Now I've moved up from a small fishing boat to what amounts to a luxury liner. I assure you I'm hardly made of money, so just how do I figure on affording the operating cost of something this large?
Surprisingly this heavy weight diesel monster is as fuel efficient as the SUV, small trailer combination we vacationed in this fall. I can honestly expect to average about 10 mpg, though I will be burning diesel which is somewhat more expensive than gasoline.
Of course oil changes will be quite a bit pricier. Your normal car takes about 5 qts. of oil and the average oil filter runs less than $5. At the local Jiffy Lube someone else can do the dirty work for about $35.
Your average GAS powered motor home may have a quart or two more oil, but none the less, materials will cost you around $25. It may take a little more effort to find an establishment that can do the work for you so move the cost up to maybe $50.
I haven't priced out the materials yet, but I expect to pay over $100 just so I can crawl under and do it myself. Taking it to a truck stop would increase the cost to $250 for a front to back service. I'll be doing the work myself.
Lets talk about fuel. It's almost scary to pull up to the pump with this thing. The manual tells me it has a 100 gallon fuel tank. I added $100 worth right after picking the motorhome up from the dealer. The days of getting a full tank when you purchase are long gone. After driving 60 miles to where I'm going to store the RV I added another $100 of fuel.
Right now I have just over a 1/2 tank. It will take another $175 or so to top it off next spring when I get ready to travel.
Of course this is all misleading because that 100 gallons will give me a range of 950 miles or so. I can take a pretty good sized trip and never stop to refuel.
OK, we've covered the fact that cruising this thing down the highway days on end will have me bankrupt in no time. Here's the secret to making this whole thing doable.
Pre-planning my route allows me to highlight things like truck stops, Walmarts, Corp of Engineer campgrounds, even some national parks and national forests that offer free or low cost camping. The next step is to scour the internet for every free or low cost activity, site, or function along the route. The more things you can find to do in each town the better.
The point is I'm retired... I don't have to be anywhere on a time schedule. If I only drive 50 miles today, or if I stay put for 2-3 days, I spread out the financial impact of keeping the fuel tank full. With care that $400 tank of fuel can easily last a month. Next month when the Social Security check arrives, top off the tank.
I can chart my course, probably spending multiple nights in any given town by just switching parking lots each day. During the day I can unload the little scooter off my back bumper and go exploring. With permission of course, I plan to park my big rig for a few hours along the perimeter of some large retail store. At 100 mpg the scooter can take me places I couldn't manage with the motorhome. I knew I bought that thing for a reason.
Now comes the tricky part for me. Putting my own advise into practice. I've never been one to slow down enough to smell the roses. Maybe this time I can get it right!