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Old 08-02-2010, 09:29 PM   #121
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We are not retired yet (actually DW is, I have a year to go). We started with a travel trailer about 6 years ago then bought a fifth wheel and now have a luxury 43' class A. We don't do it to save money we do it for a diffrent kind of vacation. I am a million miler on multiple airlines (work related) and love to travel but we decided years ago we needed to do something diffrent than flying and staying in hotels / condos / rentals for vacation. The RV has turned out to be exactly what we wanted to do. We put kayaks, bicycles, golf clubs in the toad and pets in the RV with us. We love the freedom it gives us.. We keep ours at our house, have it fully stocked including most of our clothes we take so the decision to go somewhere can be made almost anytime. We really like doing 4 day weekends from April to November (we live where it is cold in winter) but have taken it out in -5F weather too. We fully intend to go on the road for months at a time once retired as our biggest complaint is we have to come home. We don't really plan on going full time but who knows.. we plan to go as long as we are having fun. I really think it is about the experience and the flexibility.. When we are traveling in the RV we stop when and where we feel like it and if we don't like a place we pack it up and move out. In the 6 years we have been doing this we probably have put in about 10,000 miles per year so we have covered a very good part of the country already, we just want to spend more time at places in the future.

Another part of the culture is the many groups you can get involved in. We have been involved with a few and it is amazing how friendly all these people are and how much fun we have had with them. One idea I have is to tour the entire country and attend rallies(the good ones are like 3 day parties) every week.

There is some value to RVing in that we cook most of our meals and campgrounds are much less expensive than high end hotels (our RV is better than most hotel rooms). But maintance is not inexpensive (and there is lots of it) and fuel is very expensive but we have planned it in our budget and manage our expenses to what we can afford.

We typically do not spend a lot of time at the campgrounds we park at as we like to hike, bike, visit museums, tour and anything else we can think of. It's all really a lifestyle you have to like. I started years ago when I was financially lean and we would tent camp and hike.. It really was a lot of fun but the RV's sure looked good when it was raining or snowing out..Now that we have one we found they really are!
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Old 08-03-2010, 09:12 AM   #122
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There is a BLOG called The Frugal RV Travel Blog that would be useful in the "RV Cost" aspect of this thread. Here is one of the early posts:

Traveling Frugally

Quote:
On our 4 longest RV trips, I kept close track, recording every expense.

To show you how possible and how affordable traveling frugally by RV can be - our way – I'll share with you exactly how much it cost and where we allocated every penny we spent on those 4 trips.

When we plan a long road trip we plan on traveling frugally. We budget $500.00 per person per month for our travels. This includes all expenses of our trip including food and personal items that we'd be purchasing even if we were staying home. And, as you'll see from our records below, we don't hold back on mileage.

We're not traveling to go and sit in one spot. We're going to see and experience as much as we can at a pace that keeps the trip relaxing but, at the same time, exciting and spontaneous.
This Blog might also be useful:

Fulltime RVing Budget

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The biggest question I think most people have before they run away
to a traveling lifestyle is: Can I afford it? I spent a lot of time
studying other travelers' budgets online before we left, and I thought
it would help future adventurers if I added a year of our actual
expenses to the mix.
This section includes:
• Our monthly "fixed" costs from 9/1/07-8/31/08
• Our monthly "variable" costs in the same time period
• Capital costs & RV depreciation considerations when
budgeting for fulltiming
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Old 08-03-2010, 10:42 AM   #123
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Good points. I never RVd before I bought one. I discovered the lifestyle fits me - even if I only do it for 3-4 months a year.
The question is not if an RV is a depreciating asset. The question is what is the cost benefit breaking point for it. Meaning - what level of use justifies the cost to the owner.

Another way to analyze the cost of an RV is versus an equally rewarding endeavor to the owner. We are taking about travel here so an example would be the total cost of 3 months of traveling in an RV versus traveling via another method - analyze the costs and qualitative differences between the two.
And don't forget the admonition about 'knowing the cost of everything but not knowing the value of anything'

A final thought, who thinks a airline flight to England and hotel costs should be an appreciating asset?
Dex - you own one of those very rare RV models that barely depreciate. When we sold our Casita, we pretty much got all our money back less sales tax and a few add-ons. Two years heavy use - virtually free!

