RV Life: Costs and Experiences during 56 Days on the Road

We’ve been home now for 5 days, and although I’m not nearly caught up on a few jobs, I want to give you a global look at the trip, including a summary of costs that may help you with RV trip planning.

The Route

We travelled 4,992 miles (8,034 kilometers) in the motorhome, another few hundred in the Tracker (I didn’t keep track of the mileage on it). I made this map before I started, and it’s still substantially correct – click on it for a larger version. Part 1 was 3 weeks with just me and the fur-kids, Part 2 was the 5 weeks after Cathy joined us in Kelowna.

Map - RV trip around BC and Alberta

The Costs

We spent $2,988.17 for 2,742 liters (603 Imperial gallons) of gas for the RV, which got 8.3 miles per gallon. That mpg is a bit less than I planned on for the RV but not much and I’m not unhappy about it. We also spent $430.67 for gas in the Tracker, which gets much better mileage, though I have no idea what. The average price of gas was $1.09 per liter, with the lowest (not counting our commercial cardlocks in Watson Lake and Whitehorse) being Dawson Creek at $0.979, and the highest being Dease Lake at $1.319.

We stayed at rest areas, pullouts, parking lots and free campgrounds for 14 nights – costing a total of $0
We stayed at Provincial Park campgrounds for 17 nights, costing a total of $486.00.
We stayed at a National Park campground for 3 nights, costing a total of $114.80.
We stayed at commercial campgrounds for 21 nights, costing a total of $693.95.
The total cost for 55 nights accommodation was $1,294.75, an average of $23.45 per night.
For more information about our overnights (pullout locations, park names and prices, etc., I’ve created a pdf (29Kb).

Attractions: $208.10, most of which was the Jasper Tram and Calgary Zoo.

We spent about $1,300 on restaurant meals, wine, etc., and another $785 on groceries for meals we cooked ourselves. However, the motorhome was well stocked when I left home, and I hardly spent anything on food for the 3 weeks I was travelling alone.

We had some repairs done:
– repaired a rock chip in the windshield: $50.39
– the badly-installed RV windshields had to be re-done: cost to us $0
– damage to cabinets, mostly broken hinges and struts from crashing into a deer: ca. $30.
– broken dishes from the deer crash: $75.
– we replaced the windshield in the Tracker: $376, but that’s been broken for years.
– the kitchen faucet had to be replaced when high water pressure blew the cartridge out (I have a pressure reducer to prevent such things but it wasn’t on the hose – DOH!): $70.
– welding the towbar bracket on the Tracker, which broke on the last nasty day on the Alaska Highway: $50. I would rather have replaced the part, but Roadmaster wouldn’t sell me just that part – it’s either the entire $400 kit or nothing. Thumbs down to Roadmaster.

“Working”

I spent about 120 hours writing 40 blog posts with almost 900 photos (of the 5,527 photos in my folders after editing). The first post of the trip was on April 26th.

The Experiences

Cathy and I have discussed what the best experiences were, and can’t even come up with a short list – there were just so many. For me, Tumbler Ridge, Farwell Canyon (seen below), and Bella Coola were the places that I most wished that I had more time. The Ancient Forest gets special note as the place that most impressed me as a show of what volunteers can accomplish in a spiritually powerful place. Our grizzly encounter on the Icefields Parkway was one that neither of us will ever forget (in positive ways except for seeing how stupid people can be).

RV at Farwell, Canyon, BC

Three negative experiences have stayed with me – being attacked by the black bear at Tumbler Ridge, killing the deer at Yale, and the jerk who gave us grief about our campsite at Meziadin. The jerk will soon vanish from my memory, but the other 2 are “lifers”.

The RV & Toad

After 2 solid months in it, Cathy and I are convinced that the motorhome we chose is perfect for us – the only thing that I plan to add is a hydraulic lift to carry my motorcycle. The motorhome is a 2007 Fleetwood Terra LX 31M, a 31-foot-long Class A with 2 slideouts. It’s powered by an 8.1-liter Chevy Workhorse gas engine, with an Allison automatic transmission with overdrive. You can see a full tour of it as well as a discussion about our lengthy shopping process here. The photo below is from a previous trip to Kluane Lake – I didn’t take the canoe this time.

