In this article we’ll share our expenses for the top three categories of campgrounds, fuel, and entertainment over an entire year of full-time RV travel. We’ll share the average monthly cost of each category and explain what occurred in the high and low months as well.
One question we hear often is, “Can you full-time RV for less than $1,500 a month?” The answer to that is maybe. I say maybe because it really depends on what your full-time travel dream is. If you want to stay at full hook up campgrounds or RV resorts, not likely. If you want to travel a lot of miles, that is going to be difficult as well.
The thing about budgets is that they are very personal. It all comes down to your wants and needs. In this article, we’ll share our expenses based on our preferences. The hope is that they simply provide food for though and help you create your own budget.
Except for 2 short dry camping stints, we stayed exclusively in full hook-up (water, 50 amp electric, and sewer) campgrounds. We read reviews and try to find campgrounds or RV resorts that have good WiFi (to save on our hotspots), heated pools, and fitness rooms.
This year we stayed in 18 different campgrounds: 11 Private, 5 Military, 1 Corps of Engineer (COE), and 1 Country Fairgrounds. We post reviews of all our stays on our YouTube channel. We also prefer to travel slowly and take advantage of monthly rates when we can.
- Total Campground Expenses for 2018: $9,139.13
- Average Monthly Cost: $762
- Highest Monthly Cost: $1500
- This was at Fort Belvoir, VA in the Washington DC metropolitan area. While it was an expensive campground for us, it was worth it to attend our oldest son and daughter-in-law’s wedding! You can see our review of the campground here.
- Lowest Monthly Cost: $495 We spent the month of July at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, FL. You can see our review of the campground here.
- For those who don’t have the option to stay at military campgrounds, we’d like to give you an idea of the cost of campgrounds that anyone can enjoy. Our least expensive was a COE campground. They are federally managed by the Army Corps of Engineers and open to the public. We paid $13 per night at Gunter Hill Campground. On the high end of the spectrum, we stayed at the Tucson Lazy Days KOA for the entire month of December. We paid $821 for the month including our metered electricity.
We pull a 44’ Fifth Wheel with our Chevy 3500 HD Truck. We typically stay in place 4-6 weeks before moving which helps keep costs down, but the truck is also our only vehicle for local drives.
- Total Diesel Expenses for 2018: $6,038.28
- Average Monthly Cost: $503
- Highest Monthly Cost: $848 This was in June when we drove from Texas to Virginia for our son’s wedding.
- Lowest Monthly Cost: $301 This was in April. We were in San Antonio where two of our sons live. We didn’t travel much outside of the area and they often came and picked us up when we went places in the local area.
We also spent $298.28 on propane over the year. We stayed at full hook-up campgrounds in warm climates most of the year and predominantly used propane for cooking (stove top and oven) on a daily basis. A few of the summer months we didn’t have to refill our propane at all. The weather was unseasonably cold in Tucson this winter, so in December we paid $67.66 for propane to run the heater every night.
Finally, we paid $228.54 for gas for our generator during the year. Normally we only run the generator 1-2 hours per month according to the regular maintenance schedule. However, we had to run it all day every day for a few weeks in May when we were dry camping during an unseasonably hot spring in Texas.
Entertainment costs include things like museums, movies, parking, etc. Our total entertainment expenses for 2018 were: $2,663.64.
- Average Monthly Cost: $222
- Highest Monthly Cost: $695
- Lowest Monthly Cost: $62
Our highest month was in September. We were having work done on the RV and stayed in a resort in Orlando. While there we went to Disney and several other expensive tourist attractions. Our lowest month was in February. We spent some time at the beach in Florida and with the State Parks pass parked for free. Then we traveled to Texas for a conference, so we didn’t have too much additional time for entertainment.
If you add together all our expenses our average monthly cost to RV Full-Time this year was $4,022.32. Almost half of that was campgrounds, fuel, and entertainment. So what was the other half?
That is the real catch to full-time RV travel, there are so many other expenses that you don’t hear about from connectivity to maintenance and a million things in between.
That is why we created a program called Full-Time RV Finance to help others financially achieve their full-time travel dreams. Over 25 videos we help you chart your course towards financial freedom, create a realistic full-time RV budget, and learn how to make money & save money on the road.
It is possible to have a more frugal budget. For example, you can dry camp, travel less miles, find numerous discounts, and employ a multitude of money saving techniques. We share many of them in Full-Time RV Finance and help you develop a realistic budget that you can live with.
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