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Friz

The Fuel Factor

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This is not a question, more of an observation. Please feel free to comment. After maybe a 12 year hiatus from camping we bought a 5th wheel last fall. Prepping and planning we took of on a 2 month trip this June. We were headed from north central Florida to northern Michigan. The first 1400 miles were a straight shot, no sightseeing. I had not anticipated how much the cost of fuel would be. How naive. At maybe 10 mpg It would cost us about $70 to drive 250 miles. This was a daily expense when traveling. We extensively used Boondockers Welcome. If not available, campgrounds could be readily found for $30 - $40. As it was, in two months we put about 8K miles on the truck an close to $6K on the credit card. I have not actually crunched the numbers but guessing at least $2500 was the cost of fuel. Is this a fact of life? Do you people live with it? Thanks for listening. 

 

 

 

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Yup, DW and I just live with the fact, we gotta pay to play-er travel; then balance that against the figures my cousin and his wife incurr when traveling by car and staying in motels every night @ $60 to $90 per night, that goes up to over $100/night at destinations. When they stay in Florida with us(we in our MH) during the winter motels costs can be $200/night or more at popular destinations.

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Yup that's why a lot of people want to stay in one spot for 4 or 5 days at a time, or more. Fuel is probably the major cost especially if you boondock or otherwise cheap camp. Of course you can run up other big expenses if you eat out a lot for example, or stay at RV resorts.

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Many of us just figured fuel costs were offsetting what we used to pay in mortgage and taxes. But, even if you are still paying for those you likely can't get a cheaper vacation when staying in motels and eating in restaurants. To say nothing of a vacation that includes sleeping in your own bed, cooking in your own kitchen, and using your own bathroom.

Boondocking you can save a lot of money. The Escapees Boondockers  group sells the publication Days End which provides lot of places to stay for free. State and national forests, BLM, city campgrounds, hunting & fishing lands, and Corps of Engineer campgrounds are usually cheap and many of them offer electrical hookups. Then there's Passport America which gives 50% discounts at some pretty nice campgrounds on some dates--often Sunday through Thursday. So, it's possible to reduce your costs of traveling if you do some research before setting out.

Linda Sand

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10 hours ago, Friz said:

Is this a fact of life? Do you people live with it?

If you are living in it full-time the you control the cost of fuel by spending longer at each stop and by traveling more slowly with shorter distances between stops. You traveled 8000 miles in two months which is about the most that we ever traveled with our RV in a full year when fulltime. We did travel by motorhome towing a car so our side trips while stopped had much better fuel mileage with an average between 20 & 30 mpg and that mileage was in addition to the 5 - 8k per year on the motorhome. We usually put about 15k per year on it in addition to that of the motorhome. 

If you were to go fulltime and continue to travel at the rate of your trip, that would mean you would be traveling 48,000 miles per year, which is far above what any fulltimer we have known ever traveled. Even if you were to travel from Florida to Alaska and back to Florida in one year, you would probably not drive much more than 10 to 12k. Using your numbers, 8,000 miles in 60 days is an average of 133 miles every day of your trip!

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Yes fuel and lodgings are the two greatest  expenses   when in travel. We always stay at Campgrounds  when in travel pull through, full hook up, 50 amp. We leave for Florida in a couple of days and it will cost us near 500.00 in fuel and Campgrounds Northern Ohio to the Orland, Fla area

When in our "can we afford this phase" 14 years ago we took that into consideration. We are still good but it gets more expensive every year..

On a side note we do  keep track of mileage  traveled. We have traveled over 146 K miles since 2006 and covered all 0f the lower 48 states and a couple of Canadian provinces.

 

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13 hours ago, Friz said:

This is not a question, more of an observation. Please feel free to comment. After maybe a 12 year hiatus from camping we bought a 5th wheel last fall. Prepping and planning we took of on a 2 month trip this June. We were headed from north central Florida to northern Michigan. The first 1400 miles were a straight shot, no sightseeing. I had not anticipated how much the cost of fuel would be. How naive. At maybe 10 mpg It would cost us about $70 to drive 250 miles. This was a daily expense when traveling. We extensively used Boondockers Welcome. If not available, campgrounds could be readily found for $30 - $40. As it was, in two months we put about 8K miles on the truck an close to $6K on the credit card. I have not actually crunched the numbers but guessing at least $2500 was the cost of fuel. Is this a fact of life? Do you people live with it? Thanks for listening. 

