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A Complete Appalachian Trail Guidebook.
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  1. #1

    Unhappy Money worries...

    I'm starting to freak about having enough money saved up in time for my thru. I'm trying to figure out some kind of budget (dollars per week or something), but I know a lot of that goes out the window once you're on the trail. One of my big worries is having enough money to get back to FL from Maine when I finish.

    I'm doing town resupplies rather than maildrops, but I'm going to do my best not to hang around town spending money after I get what I need. I am going to try to take my zero days mostly in hostels or shelters rather than pricey motels/hotels. Of course, I'd like to budget out a few stays in a real motel in case I get ill and need a few days to rest up or the weather gets dangerous, and I know I may have some trouble in the Whites with the whole AMC hut thing.

    My ticket to GA will be purchased next week and my date will be set in stone, but I'm really starting to freak about if this is doable based on the money I'm going to have. Please, somebody, anybody, tell me you did it cheaply and had a good time and finished! I need some reassurance.

    "Too much civilization around here! Remember when the woods used to be woods, Harry?"

  2. #2


    Without knowing what you plan to budget or how frugal you are, it's hard to say. Try reading some of the other threads on WB like "price" under the "class of 2007". That should give you some idea on what others have done. It would be a good idea to be sure you have enough before you start so money, or worrying about it, doesn't spoil your hike. Good luck.

  3. #3



    Check out Weathercarrot's excellent piece in the "Articles" section on hiking on a budget.

    Don't worry. A thru-hike can be done relatively inexpensively if you're really disciplined with your town time. I.e., go into towns only when necessary, and get out as soon as you can; you can't spend money when you're in the woods!

    Make a shopping list of things you need BEFORE you go into town; it'llmake your shopping quicker, easier, and will cut down on impulse, un-needed items. Also try and do an "in and out" when you get to a town when the wether is good, i.e. go into town in the morning, do all your stuff (shopping, laundry, E-Mail, etc.) and then GET OUT and hike a few miles and stay in the woods. This will save a ton of money on lodging, restaurant meals, etc.

    Lastly, there are serveral threads on this subject (i.e. hiking on a budget) and they all have some good ideea in them.

    So don't worry. As long as you're not cutting it TOO low on the financing, you'll be just fine.

  4. #4

    Default Thanks and more questions...

    Thanks for the suggestions, both of you. I'm reading over weathercarrot's article and marking resupply spots in my handbook. I've also been reading the various threads on hostels so that I can make note of them for when I need a zero. Of course I'll have to re-mark it again when I get the new version, but it's keeping my mind occupied.

    Thanks for the good tips, Jack. I especially like the idea of making up a list before town. I think it will be a lot easier to hike in and out and avoid the town temptations if I have a clear list of what to buy and what I need to get done.

    Right now it's looking like I can swing it based on what I've been reading on other threads as far as cost, provided I'm careful about town spending. I'm going to be on the low end of the recommended amount, to be sure, but I think it's doable. I've done vacations in some expensive places and spent far less money than anyone would think, and had a lovely time, so I imagine that I can do that on the trail too with a little willpower.

    Now I just have to figure out the cheapest way to get home when I'm done so that I can budget out and save that money and not be stranded when I'm done. I'm not too concerned about bus vs. plane vs. whatever as long as it's cheap.

    Another question about the Whites. I've just started reading up on it and I'm a little confused about the whole hut system. Is it very hard to find tent platforms or other places to camp? I'm just dreading having to blow a fortune for a night at a hut because I'm out of options. Is it advisable to stop earlier in the day through that area to ensure that doesn't happen?

    Once again, apologies for always being so long-winded.

    "Too much civilization around here! Remember when the woods used to be woods, Harry?"

  5. #5


    You don't have to stay at huts or pay sites with platforms in The Whites. I didn't spend a cent while hiking through The Whites. I didn't stay at any of the huts, but most of the thru-hikers I talked to said, that the hut croo was usually friendly to thrus and good about providing work for stay. Usually that was some easy chores like dishes or or some clean-up.
    If you can discipline yourself in towns and limit motel stays you can save bundles. Getting home will probably be your biggest concern. I didn't look it up but a bus is probably $100-$200.
    What is your budget, if you dont mind saying?

