Sunday, September 7, 2014

Crunching The Numbers On Economy

Stationary for a month at the Park
In recent months I've written a couple articles on the fallacy of down sizing your RV for the sake of economy. I chronicled my experience last year of selling off a perfectly good 30' gas powered class "A" motorhome and replacing it with a small 13' travel trailer with hopes of saving some fuel expense.

As it was, the motorhome was lucky to get 10 mpg, going down hill with a tail wind. The results of downsizing Didn't improve my mileage one iota. The Jeep Cherokee, trailer combination still averaged 10 mpg on a week long vacation trip.

In total frustration I again traded the trailer off for my now 37' Diesel pusher, by far the largest and most powerful RV I've ever owned. My research told me I should expect a good solid 10 mpg with this rig as well, but as they say... The proof is in the pudding.

Spending the night at Walmart on the road.
Today was the first time I have fueled since leaving Duluth MN a week ago. True, the needle showed me at half way between 3/4 tank and 1/2 tank, but I figured it would take about $150 to top it off.  After all it is a 100 gallon fuel tank.

I was pleasantly surprised when the pump kicked off at $125. Next I sat down for some serious calculating. This heavy monster of a highway cruiser that floats along effortlessly towing my Jeep Wrangler behind gets a solid 11 mpg. And that didn't include the roughly 3 hrs of generator time as well.

As remarkable as it is that I can travel in this level of comfort with all the amenities, there is more to this fact than meet the eye.

My travel strategy has been short driving days, staying only at places like Walmart or similar free spots for the night.Yes, I'm cheap, but there is more to it than that.

By slowing my life down a notch, and being in no big hurry to be any particular place, I have found that whether I am on the road traveling or staying at an RV Resort for a month, my monthly expenses are virtually the same.

Jeep and trailer.. 10 mpg
At this rate of travel I will consume $500 a month in fuel when traveling. The going rate at many quality RV resorts is in that same neighborhood. When I get tired of Walmart, or the weather further down the road I'm headed towards is too hot or too cold, I can tie up the reins at a resort for a month and wait for more suitable weather, or for the mood to strike me to move on.

The only catch with this plan is you must stay for a month if  you decide to come off the road for a spell. Monthly rates are considerably less than daily or weekly.

For the next week or so I have planned places I want to see. Beyond that is a 2 month window where it is too hot out west, and getting too cold up north. I may very well seek out a campground somewhere in the middle, with some amenities, and call myself home until it's time to go. It will be a good time to get mail forwarded while I'm at it.

At least now I have a pretty good idea of what my budget will be, regardless of whether I'm standing still or moving.


  1. Would you consider Florida as a winter "hang-out"...why/why not? m*a*g

  2. m*a*g, Yes I would consider Florida. It is such a lush beautiful state. The downside is that the cost of living is much higher. If you can afford Florida it is a wonderful place to spend the winter. Also there are a lot more people. Open space is pretty scarce.

  3. I'm wanting to do extensive travel by motorhome with my dog and a cat full time. I've had a 30 foot gas motorhome in the past but I want to get a diesel pusher as I want to travel through the mountains and valleys. I worry about traveling alone as I am a woman. What safety tips can you advise for me to be successful. I want to carry a small hand gun, but don't know the legal ramifications. Do you have any suggestions on a brand of diesel pusher? I would want it as close to 30 feet in length as possible. I will not be pulling a tow behind as I don't want the hassle of hooking up and unhooking. Any and all info would be appreciated. Thanks!

    1. Brand of diesel pusher is not as important as condition. Assuming you are talking a used unit. Anything 100,000 miles or less is considered low mileage. Diesel chassis are designed to go half a million miles reliably. You might want to reconsider not towing a car. My 36' pusher just doesn't fit in many places I want to go. Staying on the move all the time will wear you out, when you stay someplace you will need wheels.Gun laws vary from state to state. Generally if the gun is unloaded and locked away some where that you can't get at it you can transport it. In an outside storage compartment. I would recommend getting a concealed carry permit for the states you will be in. Mountains aren't a problem if you drive according to what equipment you have. If it is straining, down shift. As anyone traveling alone, the best way to avoid trouble is to not go where trouble hangs out. Choose your nights parking place wisely. Always be prepared to leave immediately if you feel uncomfortable about your surroundings. Do your research, the internet is loaded with information.

  4. As a single woman, I am glad to see what you wrote. Thanks for the info. Sandra