so you won’t have to make payments while on the trail.
Buy and sort out all your gear before really starting to plan and budget for your thru hike – you don’t need to spend thousands on the best, newest, lightest backpacking gear out there, sometimes cheaper, heavier or second hand gear will do.
Save up as much as possible, preferably at least $6,000 for your hike plus a safety cushion for afterward, but the more the better.
Try to minimize any payments or bills that need to be paid during your hike – can you get a cheaper cell phone plan? Cheaper car insurance? Can you rent out your house or sublet your apartment?
Do plan for emergency expenses on the trail – emergency doctors visits for illness or injury, extra nights in town if your injured or sick, or a potential flight home.
Do set aside plenty of money for after the trail, especially if you have no idea what you’re doing after the trail and don’t have a job lined up.
Do not rely on trail magic or work trades to float you through you’re hike. While trail magic is ah-mazing, and there is an extremely supportive community around the trail, that does not mean you don’t have to do any of the work or preparation to be able to take care of yourself out there.
Keep in mind there is no set amount of time it takes to prepare for a long hike, it might take some people years to be financially, physically, and mentally prepared and it might take others several months.
Ready for more? Check out these articles to help you prepare for your long distance hike:
- Skills You Need To Hike The Appalachian Trail
- What If A Bear Attacks??
- How To Poop In The Woods
- How To Pick A Good Campsite
If you haven’t already, download my complete backpacking gear checklist. Just fill in the form below and I’ll send it to you!
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While hiking is arguably the most ‘risky’ time of a backpacking trip, most of us spend more time hanging around the campsite. We might be more likely to fall and get banged up while actually walking and moving around in the backcountry, but there are also a whole set of different risks that can present themselves after we settle into camp for the night. [Read more…] about Campsite Safety Tips