Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Florida Roadtrip Wrap-Up

My first trip to Florida's east coast was even more fun than I expected.  More expensive too.  First, here is my route and camping spots.

Note to self: this is a great time of year to visit the coast.  You are in-between the summer crowds and the snowbirds.  The weather is ideal because the heat and humidity are gone.  So are the screaming kiddies. 

Here is the breakdown of my travel expenses.  I wanted some numbers to analyze so I can determine how to cut costs.  I'd like to keep it down to $50/day max.  If so, this trip would have totaled $750 - a savings of almost $200.

15 days/14 nights
1347 miles
    $ 310
(13 nights)       
Average Cost

The one category I may be able to improve upon is camping fees.  I averaged $29/night for 13 nights. 

Ideally, I should dry camp every other night and save roughly 50% - I'll try that on my next trip but every third night might be more my style.  Although $385 for accommodations for 2 weeks isn't so bad.  That's the equivalent of 3 nights in a decent hotel. 

I think the food costs were reasonable at roughly $10/day.  I had 3 dine-in restaurant meals and 3 fast food meals.  And the occasional grab-and-go tourist bites (i.e. that tasty empanada).  The remainder was spent at grocery stores. 

And, of course, I could save a lot of money on gas ..... if I never left the driveway! 

I find that the numbers at the pump don't hurt as much if I ignore the cost per gallon or cost per tank and focus on the cost per trip.  I'm willing to spend $300 for 2 wonderful weeks on the road.

My strategy is .... don't look at the pump!

                             Put the receipt away and reach for the camera!

I'm open to any cost-cutting ideas.  How do you save $$$ on the road? 


  1. Even though I love the natural setting of many state park campgrounds, their night fees (especially for non-residents) are borderline obscene especially as many also charge a daily entrance fee on top of that. So, I now try to limit my state park stays and hunt out county/town parks, COE and Forest Service parks instead. The Allstays Camp & RV app (or their website) is a great resource to find what's available near where you want to go.

    When I need hookups/dump, I try to find a Passport America park (50% off), and if simply needing to stop overnight to rest, I take advantage of free overnight parking at Wal-Mart, etc or a casino parking lot. I might also try Boondockers Welcome or Harvest Hosts in the future for additional boondocking options.

    With all these strategies, my nightly rate last winter when snowbirding in the Southwest, averaged about $18/night.

    1. That's a great nightly average! Let me know how Harvest Host works out - it looks great on paper.

  2. I find that doubling up on things can help a great deal. For example, instead of packing a jar of mayo and a bottle of ranch salad dressing into the RV, I just take a bottle of ranch. Ranch tastes great on just about any sandwich I would put mayonaise on. I travel lighter this way, save space, and save on the cost of a bottle of mayo.

  3. Use a credit card that gives you cash back.
    Overnite at Walmart, casino, truck stop, campers world, side streets near apartments, boondockers welcome.
    Free fast food at MarketForceshopper.com. Tell them Pat Monahan sent you.

  4. I think the way we travel and camp depends on our budget and lifestyle. I prefer to cook most of the time, and meals out add $$, so I seldom eat out. I really love boondocking so I do that a lot, and that definitely saves $$$. I'm living in my rig, so I don't need to move much.

    You are having fun sightseeing and traveling, so that's a completely different situation. You HAVE to spend more money on gas to get to the places you want to visit. Lots of full-timers enjoy that lifestyle, too, and do a lot of sightseeing and traveling from place to place.

    I think spending less than $1,000 for a three week road trip is pretty good. And if you boondock some of the nights, you'll be surprised how fast your cost per day goes down.

    If I had a much bigger budget, I don't think I'd change much except have more money in savings. I live pretty frugally, but I can't think of anything I want that I don't have. :)

    1. Enough. What a concept. Good for you for 1) achieving that state and 2) recognizing it.

      You make a good point about full-timing versus touring (which is what I think I'm doing).

  5. Sounds like you lived frugal, yet enjoyed the vacation. If you went cheaper you would have been like just living.
    Now for my question, how do you make that little chart?

    1. Hi Retired Tom & Kathy,

      I sent you the chart which you can modify in Microsoft Word. Hope that helps!

  6. My favorite thing is my 'Senior Pass' (eligible at 62) for free entry into federal lands AND 50% off campsite fees. It saves me significant $$$. Totally agree about state park fees. New Mexico has a 'season pass' available that is great. Also consider casinos. I'm so happy you are enjoying your Trek!

  7. State Parks are getting out of hand in AZ. The prices keep going up and I refuse to use them. I can stay cheaper at Passport America RV Parks. I guess they just don't get it. Anyway your budget wasn't bad for touring and yes like the others said boondocking as often as possible is a big saver.
    Keep enjoying

  8. Kim, so glad your trip was such a success. You seem so suited to your chosen style of travel in the Roadtrek! Glad you held out for what was right for you!

    The expenses seem pretty reasonable to me. As others have mentioned, Passport America can help with camping expenses... and that senior pass when you turn 62 really makes camping affordable.

    I would imagine that you are a little more leery of boondocking after your hospital knock on the door, but there are plenty of other places where you would be welcome.

    It's so much fun following along with you. Wishing you many happy miles of exploring and living your dream!

  9. Kimmer, My first year full timing I did the RV Parks etc. I had Passport America which really cuts down on costs.

    Now I boondock all the time and therefore ZERO for camping fees. BUT you don't want to know what my gas bill is !! LOL

    Even if you boondocked (say at Walmart) every second night you'd see a big difference. I enjoy the challenge of seeing how I can cut down my expenses.

  10. Hi Kim,

    Just a little more than $10 a day for food must be close to what it costs you per person back home. So, I wouldn't count the cost of food in your average as it isn't really a travel expense. You then end up with an average travel cost of just over $51 a day ... very good!
    I think you also have to figure the enjoyment you get per dollar spent. In our case, staying in a campground is more than half the fun. We do boondock to save some cash, but dinner in a nice campground and a glass of wine next to the campfire adds so much to the overall experience.

    I love reading your blog. Keep it up !!!



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