Can you believe it’s been a full year since we left the driveway of our old life? We sure can’t. The year has flown by! It has been better than anything I could have imagined, and I can’t picture us stopping any time soon.
We have learned so very much. About our country and its history. About our motorhome. About living minimally. About our relationship. About what’s important to us.
We have met so many new friends. Some will be brief acquaintances and some will be best friends for life. We look forward to seeing them all again – and to meet many more.
It’s hard to look back at our life and reflect when there is so much to look forward to. We’re still planning our future – one campsite at a time. We have learned how to complement each other’s travel styles, and have found a pace that is working for us.
One thing has been proved to me and reinforced by our travels, and that is in the words of Mark Twain: “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts.” We can definitely identify our country as a melting pot – even if it needs to be stirred a bit more.
Traveling definitely reinforces that we have more in common with each other than differences – whether it’s the way we look, talk, or behave. And no matter the good bad or ugly of how we got here – we’re now all Americans. And from the oceans to the forests to the deserts, we’ve loved it all.
If you like numbers, the stats are in.
We feel we have lived this past year conservatively, but there has definitely been more outgo than income – which we planned for. Still, it’s a bit shocking to learn how much “living minimally” can cost.
We still have big expenses: our largest monthly payment now is health insurance . We consider ourselves healthy, don’t use prescription drugs or frequent doctors, but you never know. And that’s what insurance is for. Still, it’s unfortunate that there isn’t AHC for nomads. But I digress.
Our monthly housing expenses have gone down by 43% compared to what we spent last year in our traditional home. And that includes laundry costs, what we pay for diesel to move our home around ($6000), and the repairs and maintenance – which this last year cost us $5,500. Ouch. I wish I could say that was an anomaly, but it will probably always be something that needs repaired or replaced.
Our annual “rent” came in at $4,100 – which averages just over $11 per night camping fees. Our goal was to be at $10 per night. Compare that to almost $80 per night to live under our former roof, and it sounds like we’re on easy street!
Unfortunately, our food and entertainment expenses have gone up 17% and, now that we don’t have a mortgage, is our biggest monthly expense. Probably because we’ve been eating out more – not necessarily more often, but definitely at more expensive places. What I can’t figure out is why our grocery costs have gone up 23%. Sure, I cook a lot more now, but then our meals out should have come in less. Perhaps groceries nationally are more expensive than in our hometown, or prices are just increasing everywhere? Or maybe we just have more time in grocery stores now to pick out the more healthy choices – organic certainly costs more. This is the main area we intend to cut down on in the future. but for now, we still want to enjoy the local flavors. However, eating less should definitely be on my list!
Laundry is an expense we never had before, and now we’re spending just over $30 per month at laundromats. But our incidental expenses like clothes and gifts have stayed about the same.
As have our connectivity charges. We now pay almost $250 per month for three different cell phone carriers, but we no longer pay for home internet. So it’s a push.
Our membership costs more than doubled. In addition to belonging to Costco and Escapees, we now have pay annually for Passport America, Harvest Hosts, and Elk’s. We also had to pay $80 for Tom’s National Park Pass that got stolen – which originally cost $10. Bummer. But still, it’s paid for itself in National Park fee savings.
Down to just one vehicle – not counting our rolling home – compared to the three we had before, our vehicle expenses have – not surprisingly – gone down by two-thirds. We put 18,000 miles on the jeep last year which cost us twenty-cents per mile in fuel. It would have been less than half that if we had kept our Mini instead of the Jeep, but we wouldn’t have had as many off road adventures!
In the past twelve months we put 19,520 miles on the motorhome – at a fuel cost of about thirty-cents per mile. (Only one-third more than the jeep!) Some days last year were long drive days, but we managed to average just 157 miles every time we moved.
Even though for the whole year we averaged staying in one spot 2.9 nights, we slowed down our pace over time. In the first three months we were on the road, we averaged moving every 1.9 nights. That changed to 2.8 nights in our second three months, and 4.7 nights per stay in our third quarter on the go.
For those interested, here are some more fun facts about our year of travel.
- Total miles driven (Jeep & MH) – 37,800
- Number of states visited – 14
- Different places stayed – 127 – of those places, 65 were free
- Types of places stayed – & number of nights:
- BLM – 79
- RV Parks – 82 – (of those, 26 nights were with Passport America discounts)
- Driveways & Parking Lots – 48
- Casino’s – 25
- State Campgrounds – 47
- Fairgrounds & City Parks – 14
- Harvest Hosts – 1
- National Forests – 40
- Recreation Areas – 20
- Elk’s Lodges – 4
So that pretty much sums up our experiences of living on the go for our first year. If you have any questions, we’d be happy to answer. And if you haven’t already checked out our YouTube Channel, here is a link to it. We don’t currently post with any regularity, but if you subscribe, you’ll be notified whenever we get something new out.
Peace & Love, Joy