How much did my 4,000 mile, 3 week camping journey cost?


Well, the approximate totals are in, in order of high to low costs:

  •  purchases (groceries, vitamins, a new GPS, toilet articles, books, gifts, entertainment etc.)   $1450
  • gasoline  $922
  • camping fees $489
  • eating out $175
  • Total:  $3036

So my gas-guzzler van consumed 30%, camping fees 16%, eating out was a minimal cost, and my biggest cost was groceries and shopping at a whopping 48%.  I did luck out with quite a few days of free camping at various locations.

Lessons learned:

  • always good to not travel and use gas when possible- stay in one place!
  • get as much free camping space as possible- mooch off others, avoid RV campgrounds which are horribly expensive (typically $25-35 per night even if you don’t use the electricity or water), and camp in rustic, national forest campgrounds for around $10  (this was difficult to do very often because these campgrounds take you way far away from freeways and cities and other places you want to go in a short trip)
  • you can save a lot by NOT EATING OUT and cooking your own food  (I’m proud of my restraint in this regard and the rather tasty meals I did prepare for myself on the road.  The little kitchen worked well!)
  • TRACK your general purchases more than I did.  I was not careful about discretionary purchases, resulting in almost half of my expenses!

In reality, my costs were actually $1000 less than this, since my friend and neighbor Mark rented my apartment while I was gone for $500 per month plus (excellent) cat care.  However, I had no part-time teaching income this summer, so I didn’t have my normal cushion either.

Conclusion:  this was a FABULOUS TRIP and I don’t regret it and next time I set off on a big camping road trip, I will consider:

  • purchase of a different RV that uses less gas (this will be a big decision, so probably not an immediate one!)  Dharma, my van, seems to chugging along nicely otherwise.  And I do so love her sweet little cozy interior.
  • traveling with a companion who can help share expenses
  • spend less time in RV parks and more time in national forests
  • spend less on STUFF!

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