November 14th is the sixth anniversary of when we started on the road, and I will say that I am happily surprised that we made it this far. Back when we started I gave us a 50/50 shot of making it five years. As with all full timers we have conversations about coming off the road or going part-time, but for us we have yet to find a lifestyle that works better for us. The big change this year was my having a full time job again and of course COVID. I’ll talk more about the impact of those in my second post that covers our emotional arc. For now let’s start with our travel map.
Like everyone else, this was a weird travel year for us. We started in Charleston, SC where we spent Oliver’s first Christmas and then headed to see Cori and Greg in Spring Branch, TX. COVID hit and they were kind enough to let us stay with them for several months and we finally felt safe enough to head north to Minneapolis to see our daughter Kat in July. We stayed a month and a half there with her and then headed east to see family and friends in Columbus, OH then Kelly and Bill in Pennsylvania. When that was done we started exploring and the months of October and November were a whirlwind of travel. We got four state stickers (West Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey, and Delaware), in quick succession and as of this writing are in a gorgeous campground on the Delaware seashore. We have been so lucky with the weather, an autumn that has lasted almost three months, which has allowed us to see many special things along the way. Like many others our travel plans changed several times throughout the year so I really feel like we worked for this map!
In drawing that line on the map we put 18,116 miles on the truck, and 4,917 on the trailer.
We burned 1,245.8 gallons of diesel, averaging 12.0 mpg, in 419 hours, 24 minutes and 14 seconds of engine time.
And starting in July when we got the TSD Logistics fuel card, we have saved $ 163.27 so far, using it only 13 times, averaging $12 per use. I can’t wait to see what a full year of using this card looks like.
Total number of days moochdocking where we stayed with friends or family: 180 (49%)
Total number of days of paid sites: 173 (48%)
Total number of days workkamping where our site was provided: 12 (3%)
Total number of days boondocking where we had no campground fee: 0 (0%)
Total amount spent on campground fees: $ 5,597
The least expensive site was Prairie West in Appleton, MN at $14 per night. We stayed there two nights but they let us pay the monthly rate because we had already been staying there for a work kamping gig.
The most expensive site for the year was $ 53.10 for the AirCap RV Park in Wichita, KS.
Total data used for the year: 5.99 Tera bytes (5,990 GB). Our total data costs for the year were $1,380, which works out to about $ 0.23 per GB. We spend $115 per month and that’s all of our data for phones, iPads, hotspot, internet, TV, movies, EVERYTHING.
We took 13,775 pictures totaling 75 GB. Here’s how that compares to previous years:
2015 – 24,436
2016 – 28,929
2017 – 20,087
2018 – 15,246
2019 – 16,505
Home and Truck Repairs, Modifications, Upgrades and Improvements
Although I do our actual budget post at the end of the calendar year, I do like to take some time and mention extra or special expenses we had along the way. I feel we have proven you can live this lifestyle on much less money, but those big ticket items keep happening. That is why I absolutely recommend having money in the bank when you go on the road, because it helps makes those emergencies manageable! Some of the items on this list were nice to haves but others were absolute necessities. (If you’re in the process of getting ready to hit the road, and have some control over the timing, and can stand it, wait a few more months and pile up as much money as you can. – Lee)
February – Lee replaced the carpet in all three rooms in the RV and all in it cost around $900. This was much cheaper than it could have been because we were able to buy remnants at a significant discount off of list price and of course there was labor cost. (I bill in smooches. – Lee)
March – Lee replaced all the furnace hoses and some other stuff in the “guts” of the rig, which cost $219. He also completed a bunch of miscellaneous smaller projects which ran around $250 all in.
June – We bought our second ice machine this year and the total for both was around $350. We love our small ice machines, but for whatever reason they don’t last more than a year. Sometimes less. But from the moment we wake up to the moment we go to sleep we’re using ice. Unfortunately when they go they are not always easy to replace locally and the selection if available is pretty limited. We bought our first one in December and that one lasted only six months and we had to replace it with another one. This is pretty unusual, but since the first one was bought in Charleston its not like we could take it back. In June we also replaced all of our hard drives which cost a whopping $455. Before going on the road we made electronic copies of everything (DVD’s, music, pictures, important documents) and when we suddenly lost a drive this was a big deal. After exhaustive research Lee discovered we needed to replace them all and since he handles all things computer in our house I reluctantly agreed. The dollar value doesn’t even cover the amount of time he had to spend transferring everything, but thankfully he managed to keep the loss to a minimum. Personally, I couldn’t stand the thought of losing all of our pictures.
