We have been collecting detailed travel costs and statistics since we hit the road in 2010, but this is the first time we are sharing it. That’s not because we didn’t want to share it, we just didn’t get around to it!
The travel stats are supplemented by an interactive map that shows our exact route and all the campgrounds that we stayed at this year.
Since we usually spend our summers aboard our boat Quantum Leap, we decided it made sense to start our “RV season” in the fall when we move off the boat and head out in the coach and end it when we return to RI and move back aboard the boat. We are typically on the move in the RV from September until April or May. So we have presented our RV stats & costs in two ways, one for the “RV Season” when we are actually on the move and another for the entire year from September to September. Depending on your own travel style you may find one or the other more relevant to your situation
Roughly, for the 2016-2017 season our average costs for lodging, fuel, electricity, heat and hot water (and subtracting an unusual hotel stay) come to about $1300/month. That seems really reasonable to us coming from an area where a basic one bedroom apartment (not including heat or electricity) starts at about the same rate. And we get to see the country, visit interesting places and stay in warm weather! Our lifestyle and campground choices are not lavish nor are they excessively frugal. We occasionally spring for a luxury destination but also shop for the best deals.
Since we first started RV’ing in 2010, our winters were usually spent in the south, mostly Florida, Alabama and an occasional short visit to Louisiana. For the winter of 2016-2017 we decided it was time for a change so we headed west instead. On top of that change, in the fall of 2016 we sold our prior coach privately and bought a new one.
With high expectations of both our new coach and our subsequent journey into new territory, we left East Greenwich, RI on September 20, 2016, not returning until May 21, 2017, a total of 243 days for this “RV Season”.
2016-2017 Travel Route Details
Follow our journey by clicking on the map below which highlights our exact route and each stop we made. A few notes about the map:
- Links to campground/resort websites as well as campground reviews and the blog posts that we wrote about each particular area we visited are provided. Just click on the push pin balls along our route. Note: we are a bit behind in our campground reviews so some locations may not have links yet.
- The bright red push pins designate those campgrounds/rv parks that were our favorites. Definitely ones we would visit again.
- The burgundy push pins and route from RI to GA depicts the portion of our trip that we traveled in our prior coach (a 2013 Entegra Aspire 42RBQ). The blue routes were taken in our new 2017 Aspire 44B.
- In some cases (e.g. from San Antonio, TX to Mission, TX and vice versa), we had to travel the same route there and back. Unfortunately it only shows it as one line on the map – there is no way to differentiate between the two, but by clicking on the push pins you can deduce our next stop.
- Use the “+” and “–” controls on the left hand side (or your mouse wheel) to zoom in/out to see the details of our route.
- Each leg of our journey is designated as a layer. Click on the layer icon (what looks like a stack of circles) on the left hand side where you can zoom to that segment or show/hide the layer.
Click on the map to enlarge
2016 – 2017 Travel Statistics
Notes regarding Travel Stats:
- This season – we departed RI on September 20, 2016 and did not return until May 21, 2017.
- MPG – Corrected average miles per gallon for this trip came out to 8.02. Day to day trip mileage varies from about 6.5 to 9.5 depending on terrain. Note that miles per gallon are not simply miles traveled divided by fuel purchased. Fuel purchased was 1282, but actual gallons consumed by driving are 1069. The remainder of the fuel was utilized as follows:
- Unused Fuel – purchased and in the tank but not consumed (61.6 gal).
- Heat & Hot Water – our coach does not use propane but instead has a diesel fired “boiler” (AquaHot) for heat and hot water (73 gal).
- Generator – run time of 78.5 hours (78.5 gal) used when boondocking or for air conditioning when traveling on hot days.
- Lodging – included a mix of stays:
- Campground – stays include at least electricity, but usually include water and often include sewer hookups.
- Rally – stays vary from boondocking to full hook up.
- Boondocking – no hookups at all, completely self contained (Wal-mart for example).
- Service – stays are time spent at a dealership or service center, are zero cost and usually include electric hookup with drive up access to a potable water fill and dump station. That does not necessarily represent days getting actual repair work done, just total days we spent in the service providers “campground”. A few of those days do entail actual repair work but most are spent waiting for parts or simply taking advantage of the dealer “perks” offered by our Entegra ownership of a “free” place to stay for a few days.
- Hotel – stays are not the norm for RV’ers but sometimes service issues require it, especially for those with pets. For us we just find it infinitely more convenient to book our cats into a hotel than try to keep them happy for 7 or 8 hours each day while the coach is in service. On a few occasions the service center has kicked us off the coach for a few days due to insurance regs (when that happens at Entegra, they pick up the hotel bill). This year was a little different because we spent 10 additional days in a hotel on our dime as we transferred ownership of our previous motorhome and moved onto the new one. See this post for details on that rather involved process. This one time event increased our annual lodging cost by $1344 for this trip.
- Short driving days – we prefer short travel days of no more than about three hours, however when necessary we will travel further. “When necessary” usually entails escaping some bad weather or some otherwise undesirable situation. We have never traveled at night or arrived in the dark and don’t intend to if at all possible. We are not in a hurry and prefer to experience some of what the local culture has to offer even if we are only staying for one night and short driving days make that more feasible. Some of our really short travel days were due to things like arriving at a service location, the dealer for our new coach putting us up at a local campground for a few nights so we could look for things they needed to fix and on a few occasions we just wanted to stay at a different nearby campground.
