In a continuing effort to keep my readers in the loop attendant to the fun and excitement of hitting the road in a RV, and totally out of character with the Biden rule of shading, lying and deceiving folks about expenditures, I am taking a few minutes to update folks about money and the RV. Depending on your approach, it can be great sport for the frugal or lavish spender. As a disclaimer, we are not the “boon-docker” type who is content to beach the trailer in a Cabela’s parking lot, fire up the generator and commune with shoppers who view you with just a smidgen of disdain. We like amenities, utility hookups and plenty of water, and WiFi.
I could stop at this point by simply pointing out that current inflationary trends are alive and well in the pursuit of the nomadic lifestyle this pastime offers. RVs of any description are mini-homes on wheels and stuff bends, breaks and needs attention as you travel about. On most trips, we are compelled to stop at a hardware store for a screw, nut and bolt or propane to keep from freezing to death in the winter confines of Northern Florida, which apparently did not get the memo suggesting kind treatment for snowbirds from the midwest. Unless you are the folks who stuff their unit full of everything you need, thus overloading your condo on wheels, you are gonna pay inflated prices for everything from park rental to propane while you travel. In St. Augustine, the variance in cost for a 30# propane fill up is 10.00 or 35%. A 30# tank should cost about 25.00. You will also note that everywhere you go, convenience comes at a price. Imprudent shoppers are the perfect foil for merchants who seek to maximize pricing to the unsuspecting.
Prices are up dramatically from 6 years ago when we started traveling with a trailer. We could routinely find spots for under 50.00 a night, with most being in the 30.00 range. Today you can expect to pay from 60.00 to 100.00 for those same lots. Equity companies are snapping up RV parks, making improvements and demanding a handsome return on their investment. Unless you are fortunate enough to score state parks or other government owned spots, you are going to spend near hotel level money on a spot to throw out the levelers. There has been a tremendous boon in RV sales the past two years, and reservations are required well ahead of planned trips. Not so 5 years ago, when vacancies were numerous. Our favorite park in Missouri, Echo Bluff, requires reservations well ahead of trips, with next year’s bookings being made as we speak. Plan carefully.
Food. Eating out is expensive. An occasional meal is easily absorbed, but if you hit a local eatery every day, or twice a day, hang on. It is absolutely routine for two folks to lay 40-50 Washingtons on the table for a nice lunch. The dinner hour will require another 20 or so, 50 if you want a glass of wine. It is crazy, with most joints unable to staff adequately, and house specialties priced at the high end of any reasonable scale. Grocery stores are running out of food with many shelves bare and the same pricing issues you see at home.
Fuel. I don’t need to comment here. Fuel costs are roughly double what we are used to and when you range far and wide, hang on. We have gone from energy independence to a healthy dependence on foreign oil. Our big diesel requires a steady diet……….
Okay, so am I complaining? No, just pointing out the obvious. In exchange for the lack of economy in this lifestyle, we get our own bed where Tazzy is welcome. We meet new people and see a country that is breath taking, with time to soak in the local culture. Our unit is big enough to keep extra clothes on hand, cook meals both inside and out and have most of the stuff you need with you. Planning keeps your mind occupied and vehicle maintenance and operation keeps you busy. We have not missed a playoff game and have yet to be cold or hot in our condo on wheels. We love day trip exploring and this lifestyle opens up any number of possibilities.
We love this pastime. I would suggest it to anyone with nominal mechanical and/or culinary aptitude. It allows you to get into a community, see what’s off main street and enjoy the local restaurant scene (carefully). Shopping is Sharon’s particular area of expertise and the ability to really work a retail environment brings a smile to her face. We continue to meet very interesting people, (the gentleman in the lot next to us was a river rat in Vietnam, the same guys that Kerry lied about, he was able to set the record straight!) I just think it fair to note this lifestyle has a price tag…….and a fiscal conservative (tight) may not like it. Caveat Emptor……always!
Have a great weekend!