Wednesday, November 7, 2012

RV Lessons I've Learned

It's been quite a journey thus far. Donna and I sold our house on July 23 and actually began living in our Rockwood on July 27. So, we've been RVing for about 3½ months now. We've covered quite a bit of territory in that time. Here are some stats:
  • Total miles traveled (trailer miles only - does not include side trips in truck): 3,522 miles
  • Fuel costs (pulling trailer only - does not include side trips): $1,361.23
  • Camp site rental costs: $2,431.51
We've learned a lot about RVing during this short time, and we have much more to learn. But here are a few things we've picked up so far.
  1. Get the right rig for what you plan to do. Donna and I purchased our trailer while we were still working. Our plan was to simply take it out on weekends, vacations, and holidays. We never intended to stay in it longer than 2 weeks or so, and we certainly didn't plan to be in it for as long as we have now.

    Though nice, our rig is simply too small for full-time RVing. It lacks storage more than anything else. We simply have no place to store all of the clothes we need. Our kitchen also lacks cabinet space, so our pots, pans, and dishes are limited, as is storage for canned goods. The fridge has limited space as well.

    Living space is a bit cramped, too. Even with a deep slide, we have limited limited floor space.

    Again, for short trips, the trailer is fine. For full-time living, it is inadequate.
  2. Just because your RV is on wheels, you don't have to constantly travel. Traveling from RV park to RV park after staying only a few days is much more expensive than staying put in one place for a month or longer. Here are the rates for Fernbrook RV park outside of Longview, Texas, which I recently reviewed. These rates are for "standard" sites.

    • Daily: $33 
    • Weekly: $155
    • Monthly: $350 plus electricity, usually less than $75 per month

    Thus, if you stay a week, you actually pay only $22.14 per night, and for a month, you pay only $11.67 per night plus a charge for electricity.

    Although you will always have times when you travel long distances over a short period of time and stay in various parks, the best plan is to find a park, stay a month, visit all you can in that area, then move down the road and spend another month. Not only does this allow you to reduce lodging costs, but it allows you to thoroughly comb an area and visit all points of interest there.

    For our travels, we have averaged a nightly cost of $22.94. That doesn't seem to bad, but it actually comes out to a monthly fee of $688.20. If we had averaged the $11.67 figure I quoted above, we would have saved $1,194.62. That's a significant sum.

    So, should we continue this lifestyle, we will select a handful of destinations and plan to spend a month or more at these. Now, not all parks offer rates like Fernbrook, but if you look diligently enough, you can usually find a good park with reasonable rates. We will try to keep the parks close enough together so that we can go from one destination to the next in a single day, thereby keeping fuel costs down as well.
  3. Donna and I have decided we just cannot function without a reliable Internet connection. If we continue RVing full-time, we will look for some sort of connection, perhaps an air card. It has been our experience that half the parks that offer WiFi do not deliver on their promise. Although most parks offer this service for free, many charge a fee, sometimes as much as $5.99 a day with reduced rates for longer terms.

    Of course, I like a good connection to update my blog and web page. But we also use the Internet for so many other things, from finding RV parks to locating the cheapest fuel prices around. When we don't have a connection, we feel lost.
These are probably the big three items we have learned. Of course, there are numerous smaller lessons. This is a good life. If we decide to continue living this way, these lessons will make it even better.

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