Through 2015

Forgive me, but I was a math major in college and worked almost 22 years in banking. I like numbers.

When Dianne and I were contemplating retirement travel plans, we considered two options. We could buy a trailer and camp or we could drive our fuel-sipping Mazda and stay in cheap motels. The trailer idea sounded cheaper, so we went that route.

We bought our Rockwood A-frame in April 2013 and so far have invested $22,294.15 in trailer, taxes, license plates, insurance and numerous upgrades that include everything from a bedspread and coat hooks to dual batteries, invertor and 300 watts of solar panels. We also spent a bundle on various bike-hauling arrangements ($945.44) and purchased a pair of portable, compressor-driven cooler/freezers ($1,059.97) so we could carry more cold and frozen food with us.

Add in campground fees of $2,748.30, propane refills of $79.20 and about $1,500 extra in gas to feed the Nissan Xterra at 20 cents per mile versus the Mazda at 10 cents per mile over 15,000 miles of travel.

Taking the total cost ($27,679.65) and dividing by the number of nights we’ve bunked in the trailer (106), it looks like camping has cost us $261.13 per night. That’s roughly what a room at a decent Marriott would run.

Of course, we save a bundle on meals by cooking our own, and drinks from our minibar come a whole lot cheaper. We get to overnight in some of the most beautiful places on earth where instead of HD-TV, we ogle crimson-painted sunsets at dusk and star-splattered skies at night. We awaken to birds chirping, catch rabbits scampering and watch deer browsing. And unlike staying in a hotel/motel, we actually get to talk to our camping neighbors.

That beats a Marriott any day.