8 Months and 13,409 Miles Later… Our RV Adventure is Over

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links and we may receive a referral fee (at no extra cost to you) if you sign up or purchase products or services mentioned. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

8 Months and 13,409 Miles Later... Our RV Adventure is Over

After 8 months of living in an RV (with a couple of small breaks in between), our RV adventure has come to an end.

It’s a little bittersweet in a lot of ways. We saw so many incredible places that we never would have had the opportunity to do otherwise. We got to do so many cool things during our life on the road. And we saw several old friends we usually don’t get the chance to see very often.

But at the same time, we’ve learned that full-time RV life just isn’t for us. It’s not always a bowl of cherries. Traveling so much takes its toll – it can be stressful and #$% happens that can throw your plans completely out of alignment. And, of course, it can be expensive between the cost of fuel (particularly while towing an RV), the places you stay, and the things you do.

In the end, we’re so happy we decided to try this experiment. Although full-time RV life might not be our thing, we created so many awesome memories and took our daughter on a trip we may never get to do together as a family again so we don’t have any regrets.

The RV adventure master plan vs. reality

We came up with the idea for this RV adventure last May as I detailed in my post, You Gotta Spend Money To Make Money, Right? Our Monster Travel Experiment.

The idea was to buy an RV, let the lease lapse on our apartment, and travel around the country for 8-10 months. That would be a great way to get me out of one of the cold Ohio winters (I hate the cold!) and try something new and different.

Yeah. The RV adventure certainly did fulfill the goal of being new and different, but it didn’t do a great job of getting us out of the cold, unfortunately – that miserable cold weather followed us throughout the majority of our time on the road!

We bought a new 2022 Jayco Jay Flight SLX 7 RV travel last spring, made some modifications, tied up our loose ends, and then moved into it on October 6, 2023.

The plan was to do a month at a local campground to get our bearings and learn what we needed to know. Then we’d do three different loops from Ohio so that way we could occasionally come back to revisit with friends and family:

  • Loop #1: Head toward Austin, TX to spend Thanksgiving with my brother and sister-in-law
  • Loop #2: Become snowbirds and work our way south for the winter
  • Loop #3: Make a big trip out west!

The initial draft…

We, of course, made some modifications as we went based on what we wanted to see, the weather, time, etc. When all was said and done, here were the actual paths we took…

When we did our first loop down to Texas, we had to rush somewhat to get to my brother’s in time for Thanksgiving. We still had fun but we didn’t get to enjoy the traveling as much as we hoped because of the deadline. The same went for the way back a few weeks later when we were rushing back for Christmas.

Then when we did the second loop down south, we had the opposite problem. We suddenly had all the time in the world while trying to escape the cold Ohio weather. It didn’t matter though because the cold followed us everywhere (we’re talking freezing temps!) throughout most of our trip.

8 Months and 13,409 Miles Later... Our RV Adventure is Over - Freezing temps in Georgia
This was the kind of garbage weather we had so much of during loop 2…

It was a mess and then we quickly bailed on Florida just because of how packed it was with other snowbirds and how expensive the prices were because of that (supply and demand!). So we spent a lot of time in the Georgia area just waiting and stuck in the RV because of how cold it was outside.

Now don’t get me wrong – we did a lot of fun stuff on both loop 1 and loop 2 of the RV adventure. Some of the cool things we did:

  • Boondocking (dry camping) right on the beach of the Gulf of Mexico in Louisiana and then in Texas
  • Exploring New Orleans… mmm, beignes!
  • Line dance lessons (I bailed on this) and hot chicken sandwiches in Nashville (delicious!!)
  • Staying overnight at animal farms and horse ranches through Harvest Hosts (that membership is a great buy!)
  • Visiting friends and family we don’t normally get to see
  • Different and cool hikes
  • Beautiful sunsets
  • Incredible views and sites
  • Museums for art, natural history, or even Sasquatch!
  • An alligator swampland boat tour in Florida

Loop 1…

Loop 2…

Those are just some of the things we did! The problem though was that when we weren’t doing things, we were mostly just sitting in the RV because of how cold it was outside. Although we played games, watched movies, and did the day-to-day stuff (my writing for this blog, Faith’s homeschooling, or paying the bills), it was still easy to get bored and feel somewhat trapped.

