We’ve been in Sioux Falls for a couple weeks and I’m down with a cold, so I thought I’d reflect a bit about the RV experience so far.
Being holed up in the fiver has made me reflect on “life in a box.” I’m the kind of person who, given a free day, is content to spend all day in my room (back when I had one). It seems there’s always enough to do and think about and, to be sure, I’m also content to be quite lazy. So what might seem to be confinement to a small space is actually a quite cozy and pleasant day for me. Between music, dorking with the computer, taking care of business, reading, blogging, and watching TV, I can pass many happy hours. And given that Ted and I spend practically every hour of the day together, being alone is OK too.
But while we’re on that subject, people often ask, isn’t it hard being together all the time? And the answer is not at all. We like it! Do we ever annoy each other? Occasionally, but for the most part we don’t let the small stuff bother us and there isn’t any big stuff. We’re both well-suited to this life. I can imagine if one person were more into it than the other, there would be more conflict.
I did a little tallying of the miles during the first 6 months of our RV full-timing, covering 176 days (leaving out vacation days away from the rig). We pulled the rig 7003 miles on 32 days, averaging 219 miles on travel days. We shoot for a 3 or 4 hour drive to move from one campground to another. This keeps us from having to gas up with the fiver attached and gets us where we’re going long before dark. It doesn’t always work out that way – but on average it does!
During that same period we put 18,678 miles on the truck, driving it almost every day. So including the rig miles above and adding the excursion and errand miles, we average 106 miles a day. We like staying in one spot for a while, in between travel days, and hope to do more of it!
When we’re traveling, we typically know where we’re headed, but we don’t always know where we’re going to sleep. I usually scout ahead for possibilities as we go and when we get close, we call to make sure they’ve got a spot for us. If we’re expecting to stay somewhere for a while, we try to make a reservation ahead of time. The amount of time we spend at an RV park or campground depends on a number of things (people to visit, places we can drive to from it, amenities, cost…) and we sometimes leave earlier than we planned and sometimes we extend our stay.
A note on RV parks and campgrounds. There’s quite a difference! RV parks in general are more like parking lots with swimming pools and campgrounds in general are in the woods and have picnic tables and campfire pits. Some RV parks are a little like campgrounds and some campgrounds are a little like RV parks. RV parks typically have full hookups (electric, water, and sewer), so they are good for longer stays. They also are likely to have laundry facilities and they’re often near the freeway, so convenient to come and go. Campgrounds don’t have as many amenities, but are better for the soul. It’s so nice to be in the forest, hearing birds and breezes instead of neighbors and the freeway.
We haven’t done any boondocking (camping with no hookups), which surprised us. Most of the camping we did with the RoadTrek was off the grid in National Forests. We imagined we’d do that with the fiver, but electricity is just such a convenience! In January and February it was great to have an electric blanket and most of the rest of the time it’s been so hot and humid, we wanted AC. This week, however, in South Dakota it’s been lows in the 40s and highs in the 60s and today I turned the heat on!
As far as our budget goes, we’ve been spending about twice what we anticipated.
Monthly and annually we pay for mail service, memberships, DMV, cell services, insurance, and pod storage. Our utilities are pretty much propane (minimal) and occasional electric. Health care has been significantly more than we anticipated. These expenses are pretty much fixed.
We don’t spend much on stuff – where would we put it? People assume that gas would be our biggest expense, but it’s only about $400/month. Camping fees are almost twice that. We’ve spent a good deal on repairs (for both the fiver and the dually – some were improvements, others true repairs). We got good deals on a used truck and a used fiver and knew we would have to invest more to make it a comfortable, reliable rig.
The largest expense has been food (groceries and restaurants). We do eat well! The rest of the big expenses are: entertainment, sports (e.g., golf, skiing, snorkel trip), admissions and tours, and vacations/family time. Don’t want to cut back on any of this!
When we were planning, we imagined living frugally. Once we hit the road we realized what an incredible opportunity this was and we committed ourselves to taking full advantage of every day! No regrets.
One thing I’ve noticed with the blog is that we tell people where we were, not where we’re going. Sometimes friends say, I wish I had known you were there when I was – or I would have liked to have joined you there. I’m going to try to include notes about where we’re headed. But we don’t always know and sometimes plans change.
For now, we’ll be in Sioux Falls through Sept 19, Badlands and Rapid City through the 26th, Black Hills for the next week or so, and then we head west. Ultimately we’re shooting for Seattle, but the weather will dictate our route. Not sure what parts of Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho we’ll see – or if we’ll have to run for cover. Longer range, we expect to work our way down the west coast, lingering in Oregon and Northern California. When we get to the Bay Area, we’ll doctor up and spend Christmas. January and February will be spent in Palm Springs. And then Utah. Beyond that is mere speculation…