Welcome to My Money, My RV, where we look at the true costs of RVing through the eyes of real RVers—from their purchasing journey to a day-by-day camping trip budget.
My childhood memories of camping are of waking up in a tent in the morning, shivering cold and slightly wet from dew. As an adult, these bad weather memories turned me off from camping. I love being outside in nature and exploring national parks. I just don’t like sleeping outside.
At some point, I became intrigued by RV engineering. Specifically, I thought that pop-up trailers were fascinating in the way they folded into a compact, easy-to-tow box. And then I learned about tiny teardrop campers. I spent hours comparing different teardrop campers online and fantasizing about owning one.
I pictured myself in retirement, taking cross-country road trips with my husband in our very own teardrop. But an opportunity presented itself much sooner than that, when I came across a listing for a relatively new T@B 320 in orange, my favorite color. Not one to spend a large chunk of money capriciously, this seemed like fate. Within two weeks, we had bought our tiny trailer and a new-to-us tow vehicle. After we pulled the trigger, I was filled with fear that I’d made a big, expensive mistake. Did I even like camping?
Four years later, we’re totally enamored with our purchase and the freedom it gives us to hop around New England during camping season and to explore the state parks, quaint towns, and craft breweries that dot our region. I look forward to any chance we get to sleep in our cozy camper (our current record is 28 nights in one season). And I’ve found so much joy cooking over open campfires. It’s without a doubt one of the best financial decisions we’ve made.
The Overall Cost of Our RV
We bought our 2013 T@B 320 CS used four years ago for $16,500, with money in our savings account. We didn’t have to fully renovate it, but I did try to give the inside of the trailer a more personalized style. In total, we spent about $500 on fabrics for cushions and curtains.
Now that we’ve had the RV for a few years, expenses are mostly tied to trips we take. This is included in our overall vacation budget. Because camping is relatively inexpensive compared to other travel, we don’t watch this part of the budget too closely. Fortunately, maintenance on the RV has been a low cost to us so far. We spend about $200 per year on RV equipment and upgrades and $300 on maintenance.
RV Travel Log: Vermont
- Destination: New Discovery Campground, Groton State Forest, Vermont
- Number of travelers: 2 (plus friends we met up with at the campsite)
- Trip length: 5 days
- Overall budget: No set budget
- Total spent on gas: $84
- Total spent on food per day: $25-50
- Nightly campsite fee: $14
- Total spent on recreational activities: $234
- Most expensive cost of the trip: $148 on craft beer
September 2, 2020
Preparation for our long weekend.
- Groceries: $103
Daily Total: $103
We had to quarantine before our trip in order to visit Vermont due to the state’s COVID-19 travel restrictions. Since I couldn’t leave the house before the drive to our campsite, I ordered groceries from Whole Foods. We were meeting friends in Vermont. My husband Sean and I were responsible for dinners, while our friends took on breakfast and lunches. I had big plans to grill over our campfire and bought ribeye steaks and salmon along with a few other ingredients. It was worth paying a bit of a premium for Whole Foods delivery to ensure a safe Labor Day weekend trip.
I also spent some time preparing our dinner menu: I dry-aged the steaks, gave the salmon a dry rub, and marinated a turkey breast that we had in our freezer. And I pulled together ingredients for an apple crisp, which we planned to cook in a cast iron Dutch oven over the fire after apple picking on our trip.
September 3, 2020
Drove 187 miles from Massachusetts to New Discovery State Park campground in Vermont.
- Campsite fees: $68 (pre-paid for the weekend)
- Gas: $46
- Beer, snacks, and ice: $36
- Firewood: $12
Daily Total: $162
We left home at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday to start our 3-hour drive to central Vermont. Before we left, we had to print out COVID-19 forms to submit when we checked into the campground that sits in the Groton State Forest, which stated that we followed the required quarantine guidelines to visit Vermont.
On check-in, we gave the park ranger our forms and the process was seamless. We purchased two bundles of firewood and found our site. Our campsite was enormous, which made it easy for us to back into.
It doesn’t take us very long to unpack at this point and it’s always easy when we arrive in sunlight and no rain. Our original plan was to head to a nearby market to pick up some missing ingredients for dinner, but then I realized we had enough items in the pantry to make a tuna and couscous salad with olives and feta.
Our friends arrived at the campsite later in the evening and we ended the night around the campfire.
September 4, 2020
Drove around central Vermont. Adventures included a brewery stop, maple syrup shopping, and apple picking.
- Craft beer: $148
- Food, snacks, and ice: $32
Daily Total: $180
After our friends cooked a pancake breakfast, we took a sightseeing tour of the area. We were excited about a visit to the Hill Farmstead Brewery. This craft brewery is ranked as one of the best breweries in the U.S. and the pilgrimage was necessary albeit expensive. Sadly, due to COVID-19, the tasting room was closed and we could only pick up via a drive-through system—but our group of beer geeks was happy to acquire brews by any means.
