We departed Albuquerque in light snow (In early November? In New Mexico?) and made our way east through Tucumcari AZ, Quanah TX, Bonham TX, Shreveport LA, Vicksburg MS, Cottonwood AL, and on to Chattanooga TN, where we are now. Yes, I worked the route-planning carefully to avoid dragging the trailer through most of the big cities on the trip back east. And besides, I far prefer small towns.
I’ve been spending some time pondering this adventure over the last few days, as the odometer miles continued to increase, and will share some thoughts, statistics, and budget info.
Last fall when we began to look at this massive road trip, and all of the strange roads and towns that we would be travelling through, it was hard not to get a little anxious. I had read through many trip reports by other RVers that had made the long trip up to Alaska, and I was a little apprehensive about the problems they had faced. Mechanical issues, blown tires, busted windshields (by rocks kicked up by passing vehicles), broken/bent axles, animal strikes, etc. I had visions of sitting on the side of the road somewhere in the Yukon, broken down, as bears circled us and peered into the windows.
But like many fears, these were all unfounded. We made it all the way through Canada, up the Alaskan Highway, around Alaska, back down the Cassiar Highway, across the southwest, and only suffered a small windshield ding. Hooray! I did replace one of the tires on the trailer due to tread loss, but that was while sitting in a campground and not on the side of a road somewhere (thank goodness). So all things considered, this was a fabulous trip.
From when we made the decision to sell the house and go on this journey, we were able to get the house cleaned up, significantly downsized our accumulated stuff, researched and bought the truck and trailer, and had the house marketed and sold. All in about six months. So for those anonymous readers that are pondering this sort of adventure, that’s the time frame that it took us. I was a little hesitant about selling the house and not having a place to return to if things went to hell, but jumping into the abyss, as the saying goes, worked out for us.
When we closed on the house and passed along the keys to the new owners, I took a certain amount of pride in claiming our new status as Rootless Nomads (remember this post?). But now we find ourselves ready to return to a more traditional lifestyle, so we will slowly make our way around the southeast mountain areas of Georgia, Tennessee, and both of the Carolinas to find a new area to settle in to. It is surprisingly hard to find a place to live when it doesn’t matter where you live. It will be interesting to see if we return to our previous lifestyle of accumulated stuff, or continue to embrace our minimalist RV lifestyle. Needs vs. Wants has become important. Simplicity and Stillness also.
When we started planning this trip, I read many other blogs by other full-time RVers to try and understand what to expect to be paying while on this trip. They shared their budgets, so it’s only fair to share our numbers, and I hope a few others might find the information useful for their planning. Because we did not stay for very long at any location, we paid more for the campground stays than others did, and we also did not boondock as much as I thought we would. But I’m still glad I paid extra for the lithium batteries.
In the numbers below, I am not including the cost of the trailer and truck, nor the monthly storage fees we are paying for the household goods that we opted to kept when we sold the house. I also did not keep track of the actual gallons of diesel fuel that I pumped in to Ruby, but based on the miles driven and the MPG we get while towing, it was probably around 1,695 gallons. We could have used less fuel, since our trip meandered more than was needed.
All the Stats:
Total Days: 260
Towing Miles: 18,205
Non-Towing miles: 3,807
Total Fuel Cost: $10,421
National Parks/Monuments Visited: 25
States/Provinces Visited: 33
Mississippi River crossings: 5
Camping Cost (Total): $12,955
Camping Cost/Day (Avg): $49.82
Groceries: $8,082 (this includes booze/beer/wine)
Grocery Cost/Day: $31.08 (two of us)
Eating Out: $4,652
Entrance Fees (museums, attractions, parks pass, etc): $1,621
Touristy Trinkets: $900 (some guess-work here)
RV Maintenance/Supplies: $1,083
Truck Maintenance/Supplies: $1,067
Some Oh-By-The-Way Recommendations:
– If you do not have a library membership, get one. We often listen to audiobooks while travelling, and we have saved tons of money by downloading them from our library (though I also have an Audible account). Or find podcasts that appeal to you.
– Sirius XM is great to have, at least until you get to the northern Yukon and lose the signal.
– ALWAYS pre-flight the route of travel and never completely trust what the GPS is telling you to do. I use Google Maps with the satellite view turned on to look at certain road intersections in advance, and to find possible parking/rest areas. Sometimes I even go to the street view. I also download maps for offline use where I suspect I will have no/limited cell coverage.
– I use the 511 traffic map for each state to prepare for construction areas or closures.
– Order a copy of the Milepost, and learn how to use it, even in this digital age. There are many miles of travel with no cell/data coverage (unless you have the funds for satellite).
– I took an old back-up phone, and bought a Canadian sim card for it after we crossed the border. $45 for one-month (8 GB data), and a little extra peace of mind.
I hope everybody has enjoyed following along with us. This blog was never intended to be an unending saga (like too many bad TV series). It has served it’s purpose of sharing our journey with friends and family, so it is time to let it fade into digital history (though I did save a full export). I am also happy that many others have also found it to be useful in their planning for their own adventures in 2023 and beyond, based on the emails I have received.
As we return to living in a non-mobile house, we will look with fondness on every RV we pass on the roads, wondering where they are going and where they came from. We stayed at a wide variety of campgrounds, from parking lots to upscale “RV Resorts,” but in all cases the people that we interacted with were pleasant and helpful. #ProudTrailerTrash.