  6. #6
    formerly amazonwoman
    Join Date
    Goldsboro NC


    Hey Mindi,
    I'm hiking south and plan to have a family member pick me up in Georgia since I'm from NC but have you thought of picking an approximate finish date and purchasing your ticket home before you leave? You may want to check with your transportation of choice to make sure it won't be hard to change your dates later but I have changed bus tickets before with little difficulty. That way you know that no matter what you spend you have your way home.

  7. #7
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Vero Beach, FL

    Default Money


    I spent around $2400 on my '05 thruhike .... 6.5 months, 30 zero days and the money did not get tight till the very end. I could have done it on less but the parties seemed to get in the way

    I set my mind on the fact that I could spend XXX amount each week. If I had extra from that week then I would use it for another week. I also used CASH. much easier to watch what you spend when you see the green leaving your hands as opposed to plastic!

    We too, worried about the Whites and the huts but it was a needless worry. The "croos" are great when it comes to thru hikers. We didn't spend a dime for lodging. We did pay for the "endless bowls of soup" and we did "tip" the croo.

    I did use maildrops for the first part of the trip so I do not include that in actual cash spent on the trail. I was earning money when I was preparing the maildrops as opposed to not having any income on the trail. This is a guesstimate, but I would add around 250.00 to the total for the maildrops. Postage and foodstuffs factored in with that.

    Hope this helps.


  8. #8


    Thanks, everyone! Right now it's looking like I'm going to have around $2400, not including the bus to the trailhead. I'm going to try to save an extra $250 or so to get home.

    I'm going to be using a combination of cash and traveler's checks. I'm thinking that around once a week when I get into town, I'll cash a traveler's check in the amount that I have budgeted for that week and then when it's gone, it's gone, until the next week. I do think that will make it easier to see exactly how much I'm spending. Plus there is the advantage of being able to replace lost traveler's checks, as opposed to cash where I'm basically screwed if some of it goes missing. Is there anywhere that finding a place to cash a traveler's check may be difficult? I'd like to be able to plan ahead for that possibility.

    Am I right in assuming that I should budget out more per week as I get farther north?

    I'm glad to hear that I shouldn't have any trouble in the Whites. I've been reading other threads about it also, and it sounds like it's not as much of a problem as I originally thought.

    Thanks again everyone, for you reassurance. I'm really starting to feel like I'm going to be fine as far as money goes. I guess I sort of panicked when I started reading some threads where people were saying they spent $5-$6 thousand. Knowing that you have less than half that amount is a little sobering.

    "Too much civilization around here! Remember when the woods used to be woods, Harry?"

  9. #9

    Default Getting home

    Go to greyhound.com to see about bus options - a bus Bangor to FL will cost you about $110 (7 day advance purchase).

    It is a little early to get fare information for the discount airlines, but JetBlue flies out of Portland and Boston and AirTran flies out of Boston.

    Looks like JetBlue could be as cheap as $100 from Portland to select FL cities. It will cost you about $25 to get a bus to Portland from Bangor, and then you would have to get to the airport.

    Jet Blue will be about the same from Boston to FL. AirTran is usually cheaper than Jet Blue and always offers sales at the start of each month. I would expect you could get a flight for $90 from Boston to FL. It will cost you about $60 to get a bus to Boston Airport from Bangor.

    Looks like there are current flights from Bangor to FL for about $160. Flights in the summer look higher.

    Use travelocity.com when comparing flights - it includes JetBlue and Airtran, some of the other sites (expedia, etc.) do not.

    Of course, it depends upon whether you live close to an airport and the prices/availability when you actually buy your ticket. The bus offers more flexibility but you spend 2 days getting home. When you are close enough to determine your end date, you can always check out flights and then have the bus as a fallback if the prices are too expensive.

  10. #10


    Thanks, PeterB. I've been looking up prices, too, and it's looking like $200 should be plenty to get me home by either air or bus. I'll more than likely buy a ticket when I'm getting closer to Maine and have a better idea of the date I'm going to finish.
    "Too much civilization around here! Remember when the woods used to be woods, Harry?"

  11. #11
    Registered User hammock engineer's Avatar
    Join Date
    New Orleans, LA


    Just a thought, may not be an option to you, but look into a part time job to help pad your budget before you leave. Resturant and retail jobs are not the best jobs out there, but they are always hiring and offer quick cash.

