Since selling the house and leaving on our extended honeymoon, we have traveled for over six months full-time in our travel trailer across the United States. Since we are currently home for the holidays, I figured I would put together a general summary of our trip so far, just for kicks.
Number of miles on the truck: 22,056
Number of miles on the camper: 12,065
Number of days on the road: 193
Number of states: 24
Number of national parks visited: 15
Breakdown of Where We’ve Camped:
Number of total campsites (or number of times we’ve moved the camper): 66
Average number of nights in one place: 2.9 (most we’ve done is 9)
Number of overnights in Walmarts: 21
Passport America-accepted private campgrounds: 9
National Parks System campgrounds: 8
Other private RV parks: 7
State/county parks: 5
National Forest Service/BLM run campgrounds: 4
BLM sites: 3
US Army Corps of Engineers parks: 1
Harvest Hosts: 1 – Evergreen Aviation Museum, McKinnville, Oregon
Driveway (family’s house) sites: 1
Truck stops: 1 – Gordy’s in La Pine, Oregon
Concert venues: 1 – Gorge Ampitheater, George, WA
Most helpful sources of finding campsites: RVParky and Passport America smartphone apps
Most we’ve spent on a campsite: $44/night
Least we’ve spent on a campsite: Nothing! At Walmarts, truck stops, or BLM sites. Otherwise, $7 outside of Yellowstone.
Number of different places we’ve showered: More than I’d care to know…
Nights we’ve had shore power: 101; otherwise it’s generator use and/or limited lights/LED lanterns for us!
Biggest pain: Transferring and timing picking up our prescriptions at different Walmarts throughout the country.
Longest time apart (prior to coming home for the holidays): 3 hours – and we haven’t killed each other yet! In fact, the times we have been apart longer than this since we’ve been home have been pretty hard for us (gag, right?).
Thing we wish we had bought at the start: Solar panels, which we now have an excuse to look into since our generator was stolen from over covered truckbed near the Alamo in San Antonio. Please feel free to weigh in in the comments if you have insight into solar vs. generator!
Repairs we’ve needed to address so far, yes, even on a brand new camper:
– Underbed storage hinges broke the first week we had it home. It took three people to replace with stronger hinges. One of the arms that holds the weight of the bed as it goes up came unscrewed after that, but we have left it that way because it is too difficult for me to push down on my own otherwise – kind of funny, I literally have to climb on top of the bed and use my whole body weight to ride the bed down.
– Thin, plastic strap that keeps the sliding bedroom door from swinging around while driving broke early on, causing our door to swing around and damage the door track. We now use a plastic Dewalt C clamp (that won’t damage the door/wall like a heavy metal one) to keep it in place. Leaving the strap, but getting door track replaced under warranty.
– Replaced overextended, hence broken, tongue jack
– Snapped slide cable (Luckily our slide went right back in after it snapped since the bottom cable was still in tact. We have heard of people having to create that push/pull mechanism with human power. Also covered by warranty.)
– A short causing the body lights not to work on the camper (warranty)
– Broken string on one window’s pull-down shade (warranty)
– Replaced a lock that had to be drilled out by a locksmith (thank you, Good Sam!) because the lock wouldn’t open with the key.
– Both emergency exit windows that prop out are being replaced under warranty due to some sort of structural issue that we discovered when rain got in. – Replaced the anode rod in our hot water heater as an already rotted out one (just doing its job!) was creating an awful sulfur smell in the water.
Once our warranty is up in April, I guess we’ll be learning how to do a lot more of these types of repairs on our own! We have also been very happy with our choice in rig despite the minor issues!
Our best purchase: The National Parks System All Access Pass for $80, good for a year. It’s saved us between $300-$400 so far on admission to national parks and monuments and we’ve got half the year left!
Favorite places: Glacier, the Grand Tetons, Sequoia and the Olympic Peninsula, WA.
Places most excited yet to see: Tennesee, Colorado, and hopefully, the Canadian Rockies and Alaska
Things I miss most while on the road: Besides family and friends, a consistently good shower and being able to let food go down the sink!
Biggest mishap: Getting locked out in the middle of the night at Yellowstone
Fun Fact #1: We have turned on our TV a total of four times this whole trip. Not having electric half the time or being in the middle of nowhere without signal gives us no choice, but the rest of the time, rather than watch things we probably don’t have an interest in on basic cable, we use the time to read, write, do chores, and take in our surroundings instead. It really does feel good to disconnect from electronics! (Even though I could still go for watching some hockey games from time to time!)
Fun Fact #2: We felt like we had inside information the political pundits didn’t. Our observations driving across the United States were that we probably saw 100:1 Trump signs vs. Hillary signs. So while we still thought it was pretty crazy that he won, we really weren’t THAT surprised! (Pretty please, no political comments – it was just an observation!)
Biggest lessons learned:
– That you can’t always be in “vacation mode” when full-timing for any long stretch of time. You WILL burn out and you will also burn a hole in your pocket. We definitely try to make the most of our time in places since we don’t plan to full-time forever, but don’t push ourselves to cram too many things into a day. We regularly take days here and there to regroup and do normal things like laundry, clean, go places to use wifi, get oil changes, and make Costco runs. Not to mention that we regularly have to do RV living-type things like run the generator, break down/set up campsites, do long driving days, research what we want to do in each place, and sometimes even drive somewhere else to take a shower, all of which take time and energy as well. We are fortunate that having fun and sightseeing are our full-time jobs right now, but like with any job or lifestyle, it’s got to be balanced!
–NOT TO OVEREXTEND YOUR TONGUE JACK!! An unfortunate, comically unlevel site in a private park outside Yosemite led us to accidentally overextend, and hence break, our electrix tongue jack trying to level the camper (and yes, we even had blocks under it). There was no warning whatsoever on the jack that this was even possible, so we were really peeved about that! It got stuck in the extended position, so we had to prop the tongue up on our truck jack to remove it so that we could drive to a dealer and hold our breath as we slowly brought the weight of the trailer down on the other jacks. We were then out $200 because the electric jacks were an add-on and supposedly had no warranty on them, even though if you buy one off the shelf, they have a warranty? We’re just glad we now know. Even though our new one still doesn’t have any indicator of how far is too far, we are just overly cautious!
The biggest question of all…are we still glad we took the plunge? Heck yes! While it has been a little bit hard not coming home for the holidays to our beautiful house in Philly and it can be a little scary watching our bank account slowly go down, we know we can always get another house and more money when we’re done. However, we can’t get more time. Even though it can even be scary, too, thinking about almost starting new again when we’re done traveling, we still feel that the lessons we’ve learned, the experiences we’ve had, and the countless memories we’ve made so far are already proving that taking the plunge has been and will be totally life changing.
We are anxious to see what the second half of our trip brings and how much more we are going to learn! Stay tuned!