Let's Talk More Money (Part 2) / by Dave Hileman

I wrote a few days ago about the actual cost of a trip considering the hidden costs of ownership of the trailer. Because it is really money! Yet that is not how it feels and on some level not how it actually works. The costs are real and substantial. In our case they are incorporated into our living expenses across the year. Insurance and storage are paid monthly and I put aside a bit each month for property taxes, license and maintenance. So it is a household expense like the electric bill and cell phone. When time comes for a trip like we are preparing for now, those sunk costs are not really felt.

We will leave for this trip with the first two nights stays at no cost, one night in a friend’s church parking lot and one night at a casino - we like contrast! We will have no outside electric or water but that is fine we can operate for 3 or four days on the water we carry and a combination of driving and solar restores the batteries. The next two nights are in a KOA we like chosen because it is central to what we want to see, close to the interstate for an early morning exit on Wednesday and because the cost is a reasonable $37 with full hook-ups and pull through site. Even cable TV! Membership with KOA costs $25 a year. For that you get 10% off any stay, earn free nights, get good reservation system and more consistent campground experience. 6 or 7 nights pay for the annual fee. 

Then we have two nights yet to be determined where we stay followed by 3 nights in a state park near Boston. Again very reasonable ($22) with water and electric at the site. After one more unknown stop we do 6 nights in Acadia National Park for $90. In the first two weeks of travel we will spend under $300 or about $22 a day. The week across central NY and across PA to home likely will be a bit more, figure 35 each for the last 7 days and you have 500 for three weeks of lodging. And that could reduce because we have found what looks to be one good free site and the state parks we are looking at are about $28. 

We have NP lifetime passes, so no charge to enter parks and we will eat 15 or 18 meals out depending on what we find and how we feel. The meals in the trailer are no different cost than eating at home so no extra expense there and you begin to see why travel is not too, or at least does not feel, too expensive in the Oliver. Fuel for this trip will be about 600, lodging a bit under 500, add another 1000 for meals, ice cream, parking, tolls, other admissions, and a few odds and ends and you get about $100 a day for a 21 day trip. 

By comparison, a short trip to a near-by state park we took to make sure everything was working well on a site with power cost $109 total (gas and food included) for two days. A trip to Disney is 110 a night just for the campground. 

That is why the travel trailer seems like a bargain. When we travel for these three weeks the out of pocket expenses are very reasonable. Again, we realize we have an initial investment (discussion for another post) maintenance and annual sunk costs. If we drove fewer miles we would have less expenses, gas being our largest or next to the largest expense, but I seem to be incapable of not driving a lot. You never know what is over the next mountain until you go.  Next time Checklists, wow this is exciting stuff. 

 You have to buy groceries! Abandoned store in north central Tennessee.

You have to buy groceries! Abandoned store in north central Tennessee.