How did you NOT know it would cost money to move a house with a truck down the road?  I'm not trying to antagonize you, but didn't you do some preliminary estimates on what your fuel mileage would be pulling the 5er?  Did you not look at the total distance you were going to go and have a rough idea of how much fuel you would need?    When we are in 'travel' mode (going from point A to point B with only overnight stops) we know that every other day we will need to stop for fuel (we get 8.75 mpg for the motorhome) as we never like to get much below 1/2 full on our fuel tank (100 gallon tank), or somewhere between 45-50 gallons at each fill-up.  I know that is going to happen and have planned accordingly.   And I also know that when we are doing are typical 2 weeks, then move to next area we explore for 2 weeks, that we will fill only once a month because each move will be 200 miles or so.   In  the summers that we spend in Washington state, it is not uncommon for us to go 6-8 weeks between fill ups because we only move 50-75 miles to the next area with the rig.  Now the toad will get much more use running around as we visit family and explore an area, but at 45 mpg that's easier to handle.

Overnight stops we try and use Passport America parks.   For longer stays (especially on the west coast) we use membership parks.   

Remember, full timers aren't in vacation mode, they are living a life, just changing where they sleep every few weeks.  

 

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Like others have said, stay longer and drive less.  4000 miles a month is 200 miles a day, assuming you take weekends off to catch up on laundry and housework.  It's being behind the wheel 4 hours a day at an average speed of 50 MPH, a reasonable estimate if you include fuel and rest stops.  Add an hour at each end to check into a campground, make and break camp and you're approaching the equivalent of a full time job just getting from one place to another.

If I wanted to spend that much time driving I'd look at becoming an over the road trucker and let the company cover the fuel costs and pay me a little for my time.

Back in the 1990s I worked at a job that required fulltime hours plus being on call 24/7.  I negotiated a deal where I would do that for 3 months at a time, then take a month off to decompress.  No one understood how I could afford to vacation 3 months out of the year until I pointed out living in my RV meant I didn't have a monthly mortgage payment and I was merely trading one expense (RV park rent) for another (free or low cost camping and fuel).  I was living in an RV park where the managers were fulltimers taking a hiatus from being on the road so they understood what I was doing.  They rented my space to overnighters while I was gone and made sure the space was available when I returned.

I didn't RV every time I got the month off, twice I caught the right side of currency fluctuations and at the last minute put the rig into low cost storage and spent the time exploring Australia, living like a king at pauper prices.  Then I watched my pennies for the next 3 months while I paid off the credit cards and was ready to take my next month off.

Vacation mode is very different than extended mode RVing or fulltiming.

Edited by Lou Schneider

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On 10/22/2019 at 11:16 AM, Barbaraok said:

How did you NOT know it would cost money to move a house with a truck down the road?  I'm not trying to antagonize you, but didn't you do some preliminary estimates on what your fuel mileage would be pulling the 5er?  Did you not look at the total distance you were going to go and have a rough idea of how much fuel you would need?    When we are in 'travel' mode (going from point A to point B with only overnight stops) we know that every other day we will need to stop for fuel (we get 8.75 mpg for the motorhome) as we never like to get much below 1/2 full on our fuel tank (100 gallon tank), or somewhere between 45-50 gallons at each fill-up.  I know that is going to happen and have planned accordingly.   And I also know that when we are doing are typical 2 weeks, then move to next area we explore for 2 weeks, that we will fill only once a month because each move will be 200 miles or so.   In  the summers that we spend in Washington state, it is not uncommon for us to go 6-8 weeks between fill ups because we only move 50-75 miles to the next area with the rig.  Now the toad will get much more use running around as we visit family and explore an area, but at 45 mpg that's easier to handle.

