Through 2017

Our trailer has been washed, emptied and winterized.  We won’t be taking it out again until next spring.

That means it’s time to calculate the per-night cost of camping, and compare it to what quality of motel we could have been staying in for the same price if had we driven the Mazda instead of dragging a trailer.

Drum roll please.

Fully expensing the cost of the trailer and all we’ve done to it over five seasons, plus the cost of insurance, camping fees, propane and the extra fuel we used pulling the trailer versus driving our little Mazda, our 305 nights spent in camping over five seasons cost us about $125 per night.  I figure that’s about the equivalent of bunking down in the typical Hampton Inn.

Of course, the trailer has a residual value and some of the goodies we’ve added will move with us, which would lower our per-night cost.  Add to that the amount we’ve saved per day by dining in the trailer versus eating in restaurants and we’re definitely ahead with the trailer.

Best of all, by camping we’ve been able to meet some interesting people and stay in some pretty phenomenal places.  Now, those are things you don’t get at the typical Hampton Inn.

Through 2016

It’s hard to believe that in all of 2016, Dianne and I only took the trailer out on four camping trips. Of course, those four trips did involve spending 81 nights in 21 campgrounds spread through seven states.

As a former math major who worked 25 years in the finance industry, I always like to calculate the price per night for our trailer camping.

Taking the total price of the trailer and all the modifications and gear purchased for it along with insurance, plates, propane, camping fees and extra gasoline burned pulling it, our per night cost for camping stood at to $261 per night as of the end of 2015. For the same nightly rate, we could have stayed in a nice Marriott.

I’m happy to report that as of the end of 2016, our per-night costs have dropped to a mere $159, or roughly the per diem cost of a decent Comfort Inn. I’m hoping that by the end of 2017, we’ll be down to Super 8 rates.

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.