Note: This is a repost from 2011, when fuel prices were spiking and people were asking me what the future held for us and other fulltime RVers. While the numbers have changed, as they have for anything we spend money on, the reality is still the same. And as we have seen with every dramatic fuel price increase, eventually they start to come back down and life goes on.
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 anymore. 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 about an increase of $27.50 a week. That’s about what it costs to go out to someplace 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 its 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, or some other new 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.”
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