  12. #12
    Registered User Ewker's Avatar
    Join Date


    if it wouldn't bother you look at doing a pizza delivery job. You can make good money there.

    Also being a waitress in a good restaurant is a nice way to pick up cash.
    My son is a part time waiter while he goes to college. I was shocked at the money he makes after he tips out the host, bartender and busboy.
    Conquest: It is not the Mountain we conquer but Ourselves

  13. #13


    Better check first but you could call for a ticket in Monson and have it sent to the AT Lodge n Millinocket. I think you need to call 10 days ahead for online or over the phone 7 day advance tickets.

  14. #14


    I've done it for under $2400 and I know several people who have also done the same. You'll be surprised how many ways you'll think up to save money. Remember all you really need is food. Day hikers are often very protective of female thruhikers. Without asking you'll learn ways of separating them of some of their food. Model T's method of scraping an empty peanut butter jar and looking sad works well (he may not have invented it but he does it quite well). If you local library has any old Yogi Bear Cartoons study them. He is your role model, mentor and inspiration. Hang out near Boy Scouts if they are almost done with their hike. They always have too much food and often it's the expensive good stuff. I'd give you other tips but it grosses out the snooty hikers.

  15. #15


    Have you thought about using a debt card? Your money stays safe in the bank and using debt, there is no interest hassles. You carry a small amount of money with you as you go for spur of the moment needs but you need to take the rest out of ATMs which makes you THINK MORE BEFORE YOU SPEND MORE. The only down fall that I have found is that at times when $20 will be more than enough, you may take $30 just in case.(bad idea-you can always go back to an ATM) Most of the towns that you will re-stock in will have an ATM even very small towns and alot of the markets have availability of using the card there as a debt card. Another advantage is that if you lose the card, no one else has your PIN #.
    Disadvantage--if you lose your card, you are screwed until you get another one. Why not have a second card made ahead of time and leave it at home to be overnite mailed to you in an emergency?
    My thru hike in 1990 I used alot of mail drops and I spent around $2,400--alot of money then compared to now.
    My thru hike in 2002 I did a combo of occassional mail drops and re-stocking as I went. I only spent $1,600 but I saved alot of wasteful spending by knowing where not to waste the cash due to my '90 hike.
    good luck and have fun,

  16. #16

    Smile Retail!

    Funny you both mention that, I already work in retail! I'm hoping to get a real career-track job when I get back from my hike, right now I'm staying where I'm at because I didn't want to start a good job and then ask for 6 months off.

    I may however look into doing some seasonal help at another store or something. I know quite a few places hire temporary help over the holidays. It's just a pain in the butt to find a second part-time job when my schedule at my full-time job varies so much. I can't say 'I can work X to X on this day', etc. If I tried to limit my availibility at my current job so that I could find something else, I may end up losing hours and that would be pretty counterproductive.
    "Too much civilization around here! Remember when the woods used to be woods, Harry?"

  17. #17


    Heh, it seems like everyone types responses at the same time.

    I'm going to work on perfecting my yogi-ing skills. Practicing my best forlorn and hungry look.

    Jim, I really wanted to go with a debit card, but as I have student loan debt, I can't open a checking account because they can sieze that money. I know, it's irresponsible to take a 6-month break when I have a huge debt, blahblahblah.

    Thanks again, everyone. I'm sure I'll be driving you all crazy with more worries and questions as my start date nears..

    "Too much civilization around here! Remember when the woods used to be woods, Harry?"

  18. #18
    Hug a Trail volunteer StarLyte's Avatar
    Join Date
    Cleveland, Ohio


    Hey Mindi-
    There is a type of VISA card you can "buy" and load, it's called Green Dot (I'm sure there are many different types/names). You can purchase it any store, when you pay for it you load it $$ at that time. Then activate it online. You can reload it too. Just like a phone card. No one has to know a thing my friend.

  19. #19


    Mindi -
    Regarding getting home: you may end up hiking with or around other hikers who can help get you from the trail to somewhere closer to your home. They may even be going all the way. So don't buy a ticket now, it would just add pressure to your hike, having a set date on which you must finish. With airlines, seven days advance purchase works fine. With a bus, all you need is a few hours.

  20. #20


    I did the same thing--hiked with a big student loan. I think that you will find that you are not alone.
    I have a debt card for my savings acount also! Can they access that?

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