08 May 2015

Cost Of RVing In Our 13' Scamp Travel Trailer

I'm always curious how much it costs other people to live and travel full-time in their RVs (yes, call me nosey), so I thought it only fair that I share our costs from living and traveling around the States in our 13' Scamp travel trailer. We also did something similar when we lived and cruised on our sailboat in New Zealand - you can check those numbers out here.

It probably goes without saying that everyone's costs will be different. Some people spend heaps more then we do, while others have really sussed out how to do this super frugally. I imagine we're probably somewhere in the middle. 

Before we get to the numbers, here are a few things to keep in mind:

1 - December is a shorter month.

The time frame covered is from mid-December (when we picked up our new Scamp in Minnesota) until the end of April.

2 - Not everything is captured.

This is a really important point. Certain things aren't reported in our numbers, but we still have to spend money on them. When you're looking at people's RVing costs, you're not always comparing apples to apples. People slice and dice their data different ways and consider some things RVing costs that other people don't. 

So what have we excluded? Anything related to booze and chocolate. I don't want people getting all judgy about how much chocolate cake I eat.  Trust me - I ate a lot of the stuff. And we do like to have a cold beer on a hot summer day or a gin and tonic while watching the sun go down, but I think I'll just keep those numbers to ourselves.

I've also left off our costs related to our new boat. It's just too depressing to add those up (boats are the ultimate money pits) and they aren't related to our RV lifestyle. 

Finally, I've also excluded what we spend on health insurance. Since 2001 we've lived overseas in Scotland and New Zealand and would get travel insurance when we came back to visit family. But once we decided that we would be spending more time in the States and, in fact, would be here for most of 2015, that travel insurance route wasn't going to work for us anymore. Option 1 was to go uninsured and pay the penalty under the Affordable Care Act. Option 2 was to get insurance. Neither one was ideal. We hemmed and hawed and eventually decided to get insurance under the Affordable Care Act. If we were younger, I might have been less risk adverse and gone without coverage, but we're of that age where one of us could have a major health issue. I was also keen to protect our assets should we have a catastrophic health issue. Going bankrupt doesn't really appeal. So we bit the bullet and got insurance. It is disheartening to see how much of our monthly income goes out the door to insurance premiums, especially as we're both healthy and don't need any medical care.

3 - Our RV is brand new.

While we've had some minor issues with our new Scamp travel trailer, we're still covered under warranty. Folks with older RVs will have higher repair and maintenance costs then ours, which is zero. 

The Numbers

So, now on to the nitty-gritty. Overall, we spent $8,687.02 over the course of 20 weeks. That works out to an average of $434.35 per week. We spent the biggest percentage of our budget on costs related to our Pathfinder tow vehicle - mostly for gas ($2,750.06). We spent the least amount on personal and household items ($269.32). I guess that give you an idea of our priorities.

Here is breakdown of how we categorized our spend and other tidbits that might be of interest. There is a table at the end of the post which summarizes our spend against each category by month.

GROCERIES | Overall Spend = $2,010.32

It always astounds me how much we spend on what we put into our bodies. Occasionally, I try to take a more frugal approach to grocery shopping, but it never really works out.

PERSONAL HOUSEHOLD | Overall Spend = $269.32

This includes all those household goods (like paper towels, toilet paper, cleaning products, ziploc bags etc) and personal items that make you smell nice and look pretty (like shampoo, soap etc). 

CELL PHONE & DATA | Overall Spend = $390

We're currently on the $60 AT&T Go Phone plan. Unlimited minutes and texts and 4GB of data a month (increased in April from 2.5GB). I'm a bit of a data hog, so we end up buying extra data packages (1GB for $10) each month and we've also purchased international calling minutes. I'm so jealous of all of those folks who have unlimited data plans. Too bad they don't offer them anymore - at least not that I've found.

RV | Overall Spend = $1,981.62

We break our RV spend down into several categories - campgrounds ($1,388.31), repairs/maintenance ($0), equipment/gizmos ($129.35), insurance/registration ($178.00), LPG ($52.20) and miscellaneous ($35.20). 

