I made a list of what topics I wanted to report about. There were 16 items. I’ll just talk about a few and move on. This is a journey of discovery; much is learned during the process.
We have been stopped in St. Augustine Florida for the past five weeks. We booked our site last year when we also stayed at Stagecoach RV Park. I can get into this snowbird way of life. Staying here for two months with familiar people camped near us is good for filling a need to be part of a community. I’ve decided you can’t get this sense of community from any less than a two month stay during winter when folks are parked waiting out the snow up north. That got me thinking about what-if we should stop traveling fulltime and still want to enjoy winter in the sun. What rig would I want to live in for only a few months.
In the past three years we have stopped traveling only twice for two months at a time. We occasionally stop for a month but mostly move in 3- or 4-day increments, favoring weekly stays. We have pulled the trailer just over 15,000 miles since August of 2019. Think of it as going one way between Washington DC and Los Angeles five and half times.
2021 Budget Results
Budget advise for fulltime travel is hard to give. Because there are individual circumstances to consider such as is health insurance provided by Medicare or not. During my planning stages I used the average budgets of two fulltimers whom I thought traveled the same way we would be doing with similar rigs.
Our 2020 annual expenditures were $48,754 or $4,062 average per month BEFORE taxes. After taxes we spent about $3,791 monthly in 2020. I include anticipated income taxes in my budget. I exclude RV/truck depreciation from the budget which is substantial. These costs are all inclusive otherwise and yes, healthcare is part of it. Let me know in the comments if you have questions.
Our 2021 expenditures were $51,145 before taxes or $4,262 average per month. We are dept free so there are no RV or truck payments required. Interesting figures include we spend on average about $29 a night for RV spots. Truck fuel is about $305 a month. Our monthly grocery bill averages $1,206 a month. We eat good and this includes beer, snacks, entertaining guest/family at cookouts. We don’t eat out much so restaurants were just $135 average per month. Turns out we also tend to visit tourist spots that are lower cost and seldom go into large cities. We have not traveled in the northeast or California which are pricey. Average this year per month for entertainment was $61. We travel in our RV fulltime, not sit at one stop for months such as while workcamping. Moving less often would be a fantastic way to reduce costs. We set aside a savings account to offset months where our income would be less than our expenses and just now started to use that account. COVID slowed down our travel plans. I had expected the extra savings to be gone by now (our third year of travel) at which time we would consider volunteering or workcamping at times.
There will be no 2022 budget results. Because we are now disciplined and know about what we can spend each month. I do not enjoy living off a budget and the time it takes to track it. I know what should be left in the accounts at the end of the month after expenses and will just keep an eye on that.
Fun Times in St. Augustine Florida
I could easily start and end this section with “we enjoyed special times with a few special friends in the sun.”
Ray and Charlotte made the trip again this year from Traverse City Michigan. They had to come because our dog Wyatt’s best friend is their dog, Dixie who needed a ride to Florida. We visited the family at their Michigan home over the past year and if things go as planned, we will see them again in a faraway place next fall.
Bill Weiler is my oldest friend, meaning someone I’ve stayed in contact with more years than any other. He and Sharon live on Merritt Island and if things go as planned, we are still expecting to attend a rocket launch as viewed from their backyard. He has a special pass to get into places at Cape Canaveral as well. Among her many talents, Sharon is a writer and Karen is enjoying her books. Both made the two-hour drive north to St. Augustine where we enjoyed conversation and a BBQ lunch. Bill was able to talk with my neighbor, Kurt and Sammy from the mountains of Tennessee. Kurt worked at Sprint (a.k.a. United Telecom, United Telephone) during the times Bill and I worked there and knew the same people. Small world. Hope I got the spelling of their names correct. Figured it’s not polite to ask their names and how they are spelled for a future blog post.
People who own dogs travel in RVs because they don’t want to leave them at home or in motel rooms. I’d say there are a dozen families here whom all got to know each other through their dogs.
We split the bill and rented a large pontoon boat. What a day we had traveling up the inland waterway to the outlet at the Atlantic. Ray has family in the area and knew the routes. He even allowed me to tag along doing some cleanup work at his mom’s home during which time we removed a large shed and the six-foot yellow snake that came back to visit again after the first relocation. Of course, the history of St. Augustine is unmatched as the oldest city in America. We spent much time touring last year when we were here for just a month.
Spring and Summer Trip Plans
Finally had time to make some trip plans for the next two seasons. We have been almost close to freeking Canada over two summers and never escaped the heat even at 6,000 feet. So why not spend the summer back in Missouri if heat is everywhere. We will arrive in Branson Missouri for no less than two months beginning July 10, 2022. Going to spend a lot of time on Table Rock Lake.
On the way we will head north from Florida on or about March 27, take a left at Charlston, across I-26 into the Shenandoah Valley. Then north through the Bristol Tennessee area to visit ancient family who settled there. Then back over the Appalachians on to Washington DC. We will then head out to south Pennsylvania and Ohio. And for the first time crossing back into Missouri via St. Louis (Dee – I’ll let you know more later on the timing for a visit which currently looks like arriving June 26th for a week stay.) This is our first-time cramming booth a spring and summer trip into one itinerary.