Now, when we went west for loop 3 of the RV adventure though starting in April of this year, those feelings disappeared quickly. We had beautiful weather the majority of the time and had the opportunity to be outside quite a bit more. And without any deadlines, our pacing was so much better – not in a hurry and not overstaying in one place. We’d stay for a few days at a place we enjoyed (longer if we wanted) and then move on. If we had no interest in the area, we might spend just the night there. It went tremendously smoother.

This was the part of the RV adventure we had all been looking forward to and it didn’t disappoint…

  • Watched the total solar eclipse in a rural part of southern Indiana
  • Stopped off to see some of the “world’s largest” stuff in Casey, Illinois
  • Checked out the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri
  • Hiked through Palo Duro Canyon State Park
  • Watched the jets take off while boondocking at Holloman Air Force Base
  • Walked barefoot and in awe at White Sands National Park
  • Visited the International UFO Museum and Research Center in Roswell, New Mexico
  • Saw more of the “world’s largest” stuff along our route
  • Watched a great re-enactment of the shootout at the O.K. Corral in Tombstone, AZ (which we learned didn’t actually take place at the O.K. Corral)
  • Visited more friends in different areas we hadn’t seen in such a long time
  • Explored Culdesac Tempe, the first car-free neighborhood built from scratch in the U.S.
  • Stayed at more horse ranches and animal farms – these were the sweet spots for us with the Harvest Hosts membership!
  • Spent time with the RV right on the Colorado River… twice in two different states
  • Enjoyed our time in Las Vegas walking around, visiting family, and eating a crazy big fried mozzarella stick! I even took Faith to the top of the Strat to do a couple of rides there.
  • Spent many nights boondocking in cool locations in New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, and South Dakota, including near Wall, SD, which was big on my to-do list since we enjoyed that so much on our last trip
  • More hiking everywhere
  • Drove through Custer State Park and got to see so many cool animals up close: bison, prairie dogs, burrows, pronghorns, and a bunch of others
  • Fed prairie dogs in South Dakota (at a place you were allowed to do this)
  • Visited the SPAM museum in Austin, MN – this was so interesting that it was the second time we went here!
  • Added multiple hours to our trip back home just because it was critical to get a crumbled meat sandwich from Maid-Rite in Greenville, IN (a place I used to go to as a kid… so good!!). There’s always a line of cars from the moment the restaurant opens until it closes each day.

Loop 3…

And that’s just a small glimpse of what we did! We were busy and enjoyed this loop tremendously.

As always, life is never perfect and we had some lows along the way. Plus, we had a couple more malfunctions like the propane not working (a dealership let us stop in and had us out of there in less than a half hour and covered the cost through our warranty). And a little scarier was when the slide wouldn’t retract on the RV after boondocking in the middle of nowhere. I got lucky to find an RV mobile tech who came out and replaced a destroyed wire within 45 minutes that I never could have pulled off. I was able to get the cost reimbursed by Jayco under warranty, too.

In other words, you’re always going to have some problems – such is life – but our time out west was awesome. We did skip Wyoming and Montana on this RV adventure just because the weather was still too cold for Yellowstone and Grand Teton, but we had already visited Yellowstone a couple of years ago so this wasn’t too tragic.

The round-up of some fun statistics!

I have a bit of a problem in that I’m way too organized and I love spreadsheets along with cool formulas so I kept track of all sorts of stuff during our trip. My mental issues then get to be part of what you get to read! Here are a few stats from our 8-month RV adventure:

States visited:

Here are some of our lodging stats. Bear in mind that I didn’t include some of the oddball places we stayed on here so adding up the numbers yourself might not match the totals you see…

Total number of nights in the RV:164
Total number of places we stayed overnight:69
Total number of RV parks we stayed at:44
Total nights in RV parks:130
Total number of dispersed camping sites stayed at:14
Total nights of dispersed camping:23
Total nights slept in restaurant parking lots:7
Total nights slept in casino parking lots1
Total cost for all nights in the RV:$5,201.37
Average cost per night:$31.72
Total cost for all stays (before discounts):$5,629.15
Total discount club and rewards savings:$549.59
Total cost for all stays after discounts and rewards:$5,079.56

Here are the memberships that we had while on the RV adventure…

MembershipsMembership CostUsesSavings from UseSavings After Membership Cost
Passport America$34.007$397.08$363.08
Good Sam$39.004$76.71$37.71
Harvest Hosts$69.305$0.00($69.30)
Boondockers Welcome$60.000$0.00($60.00)
State Parks Rewards (Ohio)$0.001$10.00$10.00
The Dyrt Pro$24.990$0.00($24.99)
KOA Rewards$0.002$15.80$15.80
Credit Card Bonus$0.001$50.00$50.00

You’ll notice that some were awesome. Passport America saved us a ton! Good Sam paid for itself and a little more.