Our campground costs make up the biggest percentage of this category. We were surprised to find how much we were spending to basically rent a piece of land to park on for the night. Here's a snapshot by month:

  • December (partial month) - Total = $198.56, Per Night = $15.27
  • January - Total = $571.06, Per Night = $18.42
  • February - Total = $631.33, Per Night = $22.55
  • March - Total = $424.54, Per Night = $13.69
  • April - Total = $0, Per Night = $0 {Note: we stayed at a place near our boat for free while we did repairs etc.}
We spent a bit on equipment and gizmos as our RV was new and we needed to get kitted out. Things like chocks, hitch locks, water hose, water regulator, outdoor mat etc. In fact, we bought chocks and an outdoor mat twice as I left our original ones at Babcock-Webb Wildlife Management Area in Florida (hope whoever found them enjoys them).

Our annual insurance for our Scamp is $134 a year. You'll see this as one payment in April, as well as a pro-rated payment in December.  

ENTERTAINMENT | Overall Spend = $1,028.88

This is where we capture every penny, nickel and dime we spend on eating out, having drinks out, going to the movies, getting coffees, buying books and magazines etc. We really blew the budget in January ($350.14), but, hey, we were in New Orleans and we had a great time. We spent more than I would have liked in April ($212.69), but we were so exhausted and busy from working on the boat, that we ended up having other people make food for us more often than normal.

VEHICLE | Overall Spend = $2,750.06

We spent a fortune on gas. Which isn't surprising given the fact that we picked up our Scamp in Minnesota, drove down to Texas and then along the seaboard to Florida. 

The other big expenditure was for our annual insurance for our Pathfinder. It went up to an astonishing $909 our annual policy. And that's just for third party liability. I'll be doing some calling around looking for better rates, you can bet on that.

We also spent money on public transport in New Orleans, parking, toll roads and a new battery for our Pathfinder.

OTHER | Overall Spend = $256.82

This is a catch all category for things that don't fit neatly elsewhere. Like clothes, laundry, postage, photo-copies etc.

So there you go - our costs for full-timing in our Scamp travel trailer. Was it more or less than you imagined? 

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  1. I'd say that you did not too bad on the groceries. That's about $400 a month which is our overall average for the past seven years! Although I think we're slightly less than that if we average out our time spent in the U.S.

    And you should have included your booze costs....those of us who drink too much would be happy to know that we have company...


    1. I think if we tried, we could get our grocery costs down. We just enjoy our food too much :-)

  2. Agree with Kevin above, include the booze cost, who goes camping without it? This was a very interesting post, plan to show hubby, he's retirement plans are in fact to get a trailer and hit the road, and he's an accountant, so.......I know he'll enjoy your post, and will appreciate your spread sheet. We used to camp when we were young in tents and always kept a log which included our costs. We used to try to do things on $5.00 a day...maybe that was just our meals, now that I think about it. Been years and years ago.

    Post a picture of your scamp. Why did you select that particular trailer? We've looked around some and some have gotten soooooooo large and sooooooo over the top fancy, the price tags are mind boggling.

    Off the top of my head, the dollar figure is higher than I would have guessed, particularly since adult beverages weren't included. We have wine with 99% of our dinners and like Martini's for cocktail hour...so we would definately factor that cost in. I say higher, but in truth, hubby's the number cruncher so I don't have much to base my guess on.

    Making blog rounds to let everyone know there's a contest!

    1. Wow - $5 a day! Now that would be amazing to get our costs down to that target!

      Check out this post for pictures of our Scamp - http://thecynicalsailor.blogspot.com/2015/01/scamp-travel-trailer-review.html. We went with a Scamp because we needed something lightweight enough to tow with our Pathfinder. She has everything we need - bed which turns into a dinette and vice versa, fridge/stove, bath/shower, AC and furnace etc. She's a great little trailer!

  3. You guys are frugal! (At least, compared to us :/ )

    1. We just bought a boat. The least frugal thing you can do. The ultimate money pit. Our expenses have gone up heaps lately :-(

  4. It is cool that you haven't had the need to spend too much on repair yet, due to the fact that your RV is brand new. It also means that you have been doing excellent maintenance to keep it that way. The payoff here of course is an RV that will last for a long time. Good day!

    Liza Pilon @ Prairie City RV

  5. Could you tell me the weight and total cost of your scamp with all the options you ordered. We have a 2016 Sabaru Outback with a 2700 lb. Tow rating.
    Thanks alot.


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