But I still find the cost comparison difficult. Unless it's a very inexpensive RV like a trailer (and you can use your current vehicle to tow it), cost of the RV even amortized over 10 years or so easily blows away travel expenses.

And on the other hand - how do you quantify "ease of travel", or enhanced flexibility, or no need to pack and unpack, or having your own space - kitchen, bed, bathroom all the time, or being able to stay in places only accessible by RV? You can't really quantify that stuff, and I'm not sure there is a point. This is the area where some people are willing to pay a lot for these benefits (like us), and others are willing to put up with the lack of benefits because they can save a lot of money doing so.

Personally, if something will really enhance my lifestyle, and I can afford to buy it, I do so with no concerns about the cost. Because what else is money really for? If you aren't FIRE yet, then saving is really important. Once you are FIRE, it's about aligning your spending with your priorities, no longer about trying to spend as little as possible.

Audrey
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Old 08-03-2010, 10:40 PM   #124
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Originally Posted by audreyh1 View Post
Personally, if something will really enhance my lifestyle, and I can afford to buy it, I do so with no concerns about the cost. Because what else is money really for? If you aren't FIRE yet, then saving is really important. Once you are FIRE, it's about aligning your spending with your priorities, no longer about trying to spend as little as possible.

Audrey
I need to show this great quote to my partner (she's Scottish and gets stressed at the thought of spending money .)

This thread has me back exploring the options of a class B. I'm really liking the ~20 ft. Sportsmobile with the pop up roof.

The sprinter van is really nice, but the Ford or Chevy would aid with the stealth mode. I have no doubt that we would really use one of these when we retire. We both love road trips and have planned to travel a lot once we retire. We could spend a long time just exploring the Pacific NorthWest.

I'm going to start hitting the RV shows again. With three years to go to retirement it is time to start getting serious. I'd like to buy one about 1 year before pulling the plug. I don't want to buy one any sooner as I am on call every other week. There is no use buying one and letting it sit most of the time; plus it would make being tethered even more painful.
< 3 years to go!!!!

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Old 08-05-2010, 07:35 PM   #125
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We aren't trying to convince anyone that it is about saving money.*

*With the exception of NW-bound's efforts to his DW
Hey, why pick on me? Didn't you see Firedreamer's post above?

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Once you are FIRE, it's about aligning your spending with your priorities, no longer about trying to spend as little as possible.
True, but for most of us, money is not an unlimited resource. A retiree still likes to maximize the return on the money expended, even if that return is something intangible and difficult to measure like the pleasure of travel. In our case, we forgo leather seats, real-wood cabinets, and nice countertop in our RV because we figure that the lack of those would not detract from the pleasure we will get from this mode of travel.

OK, OK, that's just Uncle Scrooge talking... But the truth is how does one know what he can afford? The market giveth and the market taketh. In the bull market of 2004-2007, we took several European trips, bought a 2nd home, and our portfolio still set a new high! And then, in the crash of 2008-2009, I "lost" something equivalent to a few new mid-range diesel pushers. Just now been recovering, and I won't spend more until I reclaim that old water mark.

Ah, the joy of counting your moolah... Uncle Mick knows all about this too, I am sure. And I have posted the following quote before.

"Money is much more exciting than anything it buys." - Mignon McLaughlin
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Old 08-24-2010, 12:42 PM   #126
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I just completed my maiden voyage in my new-to-me Sprinter van RV. I tallied up my expenses for the trip which included 3461 miles of travel over 4 weeks, 2 of which were spent at relatives so that wasn't really traveling. Including gas, food, pet food/litter, etc, I only spent $900 on the trip and that includes some restaurant tabs I picked up for the relatives. I spent another $1000 on one time equipping expenses (things like dishes, silverware, electrical cords & water hoses, hooks, velcro, etc.). So while that does not include the cost of the van, the actual traveling was very cheap.

