Author Topic: Anyone traveling in / living in a van or RV or similar?  (Read 932 times)

moneetalks

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Anyone traveling in / living in a van or RV or similar?
« on: March 20, 2017, 09:14:58 PM »
I often consider a prolonged road trip when I FIRE.  I envision my son and myself (he has special needs), living in a converted van or small RV, leisurely making our way around and seeing this great and vast country.  I wonder what the budget would be like.  The cost of staying in campgrounds and the like seems like it adds up pretty quickly. 

Is anyone doing something like this?  Can you give me any guidance?

Thanks,
David

FrugalZony

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Re: Anyone traveling in / living in a van or RV or similar?
« Reply #1 on: March 20, 2017, 11:31:28 PM »
Depending on what you are looking for this can cost as little or as much as you want.
We have been living full time in our RV for 15months now and started travelling 7 months ago.
We have met people iving in vans, small rvs or even cars, mostly camping for free on BLM land, living on super tiny budgets.
On the other hand we met folks with rigs costing 250k plus not batting an eye at campground charging
 $ 1000 or more a month..expensive club memberships and yada yada

There are some amazing resources out there on how to rv on a budget and live a comfortable life on pretty much any budget

We love being out in nature, so boondocking is our preferred way of camping, which certainly helps with the budget too

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Caoineag

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Re: Anyone traveling in / living in a van or RV or similar?
« Reply #2 on: March 21, 2017, 07:28:43 AM »
DH and I are in the process of converting a van ourselves. We have been using it for several vacations now and find it to be a relatively inexpensive and comfortable way to travel. Even if you don't boondock, there are always campsites available for $10-15 per night and those are usually the most spread out campsites. I do recommend reading various blogs, especially of people traveling in Class B or small rv's to see if you think its something you would enjoy. Most people recommend renting one if you have never stayed in one before buying. For us, we were upgrading from tent and car camping so were pretty sure we knew what we wanted.

The one caution I would give, is make sure you don't need space or a lot of belongings. You are going to be very limited on those two things. For us, we are willing to make the trade off and will be doing the multi year FIRE traveling in the van (about a year left till takeoff!) and will be taking lots of week long vacations in the van before then to test everything out. Good luck!

Cassie

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Re: Anyone traveling in / living in a van or RV or similar?
« Reply #3 on: March 21, 2017, 01:54:58 PM »
I get claustrophobic in our 27 ft RV after a month.  We don't have slide outs and I think if we did it would make a difference.  Also what we found when traveling is that if you stay in a place for a month the rates are much cheaper.  That is what most people do. For us it has not been cheap because we want to go places and see stuff so the gas and site fees add up quickly.  When we go camping with a group of friends we go to state parks that are fairly cheap and I do not mind not having any services. But for a longer time we want them and they cost $.

Retire-Canada

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Re: Anyone traveling in / living in a van or RV or similar?
« Reply #4 on: March 21, 2017, 02:29:58 PM »
The cost of staying in campgrounds and the like seems like it adds up pretty quickly. 

You don't have to pay for camping in a lot of places, but let's assume you do:

- 31 days in a month
- 15 days at a bling pay campground @$35/day
- 16 days at a cheaper pay campground @$15/day
- accommodation cost for the month = $765

That would be less than a cheap apartment around here so for accommodations that seems reasonable. You can for sure pay $0/night some of the time so your actual cost could be lower.

Cassie

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Re: Anyone traveling in / living in a van or RV or similar?
« Reply #5 on: March 21, 2017, 02:37:22 PM »
In big cities in the US we paid 55/night for a so-so campground. We looked into the Oregon coast and it was 800/month even for tiny towns. The national parks were some of the most expensive with The Grand Tetons being 75/night and YS 55/night.  The public ones around here are about 25/night. So it really depends on where you are going and how long you want to stay in one spot. If you went to the Midwest it is probably much cheaper. 

Retire-Canada

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Re: Anyone traveling in / living in a van or RV or similar?
« Reply #6 on: March 21, 2017, 02:41:29 PM »
In big cities in the US we paid 55/night for a so-so campground. We looked into the Oregon coast and it was 800/month even for tiny towns. The national parks were some of the most expensive with The Grand Tetons being 75/night and YS 55/night.  The public ones around here are about 25/night. So it really depends on where you are going and how long you want to stay in one spot. If you went to the Midwest it is probably much cheaper.

I've camped all over the western US and Canada and never paid more than $35USD and that was for bling, wifi, pool, showers, real toilets and laundry, etc.. Typically we'll pay $15/night for a Forest Service style campground or camp free.