RV at Kluane Lake, Yukon

What did I not bring that I should have? A short list of tools that are now on a “Must-bring” list, and the canoe.

The final comment is about the old Tracker, which Cathy bought new in 2001. She’d like a new car, but I think that I’ve convinced her that the Tracker is perfect as a motorhome toad/4×4. Crashing through the brush and rock-crawling to get to the abandoned rail line in Gnat Pass in particular was the sort of thing we can only do with a small and old vehicle. Even some of the gravel-road day-trips such as the one around the Gang Ranch, however, were not ones that I’d like to take a new car on.

The real summary for us is that the trip was near perfect. Averaging only 143 km (89 mi) per day was a nice pace, and we stopped pretty much whenever we wanted for as long as we wanted. Most people think that after 2 months on the road, getting home was great. It was in a way because we love our home, but we both hated for the trip to end.

Cheers! 🙂

RV at Whistlers Campground in Jasper


Comments

RV Life: Costs and Experiences during 56 Days on the Road — 17 Comments

  1. Thanks for the comprehensive wrap up of the trip. It was fun following you tho sometimes I cringed at the experiences but that’s life on the road. Well done.

  2. Well done. I know it couldn’t have been anywhere close to as nice to be on, but I can say I certainly enjoyed reading about it!

    Your RV info was particularly great – I have a cousin thinking about buying a trailer and all the more info about average costs and the like doesn’t hurt.

  3. If you do go that way with the lift and the bike, have you thought of like a smaller lighter ADV bike for some of those dirt roads? LOL! (get you into more trouble with the boss!)

    Its what I live for and still have the NEED to someday return to the Denali Highway and see it from that vantage (w a sag wagon not too far behind.)

    • There’s no end to the number of mechanical toys that would make my wandering more fun, but no, 5 vehicles is plenty to deal with now – perhaps 6 with Cathy’s new one 🙂

      The Denali Highway will be getting a return trip, probably next year. That really is a place where a small bike (or ATV) would get you into even cooler places.

  4. Thank you for letting me ride along on your trip, I really enjoyed the ride and the sights.
    We leave Florida headed for Banff, Jasper in mid August. Looking forward to seeing the Canadian Rockies etc.
    Your pictures whetted our appetites for seeing beautiful Alberta.
    Thanks again

  5. Thanks Murray. You paint a spectacular picture of the North in our minds with your words and photos. I am always looking for your next post. We have been to the North 6 times in the last 12 years from Maryland, and can’t wait to go back. Keep traveling and reporting.

    Thank you so much.

    • Thanks – pleased to have you along with us, as well as on your own many Northern adventures 🙂 We have a lot more to come this summer, starting in 5 days.

  6. Thanks Murray, althought I’ve been on a trip of my own during three weeks in the Yukon, I’ve gone through all your blog posts since I’m back home here in Québec. Love how you broke down your expenses; gas, meals and other stuff. It’s nice to keeo track of our expenses which gives ideas to others when planning their own trips. Also glad to see that Tucker and Bella enjoyed all this vacation time with both of you. Now that you’re back home…..it’ll be nice to follow your blogs about travelling your north. Welcome home ! Maureen

  7. Hi Murray, I’ve been following your blog for a couple of years now, and I’m always happy to see pictures of places I’ve already visited, especially when your pictures are taken in another season than I was there.

    Thank you for your summary and the comprehensive list of cost and expenses. I’ve been going through it for two times now, there is one very important thing I miss:

    Besides eating in Restaurants and drinking wine, didn’t you have any other expenses on food? No shopping in supermarkets or Farmers Markets? On our trips this normally comes to about 400 – 500$ for a three weeks trip.

    Maybe I only did not see this point in your post ..

    Regaards

    Gabi

    • Thanks for the reminder, Gabi – I didn’t have Cathy’s statement yet, and she paid for a lot of the groceries. We spent $785 on groceries, and I’ve added that into the post. However, the motorhome was well stocked when I left home, and I hardly spent anything on food for the 3 weeks I was travelling alone.