I only paid for one campsite the whole time, altho I looked at several but figured a parking place, picnic table, and water just was not worth $15 - 20 a day when I could park for free elsewhere and I wasn't going to stay in the area anyway. Maybe I'm just cheap. The Forest Service has a real scam going now that they have those "camp hosts" who do little but the price for parking at a pit toilet and water camp site was ridiculous at $17 a night. I remember when it was either free or just a couple of bucks and I got all the "services" the "camp host" provided without one. I found one lovely little derelict state park in KS by a dry reservoir that I had all to myself and it was free. That was a nice spot.

It was slower traveling in the van than a car but much more comfortable. Some of that was me fumbling as I learned how to use the van. By the end of the trip, I was very comfortable driving it but there was a bit of getting used to it which also slowed me down. I also had some of the daily rituals in better shape using the van facilities which does take some getting used to. I managed to be able to use the van with no hookups for a full 4 days before having to dump and get more water. I still have 2/3 of the propane left.

I took 2 cats along who hate each other but they were surprisingly easy travelers once I got some of their "issues" sorted out. Among the lessons were that cats need head room for their litter boxes and I had to set up a crate with a separate litter box/water/food to achieve peace. THere was a detour to a laundromat due to learning these lessons. It was great to have them in tow because it made the trip without tethers to home - paying for a sitter/worry about them/needing to get back at a specific time to retrieve them, etc. so I could indulge whims as they occurred to me.

For one, the van was perfect. Easy to drive and park (22' long), decent mileage (20-25 mpg depending on driving speed), and just enough room. I don't think the extra living room a larger rig provides is worth it for me.

This week, I use it to help a friend move. I just cleared out the back end which has the benches/bed area. I think it will work well for that task too as there is quite a lot of space to carry stuff remaining.

When I'm ready to relocate, the van will give me a lot of options as I'm pretty sure now that I can live in it quite comfortably for an extended period. It makes me want to take more trips.
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Old 08-24-2010, 12:47 PM   #127
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Nice recap and good to know the cats' maiden voyage was successful, even if it required some laundry to make it so.
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Old 08-24-2010, 12:47 PM   #128
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Thanks for the trip report Tesaje. Sounds like you've found your groove in the RV world.
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Old 08-24-2010, 01:02 PM   #129
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You have any pics of the "Sprinter van RV" - I don't know anything about these things... thanks
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Old 08-24-2010, 01:09 PM   #130
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Sounds like a big success. That 20+ mpg, especially.

BTW, do you feel you need to include food, pet food and litter and other "I'd have to buy that even if I were back at home" items in your RV expenses? If not, you numbers are even better.
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Old 08-24-2010, 01:10 PM   #131
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sounds like a wonderful maiden trip...
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Old 08-24-2010, 01:30 PM   #132
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Awesome Tesaje! We are planning we purchase a Sprinter van RV and travel with 2 cats as well, so your experience is of particular interest to me. Did the cats suffer at all from the cramped space? Were they able to each settle in their own little private corner without fighting for such a small territory? While you were driving, did you keep the cats in crates?

I would love to see pictures of your van!
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Old 08-24-2010, 02:15 PM   #133
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You got terrific gas mileage, it seems to me, and your overall expenses were remarkably low! Congratulations and I'm glad your maiden voyage was such a success.
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Old 08-24-2010, 03:08 PM   #134
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Didn't I hear that if your traveling Walmart allows you to park in their lots for free at night?
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Old 08-24-2010, 03:27 PM   #135
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'PS. Of course when comparing RVs to a 2nd home'

Actually, my parents have taken their trailer to the same part of Colorado each summer for the last few years, and have noted that the cabins along the road have a regular procession of for sale signs - owners use them a few years and then put them back up for sale.
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Old 08-24-2010, 06:00 PM   #136
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Didn't I hear that if your traveling Walmart allows you to park in their lots for free at night?
Yes, they do except in towns that have ordinances prohibiting them. Pretty good place for an overnight as they have parking lot security too.

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Sounds like a big success. That 20+ mpg, especially.

BTW, do you feel you need to include food, pet food and litter and other "I'd have to buy that even if I were back at home" items in your RV expenses? If not, you numbers are even better.
I just tallied up all my costs during the trip without regard to what I would be buying at home anyway. So yes, it was cheap. I bought ice that I would not have if my refrigerator were more reliable, food that my cats don't ordinarily eat and probably more litter than I would have used at home due to frequent changes because of the small space. If I were not staying with relatives, I would have spent a bit more at laundromats besides the emergency stop.