For $55 - $75/night I would just go to a hotel.
« Last Edit: March 21, 2017, 02:43:12 PM by Retire-Canada »

Cassie

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Re: Anyone traveling in / living in a van or RV or similar?
« Reply #7 on: March 21, 2017, 02:49:30 PM »
RC: if you want to stay in a national park and not drive long distances to get into and out of the park everyday that is what it costs.  We have 4 dogs so no hotel for us.  It can consume hours if you stay outside of the parks. In Denver it was 55/night and far from bling. However, there was a bus stop out front which was nice and showers/washers/dryers but that was it.  Now in TX and KS yes it was cheaper.

Retire-Canada

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Re: Anyone traveling in / living in a van or RV or similar?
« Reply #8 on: March 21, 2017, 02:51:57 PM »
RC: if you want to stay in a national park and not drive long distances to get into and out of the park everyday that is what it costs.  We have 4 dogs so no hotel for us.  It can consume hours if you stay outside of the parks. In Denver it was 55/night and far from bling. However, there was a bus stop out front which was nice and showers/washers/dryers but that was it.  Now in TX and KS yes it was cheaper.

I go to the smaller parks where there is not the same traffic and cost. I have never regretted that, but if you are going to travel for a long period and want to go to some bling parks just balance that out with some free or cheap camping so your overall costs fit your budget.

Cassie

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Re: Anyone traveling in / living in a van or RV or similar?
« Reply #9 on: March 21, 2017, 03:01:07 PM »
I have never been to a bling park. I research online and find the cheapest for the location we are going to. Actually we have decided that we would rather take a cruise for the amount of $ it costs us for gas and sites to go with the RV. We now just use it to camp with friends or as a guest room when we have too many guests. When we went to Yosemite we stayed outside the park to save $ but it was not worth it as we wasted hours everyday getting into and out of the park. When we travel to visit people we park on their land if there is room.  We went to San Fran once and that was not cheap either. If you plan to stay at one spot and pay a monthly rate you get a better deal and of course you are not driving it so not a huge cost of gas. We don't like to stay in one spot that long.  Our RV gets 9 miles to the gallon.

Retire-Canada

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Re: Anyone traveling in / living in a van or RV or similar?
« Reply #10 on: March 21, 2017, 03:06:46 PM »
It sounds like RV/Van travelling is not a good fit for you Cassie.

To answer the OPs question it doesn't have to be expensive. Like just about any other form of accommodation you can spend a huge amount, but that's optional. I spent a week travelling down to CA and then around AZ. I didn't pay for any camping at all. There were free options wherever I went. I've camped in the Baja for free for months at a time. The longest time I've spent on the road camping is 4 months and I didn't pay for any campgrounds that whole time. The longer you are travelling for the easier it gets as you are not in a rush and can scope out the best options in an area and stay there a while to take advantage of them before moving on.
« Last Edit: March 21, 2017, 03:13:41 PM by Retire-Canada »

DTaggart

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Re: Anyone traveling in / living in a van or RV or similar?
« Reply #11 on: March 21, 2017, 03:20:11 PM »
I often consider a prolonged road trip when I FIRE.  I envision my son and myself (he has special needs), living in a converted van or small RV, leisurely making our way around and seeing this great and vast country.  I wonder what the budget would be like.  The cost of staying in campgrounds and the like seems like it adds up pretty quickly. 

Is anyone doing something like this?  Can you give me any guidance?

Thanks,
David

I'm not sure what your son's situation is, but you might see if he is eligible for the National Park Access Pass - it's available to those with permanent disabilities. With this pass, you can get 50% off many National Park and National Forest campground fees, as well as free entrance to National Parks, Forests, Wildlife Refuges, etc. My husband has one and I often tell him it's the reason I'll never divorce him :D
https://www.nps.gov/planyourvisit/passes.htm

MsRichLife

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Re: Anyone traveling in / living in a van or RV or similar?
« Reply #12 on: March 22, 2017, 04:56:27 PM »
We are in Australia and just FIREd late last year. We've received a bit of a windfall since then, so we are considering buying a caravan to use on weekends or for trips of about 4 weeks at a time. We intend to do the lap of Australia when my son is a bit older. That could take up to one year.

Since I've started researching, I've found great Facebook groups of families who are just doing the same thing and have discovered that there are so many more free or cheap camps than I thought. At first I was put off the thought of staying in caravan parks all the time, but now I'm excited to get out into the wilds a bit more.

Now the question is what sort of van to get and what compromises will we make in terms of $$$, size, amenities etc

Exhale

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Re: Anyone traveling in / living in a van or RV or similar?
« Reply #13 on: March 22, 2017, 08:01:15 PM »
I often consider a prolonged road trip when I FIRE.  I envision my son and myself (he has special needs), living in a converted van or small RV, leisurely making our way around and seeing this great and vast country.  I wonder what the budget would be like.  The cost of staying in campgrounds and the like seems like it adds up pretty quickly. 

