By Curtis Carper
Very clearly the cost of fuel is the largest expense when it comes to living the RV lifestyle. Many would love to travel the country, heading off on a whim to see all the grand sights this country has to offer. The one-time expense of an RV is enough of a budget buster — but when a stop at the gas station runs into $300-$400, the realization that you may be running out of money just as fast as you’re running out of fuel puts the skids to many a retirement dream of travel for those living on a modest budget.
During your working years, the need to get back to where you came from in a timely manner was paramount. The fortunate may have two to three weeks of freedom but, nonetheless, your income is derived from your career, so it’s back home and back to work after your break from reality.
Once you retire, life slows down. The time schedule becomes a thing of the past and the need to go back lessens or completely disappears. Finally, you have reached the time where you can stop and smell the roses. This is the secret to fulltime RVing on a modest budget. What’s the hurry? You don’t have to be there any sooner than when you get there. A week, a month, a few months.
The secret to stretching your fuel budget is to not drive — at least not all at once. For myself, when I travel across the country I make use of Walmart parking lots, truck stops, and other free-for-the-night places to sleep. Most towns with a Walmart have more than one establishment that will allow you to spend a night on them, so to speak. Sometimes you can find city parks that specifically allow you to stay one night to help encourage you to repay the favor by eating at a restaurant or shop at the local retail establishments.
Amazingly enough, about 50 miles down the road there is likely to be another small town with the same free amenities where you can spend a couple nights without anyone noticing. If you only drive a short distance at a time and try to spend two to three days in each town, before you know it next month’s retirement check has arrived, and you still haven’t used all your fuel allotment from last month. Once your body adjusts to living life in the slow lane, your mind will automatically find interesting sights and things to do at every spot you choose to spend a couple days. Every town has its own story, its own history. Take the time to meet a few locals and talk about what makes their town special.
You’re retired now — no need to rush off. Kick back and take the time to see as much as you can. When you only drive short distances you arrive well rested and relaxed. You actually learn things about the places you stay, and most of all you will meet interesting people. Your travels will be more rewarding, and surprisingly they will also become more affordable. The more time you spend stopped, the more you will learn to enjoy the fulltime RV lifestyle.