Harvest Hosts isn’t so much a savings membership as it is a unique stays type of membership. It probably saved us a little money over a regular campground but I didn’t count it since you usually are expected to buy something while there. Regardless, this one was one we’re really glad we had since it gave us some super cool stays!

Boondockers Welcome turned out to be a waste of our money but only because we routinely found other stays to be more up our alley.

Although the Dyrt Pro didn’t give us specific savings anywhere, it did help us find dump stations more often if needed and let us download boondocking maps and locations offline, which was especially helpful out west.

KOA Rewards was free to us from a pilot program that Jayco was running so that was just a bonus. And the credit card bonus was a $50 annual hotel credit we had from our Chase Sapphire Preferred card so we used that to pay for a hotel for a night in between loops 1 and 2.

Regardless, we saved some pretty good money on our lodging overall, but it still cost us over $5k for 8 months. That’s still a lot cheaper than what our rent payment was though!

What about fuel? That’s a scary one to see…

Total spent on gas (including Costco):$4,617.65
Total gallons of gas used:1,499.493
Total gas station visits:114
Average price per gallon paid:$3.079
Average miles per gallon:8.94 (OUCH!)
Total cashback by using Upside:$29.05
Total saved on gas by going to Costco / Sam’s Club:$115.03
Total saved on gas through Walmart+:$32.10
Total saved on gas from Pilot:$3.44
Total saved on gas from Love’s:$20.52
Total saved from clubs and other discounts:$200.14
Number of Costco visits for gas:33
Total spent on gas at Costco alone:$1,341.72
Number of times went in to enjoy a few free samples!:6

Over $4,600 on fuel… that’s a lot of cheddar spent on driving! Being particular and utilizing discounts where we could did help us shave $200 from what it could have been. Next to the $4,600 number that doesn’t sound too impressive, but $200 is still $200. If you’re wondering, I used 20 cents as the number that we saved per gallon when going to Costco or Sam’s Club over other nearby stations.

Because we have Walmart+, we were able to get 10 cents off per gallon at Murphy, Exxon, Mobil, and Walmart stations. I dropped Amazon Prime last year and we went to Walmart+ and that’s turned out to be such a better deal for us.

What was interesting to me was using the Upside app. If you haven’t used it before, the idea is that they show you tons of places where they’ll give you money back on your gas purchases. Sometimes it’s just a few cents off per gallon and sometimes it’s more (we’ve had over 30 cents off per gallon).

It’s cool because it’s simple: you activate the deal on the app, pay with a credit card that you’ve already let Upside know about, upload a photo of the receipt if they need it (that was rare for us), and then you get money back added into your account. You can then transfer the money to your bank, get gift cards, or get other stuff.

We started using Upside sometime during our RV adventure and we got around $30 back for not doing anything other than getting gas… not too shabby, right? You can check out Upside here if you’re interested. It works for some restaurants and convenience stores as well.

Additionally, we used our Costco credit at stations where it qualifies (stations that aren’t superstores, supermarkets, convenience stores, and warehouse clubs other than Costco). That scored us a nice 4% cash back on that card that isn’t even in our numbers above!

So how far did we travel on our trip? Too many!

Loop 1:3,749
Loop 2:3,362
Loop 3:6,298

That’s a lot of miles and a lot of ground we covered on our RV adventure!

License Plates:

We played what we simply call the “License Plate” game on road trips but maybe it has another name I don’t know about. All it is is watching for different license plates and seeing how many states you can cross off the list.

I’m happy to report that we nailed all 50 states on this RV adventure! Sure we had a long time to play the game but there are some states that we never thought we’d get. The elusive one until the end of the trip was Rhode Island… if Lisa hadn’t spotted that, we might have had to pass Ohio and make a special trip to the New England states just to get it knocked out! Come on, Rhode Island – get out and travel a little more! 😉

Ok, probably not as dramatic as some of the other stats, but still a fun number nonetheless!