2016 – 2017 Travel Expenses
Notes regarding our travel expenses:
- Scope – To try and keep things relevant for those that are trying to get a handle on costs, the expenses in the chart are all specifically those that will be incurred when full timing in a motorhome. This includes all campgrounds and other lodging, heat, hot water, electricity, fuels, RV and full timer insurance and some entertainment (rallies). There are other expenses that are optional and highly variable that we talk about further below.
- Electricity – Most campgrounds/resorts include electricity for stays of less than one month, but bill it separately for stays that are a month or longer. Our separately listed electrical costs were incurred at Rancho California RV Resort in CA and Sun Valley in RI where we had long term stays. Since our summer for 2017 is not yet over, we used 2016 electricity costs in Sun Valley, RI to approximate July & August 2017.
- DEF – Diesel Emissions Fluid is required on most diesel highway engines built since 2010. For our 9 liter Cummins engine, the consumption rate was about 2% of diesel fuel consumed which is exactly within specifications. DEF is available for pumping in truck stop diesel fuel lanes, but due to the DEF tank location on a motorhome (not near the fuel tank and often on the wrong side) it is generally a pain to fill at a truck stop. We just buy it at Walmart in 2.5 gallon jugs (under $8) which for us is way more convenient.
- Insurance – the Insurance listed in the chart is full featured including “Total Loss Replacement”, Full Timer provisions, glass coverage and awning coverage. Costs will vary widely depending on rig age, type, what specific coverage you require and in which state it is registered.
Other RV Expenses
We did not include expenses in our table that are common to everyone and not specifically related to RVing. These are usually personal and will vary widely by need or desire. Some examples are entertainment (cable TV or satellite TV), cell phone service, groceries, eating out, health insurance, etc. In many cases these expenses will likely stay roughly the same as they have been for whatever lifestyle you currently enjoy. However, while still highly variable, below are a few items that deserve a bit more discussion:
- Cell Phone Data Plan – Many RV’ers will need to depend on a cell phone carrier for an internet data plan, but this can be significantly more costly than the options available to stick and brick denizens. Of course this varies with need. For us, because of our blogging and photo uploads, we tend to be a bit heavy on the data side and consume on average 40 gigabytes per month (that does not include any streaming from entertainment services). If you are thinking that campground wifi will be all you need, think again, in most cases even for light browsing it is all but useless, although we have run into a handful of exceptions. However, this year we saw some favorable improvements in cell phone data plan pricing that have allowed us to trim our bill quite significantly. Like moving to Verizon’s recently announced “unlimited” plan from our 40GB plan. Another biggie for us was the availability and monthly price drop of the AT&T Mobley. The Mobley provides an unlimited “hotspot” for just $20/month (and it works quite well). Our current costs for two phones on a Verizon unlimited plan are $167/mo plus $20/mo for the AT&T Mobley. Your costs will vary dependent on your needs and what you are willing to settle for.
- Motorhome Service & Repairs – Costs for service
and repairs will vary widely depending on age, in or out of warranty, gas or diesel, ability or desire to do your own work, luck, etc. In regard to our repair costs, we are in good shape for now. Our Spartan diesel engine based motorhome has a three year warranty on the chassis and five on the engine and transmission, the rest of the coach has a 2 year warranty which will expire in 10/2019. Annual service is still an expense however and depending on what service is needed and what aspects we do ourselves, that can cost from about $300 to as much as $2000.
- Subscriptions & Clubs – there are numerous RV clubs and services that you can join and the costs can pile up if your not careful. We find the most useful are Passport America ($40), FMCA ($50), Escapees ($40), Harvest Hosts ($40), and CoachNet ($249). CoachNet service came with our rig and Passport America and Harvest Hosts pretty much pay for themselves so we consider them no cost items.
- Purchasing A Rig – probably the subject of its own blog post, but the ongoing expense for this could vary from nothing for those of you lucky enough to have the cash on hand, to thousands per month for a loan. We have a 1.25% “margin loan” (borrowing our own money) so we don’t really see any expense from a cash flow perspective, just a lower return on our investments.
2016-2017 Quantum Leap Expenses
For those of you who are curious about our costs associated with also having a boat that is large enough to live on, here are our yearly costs (not including electricity or insurance):
- Annual membership dues at the East Greenwich Yacht Club: $900
- Annual slip fees: $2600 (based on $65/ft for a 40 foot slip). The season is about 7 months here in RI so that equates to $371/month.
- Dry (on land) winter storage cost: $1440 which includes launching and hauling (about half that for in the water storage)
- Winter shrink wrap: $585
Total cost: $5525. If we lived exclusively on Quantum Leap year round and left it in the water over the winter our daily cost would be under $14/day. But that would be spending the winter in RI (no thank you). Keep in mind it took 12 years on a waiting list to get a slip at the EGYC, whereas local commercial marinas can cost $135/foot or more so our expenses may not be typical. We did not mention fuel costs because we don’t go very many places on Quantum Leap. Traveling in a boat (even a sailboat) is significantly more dollars per mile than an RV, in fact we got into RVing exactly because of that fuel cost and our desire to live in warm weather year round.