Pay It Or Park It

 Posted by at 12:03 am  Nick's Blog
Jan 032011

I have been getting a lot of e-mails from RVers who are concerned about the recent upswing in fuel prices and are starting to panic, just like they do every time fuel goes up. Five or six people have told me that they have scrapped their plans to go to Alaska this summer, quite a few have told me that they are sharply curtailing their travel plans, and two different couples have told me that they may have to get off the road altogether and settle down. Everybody wants to know what Terry and I are going to do differently to deal with higher fuel prices.

The answer is, not one darned thing. We plan to continue living and traveling just like we always have. That’s what we did when fuel spiked a couple of years ago, and that’s what we’ll do this year. When it comes right down to it, we have two choices, pay it or park it. And we have no intention of parking it anytime soon.

Yes, fuel prices have gone up, and yes the talking heads on television are predicting all sorts of doom and gloom, because that’s what talking heads do. But we have ridden this roller coaster so long that I just don’t get excited about it any more. Do I like paying more every time I pull up to a gas pump or an RV fuel island? Of course not! But over and over I have crunched the numbers, and even a 50 cent per gallon rise in fuel still isn’t really that big a deal in the overall scheme of things. It’s not like we’re commercial truckers, crossing the country back and forth on a weekly basis.

Last year we drove almost 10,000 miles in our motorhome, and we average about 7 miles per gallon, which means that we bought about 1,430 gallons of diesel fuel. If we were paying $3 per gallon, that was about $4,290. If diesel goes up to $3.50 a gallon, that’s another $715. If it goes as high as $4 a gallon, that’s a total increase of $1,430. Yeah, that’s a significant amount of money. But it’s not enough to make me give up the freedom that this lifestyle offers. And a lot of our readers don’t drive nearly as much as we do every year!

But let’s assume that you also get 7 miles per gallon, and let’s assume that you do drive as much as we do, and let’s assume that diesel really does go to $4 a gallon and stays there. We’re talking an increase of $27.50 a week. That’s about what it costs to go out to some place like Golden Corral for a buffet dinner for two. We know a lot of folks who dine out two or three nights a week. I’d much rather eat at home one of those nights and keep living this lifestyle, with all of it’s adventures and joys. $27.50 is $3.92 a day, less than a pack of cigarettes if you’re a smoker. If you have any of the premium Dish Network or DirecTV packages, instead of basic programming, you’re probably paying almost that much extra every month. You can even save that much boondocking at a WalMart parking lot one night a month instead of going into a campground.What are your priorities?

About that Alaska trip – it is 2260 miles from Seattle, Washington to Anchorage, Alaska. If fuel went up $1 a gallon, that would add about $650 to the cost of the trip up and back. If you had already planned and saved for a trip to Alaska, would you really let $650 keep you from seeing it?

I have had readers tell me that they are on a fixed income and can’t afford to travel anymore if fuel prices continue to go up. I sure wish somebody could fix my income, because it seems to be broken!

Folks, calm down. Fuel goes up and fuel goes down, but it never goes down as low as it was when it went up. Live with it, because you darned sure can’t change it. Stop listening to the doom and gloom prognosticators, because if you believe all of them, global warming, nuclear proliferation, smart bombs, dirty bombs, Bunny Rabbit flu. or some other new form of disease is going to kill us all before we run out of fuel anyway.

As singer Jimmy Buffett says, “I’d rather die while I’m living than live like I’m dead.”

Thought For The Day – I don’t know. I don’t care. And it doesn’t make any difference anyway.

Register Now For Our Arizona Gypsy Gathering Rally

Nick Russell

World-Famous, New York Times Best Selling Author, and All-Around Nice Guy!

  22 Responses to “Pay It Or Park It”

  1. Hi Nick,
    I put on 25,000 plus miles a year just going back and forth to work, and my car takes the Premium Fuel. I would love to trade places with any one of those people who are fearful of rising fuel prices and have stop traveling. I agree with you that they need to overcome their fears and adjust their budgets to keep the wheels turning.

  2. You are so right. I quit listening to network news years ago because of all the gloom and doom and obviously liberal leanings. If everyone would apply the arithmetic as you have done, it’s not that big a deal.


  3. Excellent points, all, Nick! Thanks for doing the math and for sharing. Happy New Year to you and Miss Terry!

  4. Hallelujah Brother Nick! Hallelujah!

  5. Very well said, Nick. You are absolutely right, if you really want this lifestyle, there are always other compromises for the budget to fit.

  6. My husband decided the same – stay on the road regardless. Thank you for confirming what we felt – no way can we give this lifestyle up at this time. You do ‘good’ with your words. Love reading your blog.

  7. Excellent post. I think these are the same folks that fear losing 1/10 gal mpg’s if they happen to accelerate a mile or two over their sweet spot. At the end of the day, is all that worrying worth it for a couple bucks? All that worrying is a good way to shorten your lifespan!

  8. We too crunched the numbers and came up with the same result. $5 a gallon for diesel would still not bother us. When it gets to $10 a gallon then we need some serious thought about how far we go but we would still travel but just be a lot more careful on distance and how long we stay somewhere. Inflation is coming. With the government just printing money at will without regard for the results, inflation is inevitable. That’s why Peter and I keep tabs on the money in and the money out of our household. We know what stuff, food, dining out, etc costs us each day and month. We know what are our needs as opposed to our wants. We can easily trim out some of those wants from our budget to replace them with needs.

