10693 Miles in 3 Months at 5.3 Miles/Gallon

“If I wanted to… emphasis on IF…. what would it cost to me live in an RV for 3 months?!”

If you’re not already full-time (and I know all 6 of you…. so I know you’re not) could this be something you might choose to do?  Or are Scott and I just irresponsible millionaires and only we could {and would} be stupid enough to try it (respectively, no and yes).

When I was researching, I liked the one-month snapshots of the budget from other bloggers.  Looking at you Bumfuzzles… thank you.  The plan all along was to do that each month…. more for my benefit than yours.  I wanted to keep us honest with our spending.  But I got lazy and, shit you not, when the dog got sick during that nasty bug that hit us in Utah, he had diarrhea all over 50% of our receipts (pun intended).  So… I got irritated with myself.  Then I realized that we use our credit card for every single expense (hello United points…. come to mama) so I actually could go back in and do a breakdown.  Even better, with enough patience and concentration, I could actually do all 3 months at once and start to see some trends….. Very cool.  Even better, I haven’t seen other travel blogs do this… how unique of us.  Lemons into lemonade.

Here are our numbers.  The overall total is then broken down into groceries, eating out, fuel, campsite and other.  Again, that’s for me.  But it’s also helpful because you can see how much boondocking impacted our bottomline and you can probably substitute your monthly groceries numbers in there to get a more accurate guess for your own budget.  For the record, I’m disgusted at our overspending on groceries and eating out.  You would think we eat filet mignon every night (we don’t).  ‘Other’ can be a lot of things – I try to break out the big stuff in my analysis.


Fixed Travel Expenses

  • Auto + RV Insurance – $42/month (yes…. National General Insurance through Good Sam knows we’re fulltiming)
  • Car (Grey Man) insurance = $50.67/month
  • Loans for RV – $0
  • Health Insurance – $1000/month (dependent on my sabbatical status)
  • Mail forwarding (Escapees Texas with scanning) – $19.58

Total = $1112.25

Variable Travel Expenses

For context (where we traveled, what we were visiting, how we ate), see our Fall in Review – Sept, Oct, Nov 2016 post.

  Total Groceries Eating Out Fuel Campsites Other
September 2016 5334 1333 107 1343 968* 1136
October 2016 4353 1208 540 633 705 1125
November 2016 3639 1373 545 516 310 751

* Reminder that we spent 5 nights in an Airb-n-b in September ($523) when I flew back to VA to mange our shipment from Colombia and the Chief was in repairs in Sturgis, SD.

Just a heads up, included under “Other Expenses” are 2 fixed expenses (so don’t count them twice if you’re going through this with a fine-toothed comb):

  • Internet – $54.90 (grandfathered unlimited plan)
  • Cell Phones – 43.89 (Traci) + 46.57 (Scott)  Straight Talk

Heads up – the Chief is a throwback to a different era.  He is the opposite of “green” – he is a gas guzzling machine reminiscent of the excess of the 80s.  We get about 5 miles/gallon in the RV.  You should get better gas mileage than we do.  That will impact your fuel expense significantly.


  1. September Assessment: Too much moving.  Pushed it too hard.  No boondocking so we paid a lot for places to park the RV.  Great job on not eating out…. but even “just groceries” was still way too high.  We can do better on food.  Misc expenses included our annual memberships to AAA and CoachNet.  Trips to Target, Walmart and Cabbalas all added up and we had to make expensive stops at AutoZone.
  2. October Assessment:  The lodging numbers were high but Oct was Yellowstone.  There’s nothing cheap around Yellowstone.  There was a gem of a state park nearby but it was closed for the season.  We also needed campgrounds in some of the more desolate areas in Utah and we stayed at the hotel in Reno a couple of nights (which was necessary post Apocalypse Warren when everyone but Evie got sick in the RV).  Too much eating on the go.  Food remains an area of improvement.  Misc expenses included $350 to Gearheads for a second kid-carrier in Moab to enable more hiking, $100+ at Lowes to buy parts to replace the dinette table and some organizational supplies from Dollar Family at +100.
  3. November Assessment: Much better pace.  Much better use of boondocking areas.  Still too high on the food.  I might have to look into coupon apps or *gasp* sitting down with fliers.  We really need to do better on food.  Misc expenses included site-seeing in San Fran, Hearst Castle (ridiculous entrance fees), and purchases in Joshua Tree.

Areas of Improvement