This is the final installment for this recently completed two-month road trip and a summary with suggestions for travelers whether RV’s, SUV’S, 4WD, trucks and cars. To really appreciate this country and its varied landscapes, the best way to see it is to immerse yourself in it on the road. No flying, no airports or trains or bus stations, no schedules set by someone else, no waiting lines except perhaps a few at construction sites or bridges or toll booths. Those were minor inconveniences and then you get to look around at all the other road warriors’ vehicles that come in amazing shapes and sizes. From the smallest sports car to the largest truck, you can see conveyances taking people and products from point A to Z. As mentioned in an earlier report, we discovered the joys of taking back roads instead of the Interstate Highway System.
As you may know, if you read the earliest Road Report # 1, our vehicle is a 2019 Leisure Travel Van Unity 24MB. If you want the details and specs, you can look it up. I reference it here with gratitude for a trouble-free trip. For an RV, our fuel mileage (diesel) was better than average, around 15-16 mpg. Traveling this way, staying at campgrounds most of the time with full hook-ups (electric, water and sewer) the average cost for those was around $50 per night. We spent several nights boondocking and a few off the grid entirely. That brings the cost down significantly. Traveling in an RV may not be the most economical way to travel and it’s a little like owning a cruising boat. If you’re concerned about how much it costs, you might not want to consider it and yet there are ways to be reasonably conservative with regarding expenses. Our biggest costs were fuel and food, not counting the original investment in the vehicle. This is only the second motorhome of the eight that we have owned where we have not towed a car or truck behind for transportation when camped. We used the LTV itself when needed.
In the two months on the road, we visited and traveled through 25 states and covered over 7,000 miles. I kept a daily log of miles traveled, locations, fuel stops and costs. I did not include cost of food since we would have had that whether on the road or at home. Having our own kitchen means we could prepare and have most of our meals in our cabin on wheels or outside on a patio. We ate out on occasion, sometimes at a roadside café for breakfast or a lunch stop at a Trip Advisor recommended restaurant. We enjoyed the small towns on the back roads, many of them with empty store fronts, a few still prosperous and vital. Those were the places where you could meet someone like the woman who had owned her restaurant for 16 years with her three kids clearing the tables and serving the food. We admired the work ethic of so many, also evident in family-owned farms including many Amish folks in several states. I would point out a farm and tell S. it was Amish and she would say, “How do you know?” And I said, “No electric wires going into the buildings and the colorful laundry is hanging outside to dry.” You might also see work horses or mules in the field, children playing or working, signs of their presence along the road.
Much of our detailed itinerary was unplanned until we put the map on our lap and the GPS on hold because it wanted us to take the easiest or fastest or shortest routes. We were more interested in those back roads, free of stress and a more relaxing way to travel. Why didn’t we discover that years ago? It may have been that we had more limited time during our working years or that we didn’t consider the option and plan accordingly.
We did not do any off-road exploration except in the Bridger-Grand Teton National Forest and then the dirt roads were graded and easily traveled. For many who want to explore those out of the way places, a 4WD vehicle is a requirement, even by the guidebooks’ recommendation.
My suggestions for a successful road trip are:
1) Research where you want to go and why.
2) Decide generally what routes you want to consider and be open to change
3) Anticipate approximate costs based on experience and have sufficient funds
4) If you are a photographer, take lots of pictures. We did not and it’s one regret I have, especially with today’s smart phone cameras.
5) If you’re traveling with kids or pets, have sufficient space so that all are comfortable.
6) Consider spending an extended period of time in one place whether mountains, ocean, lake, river or forest.
7) Bring home some good memories and share stories from the experience.
8) Start planning for the next adventure. If you want more details, there are six previous road reports on my blog. I will be glad to respond to any questions you might have about any aspect of the adventure.