World’s Largest and Other Oddities:

Once we stopped off in Casey, Illinois and saw some of the “world’s largest” novelties they had, that became a stupid but fun thing to stop for on the trip… when they were on our route. In the end, here’s what we ended up seeing:

If this sort of weird stuff interests you, I found this site for the World’s Largest Map of the World’s Largest Roadside Attractions that was useful for us.

Would we ever do this again?

We talked about that quite a bit as we rounded out the end of this trip. We all had a lot of fun… and we all had times when we just wanted to be done with this.

I think the consensus is that it could be something that happens again, but not with us being full-time RV’ers. Doing this for so long (while traveling as opposed to those who stay stationary), we realized that it’s just a ton of work in setup, takedown, planning, and actual on-the-road travel. Plus, it can be boring if you’re in an area with nothing to do/see or end up getting stuck in bad/cold weather.

I think our past road trips that were 30-40 days were a nice balance to give us enough time to explore but not so much time that it’s our life. More power to the folks that do this over the long haul, but it’s just not our thing.

That said, we’re 100% glad we did it. You don’t know what you’ll like or not like until you try it. Stepping out of our comfort zone and making the move to Panama years ago was a fantastic experience and one we wouldn’t trade for the world… and one we wouldn’t have known if we hadn’t tried it. Although living full-time in an RV isn’t something we’d want to do again, we still had a lot of fun together and created so many memories to share.

Also, this was an expensive trip.

If you remember from my initial post, You Gotta Spend Money To Make Money, Right? Our Monster Travel Experiment, I had hoped that the cost of this RV adventure would be less or reasonably close to what it would have been if we had just stayed in our apartment.

Yeah, that was my naivety about RV life. It’s expensive to travel in an RV. If we were staying stationary in an RV somewhere, the numbers might be a little closer to our normal spending but we spent a lot more than we’re used to doing.

Even when we sell the RV and Ford Expedition, it will still have amounted to a pricey adventure. That’s life though and it was worth it. What an experience to be fortunate enough to even be able to do!

So, what’s next?

Well, we’re going to take a break and settle down for a little bit. We’ll get another apartment in Ohio and give our daughter the time she should have to hang out with her friends again and do more horseback riding.

We’ll still do a lot of traveling, but we’re probably going to keep the trips down to a week or two… mostly. As I mentioned in my last post, The Next Mission… Free Cruises Through Casino Status Matches!, we’re also hoping to get the ball rolling on a lot more cruise vacations.

But who knows? When the next adventure idea creeps up, we might just jump on that train to give it a try! 🙂

In the meantime, if you know anyone who would want to buy a well-kept 2022 Jayco RV travel trailer, let me know!

To read about our whole RV adventure, here are the related posts from start to finish…

If you enjoyed this post, I’d love it if you jumped on the mailing list. I don’t send out emails very often – just to keep you informed about new posts as well as some things I don’t include in the blog. I’ll even send you a welcome email with some fun and useful spreadsheet freebies I’ve created for myself that I’d love to share with you including:

So stop wasting time and sign up here…

Plan well, take action, and live your best life!

Thanks for reading!!

— Jim

You know you wanna share this!!

17 thoughts on “8 Months and 13,409 Miles Later… Our RV Adventure is Over”

  1. Loving all these datapoints! I had the debate about “long term road trip in a minivan and stay in hotels/airbnbs” vs “buy truck/SUV and RV” and kind of figured it would be close to a wash for our normal 2-3 month summertime road trips (or even more expensive to go the RV route because of losses from buying and selling vehicles if we only did this 1x).

    Your gas mileage isn’t as bad as I would have guessed!

    1. That’s funny that you mention the idea of doing the road trip with hotels and Airbnbs. That was something we did a few years ago and it went very well. We talked about that as we were wrapping up this trip and I said that that way of doing things – although not perfect – has a lot of plusses and would like be easier and less costly. So, I think you and I are on the same page with that one!