July – Lee built a “baffle box” to go over our air conditioner. All in this cost around $150 but the noise reduction in the living room is great. He saw a picture of one online that cost several hundred dollars and decided to make his own instead. He also replaced our broken Splendide washer/dryer door for $156 and we had to replace our convection microwave. That was a huge hassle even though it only cost $78 because it was under warranty. We upgraded to a convection microwave last year in October but it only lasted 6 months before we started having major issues. It was a hassle because although the manufacturer offered a one year warranty the seller only did 120 days. After tons of research Lee learned that the company we bought it from wasn’t an authorized seller and it took a ton of convincing before he could get the manufacturer to honor their warranty. He is a persuasive guy though and ultimately we only had to pay shipping. Lee also bought an air compressor and that and the parts was around $250. Back in 2015 we had gone to a smaller air compressor, but Lee never liked it because it took so long to put air in the tires. Ultimately he rebought the same one we had given away.
August – We replaced our hot air balloon spinner which was the very first present Lee ever bought me when we started camping. The original lasted for 7 years and only “died” when I accidentally rolled it up in the slide. It was super sweet that Lee made this a priority and we found one exactly like the original just went with a slightly smaller version. $46 was a steal for keeping that tradition alive. Continuity is very important to both of us. We also replaced our Weber grill which was another item we had used for several years. I would say 2020 was definitely the year where some stuff “wore out” and since I was making corporate money again seemed like a good time to replace it. $222 for the grill isn’t cheap but we really like the size and function. Another example of wearing out was when we had to replace our Dyson vacuum cleaner battery for $40. We got this vacuum when we first got the RV so the original lasted a long time. On a more serious note Lee spent $156 fixing the wood under one of our slides. Ever since our slide floor replacement he keeps a close eye on them and catches problems when they start to occur. And finally we got in our first car accident in years (since 1989!!!) and although we were found not at fault and paid nothing, Lee spent $207 on a dash cam in case there were future incidents. That could have cost $1K in deductible and a bump in our insurance rate, but we got lucky and the McDonalds had video footage showing we were not at fault.
September – We had to replace our sheets which cost a whopping $176. Totally worth it though and if you have ever slept on 800 thread count sheets you will understand why. If you don’t then lucky you, you can sleep on cheaper sheets. We can’t. Lee also finally talked me into buying a Keurig which was $128. I have to say that I really like how easy it is but the jury is still out on the cost of the pods. Yes, we also purchased the kind you can use your own coffee, but part of the fun is just popping a pod in. Not so fun Lee had to do a toilet valve replacement for $52 and we finally purchased a fresh water transfer tank for the back of the truck for $135. We had been talking about the freshwater tank for years to help us when boondocking and Lee finally found one that both fit in our truck and was reasonably priced. Not so great was the $145 water transfer pump. We had loaned ours to PGE to help fill water for the camp hosts when the water wasn’t working early in the season and someone had burned ours up by ruining it dry and giving it back to Lee without ever telling him. It went back in the basement of the rig and he didn’t discover it until he needed to use it. Not cool. We also had to get an oil and coolant change on the truck and Lee decided to do that at the dealer. Since we bought the truck we have been on a prepaid maintenance plan, but that finally was expired and even though we got a call or two from the company wanting to talk to us about our warranty (hahahahahahahahaha) we didn’t renew it and we had to pay $458 for the two services. Finally we spent $1520 on replacing all four trailer tires and an additional $540 on two truck tires. For more detailed information on this repair check out this link.
October – Lee replaced the fifth wheel lock for $54 and the power inlet for $70. The power inlet was a huge deal because it had fused to the cable adapter, and when Lee finally got it off he discovered the inside was completely burned on leg #2. Thankfully he removed it in time, but that is exactly the sort of thing that can start a fire. Lee also had to replace our leveling system remote because the battery died and the battery is soldered to the board and is not replaceable. It was $266 which was really pricey but he learned to not charge the device until the battery was mostly drained and take it off the charger as soon as it is charged. Since this remote makes hitching and unhitching much easier for him and he can do control the jacks from inside the truck, there wasn’t much we could do about that. Speaking of batteries we also had to change our generator battery for $108. I was super relieved that it was only the battery though when we heard a large bang like a gunshot under the rig. The battery actually exploded, blowing the entire top and half of one side off the battery, and thankfully once the new one was in place the generator worked just fine! It was sort of an emergency though, because that battery is what powers the trailer brakes, and we didn’t realize that until we were driving away from a campground with the rig. We thought that battery only started the generator.
November – Lee has been using an Iphone 6 for a loooong time. We heard ATT was having some deals and Lee was able to upgrade for $400 which was an awesome deal. We could have done $15 a month but I prefer paying up front so our monthly bill doesn’t change. We alos had to replace our TV antenna which somehow snapped off. We are not really sure how but really glad we found it before it came off the RV. That was $358.
As always you can see full timing isn’t cheap, but then again living in a sticks and bricks isn’t that cheap either. It’s important though that when you are budgeting you keep these types of things in mind because they always happen.
Top 10 Things We Saw (In no particular order)
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