Once we left the brewery, we stopped at a maple syrup shop that sold maple creemees—Vermont-speak for soft-serve ice cream cones and a must-eat item when in the area.
Our last stop brought us to Burtt’s Apple Orchard where we picked apples and bought fresh corn (and maybe a few cider donuts, if we’re being honest). We also ran around a corn maze and played with an apple slingshot. Even though we were wearing masks, it felt like a normal fall outing.
After some pre-fall fun, we went back to our campsite for a charcuterie lunch, some beer tasting, and a game of Kubb.
I was able to pull together a few of the items we bought during the day and some pantry items to cook our dinner of grilled turkey breast and salmon with fresh corn and tomato salad, plus a red cabbage and apple slaw. After dinner, we took a walk to check out the horse camping sites at the campground. We ended the day with a campfire.
September 5, 2020
Hiked to the top of Owl’s Head Mountain.
Daily Total: $0
Our campground had walking access to plenty of hiking trails, so we didn’t have to drive to a trailhead. After breakfast burritos, we hiked to the top of Owl’s Head mountain, which is about 5 miles round trip. It was a fairly easy hike up a few hundred feet in elevation to a gorgeous observation point overlooking Kettle Pond and the surrounding mountains.
Back at camp, we refueled with a charcuterie lunch, some wine spritzers, and another game of Kubb. We also baked apple crisp over coals in the Dutch oven to prepare for dessert.
For dinner, I made a spiced sweet potato and rice pilaf to go with our fire-grilled corn and steak—grilling over the fire gave them an intensely delicious sear. We had plenty of firewood left over to end our day around a warm fire with apple crisp in our dessert bowls. The weather was starting to get chilly, so we added a few more layers than the previous nights.
September 6, 2020
Lazy day around the campsite and playing games.
Daily Total: $0
The neighbors across from our campsite told us they were checking out and had some extra firewood that we could have. Once they left, we ran over to gather our loot: 12 large pieces of wood, which saved us some money in firewood costs.
We had a lazy morning with a mountain man breakfast (basically an egg, sausage, and potato frittata) cooked in our friends’ Dutch oven. After breakfast, the more adventurous campers in our group went on a bike ride on the trails surrounding the campground.
We played a few games of Dungeons and Dragons and Kubb and read in our hammocks before dinner. I made turkey sausage bolognese with red lentil pasta. And we rounded out our evening around the (free) fire.
September 7, 2020
Central Vermont pizza crawl.
- Gas: $13
- Food, snacks, and ice: $70
Daily Total: $83
Our friends headed back to Massachusetts after a breakfast of oatmeal, pancakes, and apple crisp. Sean and I headed out of the campground to find some pizza we had researched online. There were two stops on our mini pizza crawl: Positive Pie in Plainfield and the Marshfield Village Store in Marshfield. We ordered a pie to bring back to our campsite along with some snacks and a souvenir: a large jug of maple syrup.
Back at camp, we took a stroll to Osmore Pond, which was connected to our campground. We spent the rest of the day back at the site playing board games and relaxing by our fire, which was still fueled by our neighbor’s leftover wood.
September 8, 2020
Traveled home with a stop at the King Arthur Baking Company headquarters.
- Gas: $25
- Baking supplies: $86
- Lunch: $30
Daily Total: $116
After eating the leftover mountain man breakfast, we packed up the T@B (we can do it in less than 45 minutes) and hit the road home.
We stopped at the King Arthur Baking Company headquarters on the way back to eat lunch, and I purchased some baking supplies. Their normal cafe was more limited due to COVID-19, but we were able to acquire a couple of delicious pre-made sandwiches and a buttery, gooey sticky bun.
It was another 2 hours on the road until we hit our driveway and got to work unpacking—and dreaming of our next RV trip.
Final Total: $644
This trip was a much-needed respite from the real world and it was worth spending two weeks in quarantine to make it happen. When I look at the budget for this trip, we spent a little extra money on things like craft beer and baking supplies, plus some fancy Whole Foods groceries. But when you consider that our trip was five nights and included food, souvenirs, and camping fees for two people, the overall cost is reasonable—there were even two days where we didn’t spend anything.
We really enjoyed the New Discovery Campground and the Groton State Forest area. The campground was well-kept and campsites were spaced out nicely so our area felt private. Plus, you get walking access to trailheads and a pond without having to leave the campground. Cell service was spotty and there was no WiFi, which was a welcome break from technology for me—however, it made it a little more difficult to plan some of our days.
I also didn’t realize quite how rural this area was going to be. We never found a full grocery store, so I wished that I had purchased more groceries prior to our trip—or at least brought more food from home.