      Yeah, obviously, 8.94 isn’t ideal but considering we didn’t have a rent payment or mortgage during our time on the road, a lot of that cost didn’t hurt us too bad. Probably not so good for the environment though! 😉

      1. In terms of numbers, I think we averaged $100/day for lodging and 23 mpg in the minivan (Toyota Sienna). That’s for 5 of us and sometimes getting 2 hotel rooms or a suite room, or 2-3 BR airbnbs. And valuing some points redemptions for hotels too in that average (probably lower average lodging if I take out 3-4 weeks worth of hotel redemptions!)

        For 8 months it would be a lot but it’s not too expensive for shorter 2-3 month trips.

  2. Great fun! Our class B trips tend to be 30 to 60 days, but I want to do one more long adventure west. Slower, so 3 to 4 night stops instead of 1 or 2. Our setup is wickedly easy, but we tend to go go too much. I noticed you had lots of stays at RV parks instead of state/federal camps. Did I read that right? Is that from Good Sam? Our challenge is finding govt campsites that are available without reservations. I need to get Dyrt and be more adventurous boondocking.

    1. You won’t regret the long adventure out west, Kev – hard to beat it for sure!

      On the RV parks, I just sort of labeled everything in this post as an RV park if it wasn’t boondocking, so my bad. But we actually did stay at a lot of state parks and some national parks throughout our time. In fact, my searching when needing a place with partial or full hookups usually involved checking Recreation.gov and Reserve America for a place first. Then if I didn’t find anything worthwhile (like if they were all booked up), I’d move on to Passport America, Campendium, RV Life, Hipcamp, etc.

      The Dyrt used to be the go-to for us for boondocking but, believe it or not, a lot of what we found during this trip for boondocking was through Campendium. There isn’t a really good app that focuses solely on it though – at least that I could find. But I will say that the boondocking were by far the most beautiful and cool places we stayed at throughout our 8 months. It’s worth doing at least a little bit if you go out west.

  3. “I think our past road trips that were 30-40 days were a nice balance…”

    Ironically, you came to the same conclusion we did after our extended RV trip to the Pacific NW a few years ago. We find the “shorter” trips a better fit with our lifestyle, so we’ve shifted to that approach. For example, we’re heading to the Ozarks (Arkansas/Missouri) in Oct for a month to catch the Fall colors. We also enjoy Mon-Fri camping in State Parks within 2 hours of our home. Ultimately, we prefer being engaged in our local community, and have found our time at home to be the way we prefer to spend our time. Glad you tried the experiment, it’s a trip you will all always remember (and Faith will look back on as one of her biggest memories of childhood). Kudo’s for getting out there!

  4. A great summary post thanks for sharing and awesome that you could collate the statistics! It makes me feel better we’re averaging out 14.5mpg towing (dragging?) our Jayco trailer for our adventure across the US!

    1. Wow, that’s some incredible gas mileage! I was just looking at what you’re rolling with (2013 F-150 and a Jayco Jay Feather X213) and it’s not like you’re towing something tiny like a teardrop so that’s really awesome!

      1. Yeah towing averages about 11mpg, and we done the 14.5mpg over the 13,000 miles so far including roaming around from campsites without the trailer. Still painful to have to fill-up every other day…

  5. Excited for future road trips based on your pictures. Seems like you had a great trip overall. Bummer about the weather. It’s hit and miss. I drove from TN to TX in January of 2021, and it was beautiful. Certainly not a fun drive in rain!

    1. It’s an amazing country to be able to see and we’re so fortunate that we were able to spend so many months exploring it. Yeah, the weather wasn’t on our side a lot of the time, but we’re so glad we did it. That’s fantastic you had a great drive from TN to TX – better weather definitely makes for a better trip! 🙂

  6. Wow, Jim that is a lot to track but happy you did so we have some insight. We are doing something similar but not in an RV but rather picking states and cities to stay in across the US for 1-2 months at a time. We have a 4th grader so have leveraged the free America the beautiful parks pass thanks to her being a 4th grader. Costco gas and pizza/hotdogs make for a very cheap enjoyable meal while traveling, glad we arent the only ones. Enjoy, looking forward to your next adventures.

  7. That’s an amazing 8 months. It’s an experience you’ll never forget. Faith is one lucky kid.
    I’d love to take a shorter RV trip. The long trip sounds stressful, though. Too many variables with weather, mechanical problems, and other stuff. I’m too old to deal with all that stuff.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.