Overnight stops we try and use Passport America parks.   For longer stays (especially on the west coast) we use membership parks.   

Remember, full timers aren't in vacation mode, they are living a life, just changing where they sleep every few weeks.  

 

Well, I am not sure "How did I not know?" Per chance I am just not as sharp as you two. Please do NOT be so condescending. If I may restate my observation, why is fuel such a large percentage of cost? I researched a bit and found that diesel cost no more than $1 to $1.50 when we quit camping say 2005. That would be a 200% -300% increase. May possibly have something to do with my perception. 

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We paid over the equivalent of $6.50/gallon in Nova Scotia in 2008.  Then it went down again after the crash, and has risen over the past 10 years.  Plus new sulfur regulations went into effect, and most of the world runs on diesel, so supply and demand, etc. affect the price.  Didn’t you notice the price of gasoline going up?  
 

It seems like a huge percentage of the costs because you packed a lot of driving into a short time frame.   To do 8K miles would be several months for a lot of us.  Over that time frame,  fuel percentage costs would go down and campground, food, etc., costs would go up.   Thus fuel will be a much, much smaller part of the total costs.

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12 hours ago, Friz said:

If I may restate my observation, why is fuel such a large percentage of cost? I researched a bit and found that diesel cost no more than $1 to $1.50 when we quit camping say 2005. That would be a 200% -300% increase.

While diesel prices have increased since 2005, the chart that I found shows Sept. 2005 at $2.819 as a national average and 2019 at $3.016. Living on a fixed income now for nearly 20 years, I assure you that fuel prices have not risen as much as many other things. What we noticed most in rising cost on our last trip with the RV was campground prices.  In looking at inflation reports, I found the following information: Our Price Basket: There has been about a 32% increase from 2008 to 2019. Based on our latest extended travel (March & April 2019) I would agree that the cost of travel has increased significantly since 2005, but I don't think that it is increased much more than other living costs. 

Edited by Kirk W

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I fueled up my truck down in the Villages FL for $2.61 diesel a few days ago. Fuel prices did spike during that time period, remember the $4.00 gas and not just in Cali? But current policies have driven prices down and have made the US one of the most productive petro producers in the world.

This thread has given me an epiphany, "Fulltimers are not on vacation." . Since we intend to join that group in May next year I see I'm going to have to adjust my way of thinking.

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I took a 4200 mile trip this summer over a 3 week period. 

Cost for premium gas: approx CAD $375. Add % of oil change and tire cost say $120. Round it using new math $500.

 

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9 hours ago, agesilaus said:

I fueled up my truck down in the Villages FL for $2.61 diesel a few days ago. Fuel prices did spike during that time period, remember the $4.00 gas and not just in Cali? But current policies have driven prices down and have made the US one of the most productive petro producers in the world.

This thread has given me an epiphany, "Fulltimers are not on vacation." . Since we intend to join that group in May next year I see I'm going to have to adjust my way of thinking.

Exactly, I was going to make the point that the OP was in vacation mode.

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On 10/25/2019 at 8:08 PM, Friz said:

I researched a bit and found that diesel cost no more than $1 to $1.50 when we quit camping say 2005. That would be a 200% -300% increase.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ultra-low-sulfur_diesel

diesel used to be pumped from the boat to the tank through a filter and sent to distribution... Now ULSD requires removal of sulfur and Diesel will never be cheap again.

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My won ton diesel’s fuel cost per hour at cruise is about 25% - 30% higher than a $100 motel room per hour,  based on a 8 hour stay.

 

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We just returned from a 30 day/4500 mile trip.  Avg. fuel consumption of the rig in my sig is about 7.2 mpg.  We put in about 150 gal. when we fill, after 3 days travel.  This leave me plenty of reserve and time, to find cheaper fills.

So, for 30 days, we spent about $1800 on fuel and $1000 on campgrounds.  Roughly the same as motels alone, considering we spent much of our time in "destination" areas.  

Travel isn't a cheap game.  But with a little planning, it's not so bad.

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