Cost per mile?

Are there any cost per mile guidelines for planning/budgeting for a long distance kayak or canoe trip?

For example, some years ago people who hiked or planned to hike the Appalachian Trail etc would say to plan $1.00/mile. Of course over time it went up and some folks liked to budget a higher amount to cover the cost of hotel rooms along the way.

too many variable.
Depends on far too many things.

Ive done a 2-month solo to the arctic ocean through Canada and it probably cost $2 a day until the end when i had to fly out, get my boat shipped and trucked out etc etc…just that alone was mid $1000’s etc.

On another trip 6-month solo across USA…was expensive since i did a high tech internet update/schools/website etc etc…so sat. phones, solar panels, good gear, cameras etc etc…all adds up.

I have a friend who retired in his later 30’s and now spends 365 days a year either paddling or hiking. He says his entire expense for a year is about $8.00 a day…so around $3000.00 a year…that included all his “home” stuff too…he lives off the grid, built his own house, solar…so no rent, no mortgage, no health insurance, no car, no car insurance, no light bills, no gas, etc etc etc…His only expense is some food. Hes paddled across canada twice. First to solo canoe across the US from Pacific to Atlantic. First to solo canoe the Great Eastern Loop trail and only person to Hike the Appalacian, Continental Divide Trail and Pacific Crest Trail 3-times each!!! He currently paddling from Minnesota to Montreal then back through the Ohio/Miss etc.

Anyway…an average cost will depend on what you spend. If its only food, then you can go cheap. If you have to buy a bunch of gear and pay for $1000.00 in bills on the homefront then its a different story.


Too many variables.
How far are you going each day, food type and requirements etc.

Figure out how many days you are going, meals, cost per person per meal. Freeze dried is the most expensive way to go (7-$10 per person for dinner). Home cooked and dehydrated is the cheapest.

In planning
these expeditions did you make a budget and then self fund it or did you try to get sponsorships and donations?

No way to guess cost per mile
We just did a three week trip. It got expensive because we chose two shuttle services on Lake Superior for two different areas. We could have done it cheaper had we been able to wait for utterly calm seas.

Best to sit down with a spreadsheet and figure out your trip costs ahead.

Now when I go on similar trips to the Everglades , the cost is far less.

And if you do a fly in trip…it can be bank breaking.

Few paddlers who do long trips can get sponsorships

Trip costs depend on a host of factors, including how remote the location is.

I have been sponsored on several long trips and even so, a remote expedition is an expensive proposition. Sponsors rarely pay you to take a trip. Rather, sponsorship usually manifests itself in some free kit (offset by requests for photos, gear reports and other promotion) and might get you a kayak to use, transported to your location (which can be a huge cost savings).

As others have said, sit down, research the best time to go and best direction to go (local boards are local knowledge are key), get a spreadsheet and work up a budget and time-frame. Be realistic and build in plenty of time for the unexpected challenges and bad weather than can easily stall you.

With airline fees they way they are now, a significant expense is getting you and your gear to the location (assuming a remote location). Some people ship their gear ahead. Not too long ago it was “practical” to use sectional kayaks because luggage was relatively inexpensive. Sadly, that is no longer the case.

In a truly remote location you may also wish to rent a satellite phone, which gets pricey on a long trip and set up supply caches along the route. If the area is not too remote you can just restock at villages along the way.

Trips of this nature are all so different that it would be impossible to generalize with dollars per mile.


When I first retired
My wife and I took “the trip of our life time”

We took our travel trailer, our two kayaks and our back packing gear and went for four months to Alaska.

We drove 15,000 miles and spent $15,000.

We paddled every place we could get to in AK except Kodiak Island and we paddled in some places where we were guessing no one before us had paddled.

It was worth every penny.

I’ll gladly send anyone the trip report if they would like to read it.

We have had many other trips but general don’t figure what the cost is since the enjoyment of each one far outnumbers the cost.

Jack L

Obviously the $8 a day guy.
Doesn’t have a woman with him.

Through canada…No budget. I knew it would be cheaper than being at home…so i knew i could afford it etc. Bought a bunch of food and dehydrated and made own meals. Two months self supported…had all my food in the boat.

Across US…some of both. I had 15 sponsors which helped with gear and food cost etc. Went through 2 tents on that trip. One could do without the sponsorship thing really.

Cost to paddle
Depends. The main cost is transportation to get there. If you have equip, you need to eat anyway.