Is anyone doing something like this?  Can you give me any guidance?

Thanks,
David


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CanuckExpat

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Re: Anyone traveling in / living in a van or RV or similar?
« Reply #14 on: March 22, 2017, 11:20:38 PM »
There are a few people on the forum doing something similar.
It can be as expensive or cheap as you make it, and as good or bad as you make it.

We're approaching our six month mark in a 24 ft Class C (two adults, baby, and two dogs). We alternate between RV, hotels, short/medium term rentals, as makes sense for the location we are in. When camping we alternate between state/national parks, free campsites, and various boondocking spots, few RV parks thrown in.

Boondocking is free and nice. State parks tend to run $20 - $40 / night it seems. Expensive campgrounds closer to the city we've paid ~$50 / night.
$50 / night is about my cut-off, since that roughly equates to $1500/month rent. Above that point, I'd find an alternative :)

Driving around too much makes you burn gas, so it makes sense to economize. Drive short distance, stay for a while. Enjoy yourself :)

I had broken down and written up our experience and expenses comparing our costs driving cross country in an RV vs a car

That's only one set of experiences and expenses, but maybe you can use that as a baseline for how things compare. Hope that helps some.
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jooniperberries

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Re: Anyone traveling in / living in a van or RV or similar?
« Reply #15 on: March 22, 2017, 11:28:50 PM »
Following. Kid with special needs, group care not an option, one-on-one not available, and just received notice on beloved tenancy, so researching RV-living. Crossing into the US is too fickle, so looking at just summers in Canada then back indoors. Ordered various books on the topic from the library.

jooniperberries

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Re: Anyone traveling in / living in a van or RV or similar?
« Reply #16 on: March 22, 2017, 11:38:07 PM »
CanuckExpat, your RV vs Car post was phenomenally helpful! I'm starting with the same car, am reluctant to swap, and couldn't really see an RV working out cheaper. Also, I assume we'll do this for max 12 weeks after which I'd want my car back :)         Excellent blog post, thanks!!

avrex

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Re: Anyone traveling in / living in a van or RV or similar?
« Reply #17 on: March 23, 2017, 09:54:44 PM »
Thanks @CanuckExpat for the terrific write up.

I've done a lot of car camping over my lifetime and am now considering  and RV or travel trailer for future travel.
Thanks for your timely article.
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Cassie

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Re: Anyone traveling in / living in a van or RV or similar?
« Reply #18 on: Today at 01:06:55 PM »

I also loved reading the comparison. Both big trips we took the cost of gas was higher then what you paid.  When people ask about traveling in an RV I think it is important to note the negatives too because often people don't think about it until they actually experience it (myself included).  When we bought our RV in 2007 we were the third owner and it only had 34k/miles on it. Now ten years later it has 47k. It was made in 1993.  I think that is why many old RV's don't have a ton of miles.   We also met people that lived in them f.t. and loved it. They usually had bigger rigs with slide outs and they followed the weather so no extreme heat in summer or cold in winter.  One thing that we like is that we can take our 4 dogs with us.   Can't do that with a car as no one will rent a motel room with that many. When we have the RV we don't eat out much as it is pleasant to eat outside and enjoy nature. We are finally old enough to get the cheap national park pass so the next time we go our costs should be much less.  I actually was surprised how much the NP's charge for a site but maybe they need the $ to pay all the associated expenses with operating the parks.  The NP's we have been too have definitely been worth the cost. They were so stunning. Traveling in a car with a small child for long periods of time is no fun so I can see how it is much easier with the RV. 



jooniperberries

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Re: Anyone traveling in / living in a van or RV or similar?
« Reply #19 on: Today at 01:14:14 PM »
When people ask about traveling in an RV I think it is important to note the negatives too because often people don't think about it until they actually experience it (myself included).

+1. I seek that info out, and it's harder to find than the plusses. The cons don't put me off, just help me prepare more thoroughly. I like that. The journal of Allie is an awesome read right now for both the pros and cons.

Dicey

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Re: Anyone traveling in / living in a van or RV or similar?
« Reply #20 on: Today at 01:27:01 PM »
Check out Hitchitch.org. It's a roundup of RV bloggers of all stripes. Glenn from To Simplify is my favorite. Check out this link if you want to read his story from the very beginning. Hint, he's on his third rig now and doesn't post nearly as prolifically any more, which is our loss. It's all good stuff, but you might be heading down a black hole. You've been warned.

http://www.tosimplify.net/p/10.html
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jooniperberries

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Re: Anyone traveling in / living in a van or RV or similar?
« Reply #21 on: Today at 01:59:52 PM »
Anyone know of a blog of a dreamy, not-mechanically-inclined, single parent with kid RVing?