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Awesome Tesaje! We are planning we purchase a Sprinter van RV and travel with 2 cats as well, so your experience is of particular interest to me. Did the cats suffer at all from the cramped space?
It isn't all that cramped for cats. Much more so for people . They were more nervous about a new place and moving than the van. They quickly looked at the van as their safe haven and had no interest in leaving it until the end of the trip. They liked the wells formed by the step and closed door - until I opened the door and they had a sudden exposure. I had each of them spend some time in the van parked with me before the trip so they would know it some before we took off. Both wore harnesses and leashes the whole trip.
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Were they able to each settle in their own little private corner without fighting for such a small territory?
These two enemies have drawn blood so to my surprise, the most aggressive thing the evil male did was park himself in front of the female and stare at her. I stopped that in short order and he didn't do it again. On the way back, the male was up on the counter (hard to stop that in such a small space) and the female wanted to look out the window. She jumped up there right next to him, looked at him and hissed then calmly sat at the window and looked out (as if to say to him: " I still hate you!"). He did nothing.
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While you were driving, did you keep the cats in crates?

I would love to see pictures of your van!
Both of these cats have a history of hating to be confined in crates. I started with the female in a crate and the male loose. I intended on trading crate time between the 2 but she seemed pretty calm so I let her loose too. The male spent most of the driving time on my lap or a step well and sometimes on the dash. The female liked a different step well and the back benches/bed. The 2nd day was when we had the litter-box troubles. After that, the female rode in the crate the rest of the trip. I took her out for walks on the leash. They both spent some time looking out the windows then slept.

She got a 10 day respite from her enemy in my mom's backyard and a crate at night. On the trip back, she started the first day in the bigger crate but with it set up and her own box/food/water bowls, she was much calmer so I let her ride free the last 3 days with no problems. By that time, she wanted to go out at stopping points and explore so I put her on a leash to do so or for a walk. The male did not voluntarily leave the van until the last 2 days when he walked for a bit on a leash. He has not been leash trained like the female so that was a big plus. That also meant I had to be sure they didn't go out on their own which I didn't have to worry about earlier.
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You have any pics of the "Sprinter van RV" - I don't know anything about these things... thanks
Here ya go - my van on the trip, at a camp with cat on a leash, and a cat on the dash. There was little obscuration from that.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg 100_2112 FS Camp Olive CO.JPG (214.3 KB, 8 views)
File Type: jpg 100_2122 Longs Peak - Mt Meeker.JPG (253.5 KB, 5 views)
File Type: jpg 100_2142 Syl on dash.JPG (197.7 KB, 4 views)
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Old 08-24-2010, 06:05 PM   #137
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Old 08-24-2010, 06:26 PM   #138
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Ha ha. The previous owners of my van traded it in at that dealership for one of these. Even the same salesman I had. They wanted back into the Airstream club. Lucky for me!
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Old 08-24-2010, 06:33 PM   #139
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Glad to hear that your trip was a success. In fact, I would have kept goin', to Alaska or Banff at least

One thing for sure is that the class B RVs have excellent stealth factor. It seems to me one can park innocuously in the cities, trying to blend in and not stand out like an RV. Now that I know what to look for, I have seen many Sprinter-chassis commercial cargo vans on the road and the RV version appearance does not look too different than those.

About Forest Service campgrounds that charge for no service, just a spot to park, yeah, it bothers me too when I do some research on the Web. But though my RV is small compared to others, it's still 26ft long and I will be towing a toad. Parking is not as easy as a single vehicle. Will see if I am going to trade this whole setup in for a class B after we are on the road for a month.

Quote:
... I'm pretty sure now that I can live in it quite comfortably for an extended period. It makes me want to take more trips.
One sure hopes so. You are not going to put it on blocks after just this trip, right?
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Old 08-24-2010, 06:39 PM   #140
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I just completed my maiden voyage in my new-to-me Sprinter van RV.
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