I knew before we decided to travel the USA in our RV that there were going to be hidden costs of fulltime RVing that I could not anticipate. However, because we planned to sell the house we were saving so much money. No more HOA. No more mortgage. No electric bill. No more lawn care. Sounds awesome right? Well it totally is. However, there are costs associated with fulltime RVing that I didn’t expect, so I wrote them down so you can prepare yourself.
Insurance: Insurance for my RV when I only used it during the summer was around $50 per month. Now that all of our belongings are inside the RV and we move it often, we required a better policy. A policy that will cover our things inside the RV that are not normally covered, like my DSLR, all of our clothes, all my jewelry, etc. This policy also covers a hotel room if our RV is in an accident or we sustain damage from a flat tire, like our friends over at ‘Mann, There They Go‘ did. My policy now is $110 per month.Hotels: If our RV is in an accident, our insurance will reimburse us for a hotel room like I stated above. If something inside the rig (or outside) breaks and the shop needs it for a few days we have to cover the cost of the hotel. Last time we had warranty work done, they needed our RV for two weeks! That was a $1000 hotel bill.
Repairs: Deciding what is ‘worth’ using your warranty for and what is worth fixing yourself is never easy. However, after our $1000 hotel bill, we quickly became more familiar with our tools.
Travel Day Food Costs: I knew that travel days would be a bit more expensive than normal days because of fuel and potential tolls. I had no idea how much food costs would add up though. Finding somewhere to park with 42 feet of RV behind you isnt the easiest task and the kids get real sick of fast food (did I really just say that?). We try to make sure about half way through our trip we can find a Cracker Barrel. Their food is delicious and they always have parking for RVs. We also try to keep drinks in a cooler in the back of the truck and a bin of snacks up front under my feet, but sometimes forget and gas station snacks and drinks add up fast.Health Care/Medicine: My husband is a disabled veteran who takes medications daily. One of them is a controlled substance and changing the shipping address is a real pain in the ass for that one. So we have it shipped to our mail forwarding address (more about that can be found here) and then pay for it to be shipped to the campground we are at. So far our healthcare costs have been minimal. We did have to pay an urgent care $150 and a pharmacy $20 after Caleb got a scratch on his arm and it got infected.
Groceries: I was really hoping our food costs would remain the same moving from our stick and brick house to our RV. We still make home cooked meals and try and eat healthy, but we have to buy less every time we visit the store. This means we visit the store more often and make so many more impulse buys. Because our fridge is so small, and opened frequently I also find that fresh meat goes bad faster than before.Accessories: I used to love the word accessories. Accessories were fun things, optional things like watches, hats, bracelets, scarfs… When it comes to RV accessories, big bucks are needed and most of them really aren’t optional to make your life easier. You need leveling blocks, wheel chocks, awning stabilizers, a good level, sewer hoses, a dehumidifier, an ice maker, a y-splitter for your water connection… Much like fun accessories, just when you think you have them all, you find another you must have OR one of your favorites will break. Most important accessory? An EMS system.
Pesticides: You no longer have to worry about lawn care, but the pest care does not stop when you move into an RV. Ants, mice and other creepy crawlers can make their way into your RV just as easily as your home. We have only had ants so far (knock on wood) and to combat them we use Terro ant bait inside and Ortho Home Defense outside on everything that touches the ground.
Water: What used to be a free commodity from my fridge is now killing my wallet. Some campgrounds have awesome tasting water, some not so much. Weeks we are at campgrounds with icky water we can use upwards of 150 bottles of water. With 6 people in the RV drinking at least 4 bottles a day, that’s 7 cases of water, or around $25 per week not counting the water we give the dogs.
Laundry: Big blankets and beach towels I have always washed at the laundry mat. I never considered visiting the laundry mat to be expensive, till I started relying on laundry mats for all of our clothes washing. I can easily spend $40 on one trip washing all our clothes from the week, towels and two sets of sheets a week.