Month #1 in our RV - How much did it cost?
One month has really flown by. But at the same time, it feels like we have been on the road for a very long time! That might be because this already feels like normal life. The RV feels like home.
Normally when you’re traveling from place to place, your housing changes at every stay. This can be great for vacations or short term adventures, but you lose the feeling of having a home base, which I think is why, even though travel is fun and exciting, you can get burned out a little. With RV travel, your home stays the same, but what you walk outside to changes all the time. I can’t even remember how many times I have woken up and not even remembered where we were.
It’s a strange feeling (although a fun one) to be able to walk right outside your door and see something different every week. No matter where you are, you feel like you’re home, because you are!
We had no idea what our gas and RV Parks budget was going to be before we actually left our home base of Johns Creek GA. Sure we could guesstimate based on an average number of nights and miles, but we really had no idea! So it was fun to open up our Mint account and see what we spent our money on from November 5 - December 4th.
Without further ado, here is what we spent on our first month of traveling in an RV.
RV Parks: $1,096.50
This includes 3 free nights of boondocking (Bayou Teche Brewery, Walker Honey Farm, and Schreiner Park), which is something we can do much more of if we need to save a couple hundred dollars during any given month. Another way we plan on cutting back on this expense is through our Thousand Trails / Trails Collection membership that we just purchased this month. Just for December and January, we have over 30 free nights booked using our membership.
Fuel (Diesel): $734
Zig zagging our way from Atlanta to Big Bend National Park, which is on the Mexico border in west Texas, sure does take a lot of gas…especially when you’re only averaging 11 miles per gallon! (Accelerating up a steep hill gets us 2.8mpg! Luckily those hills have been short and infrequent.)
Miles Per Gallon has been a big question for us. Our combined average has been 11.2 mpg, but that includes when we are unhooked from the RV. Based on the first month, here is the averages we have been based on a few different variables:
Pulling the RV on flat Hwy
80 mph = 8-9 mpg (yes we have touched 80! Sometimes you forget you’re pulling an RV)
70 mph = 9-12 mpg
65 mph = 10.5 - 13 mpg
50 mph = 12-15 mpg
Pulling the RV uphill
2.8 mpg up the steepest hill we have come across
5 - 7 mpg for a moderate hill
Driving the truck without the RV
City: 10-13 mpg
Highway: 18-20 mpg
86 hours of driving and 3056 miles later, we are $734 poorer (I mean less rich). Due to our mad rush to get to Southern California by Christmas, all this driving was a necessity. After Christmas, when we are free to go wherever the wind takes us (which as of now is along this route), we can slow down and, if needed, stick to a gas budget. Gas is a huge variable expense. Many RVers stay in the same place for a month at a time (or longer!), so their gas expense is just their in-town driving or exploring the nearby area.
Our only utility expense is propane. We have two 30 gallon tanks that fuel our heat and stove (it can run our refrigerator and water heater if we aren’t plugged into a 30/50amp outlet). Electricity, water, sewer, and trash are all provided for free by the parks that we stay in. This is a huge money saver! Many parks include cable and wifi as well, but they aren’t very dependable at most parks.
TV / Internet / Cell: $200.77
We have been asked a lot about what we do for internet. Before we started our travels, we switched over our cell phone plans to Verizon’s unlimited plans, which includes a limited amount of hotspot data. Since we are limited to 35 total GB of hotspot data, our preference is to use the park’s wifi or spend an afternoon at a library or Starbucks. When that isn’t possible, we turn our hotspots on, but by day 20 of our trip, we were all out of hotspot data! We were forced to find public wifi for the last 10 days of the month.
Since WiFi is a necessity due to work, we’re already looking into adding an AT&T mobile hotspot or a Verizon Jetpack, so we’ll see how month number two goes (If you have recommendations on this, please let us know in the comments!)
We did purchase a weBoost Drive to amplify our cell signal, but we haven’t needed it yet due to our close proximity to cities so far (except for Big Bend National Park). So far, Verizon has been great and all that we have needed. Once we get further out west and into the more remote parts of the country, that might change.
RV Parks: $1096.50
Cell / Wifi: $200.77
Truck / RV Payment: 798
Our first month ended up being cheaper overall than a normal month in our home in Atlanta!
Obviously one month doesn’t give us a clear picture of what a normal month will look like on the road, but its a good start!
I expect our gas and RV park fees to drop in the upcoming months. If a major RV repair or other expense hits us, we can eliminate a huge chunk of that $1,830 cost from month 1.
We have absolutely LOVED our first month on the road. We have had no major mistakes or disasters to report, which we are very thankful for. We can attribute that to a lot of research on Youtube about things NOT to do, as well as a little luck and a lot of prayers from friends and family (thank you all!).
We’ll update this post in the upcoming months with updated numbers. It might look quite different in months 2, 3, 4…
Does this encourage you or discourage you from potentially living your live on the road?
Is this more or less than you expected (or if you are a full-timer, how does this compare to your normal month)?
Let us know in the comments!
Updated: Month 2 Costs
RV Parks: $580
Diesel Fuel: $612
Half of our Month 2 has been moochdocking with Aaron’s family in Calimesa, CA. It has been so great spending the holidays with our West Coast Family! It has also cut our RV Parks cost in half. While our RV hasn’t been traveling much, we have been driving all around southern California for the holidays, so our diesel bill was very close to our first month’s amount.