Evelyn Bliss and I retired from our boutique accounting practice at the end of 2018 and took up RV travel. truly.

I had the great pleasure of commenting on one of Effie’s in-laws who said he was proud of us – we were the first who knew him to do what they said they would do when they retired.

We bought a new 25-foot C-Class Tiffin Wayfarer with a Mercedes Sprinter chassis and split it up with some short rides in New England and Upstate New York from our home base in North Oxford, Massachusetts (Clara Barton’s hometown). I-90, known locally as Mass Pike, runs 50 miles east to Boston or you can choose west and be in Seattle 2,989 miles away.

It’s dangerous business, Frodo, getting out your door. You’re treading on the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might drift either.– J.R.R. Tolkien, “The Fellowship of the Ring”

We visited 46 of the lower 48 states on four main tours and many short trips. We made 163 stops for a total of 516 nights. We visited 27 national parks, many state parks, and countless historic sites. Evie has kept a blog – Peter and Evie go RVing – If you want our travel details with lots of photos.

Evie tends towards majestic locations of natural beauty

Don’t get me wrong, I love these, but I tend to like slightly more exotic attractions, like this sign in Newport, Oregon.

We sold our RV in the summer of 2022. So it was time to close the books and do the accounting.

Property - $61,916.74

We bought an RV for $132,532.44 (including sales tax and extras). We put 40 thousand dollars. The total interest was $20.568.25. When we decided to sell, we had $80,000. We used home equity to pay it off to make the sale go smoother. Total payments including down payment amounted to $153,499.50.

There were other property expenses such as insurance and some costs in our fruitless attempt to make a private sale. Finally, this came to $10,816.05. We ended up selling to a dealer for $102,000. The netting brings the cost of owning an RV for four years to $61,916.74.

For what it's worth, the interest was deductible as accommodation interest.

Repairs and maintenance - $13,081.69

An RV is basically a home that gets hit by a hurricane and earthquake on a regular basis. It is also a car - in our case a Mercedes. We also included in this figure the cost of an oil change for our car, but not wear and tear.

I was surprised by the repair requirements for something completely new, but a mechanic told us that the Tiffin is better than most RV brands.

There were also things like leveling blocks, sewer pipes, hoses, and a kind of cloth carport. We were lucky that a relative had quite a lot of space where we could leave our RV when not traveling.

Gas - $11,160.84

If the purpose of your trip is sightseeing, there will be plenty of driving in addition to the trip to each stopping point. There are three ways to deal with this.

The first is to have an RV that you go to everywhere. We met people who travel this way. The big drawback is that you have to compromise and connect and disconnect more in this way. Another option is to have a fifth wheel so you can use your pull-up cart to run. Then there is the use of the RV to tow a car.

Among these three popular methods, we chose the fourth one. Evie was driving an RV and I followed her into the car. It felt like a flying formation. Gas for both the RV and the car. So it might be on the high side. We put 30,000 miles on the RV and so much more on the car. The RV got 16 mpg and the car got about 25 mpg. There was a period of horribly low gas prices that was included in the trip during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Lunch - $0.00

If we hadn't traveled, we would still be eating. We probably ate more on the way, but not much more. This is one of the great advantages of RV travel. You have your home with you. Two weeks later we were referring to the RV as a home. Your clothes are hanging, your things are in the medicine cabinet, etc. There is a kitchen and fridge, which we supplemented with a cooler.

Sightseeing fee - $4250.52

This covers admission, bus tours, and the like. Not including the huge T-shirt collection you collected. When it comes to touring the United States, whether you're the kind of person most influenced by history or nature, the best things are free or close to freedom, especially if you're involved in the seniors' issue. We might miss a few hundred dollars in cash outlays in this category. As we accountants say when performing audits, they are not material.

Campsites - $17391.11

This includes various memberships, most notably Thousand Trails, and overnight fees, which range from $0 to $50. One exception to this range was Liberty Park in Jersey City, NJ, which gave us access to PATH trains or ferries to Manhattan. That was $100 a night.

Because of our membership, Thousand Trails Camps are not charged additional fees. Turns out there were fewer entries from friends and relatives than I would have liked. In general we were not in places with many amenities.

You could probably spend a couple of weeks on YouTube, hearing about the pros and cons of Thousand Tracks along with many other aspects of RV living. My favorite location is RV Odd Couple.

We bought a used Thousand Trails membership, which we were able to resell, at a loss, when we finished. We could have saved a lot more here by stacking more, but Evie was pretty much against that idea.

That was up to $33.70 a night. Our plans were seriously disrupted by Covid-19, so we would have been better off here, had it not been for the pandemic. You'll also notice that the nightly bargain price is steeped in ownership costs in our case.

some lice

We may be missing a few things we paid in cash, especially in our sightseeing expenses. We heated up the propane, and that cost is buried in gas and camping sites. Sometimes we fill a propane tank at a gas station and sometimes in the park. As we say in the financial review, it is not material.

Total - $107,800.90 or $208.92 per night


This is a case study of sorts and not some kind of recommended model.

One of the things I enjoyed most were the people I met and the stories I heard. Among the stories, one of the best was from a lady who was in the location next to us. You can almost tell by looking at her that she has had a hard life. The story was much more difficult.

She grew up in nursing homes and struggled with dyslexia. She got separated from her siblings and lost contact with them. One of her brothers did well for himself with a military career followed by a security job. He was determined to find his sister. And he did find it.

He bought her a fifth wheel, a pickup truck to tow, and a Thousand Trails membership. It was all about $30,000. She stays in TT camp for 21 days and then sits at a nearby casino for seven days depending on which particular membership she has. I like the story mainly because I like my brother, whom I haven't met, of course. But it also shows how affordable RV living can be.

To tell you the truth, I was kind of shocked by the over $200 a night it cost us. Then I compare it to what a lot of travel would cost with Road Scholar, which isn't too bad. Were it not for Covid-19, we might have volunteered at national or state parks, which give you a free association.

In the end, we got frustrated with the reforms, which is collateral damage from the pandemic. On a brighter note, we are also interested to see some other countries.