Final Reckoning

    Well, shoot….we haven’t seen these kind of figures before. We “budget” $1000 per week, but our initial look at the bank account showed we used $14,063 in 12 weeks. Still, a closer look shows we really weren’t too far off the mark. Here’s the breakdown.

    We traveled 4753 miles, averaging 56.6 miles per day. We spent $2910 on 462.5 gallons of gasoline, at an average price of $6.48 per gallon. Rover gets about 10 mpg, our payoff for staying below 55 mph (except when passing the occasional truck or car going even slower than we are).

    We were expecting the house batteries expense of $780, but the chassis battery at $225, two tires at $375 and GPS at $200 were unexpected. Without these costs, our expenses for travel/living/sightseeing would have been $12,400--much closer to our estimate.

    We paid to camp every night but four. Campground expenses were $2055, an average of $25 a night. We could have free camped more often but we prefer the security of a campground. The most expensive was in Rotterdam at $50 a night--but that was in July, which is considered “high season.” If we had done this trip in June, July and August, our camping expenses would have been considerably higher.

    Our food costs were $3247. This is probably at least $1200 higher than we would have spent at home over the same period. We did not find the food costs particularly high, and when we ate out we rarely paid more than $50--total, for the two of us--for a meal with a glass of wine.

    We paid $582 for tolls (!)--much more than we’d anticipated. Austria alone was $296, while Italy was $198--not too bad for 7 weeks, when we did a great deal of our traveling on the autostradas. The three-tunnel complex under the Antwerp harbor in Holland cost $23. We could have avoided all tolls by driving on red and yellow roads, but the heart problems that would have generated would have cost more than the tolls.

    Additional transportation expenses--bus, taxis, trams, trains, subways, funiculars, cable cars and boats--were $593. This included getting to and from the Amsterdam airport to Rover.

    We bought LP gas only once ($20.45 in the Netherlands), and we still had 1/3 of a tank left at the end of the trip. We used it primarily for cooking, a few hours of furnace and occasional running of the refrigerator. We rarely used the hot water heater.

    Internet access was often free, but we spent $68 on it when we needed to. Newspapers were $100; laundry $110; Rover insurance (collision, comprehensive, and liability) $1128 for the three months on the road. We have prepaid 10 months of inside storage ($889), anticipating a later start of our trip next year, when we head for the Scandinavian countries with their later spring.

    In preparation for the trip we spent $250 on travel guides and maps. Good maps and guides are expensive but necessary. In the last few years there has been some renumbering of highways, and up-to-date, detailed maps are essential.


    We also had airfare expenses and bought a few t-shirts and gifts. We spent $1000 on museums, ruins, castles and other sightseeing (worth every penny). We saw everything in Italy we had ever heard of and many more things we hadn’t. It is a surprisingly varied country: more mountains than we expected, wide, flat plains, rolling hills and vast swamps. And, of course, the incredible coastlines. The campground facilities were usually better than we’d expected, although finding a campground or public toilet with a toilet seat was very unusual. And our biggest complaint would be with aggressive Italian drivers.

    European RVs have chemical toilets, but we had no trouble finding dump stations for our American waste tanks. We do not have a macerator and were concerned about what we would find, and in fact some campgrounds could not have accommodated us. Still, we dumped our tanks a total of 16 times (is it too weird to keep track of that?), by just keeping our eyes open to what was available and using it before it was critical. In Italy many of the rest areas on the autostradas have dump stations, and we used them three times.

    We watched the Euro rise and fall, mostly to our advantage. We tended to withdraw € 400-500 at a time: this cost us $60 less in June than it did in April. ATMs are everywhere, and we never had our card refused (we’d read that it’s important to have a card with a four-digit PIN). We never had a serious problem finding gas stations, ATMs or grocery stores, and only once were we desperate for a toilet. Our biggest challenge was remembering to have our shopping done before Sundays, when everything is closed (except on the autostradas.)

    We managed to go 12 weeks without illness or injury of any kind. Our tire and battery problems were solved with time and money and the help of some kind Austrians. We never had to back out (literally) of any tight situation, but we did turn around a whole bunch of times and got caught up in more detours than we care to count. The mountain passes in Italy, Austria and Switzerland proved to be non-issues. Rover took them in stride. Our Ford E-450 gave us no mechanical problems, and our Born Free remains comfortable and dry (and we had plenty of rain to test it). We cannot blame our electrical problems on Rover or anyone else.  But time and money will solve these problems, also.

    We are blessed to be able to take this third trip and blessed to have done it safely and in good health. We feel we have a few more trips still in us. Next year we will aim for Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Norway and hope to find storage in Norway so we won’t have to return to Amsterdam at the end of the trip. We have had an astounding number of hits on our blog so we know we have faithful readers out there. Please look for us later in the spring of 2011 and join us on our next adventure. Ciao.

        nap                fixing.dinner