Thursday, April 17, 2014

Southwest Culture Road Trip Summary

I just got back from a very long road trip to the southwest.  It all started when we escaped New England in early January and spent two months "snow birding" in Florida.  Then, we embarked on a multi-state road trip heading west visiting places in the southwest.  It was a great trip and one that gave us many life long memories.

At the TeePees in Petrified Forest National Park

I look at everything I do as a learning experience. So, I like to look back on trips and reflect on what I liked the most, what I learned, what was a challenge, and what I'd do again, and what I'd do differently. I'm sort of a data guy and like to keep track of things while I travel so I can see what the numbers are telling me.  So here are some of the stats for this trip.
  • We were gone from home for 94 days.  It was a long time - a little too long for me to be away.
  • We drove through 19 states.  Ten of these were new to me. I especially liked west Texas and plan to return.
  • We visited 8 National Parks/Monuments and 2 State Parks.  Big Bend National Park was the best.
  • We drove over 9,200 miles from start to end.  A little too long.
  • During the road trip part of the trip we drove an average of 154 miles per day.  We didn't drive each day, that's just what the mileage divided by the number of days we were gone. 
  • Average fuel mileage was 16.3 mpg.  I was pleased with the fuel mileage, but it was diesel so I paid more for fuel than had with my Roadtrek.  The average per day fuel expenses where $36.10.
  • I spent an average of $25.78 per day on camp site fees. We only boon docked for 7 nights so I want to try and do more of that on future trips to reduce my camp fee expenses.
  • Our average daily food expenses were $33.10.  Not bad for two people and we did eat out more on this trip.
  • Our average daily expense for fees and souvenirs was $8.60.
  • Overall average daily expenses were $103.58.  This is about my normal average.  If I subtract the food (which we would have eaten at home) the average daily expense would was $70.48
Some conclusions I made from the data and my experiences.
  • Ninety four days was a little too long for me to be gone.  Seeing so many new and different things caused a little bit of sensory overload and at times things started to blur.  We even started to question each other on what day it was.  Towards the end of the trip I got weary of being on the road and just wanted to get home.  A trip duration of 30 -75 days is more to my liking.
  • I will try to boon dock more so save on camping fees.  With a new RV on this trip, I had to learn about the new capacities and how long we they would sustain us.  I now have a lot of confidence in my new RV and can boon dock for longer periods in the future.
  • Stay longer at each destination and shorten the overall miles of the trip.  We stayed an average of 2-3 days at each destination.  I want to extend that to 2-4 days.  I found I needed the downtime.  I also want to spend less time driving = less fuel expense.
On the places we visited, here's some more observations
  • It was a good time of the year (March) to visit the southwest.  Average day time temps where in the 70's and night time in the 40's.  It was also very dry with humidity down in the low teens.  We learned that spring is the windy (and dust) season in this area. 
  • It was still too cold to visit northern Arizona and New Mexico.  Night time temps were averaging in the high 20's and I didn't want to have to winterize.
  • West Texas is pretty sparse but its an area I'd like to revisit.  Places to see include the Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Davis Mountains State Park, and McDonald Observatory.
  • Big Bend National Park is huge and a stay of 4-5 days is more appropriate to really enjoy what it has to offer.  I will definitely plan a return visit.
  • There's still a lot more I want to see in this area, especially in the Native American reservations areas.
Petrified Forest National Park


  1. You packed this post with tons of helpful financial info - thanks.

    So you took off from New England in January. How did you handle the cold and your fresh water. Is the RV insulated for cold weather? Or did you run dry until you reached warmer weather?

  2. We left New England with the temps at ZERO and fully winterized. Didn't de-winterize until we got to FL. Thanks for reading.