    A suggestion for your rally, a seminar or round table discussion on costs of RVing. Show them how to calculate what they are now spending, categorize spending, understand budgets, understand costs to travel versus costs to stay in one place in a stick house, etc. If so many people are worried, they need to get a handle on what they now spend, how to change their spending, how to live on the money coming in. I make a game out of it. We watch the pennies as well as the dollars. I know where every penny goes on the road because I keep a spending account of the money going out. If you do that for 3 months and then categorize and analyze where the money goes, you can quickly see how there are many places you can cut costs without cutting lifestyle.

  9. The idea of what Rving costs , compared to what is my queastion. We are having the front suspension of our Silver Eagle Bus totally rebuilt this week. Anne said well it is still cheaper than our sticks and bricks home. I think it will be less than the tax fee to the county much less than the payments.
    So give some Willie and We are onthe road again.

  10. You’re right on again, Nick. You wrote nearly the same post last time the gas spiked, and probably the times before that. We just spent more than that $27.50 monthly increase for two bottles of Canadian Whiskey. Gosh, if we cut back on drinking, we could drive to Alaska again!

  11. We average about 300 miles per gallon. AVERAGE !! 7.5 on our 2005 Dutch Star and about 600 mpg on our 2010 GMC we pull behind. LOVE the full-timing life style.

  12. You are so right Nick. We plan to go up the west coast this year. Our plan is to stay at Thousand Trails, Elks, Moose campgrounds, boondocking when necessary, staying for longer periods of time at each stop to see the local areas. The money we will save on our daily expenses will pay for the diesel plus give us the money to dine out! Reasonable budgeting is what we are finding is the key to full-timing. Budgeting means a give and take on your expenses, while staying within a set amount of money. We try to be frugle daily, and total our expenses weekly, so that we know where our money is going. We are currently spending the winter in Breckenridge CO, a very expensive place, sking! We don’t feel the least deprived and are having a great time while living the life we want to lead!

  13. Could not have said it better Nick! We have been planning for a year now to go back to Alaska and we will go! The beauty of our life-style is that we can stop at Wal-Mart or BLM land etc and more than save what the added cost of fuel will be. As full-timers we do not have the property tax situation someone with a sticks and bricks home has; our choice as it is theirs. We have been there and done that and find our priority to be free of a house is well worth it. 14 years of full-timing and an average of 10,000 a year lets us see the beauty we have before us.

  14. The logic of getting off the road and buying a house because fuel price is going up amuses me. It is SO MUCH more expensive to own a house. I just don’t get it. Now, if you just want to get off the road (which I always suspect is the real issue) then do it – but don’t blame fuel prices….

  15. You are so right Nick. We will just redo our schedule and stay longer when we do stop. Like you we rode out the last gas prices, the one state we will spend as little time in is California, my sister states that gas is over $4 and will probably go up to $5 before this is over. Go with the flow.

  16. I agree, there are a lot of places to cut back easily. Our parents full timed and we wanted to also when we retired. When gas went up we didn’t want that to destroy our dreams.We’ve now been at it for three years and are glad we are able to RV like our parents did. On another note, I believe the oil companies and high fuel prices are what started the downfall of our entire economy, long before the banking or housing problems. Think about it. How can young families get by when they have to spend so much for fuel.Their budget is ruined and they have nothing left for house payments,etc.All this while the oil companies are making windfall profits that they can’t even count. (sorry I got onto this but I really believe it is bad for all of us to let the oil companies get together and raise prices to what ever they want) Thanks politicians!

  17. Nick,
    I agree, when you do the math, it really isn’t a big deal. I also stopped watching, listening and reading the news. All too depressing. Not what a newspaper man wants to hear, I’ll bet.

  18. If a full-timer hangs up the keys and settles down in a stick house because fuel prices go up, what are they going to do when the property taxes or rent on their stick house goes up?

    The price of fuel will likely come back down, at least most of the way; but the property taxes or rent probably won’t. If you like full-timing, stick with it. There are plenty of ways to find a few extra dollars a month for fuel.

  19. We are in the group that is NOT scrapping plans for Alaska. We’re just sticking some extra $ aside and will just boondock now and then if we need to. You’re so right about it not being a big deal, when you compare it to what we spend on things like eating out. I could probably give up my morning Starbuck’s and go an extra 1,000 miles!

  20. The good thing about people cancelling their plans is…more room at the campgrounds for us! We continue to travel but tend to stay longer at each stop. We don’t go running around without a destination. Stay home and live a normal life instead of driving aimlessly around. Cook in instead of eating out…saves big $$$ and is better for you.

  21. We’ll probably boondock a little more, plan ahead for less expensive campgrounds, maybe have the new exhaust headers installed on our V10 to save some mileage (plus they sound great!) and stay put a little longer when we find a place we really like.

  22. THANK YOU…THANK YOU…THANK YOU for saying what we have been saying all along. The more people continue to feed into the doom and gloom that the media sets forth, the more they will continue to sensationalize it!

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