Even though I live in Seattle, where outdoor recreation is part of the culture, it’s really not that cheap to indulge the habit – denizens of REI attest to this! Since Mr. LL and I plan on indulging quite a bit, both now and in early retirement, it makes sense to consider the costs of outdoor rec. Even hiking is not free, despite the fact that it’s nice to think so.
Let’s assume we have all the clothing and equipment we need for hiking, snowshoeing, camping, etc. so that we don’t need to buy or rent anything.
If you are doing any sort of hiking around Seattle or Puget Sound on a regular basis, you will have to account for a Discover Pass ($35), a Northwest Forest Pass ($30), and a National Parks Pass ($80) to have access to all the places you want to get to. If you are going snowshoeing in the winter, you might need a Sno-Park Pass, too. The fees just rack up, and that does not include the cost of skiing or snowboarding, if you are so inclined (which Mr. LL and I are). It averages to about $12/month for the passes alone.
It would be nice if you could share the expense with a like-minded friend, but we have noticed that it doesn’t actually work out that way – we ended up buying passes when our friends who had the passes bailed on various trips.
Mr. LL once calculated the cost per mile for my 13-year-old Honda Accord, including depreciation, insurance, maintenance, gas, etc., and it came out to approximately $.35/mile. It’s nice if you can share the cost here, too, but better to assume that you will bear the total cost.
If the average trip ranges from 120-160 miles round trip, we end up with $42-56 per hiking trip. This past year we went skiing/snowboarding about 4 times, snowshoeing about 4 times, and hiking perhaps 10 times. That averages to about $63-84 per month for driving alone. So $75-96/month including the flat fee passes. Of course, we can add on lift ticket prices for those 4 times of skiing and snowboarding and tack on another $40/month.
Now we’re at $115-136/month.
And as many people who have finished a long and/or strenuous hike, the first thing you want to eat afterwards is something salty, fatty, protein-y, and preferably with a side of sweet. Mr. LL and I rarely say no to a burger and fries after a hardcore hike, particularly if it’s a social outing, so we end up spending more on dining whenever it is hiking/snowshoeing season. I won’t count it in the final total, though.
Was it worth it? Of course. It’s fitness, outdoors, social gatherings, road trips, fun, etc. all rolled into one. However, the cost isn’t negligible, and I am sometimes inclined to think of it as though it were. Little expenditures add up to a pretty big fixed cost in terms of monthly expenses.